NPR did a report on the Jobs of Yesteryear– jobs that have basically become extinct, almost all because of technological advances. Some are things we are obviously better off without, like pinsetters at bowling alleys (a game must have taken forever) and lamplighters (what happens if he gets hit by lightning and doesn’t finish lighting the lamps?). But others are things that seem to actually be better with a human face- elevator operators, milkmen, typesetters, and switchboard operators. Who doesn’t secretly long for the days when you just picked up the phone and told Barb at the phone company who you needed to speak to and then had Ernie take you down in the elevator on your way to work?
The job that I think we would benefit the most from still having around, and the job that I would covet: lector. These were people, usually men, who would read to cigar makers. This practice originated in Cuba, where it continues today. The lectors would often read the news or political tracts. This was well before radios were available and most of the workers were illiterate, so the lectors’ job was quite important and prestigious (at least among the workers).
I think this would be a wonderful job to have. I could read all day long without anyone thinking poorly of me (I still don’t understand how someone can think spending a whole day reading is a waste of a day). I would be doing a valuable service by keeping people informed and also sharing the joy of novels with them. Ah, bliss!