I went Google fishing the other day using the other day using the phrase, “I have a weird job.” What I wanted was people confessing to sanding dildos and training spiders. What I got was people with pretty normal jobs who posted things that were a little silly and had no context.
For example, Austin journalist Emily DePrang posted this image of her inbox subject lines:
These are mildly amusing. One of them uses the word ‘abortion’ in a casual, jokey way, which, OMG, edgy. Way to freak out the squares. The other makes a pun using a well-known 40-year-old song. Nobody has ever done that.
This was the top result and it pains me how boring it is. Other not weird job results include a radio DJ posting the amusing, out of context names of sound clips; Jonah Goldberg misunderstanding the concept; somebody building what I assume is a thermin (my sound is off because courtesy); Jennifer Lawrence; a guy who updates a website that sells electric bikes with really specific guidelines; some guy from Fox Sports who thinks Hulk hands are about the weirdest thing ever; and plenty more mild to unusual situations in pretty mundane jobs.
I did find one legitimately weird job. A brief video where someone rubs paint on another person’s belly and they rub around on a piece of butcher paper. Whether the person is the rubber or the rubbee, that’s weird to have that as a job.
The thing is, people aren’t that weird. Being in a job where you have to come up with entertainment is not that weird. Writing amusing subject lines with co-workers or having a phone call about a giant squid being treated like a rare leopard for pretending really well is not that weird. There may be weird situations and things that, when shown out of context, seem absurd. But you aren’t weird.
A lot of the people who claim weirdness in these situations are actually super normal, boring people. I hate to break it to you. These are high achieving professionals who have colored within the lines in order to achieve a profession that is stimulating and has some variety. People who are legit weird usually don’t get that kind of notice unless it’s negative. But the concept of being “weird” or “crazy” has some cultural cachet, the idea of the mad genius, who taps into some sort of person ley line to draw out an unseen truth, who lives life truer than the rest of us.
I see with the stand-up specials on Netflix. Anytime someone uses the word “crazy” or “weird” in the title of their special, I think, “Man, this guy is gonna be boring.” The two that come to mind are Jeff Dunham’s “Spark of Insanity” and Donald Glover’s “Weirdo.” There’s also one called “Completely Normal” by a guy named Tom Segura, but I have no idea what he’s like, so I won’t talk shit about him. But the other guys, whoa. Jeff Dunham is probably the biggest offender. He does a ventriloquist act for the blue collar comedy tour set. Pretty straight down home stereotype stuff about cranky old people and terrorists. But he does it with his hand up a puppet, so whoa, watch out world. Donald Glover, who I like as a person, is just sort of boring on there. It seems like a guy with a showbiz career trying to branch out.
I get miffed about people claiming weird, because I know some weirdos. I know a guy who once obsessed about the Fibonacci series so much that he incorporated it into doodles and chord progressions. I know a guy who has a semi-mystical philosophy that’s equal parts quantum physics and Aleister Crowley. I’ve met folks who make their livings as dominants and submissives, but without any sex. I know a guy who makes ambient noise music and when I met him, offered me a few drops of his custom tincture of mood altering herbs and supplements. These are proper weird people and none of them would ever say that they themselves are weird.
People who are actually weird don’t advertise it. They don’t have to, because they don’t care if they are weird. They just do the things that interest them, public image be damned. We all can learn a lot from our local weirdos.