11/22/2005

TECH-nically speaking

Ever since Judd Nelson jokingly addressed the janitor as a “custodial engineer” in the movie “The Breakfast Club,” people have ridiculed pretentious title-inflation for ordinary jobs. I’d like to contribute to this fine tradition.

Here are a few examples: teachers who’ve become “educators” or “facilitators;” the junk yard owner who ascended to the position of “landfill superintendent;” and my least favorite, the rock star who now fancies himself an “artist.” Artist? Given most of the crap they’re recording today, I think we’re being generous calling them “musicians.” It certainly isn’t art. I’ve got a suggestion. How about “audio defecation technician?”

Everywhere we’re inflating job titles. I blame the whole self-esteem movement. Gen-Xers couldn’t live with themselves if they were cooks, landscapers, drivers, cashiers, secretaries, etc. After all, they’ve got college degrees and $60,000 in student loans to account for. So everybody in the world became a “tech.” Everyone’s a technician. Have you noticed that? When did we all become so scientific? Is it that I-Pod I keep reading about?

Don’t you miss mechanics? Nowadays, all you can find are automobile technicians. I guess that’s why labor costs $79 per hour. No longer is the mildly retarded kid at the end of the block replacing your muffler. That’s Dr. Robert Oppenheimer under your Buick. Right after he’s done draining your oil pan, he’ll get started on the nuclear propulsion unit. He’s a tech, after all.

Everybody in the car repair business is getting in on the act. We have tire techs, wheel-alignment techs, lube techs, brake techs. Malarkey! You don’t learn to fix cars in a college laboratory. You learn the trade in a greasy garage with a girly-calendar from a guy with 9 teeth missing named “Cooter.” No science involved. Most of these guys got hired on a Wednesday and started working on Thursday -- fully trained. We assume, of course, that they squeaked by the drug screen and criminal background check. Here’s a rule of thumb: if you can rip through a 12-pack of Old Milwaukee and still perform your job reasonably well or even better, you’re not a tech. You’re a grease monkey.

Mechanics aren’t the only culprits. Recently I saw an employee name badge that read Customer Service Technician. What technology do you need to direct Mrs. Smith to the canned peaches on aisle 12? Behind the cosmetic counter, I saw a cosmetology tech. I guess counseling customers on which shade of lipstick won’t smear on a cockshaft is pretty scientific stuff! Actually, it’s not. But what noble work!

Technicians are people who have spent at least a couple of years in an “institution of higher learning” (college!), hold a credential and do something vaguely scientific. If the tools of your trade are a computer, a compass and draftboard, a calculator or a microscope, you’re probably a tech. If you could have done your job before they discovered electricity, you’re a clerk. Some jobs just aren’t high-tech. Nothing wrong with that. So be proud.

54 comments:

the Monk said...

indeed! i have an uncle, who's an insurance agent...says insurance advisor on his card though....man, did we make life miserable for him after that...

Spirit Of Owl said...

I had a friend who was a "field sales promotions executive." He worked for an estate agents, driving between the houses basically banging the "For Sale" signs into the gardens.

Weary Hag said...

Let's not forget the nifty "Engineer" title!

The way things are going,in about five years I imagine chit-chat will sound like this:

"Today I paid my bill at the Power Technician's before heading to the Enamel Engineer for a root canal. After that I went to the Pharmaceutical Engineer to fill my prescription so I can resume my job tomorrow as Caffeine Tech at the downtown Starbucks. If I don't make more money soon, I may resort to standing on a street corner - they say those Bootie Techs make more than they can spend."

The whole title thing slays me.

Amandarama said...

I'd like my title to somehow incorporate the term "wrangler", like "Education Technology Wrangler".

But in the meantime, I'll settle for teacher.

tornwordo said...

Well you probably know how I feel about labels anyway....

They like to call me a "prof d'anglais" up here and I always cringe. I do not proclaim to be a professor, and really think of myself as "nice guy who helps out with English". But teacher will do too.

