By Emily Rosen
He’s standing against the wall, arms hanging, hands clasped, as if protecting his genitals. I advance toward the checkout desk with my library books. His eye spots me, and he leaps to attention in a quick sudden move. “Have you ever used the self check, mam?”
“Mmm. Yes,” I say hesitantly. There’s no one in line. The librarians are at the ready to help me. “We’re trying to train our customers to use the self check,” he said in a low conspiratorial voice.
And with meticulous attention, he helps me adjust the bar codes under the electronic light until all have been recorded and my receipt appears.
“We’re training the people to eliminate our jobs,” he said without rancor, just in case I hadn’t caught on to the implication of his original explanation.
And so it goes in this wonderful world of automation. I can self check-out at Target, Costco and some Publixes. I can check in at airport kiosks and, for about 30 years, I have been pumping my own gas.
As fast as any government or privately-sponsored program can create jobs, automation is eliminating jobs. And, as government shrinks, we will surely find an overabundance of unemployed government workers. It seems like a widespread game of musical chairs. It’s no news that we are living in the most agonizingly long transition period as traditional jobs shrink.
So, in an attempt to be supportive, I thought I’d rustle up some information that might be helpful for future career planning. Of course, if your career has already spanned a lifetime, perhaps you might share some of these gems with your progeny. (We all know how much “progeny” likes advice, but you might just try!)
E-Scrubber – works to undo or minimize the indiscretions that people accumulate on the web.
Deceptionist – Provides tech-enabled deception services for those wishing to disguise their activities.
Geoscraper – Makes corporate and private properties look attractive in Google-earth style aerial views.
Unplugger – Mental health professional who helps wean people from excessive use of technology.
If your expertise doesn’t qualify you for any of the above, to continue the automation trend, here are some things I found on a Google list that have yet to be totally automated. Some clever inventor or entrepreneur might figure out how to close the gap here, thus eliminating all housekeeping jobs: making the bed; ironing clothes; cleaning; dusting; vacuuming with the flip of a switch or the clap of two hands (yes yes, I know about the automatic vacuum – but what about dusting?); helping the kids with homework? No! It was on the list, but let’s never eliminate THAT, although, admittedly, it’s getting to be more and more of a challenge.
Jobs, jobs, jobs. We lose them. We create them. We mix and match them. Where will my library friend go when all of us folks approach the automatic machines and check out by ourselves?