"Someone was using the pencil."
-Dorothy Parker's explanation for why she didn't meet a work deadline
On Labor Day weekend, the TV news broadcasts were inundated with a study that says Americans work longer hours every week and take less vacation than any other employees in the industrialized world. This information came simultaneously with a bleak national picture of unemployment; during the month of August 2001, the U.S. jobless rate rose to 4.9 percent as the result of 113,000 jobs being cut. Many of us are working harder with less security. The unlimited personal growth potential of Amway has never looked more attractive.
But in the spirit of inspiration, we're hopeful that Dallas Observer's "Best of Dallas® 2001" offers a series of profiles that will soothe rampant job anxiety. Once you read about the oddball, unglamorous, but very necessary professions that the women and men we've spoken to have chosen, you'll either be motivated to seek a more self-styled career path...or, after you contemplate their responsibilities, the Ramen noodles you purchased with your unemployment check will go down a little easier.
What unites the Dallasites we interviewed is a combined sense of personal commitment and indispensability. They know their services will always be called upon in even the choppiest of employment currents. One of Dallas' few female funeral home owners uses the same hand to console mourners as she does to fashion new ears and noses for the deceased. If you think workplace drug-testing is a violation, how would you like to be the one to approach a racehorse with a urine tube to make sure that animal's victory wasn't chemically inspired?
The professionals in "Best of Dallas 2001" speak to certain verities. Spouses will always cheat; crime scenes will always need to be cleaned up; drag queens will forever need to be zipped up. In the face of such eternal truths, we consider the current economy with a little more wisdom: This, too, shall pass.