Bobby said...

You are such a great Blogging Technician. Or would it be Journalistic Specialist?

FFFrapgirl said...

Debra Lafave..was what.. Ped-o-sex-instructor-tech?

HighMaintenanceHussy said...

I call myself a freelance writer, but I actually just turn tricks on the docks.

Jo said...

Not exactly in line with the "tech" theme here, but when I worked at Subway I was trained to call myself a "Sandwich Artist".

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Ooooo....that would make one of my very first jobs an "Animal Care Technician". (I worked in a pet shop and cleaned up dog crap and litter boxes).

Hmmm...sorry, I think I like "Animal Care Tech." a whole lot better than "Pooper-scooper". :)

nongirlfriend said...

I like the whole "wrangler" idea. Makes one's job sound more romantic and dangerous.

Alcoholic Consumption Wrangler - now THERE'S a job title I'd like to see. And have.

Peter said...

I used to be a mechanic, before they became "Automotive technicians" I was a sales rep before they became "Technical advisors" I was a photographer before they became "Supervisor of pictorial memories" or whatever the hell they are now.
I was just born to early damnit!!

Marilyndrew said...

i prefer "specialist"

technition sounds very manual, a "specialist" is being burried in student loans, where a "technition" went to a trade school

and probably makes more money then the specialist :(

overflow said...

I'm a Cookies and Beer Stupor Creation Specialist with a focus in Self-Carnal Technology.

Oh great One said...

I dumped the domestic engineer title for Domestic Goddess. I think it suits me.

Anonymous said...

I was once engaged to a grocery clerk. I called her a "Retail Sustenance Cash Transfer Specialist".

Heh.

Bennet said...

Ha....

One of my friends said he was laid off because the company repp said the company was "bright-sizing" because saying down-sizing is just too depressing apparently.

It's amazing how evil these words become over the years.

I know you understand what I'm saying Lightning Insect's Hindquarters.

Heather said...

I used to be a Registered Nurse. Now my title is Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist. That translates into someone who has to do anything we tell her because we wrote her job description that way.

Kim said...

LOL! Those were fantastic...

Scrapping Dani said...

Well I am a research associate in the field of child development and human relation. In other word a stay at home mom.

Amber Lynn said...

It always bothered me in corporate America to have a job title that wasn't close to what I did. Account Manager- I guess I could say I had management experience but I was just a sales person. I love the "representative" title too.

Sharon said...

How do you feel about domestic engineers? ;)

MKD said...

My old title was "Assistant of Services Editorial in Nature.” I totally picked up the chicks with that one.

Binsk said...

Speaking of SUCKY singers, did you hear Lindsay Lohan sing Stevie Nicks last night? I have never heard more suckage in my life. I can't believe she has the nerve to sing on stage in front of people...she shouldn't even be singing karaoke.

The Orchestrator said...

Oh the things I do with a draftboard...well they're not Ttechnical...

Anonymous said...

Now that you mention it, my job used to be called "Aide" now it's "Paraprofessional" Same bullshit pay however. :)

Cindy-Lou said...

All lipstick smears on a, oh wait, what?

Blond Girl said...

I'm a specialist. What does that say about me? :-)

Anonymous said...

I like, "Commercial Product Liberation Engineer," aka shoplifter.

Alice

Happy TG

Todd said...

"Sales Engineer" is my personal favorite.

Junebugg said...

I'm a CRO at work. Sounds special like VIP doesn't it, but all it means is control room operator.

Jennifer J. said...

Hey, Bright Butt! You should do a post about how television commentators make up new works like "suckage" and "stoppage." Seems to me "suck" and "stop" were working out just fine.

Dave Morris said...

I think if we inflate the lesser jobs, we should deflate the more important ones.

Rocket clerk. Nuclear monkey.

Lisa said...

Damn right. After I graduate from university I want my expensive title to mean something, dammit. How will that ever happen if even the public washroom lady gets to call herself a public sanitation tech?

