How do you do that? The Day introduces the new ‘Job Description’ podcast
People who don’t know me well but, for one reason or another, have observed me trying to do seemingly ordinary tasks in everyday life are rendered speechless by my inability to perform even the simplest chore.
∎ I need a flashlight to see to change the batteries in the flashlight because it’s already dark by the time I let the batteries die.
∎ “Oh, THAT’S the valve that shuts off the water? No wonder the basement is flooded.”
∎ I call AAA so they can come over and tell me whether the jumper cables hook up to the battery or the carburetor. “As long as you’re here, how do you change a flat tire?”
This is all sad. At the same time, though, my lifetime of being not very good at most things makes me endlessly fascinated by people who CAN do something well. It doesn’t have to be exotic. I was once mesmerized by a house painter perfectly finessing the edge of a wall where it met the ceiling. It was precise and required no taping.
I tried it and the result looked like someone recreating the tiger stripe pattern on a Cincinnati Bengals helmet.
So: If someone can do something well, I’m a fan — though I’m sure I’ve made more than one person feel a bit weird by my badgering.
“You’re an underwater welder? COOL! How do you keep the flame-y thing lit if it’s wet? And do you just hold your breath, or do you actually use an oxygen tank next to a flame that apparently can’t be extinguished?”
In an attempt to do something productive, informative and entertaining, The Day introduces my new podcast called “Job Description.” In each episode — all of which are produced by Pete Huoppi since we already know I can’t do it myself — I’ll talk to a different person who has a distinctive job and get them to share details and stories about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.
We debuted “Job Description” Thursday and new episodes will appear on a biweekly basis. Here’s a hint of what’s in store.
Episode #1 — Myles Karp, expert on tropical fruit. We here in the States have no idea, banana-wise, what we’re missing. To say nothing of fruits that “look like Dr. Seuss’s testicles.”
Episode #2 — Jaime Duquette, mechanical engineer well-versed in fluid mechanics. Just the idea of “physics” is enough to make many folks quake with fear (at least in terms of a final exam, after which we gratefully forget about physics). But the whole field is subdivided (math term!) into various specialties, and one of them is intimidatingly called “fluid mechanics.”
Episode #3 — Patrick Doherty, neurosurgeon. It’s not accurate to simply refer to Dr. Doherty as a “brain surgeon” because his job description includes work on the spine. As a guy who started to watch a spinal procedure in Dr. Doherty’s operating theater — and was hustled out just before I fainted — let me say that doing brain or spinal surgery is a lot different than opening a can of tuna.
Episode #4 — Bob Wallace, oceanographer who maps the sea floor. No, there are no markers telling scuba divers how many fathoms they must descend before they hit the bottom of the Mariana Trench. There are no signs suggesting a left turn to get to the next coral reef. There are no apocryphal “X marks the spot!” alerts for buried pirate treasure. So … why DO we map the ocean floor?
Tune in and enjoy.
Who and what: Rick Koster hosts The Day’s “Job Description” podcast
When: Streaming now; new episodes every other Thursday
Where: www.theday.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts
Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.