Apparently the only thing worse than what I’m doing right now is chopping down trees. I guess bad career moves run in my family


PAUL BUNYAN | Actual photo of my great-grandfather David Fisher, from whom I get my rugged good looks.


Taffet, DavidAccording to CareerCast, out of 200 jobs, newspaper reporter ranks 199, just ahead of lumberjack at 200. The website used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to compile its rankings. What brings down the career of journalist is negative growth in the industry (down 13 percent), chance for a raise and average salary. Also the stress level which is ranked as total stress. I guess I’m not doing my job right, because I never stress about anything. Ever. And I love the way that pisses other people off.

On the top end is mathematician, the No. 1 career. Obviously, boredom is not taken into account. (Sorry mathematicians. I’m sure you love your profession as much as I love mine.)

Tenured university professor is No. 2. Yeah, I get that. I wonder if the irony that some tenured university professors teach journalism knocked this job out of the top spot.

Nos. 3 and 4 are statistician and then actuary. Maybe the average salary three times mine is what keeps them from killing themselves.

No. 5 is audiologist. What?

Dental hygienist is No. 6. Dentist is No. 61. Huh? Why bother learning to inflict pain in dental school when you can scrape plaque all day?

Software engineer, computer systems analyst, occupational therapist and speech pathologist round out the top 10. OK, those I get.

On the down side, just ahead of newspaper reporter is enlisted military personnel. Then taxi driver, broadcaster and head cook. Flight attendant is No. 194, followed by garbage collector.

Wait a minute. Going from reporter to garbage collector is taking several steps up? Understand, I respect what they do, but they’re out all day in sweltering heat, rainstorms and snow. The smell. Running alongside the truck. Riding on the truck. On the other hand, they get city benefits and can retire a hell of a lot earlier than I ever will. Hmmmm.

Next worse comes firefighter, corrections officer and roofer.

Wait, corrections officer? OK, so here’s where I have to explain apparently bad career moves that run in my family.

My father’s last job before he retired was teaching at Sing Sing. He wasn’t a corrections officer, but he worked with inmates in prison for … well, he said he never asked what any of them did. It’s how he was able to teach them without judging them, trying to help them make something of themselves when they got out.

At No. 163 is pest control worker. The Orkins (you’ve seen their pest control trucks) are my cousins. As far as I’m concerned, their bad move wasn’t the business they chose, but their decision to live in Mississippi.

And then there’s lumberjack. It’s what my great-grandfather, David Fisher for whom I’m named, did in Nagy Varad, Hungary (now known as Oradea, Romania).

The story is, he had good years and bad years. After one of his bad years, he said the next good year he’d use the money to get his family to America. Apparently he did a very good job, because when I visited Oradea in 1990, soon after the communist government fell, there wasn’t a tree in sight.

He got his wife and two daughters to New York in 1905 and he arrived a year later. He wanted something better for his family and that’s what he got. I’m not a No. 200 lumberjack. I’m a No. 199 newspaper reporter.

David Taffet is a staff writer at Dallas Voice. He can be reached at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 18, 2014.