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Made in India Magazine | February 25, 2021

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Jobs That Once Were

Jobs That Once Were
Sharath Komarraju

With the relentless march (forward, backward or sideways depending on your view) of technology, machines are increasingly replacing human beings in jobs. If we rack our brains hard enough, we may even find certain professions that were in vogue in our childhoods – like stenographer, perhaps? – that do not exist today. We’ve put together a bunch of fictional job advertisements from the past century that would raise curious eyebrows today.

Lector
Large textile factory sewing room looking for a well-read, lively gentleman who will be responsible for lifting the spirits of our capable workforce. Successful applicant will have a friendly voice, will be a good reader, and an affable attitude to everything life can throw at him. Daily duties will include reading to the workers from a range of works: our favourites are Shakespeare and Euripides. You will be required to work six days a week, and will need to wear something presentable every day. Lunch will be provided for free.

Pinsetter
‘Smash ‘em down’, your favourite bowling alley, is now hiring pinsetters. Enthusiastic, school-going boys with a few hours to kill during the evenings will fit us perfectly. All you will need to do is set the pins in their positions at the end of each bowling frame. Team players will make this job their own, and a sense of ownership will be rewarded with a bonus. Successful applicants may be allowed to bowl for free on days when business is dull.

Computer
We’re looking for young women with a sharp knowledge of math to help out with computations at our firm. No prior experience is required, though we’d look upon you with more favour if you have a natural inclination towards numbers. Along with this you will be comfortable working without mistakes in an environment of pressure. Pay and benefits will be discussed at the interview with successful candidates.

 Ice Cutter
Ice-cutter-job-that-no-longer-exist
If you’re a strong, tenacious, healthy man in your twenties that would like to be part of an adventurous team of ice-cutters, we’d like to hear from you. You will start off as a junior and will make contributions in line with your experience to begin with, but soon you will take on more responsibility and deliver fresh, clear ice to our customers. As long as food needs to be kept from rotting, ice cutters will be in demand, so if you’d like a career at a job that would never die, get in touch with us.

Switchboard Operator
Our phone lines have increased in number, so we need more women with excellent communication skills and attention to detail to add to our team of switchboard operators. You must take delight in answering the phone, be personable and easy on ear, and be driven by a genuine need to help people that call you. You will learn on the job, so ambition is rewarded in this line of work, but not at the cost of being an empathetic team member. Experienced candidates will be favoured.
switchboard-publicdomain

 Chimney Sweep
The housing industry is booming, which means we need more professionals that will go up people’s chimneys to keep them clean and breathing. Slender, strong men will be the best fit for this profile, and a detached tolerance toward dirt and soot won’t hurt. Trustworthiness is a crucial attribute we look for in our candidates, because customers rely on your word that their chimneys are clean.

 Town Crier
Applicants to this position will be energetic and naturally eager to share news with others. If you’ve been a gifted speaker in your school years, you will be a good fit to our requirements. A loud, booming voice and street presence are vital ingredients to your daily job, and though you will be out alone on most days, your ability to connect to people through your announcements will be tested, therefore if you’re a people’s person, you will do better. Training will be provided. Apply today.

Nomenclator
The count is looking for two school going boys to attend to him on Saturday evenings at the count’s residence, so that they could keep him out of trouble. Their duties will include keeping an eye on the amount the count has had to drink, the names of all the guests that attend the party, and all the undesirable things the count may say in his drunken stupor. The boys will be responsible, therefore, for keeping intact the image and personal relationships of the count. Jobs of this nature are hard to come by, so hurry, and be prepared for fierce competition for the two roles. Attentive, curious children will be given preference.

It’s not hard to see how these jobs disappeared. Switchboard operators became redundant, for example, because of cell phones through which people can connect with other people directly. Ice cutters vanished in the face of refrigerators, and computers gave way to – well, computers of the non-human kind. This march of time is inevitable, and many of our current jobs which we think are ‘long-term’ will also disappear, not because the needs will no longer be there, but will be met through different means.

As Yoda says in Star Wars, ‘Impossible to see, the future is.’ All we can tell with certainty about the future is that it is unpredictable. So we should stay nimble and mobile in our careers, always prepared for change, never surprised by it, and forever adjusting ourselves to the needs of the day.

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