Careers I Once Entertained

The opportunities I passed on

Source: iStock

Following is a list of fifteen professions I gave serious consideration to, in order of increasing risk of peril, and the reasons why I didn’t pursue them.


Why: I like the idea of uniforms. Not the khakis and polo shirts of big box stores, adorned with plastic name tags, but cool black and white robes. I’d never have to worry about what to wear today or how to style my hair. I’d spend my days wandering around the remote convent and cloisters, everyone speaking in hushed tones.

Why not: The fact that I’m not Catholic is a pretty big hurdle.


Why: I can do this from anywhere, in pajamas.

Why not: “I’m going to write the next great American novel!” is a lot of people’s famous last words.

Chamber maid

Why: Gazing out ocean-view windows in $1,000-night hotel rooms I otherwise couldn’t afford combined with seeing the immediate and tangible results of my work effort is appealing.

Why not: Requires cleaning toilets.

Real estate agent

Why: It’s almost like I live in a mansion myself, I’m spending so much time showing the property.

Why not: I couldn’t sell a glass of cold water to a person lost in the desert.

Interior designer

Why: Getting to be creative on someone else’s dime. A little of this and a little of that, and voila! The space is transformed.

Why not: My desire for everything to be in shades of purple will be hotly contested.

Massage therapist

Why: Spending all my time in a dimly lit room with pleasant-smelling candles and Enya playing softly on the radio…Need I say more?

Why not: Requires touching strangers who are dressed only in their underwear.


Why: Wearing a blazer and speaking from a lectern about John Keats and Iambic pentameter all day.

Why not: Harvard wouldn’t have me (see article below).


Why: Working one on one to help a client overcome grief, while sitting on comfortable furniture.

Why not: Too much math required to earn the degree (I was an English major, after all).


Why: I’d really enjoy the prestige of having someone bring me coffee on set every day.

Why not: Unlikely to win an Oscar.

Stand-up comedian

Why: Lights, camera, applause! The wonderful sound of people laughing.

Why not: My stage fright compounded by the terrible sound of people booing makes this a non-starter.

Waffle food truck owner

Why: All the waffles I can eat!

Why not: Requires early hours when I would rather be sleeping.

Private chef

Why: Garnishing dishes with radish roses and microgreens, laying pastry dough latticework across the tops of pies, and dispensing nutritional advice. All in a celebrity’s magnificent kitchen, with every cooking device sold by Williams Sonoma gracing the marble countertops.

Why not: Unlikely to be hired by Oprah.

Park ranger

Why: I’d be outside all day, in amazing landscapes, breathing the fresh air, helping lost hikers find their way, and stopping to smell the roses.

Why not: Must pass a fitness test and be prepared to fight off ornery mountain lions.

Flight attendant

Why: Those glamorous purple uniforms on Delta, of course!

Why not: Serving in heels thirty thousand feet in the air, I would trip in the aisle and spill hot coffee on customers.

Fire watcher

Why: The thing I love about food rations is that you get it all upfront. I imagine myself opening the treehouse pantry and scanning the stacked soup cans and next to them the equally large cache of chocolate bars. I’d dine in peaceful solitude, gazing upon a dense forest, a pervasive silence blanketing the world around me.

Why not: Wait—what if there was actually a fire? FIRE!