There are a lot of jobs out there you could label “dream jobs” that are probably really awesome, and if you had the right skill set, you’d probably love them. I would put any professional athlete in that category, as well as whatever it is Donald Trump does on a daily basis. But for the purposes of this column, I’m more interested in jobs that don’t require favorable genetics or a father to give you a few million dollars to start your own business. These are jobs everyone assumes would be awesome, that in reality, probably suck more than you realize.
1. Music Producer
Here’s the thing. Unless you attach yourself to a rising star like Ryan Lewis did with Macklemore, you’re not gonna be making Top 40 music for at least a decade after you start. You’ll be working as a booth guy for some no name label where girls heavy on tits and low on talent will berate you day in and day out for their songs not sounding like Britney. And let’s say you even make it to Max Martin/Dr. Luke level success. Look at what those guys are actually doing. They put blood, sweat, and genius into crafting these complex melodies with fantastic hooks, only to watch some teenage bimbo/bimbro receive all of the attention for the work they put in. Hell, if they’re famous enough, they’ll probably demand a writing credit on most of your songs. And they’ll get it too, even if all they contributed was adding a second line of “dance, dance, dance all night” to the bridge. “But Randall,” you protest, “I don’t wanna make shitty pop music. I want to work with rockers and bands who record real music.” Well good for you, Mr. Too-Cool-For-Mainstream. That side of the biz is just as hard. Rock bands all aspire to have a sound/impact similar to the bands they grew up listening to. So who do they trust to create that vision? The guys who produced the bands they grew up listening to. That’s why you see Rick Rubin, Butch Vig, and Daniel Lanois all over the place. Respect earns respect. So in all likelihood, you will spend your days putting down demos of bands that won’t be together in another year or so, constantly hoping that someone you’re producing for actually has the right amount of talent and sanity to make it big.
2. Bar Owner
Everyone’s talked about opening their own bar. Hell, making fun of everyone talking about opening their own bar is popular. How I Met Your Mother even did a whole episode about it back when that show didn’t suck massive ostrich wang. I know my friends and I have a detailed idea of what our bar would be (another topic for another day). It sounds great, though. Your favorite part of the week is the 2-4 nights you spend at your favorite watering hole, watching sports and failing to impress women with your meaningless job title. Wouldn’t doing that every night be exponentially more awesome? No, no it wouldn’t. The fact is, the bar business is insanely hard to be successful in. Most bars don’t even start turning a profit for at least a year. So that means you need a hell of a lot more start up capital than you think. Plus it’s a massive uphill battle to bring in new customers. People crave stability. That’s why we always frequent the same establishments. Even if the drinks are cheaper at another place, you still go to one or two bars consistently, because the extra few bucks it might cost you are worth it to have bartenders who know how you like your drinks.
But even if you get your bar going, it’s still fun right? You get to schmooze and drink with the patrons. You’re basically getting paid to booze every night. Again, wrong. If you’ve watched even one episode of Bar Rescue, you know that the common denominator of failing bars is an owner who spends more time drinking/giving away alcohol than he does paying attention to the business. And at the end of the day, that’s what your job is. You have to do the same mundane crap that any other small business owner does. Figuring out payroll, employee schedules, training, best practices, and marketing is only the tip of the iceberg. Not only do you have to have all the usual business permits in order, but operating an establishment that serves liquor is a nightmare in and of itself. The alcohol service laws in every state are as impossible to understand as they are to implement, and any one of your employees could do something at any time that could get you shut down. You’d be better off opening a laundromat.
3. Event Planner
This one’s more for the ladies, although I’ll grant that many men have probably considered trying their hand at coordinating large scale activities. My bedroom decor speaks volumes for my decorating abilities. Yes, I found that tacky tiger painting next to a dumpster. And yes, it’s fucking awesome. Unless you get a job working for an event company, you’re probably not going to be doing the cash cow corporate gigs at mega hotels and convention centers. Most event freelancers handle weddings and bar mitzvahs. And as any girl who’s ever been a bridesmaid will tell you, dealing with the bride/bride’s family can be a nightmare. The occasion has to be perfect. We’ve somehow ingrained into our social psyche that a wedding represents the marriage itself. If the ceremony and reception don’t go exactly as planned, somehow that reflects on the future of the couple. Plus, every girl wants do something tasteful and traditional, yet completely unique. There’s a reason traditional and unique don’t work well together; they are literal antonyms of each other. So good luck trying anything out of the ordinary without getting a mouthful from the older family members in attendance. The only cool thing about being a wedding planner is the headset.
4. NFL Coach
Speaking of jobs where the headset is the only perk, let’s talk about the pro football coach. Every kid who grew up wearing pads has wanted to be a coach on some level. They’re the big cheese. Sure, it’s cool to be the star quarterback, but the guy with the clipboard is God. You’ve played enough JV ball and Madden to have your own opinions on how an offense should run, and what defensive schemes you think work best against the rise of the read option in the NFL. But let’s think about the career trajectory of your average NFL coach. You work your way up through the college ranks, and eventually take a big pay cut to be a position coach on an average team. After a decade or so, you land a big coordinator job. Maybe your offense even leads the league in points per game. You’ve impressed everyone with your abilities, and it’s time to hit it big. Where do you go? Well the team you’re on is doing very well with your head coach already, so you go where the vacancies are. Except coaching vacancies pretty much only open up for really bad teams. Now I will grant you that there are some underperforming teams that have loads of talent, so you could potentially go the Gruden route and win a Super Bowl leading a team Tony Dungy built for you. But in all likelihood, you are going to a place with bad management, and even worse ownership and because you’re the new guy with no cred, you will get very little say in how the team is put together. You’ll likely have three different guys competing for the QB spot, none of whom can pass their way out of a wet paper bag. The media will constantly be second-guessing your every move. You might average two or three nights of sleep a night during the season. Your only goal is to maybe find one thing to have your team do well at, that way when you’re eventually canned after two lackluster seasons, you’ll have one thing on your resumé that sticks out when you’re up for a job with a team that has slightly more opportunity. But that’s just life in the NFL.
5. Drug Dealer
No set hours. Only sell to people you trust. And depending on your personal choices, an unlimited supply of your narcotic du jour. Except one of the idiot college kids you sell to is going to get busted at a party one night, and give all of your information to the officers in exchange for probation for a first offense. But guess what? You won’t get probation. Your ass has enough [fill in the blank] to get possession, intent to distribute, and any number of other charges the DA feels like throwing on you. So you’ll go from making maybe a little bit more than you would have at a boring desk job, to spending a few years in Federal “pound me in the ass” prison. Even if you avoid all the scary clichés of being locked up, you’re still screwed when you get out. Your choice is to either get a job with whatever company is willing to take a chance on a felon, or get back in the game. And if you choose the latter, your next inevitable sentence is going to be much longer. Don’t sell drugs, kids, is what I’m trying to say.
Ultimately, there’s a reason you haven’t quit your 9-5 to start doing your “Dream Job.” You may fantasize about any of these positions, and you actually have the ability to go out and do most of them in some capacity. But secretly, I think we all realize that these jobs come with just as much, if not more, frustration as our current gigs. Otherwise, wouldn’t you have pursued it by now?