Sometime within the next four years yet another of the drawbridges that I work on here in town will be replaced by a fixed span flyover bridge, thus putting quite a few bridgetenders out of work. Bridgetenders worldwide are becoming as rare as hen’s teeth. The only chance you have of any future in this job is if your bridge is extremely historic and quaint, and if the shore is too built up in the area for new construction. I’m going to miss this bridge when it’s gone.
That had me thinking of other jobs out there that are disappearing.
- Once upon a time in New York City there were people whose full time job it was to do nothing but keep pigs from wallowing in the muddy streets so as not to block the horse drawn carriages. Can you imagine?
- When’s the last time you saw a milkman make a delivery? Same with ice men, rag collectors, coal deliverymen, and knife sharpeners.
- Fuller brush salesmen are a thing of the past, as are encyclopedia salesmen and vacuum cleaner salesmen.
- It used to be that a “computer” was a person who sat around making calculations.
- I know someone who used to run a VCR repair shop, and someone else who was trained in computer punch cards.
- And what about those people who went around emptying coins from payphones?
- You don’t see nearly as many human beings directing traffic or taking tolls on the highways. Most of that is mechanized now.
- The number of trained librarians has been reduced worldwide, and I think that’s a tragedy.
- Newspapers seem to be disappearing, and ethical, unbiased journalists are nearly extinct.
- I’m sure there must have been a whole industry making iron lungs for victims of polio.
- I can’t remember the last time I saw someone delivering a telegram.
- Are there any gas stations left where you don’t pump it yourself?
- Drive in movies, and thus the people who worked in them, are for the most part a thing of the past.
- It’s a lot harder to find a travel agent these days, and good luck coming up with a doctor who makes house calls.
For every career that goes the way of the Dodo bird, there are large numbers of people who have fond memories of it. These people are left scrambling to find work or retrain themselves, and many of them never fully recover. The march of progress has a tendency to trample anyone standing in its path.
The Dodo Bird — Poster child for obsolescence.
[Image credit: Wikipedia]