Every mother likes to brag about her kid. I’m not sure if it’s a competitive thing — a one−upmanship with the other neighborhood parents, or what — but her biggest nightmare would be to have her bouncing bundle of joy grow up to have a cringe−worthy job title. She’s probably the one who proudly slapped the Tufts bumper sticker on the back of the car when you got accepted to college, or who latched onto that one time you mentioned you maybe wanted to become a lawyer and now tells the grocery clerk about your legal ambitions.
The majority of the careers I’ve researched for this column have been quirky, and let’s face it — coming out to your friends and relatives as a golf ball SCUBA diver or a pet acupuncturist might not be a picnic, particularly if they think you’re on an engineering track. But those can’t be as hard a sell as being a hooker.
Actually, it’s not the world’s oldest profession. In fact, it’s only been a position as long as the lumber industry has been semi−automated. Hookers are the people responsible for loading and hauling logs in cable yarding systems. It’s a physically demanding job (tee−hee). In all seriousness, though, you work with a forestry team that fells timber and removes trees via helicopter. Each logger has a specific niche, from scaling and chopping down trees to driving trucks to haul the lumber. As a hooker, you make sure the logs are removed safely. The helicopter lowers a cable, you thread the logs onto a huge hook, and then you’re in charge of making sure everyone’s out of the way (falling trees present a slight safety concern).
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, hookers (if you’re Googling, make sure to type “LOG hookers”) earn $17,000 to $38,000 annually, with an education level that generally tops out with a certificate (Tufts is not, unfortunately, listed in the top 50 schools for log hooker education, though apparently Harvard has a decent forestry program). As deforestation progresses, I imagine the job prospects will fall off some. Of course, hookers work in conservation, too, thinning forests to prevent wildfires and maintaining national parks and nature reserves.
If you’ve got a green thumb but don’t think hooker is the right job for you to put your talents to use, you could become a weed farmer. No, no, don’t get too excited! I’m not endorsing marijuana usage, and cultivation is still very illegal in Massachusetts (unless House Bill 1371 passes in the next committee session).
Weed farmers are those who purposely grow pests most people want out of their gardens. They can then sell these to universities or agricultural schools to do research on weeds. Indeed, there is a Weed Science Society of America that publishes three peer−reviewed journals and is devoted to “fostering awareness of weeds” and promoting “extension outreach activities related to weeds.” Together, these research partnerships investigate the effects of herbicides, soil composition and other factors on weed growth. Weeds are an important part of the ecosystem, and farmers are increasingly encountering species of ragweed and other unintentional crops that are resistant to herbicides. Weed control is a burgeoning field, particularly with the surge in the popularity of organic cultivation.
Whoever came up with these job titles is either completely oblivious to the possibilities for innuendo (which I could exploit further, except that I only have one skinny column) or has a sense of humor — I can’t decide which. I don’t recommend telling Mom you want to be a hooker or a weed farmer, though, unless you’re planning to give her gray hair or cardiac arrest this Mother’s Day.
Alyson Yee is a senior majoring in biology and French. She can be reached at Alyson.Yee@tufts.edu.