OldHorsetailSnake said...

When I was being eddicated to become "a writer," an offshoot branch of the game was "technical writer." Just think. I could have invented Engrish. And I blew it.

Greg - Cowboy in the Jungle said...

Where did this all start you ask? In the Peoples Rebublic of Kalifornia.

You see in the PRK they determined that grease monkeys and clerks and drivers were all hourly, but if you had any kind of formal training then you were a TECH or Superintendant or some form of higher worker bee. This meant No Overtime payments.

Big business jumped on and changed the Coffee Jockey at the local Starbucks to a Drug Extraction Engineer, and the dude at the local vitamin shoppe is a Wellness Consultant.

Allthough, I would like to volunteer to assist the Cosmetology Tech in her research. I have just the finely tuned equipment for the job.

Woman with a Secret said...

Where I work they call the production floor people 'manufacturing associates'. What the hell?? The management staff doesn't get such a distinguished tite. We are merely 'production managers'. I'm envious.

As always... Rachael said...

I don't work outside the home. I'm the CEO of a very small corporation (my family), ruler of the very small world (my home)... but I have plans to expand... so watch out!

Anonymous Shannon said...

Hey Bugs Butt! Great post! This is why I come back time and time again! I bet you are a hoot to party with. Come get drunk in Texas sometime.

OH! BTW... I finally updated my site (Husband Helped - One Particular Harbor). Got your link up there with the rest of them!

Enid Barbaras said...

I love your posts.

Ari said...

Hey, some people might want to know what shade of lipstick WOULD smear on a cockshaft, or which would best coordinate with their outfit AND their boyfriend's flesh.

There may be more to cosmetology tech than you know, sir.

PlatinumGirl said...

Good points. Personally, at the other end of the spectrum, I think CEO is one of the most pretentious and over-inflated titles of all. Anyone can be a CEO of some nothing company they make up themselves -- and some of the CEOs of some of the most successful and powerful businesses in history seem to have essentially won the lottery. They sure as hell can't justify their grossly excessive compensation!

lilly05 said...

It's gonna be ok LBB. When my back was turned they changed our Nurse aids into critical care techs. Me? I'm still just an RN. Doesn't seem fair does it? Heh.

Rob Seifert said...

I've been contemplating what title to give myself as I've been thinking about creating a website and some business cards to promote myself as a musician. I think I'll either omit the title - certainly Robert C. Seifert should be enough. Either that or something simple like, musician or owner.

RCS

CaCaBoy said...

I think I peed a little on the "lipstick on a cockshaft" one!

You are a true genius, my friend!

Harry Yak said...

i think my work title would be "(insert boss's name here)'s bitch"

i'm not saying, i'm just saying.

chosha said...

I quite like the title of Analyst - it's so pleasantly vague and meaningless.

Automobile technician makes a little sense to me now that so many cars require the mechanic to have knowledge of computer-controlled systems. Makes me wonder if the people who take that job on now enjoy it the way a real grease monkey did.

Avatar said...

I personally think that "Graphic Designer" = "Client Stupidity, Ego, Ignorance and Bullshit Deflector".

addict said...

I've often times referred to myself as being an "exterior decorator"
*puffs chest*
I think it fits!

Teaspoon said...

Hmm so that would make me chief technician of The FoUK?

Riss said...

My husband's company is the lone voice of the opposition. He puts up computer networks from the ground up and his title is "Customer Service Representative."

Sudiegirl said...

My father was a "footwear maintenance engineer" (read: shoe repairman).

Right now, I'm a Computer Operations Associate (secretary).

I don't care as long as I get paid.

Sudiegirl

PS: Saw your link on Jules' log...I'm gonna add you to my blogroll!

Toni said...

Great post, Bug.

Hmm letsee, what would I be? Ummm oh fuck it, I'm just a graduate student. Tech.

Melonie said...

I am a domestic engineer training to be a scientific educator married to a geothermal engineer.