A woman contacts her brother-in-law last minute to ask him to watch her daughter for the day. The brother-in-law, Tim, grudgingly agrees. He picks the girl up and takes her down to the shoreline where he works.
“Do you know what I do for a living?”
She nods. “You’re a fisherman, right?”
“Well, kind of. See, we get a lot of fish around here, and in order to catch as many as possible, we’ve streamlined the process and now everyone involved is heavily specialized. There are people who spend their whole day throwing lines out. They just move from line to line, throwing it out and moving on. Then there are other people who keep their eyes on a bunch of lines, and when a fish tugs on one, they run over and jerk the line to hook the fish. All day, just hooking fish after fish. Then they move on, and someone else comes up and reels the fish in. Then someone else collects the fish, and someone else carries them to the warehouse to be gutted. Etc, etc, etc.”
“That seems like it would be tedious. How do you decide which job you want? Do you just end up doing whatever you started with until you quit?”
“Well, no. Everyone starts by hooking the fish. Not many people really like that job, so everyone has to start there. After you’ve been at it for a while, if a position opens up somewhere else, you can spend a few days trying out casting or reeling. The jobs that pay the best, the ones that everybody wants, are baiting and gutting the fish. Gutting isn’t pleasant, but the pay is good and you can work indoors.”
She thinks about that for a minute, then nods. “Okay, so what do you do?”
“Me? I’m a baiter. Have been for years!” Uncle Tim is clearly proud of himself. “Not only that, but I’m at the top of the game. See how there are people fishing all up and down here?
Well, what you probably don’t realize is that you have to earn your position. Newbies and people who aren’t good at their job start out here on the street. If you’re good enough, though, you can earn a spot working on the pier, where they get twice as many fish. And if you’re a master of your specialty, you can get a place out there at the very end. That’s where they catch the most and the best fish, and that’s where I work!”
The girl doesn’t find this very interesting, but she goes out with her uncle and watches and helps for a few hours at the end of the pier. She hates it. The bate is disgusting, the hooks keep on pricking her. It’s miserable. About halfway through the day, though a spot opens up out on the street, and she jumps at the chance to get away from her Uncle’s prized job.
That night, at dinner, her mother asks, “So, how was your day with your uncle? Where did you go? What did you learn?”
She thinks for a minute before replying: “We went to the shore today, and I learned one thing for certain. I’d rather be a lowly street hooker than spend the rest of my life as a master baiter like Uncle Tim.”
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