My Extremely Boring Job

It should come as no surprise to you, given that I was born in 1975, that one of my childhood fantasies was to be Indiana Jones when I grew up.  Not to be an archaeologist, or a swashbuckling archaeologist, or even a Nazi-thwarting, whip-wielding archaeologist, but the no f***ing kidding actual Dr. Jones himself.  Never you mind that I was a girl born 75 years too late; I was absolutely convinced that I could somehow grow up to become the fictional character.

Fast forward a few decades and I am a bit older and hopefully a bit wiser.  I no longer want to be Indiana Jones but I would like to be Dirk Pitt, or at least the non-fictional equivalent thereof (perhaps Robert Ballard?).  As an oceanographer in the Navy with training in hydrography I have at least some of the skills I will need to someday follow my dream.  Unfortunately in the mean time I am a Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR), or what some people refer to as a Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR).  For a mind-numbing description from Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, click here.

On those rare occasions when I get invited to a party or some other social function, I have learned that it is not wise to answer with “Contracting Officer’s Representative” or even “Project Manager” when someone asks me what I do, assuming of course I want to continue to be engaged by that person in conversation.  So, as a tactic for sorting out the kind of people I want to talk to from the kind I don’t want to talk to, I answer with the following:

I work on a project designing submersible tanks manned by anthropomorphic ducks which the Navy will use to invade Chechnya.

If they walk away, then obviously I didn’t want to talk to them.  If they say “anthropo-huh?” then again, I obviously didn’t want to talk to them.  If they poke any holes in my statement such as questioning why the Navy would spend money on such a foolhardy project, then once again I didn’t want to talk to them.  But there is that rare gem that will instantaneously recognize all of the nuance, sarcasm and irony bundled into that one statement.  For example, why would a tank be submersible?  Why would the US Navy want to invade a landlocked region of Russia?  Anthropomorphic ducks (although honestly who better to man a submersible tank)?  This rare person, almost inevitably, will respond to my spiel with almost the exact same words every time:

Oh, you mean like Howard?

At which point I know I have found my tribe at this particular event and I will enjoy the rest of the evening.


3 thoughts on “My Extremely Boring Job

  1. I have found that one of the most rewarding things in life is finding people who “get the joke.” It’s a rare thing…

  2. On those occasions when I am in Washington and meet people socially, I tell them I work for the “NXX” (last two letters picked at random). Your typical DC wonk will refuse to admit that there is a government agency they’ve never heard of and I am spared to need to explain the banal details of my real job.

  3. When I worked at an engineering firm I used to say ” I keep buildings from falling down”. Now I work in healthcare and fitness so when someone asks and I don’t think they are interested in the answer, I say “I solve problems”. It’s amazing the even split between people who think I work IT and people who think I’m playing a sniper in a show.

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