This American Dream Job

Walking into a dream jobI’m a big fan of This American Life, the NPR radio show (and now TV show) which is consistently great week to week. The most recent episode, called “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” showcases stories of people with dream jobs that aren’t always so dreamy.

It was the kind of show that made me stay in my car while it was on, driving around the city so I could listen to the whole thing. The show featured stories on:

  • Astronauts who spend more time in meetings and conference rooms than in space. Best fact? They get reimbursed for their mileage to and from Earth.
  • John Hodgman (the “PC” in the Mac ads and Daily Show commentator) talks about the awkwardness of becoming a minor celebrity later in life.
  • A man whose job is to convince lottery winners to take their winnings in bulk rather than monthly payments (and the sadness involved in working with these people)
  • The famed cartographer for the Oregon Trail expedition in the early 19th century who was secretly miserable most of the time, and very bummed out about the “food on the road.”
  • A bright UCLA college student who can’t pursue her dream job of becoming a doctor because of her status as an illegal immigrant.

Funny, engaging and heartbreaking in parts, it’s definitely worth a listen for anyone with a job, dreamy or otherwise (listen to it free from the This American Life Website or as a podcast on iTunes).

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2 Responses to This American Dream Job

  1. Toby Lucich says:

    Thanks for calling attention to this gem. Funny how we always assume that the appearance of “greener grass” is as good as it looks, despite the well-worn phrase.

    I think a bit of insight into such “dreamy jobs” can help temper the maddening details we face in our own work.

  2. Glad you liked the show, and yes, those old aphorisms like “the grass is always greener” really do hold true even when the other side of the fence is the space shuttle.

    I laughed out loud when one of the astronauts said she got her space “fix” from watching Battlestar Gallactica since most of her job was spent doing paperwork in an office.

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