Straight Up with Sherri

Friday, May 06, 2005

TOM PURCELL: Hardest Job in the World

Hardest Job in the World

“I’ve come to apply for the job.”

“This is the hardest job in the world, I hope you know. You think you got the stuff for it?”


“Let’s start from the top then. Do you have any operational experience? Have you ever run a small manufacturing operation? Have you ever overseen purchasing, inventory, budgeting, production, accounting and so on?”

“No, but I once sold hangars as part of a Junior Achievement project.”

“I see. Then how are your people skills? Are you able to quickly assess people and determine their strengths and weaknesses? Are you able to quickly delineate between people who are good and have our interests at heart and those who intend to harm our operation?”

“I took a psychology course in college once.”

“OK, then, how are you at managing disputes? There are a lot of disputes that arise in an operation like ours and resolving them requires excellent listening skills, comprehensive reasoning skills and the ability to enforce sound judgment.”

“Managing disputes? Well, I almost talked my way out of a parking ticket one time, but that judge had it out for me.”

“Perhaps you have other skills that are mandatory for the hardest job in the world. How are your comedy skills? That is, how are you with encouraging laughter, one of the most important elements of this job?”

“Laughter? You mean like telling jokes? I know a good Irish joke about these two guys --”

“That won’t be necessary. What about ethics and morals? Do you have a strong sense of right and wrong? Are you able to quickly determine the honest path in any situation? And do you have the ability to promote this knowledge to the others in our operation?”

“Ethics and morals? Well, I got a C-plus once on a paper I wrote on Aristotle. Or was it Plato? I always confuse those two. Of course, it might have been that Ben Franklin paper and --”

“Let’s just keep moving along. Our operation is facing unprecedented threats from outsiders these days. As a result of the Internet and mass media, there are many charlatans out there trying to infiltrate our operation and promote ideas that are inconsistent with our operational and ethical goals. Do you have the fortitude to fend off such threats?”

“Sure, if someone can help me determine what they are? I’m good with tasks once somebody helps me define them.”

“Oh, brother. There has to be some area where you excel. In this job you will have every one of your buttons pushed, but you must never lose your cool. Do you have extraordinary patience?"

“I waited nearly five minutes for a burger at a fast-food joint once and didn’t yell at anyone.”

“Extraordinary. Let’s talk then about your career aspirations. Where do you see yourself in five years?”

“Well, I figure this job will make a nice stepping stone. Once I get in and prove myself, then I can keep advancing.”

“But you cannot advance in this job. There is only one job level. You will never be promoted.”

“Never promoted? What kind of shift would I have to work?”

“Good question. The job requires a 24-hour-a-day shift seven days a week. There are no breaks.”

“No breaks! This job requires a comprehensive range of skills in every area of expertise. Please tell me I’d get assistants!”

“No assistants.”

“Then surely a hard job like this pays a lot of money?”

“Not a penny. People who hold this job work free.”

“Free! What the heck kind of job is this anyway?”

“It’s the job of Mother, the hardest job in the world.”

(Tom Purcell’s e-mail address is; his Web address is
Tom Purcell
(pssssst, Tom-My divorce papers have been filed!)


  • Great essay. But Tom neglected the technical skills necessary to fix anything that breaks.

    Mothers are so important. I was fortunate to have a stay-at-home Mother (even though she was in a wheelchair). It was also my blessing to have my wife at home to raise our three children - she works now, mostly for health insurance benefits since I'm unemployed.

    By Blogger Right Wing Nut Job, at 11:56 AM  

  • Being a Mom in Iraq can be even harder, judging by another story coming from Sherri's home state (lately all the news has been from either GA, FL, or TX).

    Student suspended over call from mom in Iraq

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:44 PM  

  • anon

    While I have no interest in derailing the "theme" of my blog or the post onto the IRaq War- Thanks for this post and link.

    This story addresses 3 issues actually. 3 issues I am VERY interested. Motherhood- of course, Iraq- the hardships of the troops and their families left behind, and SCHOOLS.

    This student should not be the least bit reprimanded for the phone call. But- if the student used profanity with the teacher- then the student needs to receive the disciplinary measures expected for his behavior.

    By Blogger Straight Up with Sherri, at 3:01 PM  

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