They say that if you choose a job you love, it will never seem like work. Fair enough. I am truly grateful for the work I have, but I’m not sure I’d do it if I weren’t paid.
There are, however, a few companies I can imagine working at for free, if they would have me. I’d be broke, but to survive I would be willing to sleep on the floor and eat the inventory. Here, then, are my fantasy employers:
The Cape Cod Potato Chip Company. I’ve never been there, but in many ways I consider its factory in Hyannis to be my spiritual home. They have daily tours, and over 250,000 people a year visit, making it a pilgrimage of a sort. I’ve never met a potato chip I didn’t like, but theirs are the best I’ve had. My job would have to be in quality control, sampling chips as they come off the line. I would be happy to put in 18-hour days. The Cape Cod location wouldn’t hurt, either, not that I’d ever leave the plant. Not without a party size bag of Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper chips, anyway.
The Vermont Country Store. Run by the Orton family, it has the most cleverly written, enjoyable-to-read catalog since J. Peterman. I am hoping I could write for them. I imagine myself seated around a table with canny New Englanders weighing the choicest words to extract money from city folk longing for a simpler time. My first assignment? Sampling all the jams and jellies, to better describe them. They might test my writing skills by forcing me to try the roasted garlic and onion jelly. If I can make that sound appetizing, I’m in the club.
The Asbach Uralt Company. I found out about these folks through the Vermont Country Store catalog, and it profoundly affected my understanding of what perfect happiness could be. Asbach Uralt is the only liquor distillery/chocolate factory in the world, based in a small German town along the Rhine. The brandy they make goes into holiday chocolates shaped like soldiers and Santas. I’d be like a drunken Charlie Bucket in Wonka’s chocolate factory. My Golden Ticket would be my willingness to work hard to make sure the brandy is correctly going inside each chocolate Santa, by having them both go inside me first.
Maybe I could get the three companies to work together, and coordinate something special. For example, the brandy-filled chocolate Santas could be coated in potato chip crumbs. And the catalog would read: “Ho-ho-ho! A Jolly German Holiday Tradition, Now with a Salty American Twist.” I’d travel to each company, and not have to choose between any of these perfect jobs.
I’m picturing September through April in Germany, the only months the chocolates are available. In the summer, I would drive between the Cape and Vermont, eating as many potato chips along the way as I can and then describing the experience for the catalog’s readers. Did you know that roasted garlic and onion jelly make a delicious dip for chips? They do now.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t want a weekend off now and again.
But most days you’d find me at the office, or factory floor, doing what God put me here to do: To earn my daily bread, and prove that I’m worth my salt.
Cartoon by Isabella Bannerman