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November 13, 2004
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Council Seeks "Garbology Officer"

Jobs must be scarce is merry old England.  According to Reuters Suffolk County recently posted the job of “Garbology Office”.  The lucky appointee will earn about $40,000 yearly to “raise awareness of waste and educate children about their local heritage”.  I suspect that most of the GO’s time will be spent trying to better understand the connection between garbage and history without insulting local sensibilities.  The mere existence of the job seems to imply that Suffolk suffers from something of a messy, if not downright sordid, past.  This is clearly no job for a transplant from London – only a neighbor will do – and that seems to be precisely the point.

Jezz Meredith, Council Archaeology Project Officer, adds that “we think this is a great opportunity to start looking at archaeology and at the same time deliver an environmental message."  Judging from Jezz’s job title, methinks she had 
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something to do with dreaming up the need for a Garbology Officer. After all, you can’t very well sack the Council Archaeology Project Officer if there’s a Garbology Officer on the payroll.  Despite her awkward, but brave, attempt to link the unlinkable (archaeology and the environment) into something like a bulletproof job description, the whole thing looks like a simple job security program for Jezz.

The GO has two clear duties:

Help children sift through rubbish thereby giving them “an opportunity to get their hands dirty and get stuck in” according to Jezz.  No word from Jezz about what she was hoping the kiddies would get “stuck in” or how, exactly, they will get “stuck out”.  Leave the implementation details to the GO. 

Work with older people, "using retrieved objects as a focus for reminiscence".  It doesn’t take a focus group to discover that lucid elderly folk typically don’t sift through yesterday’s garbage to “reminisce”, choosing instead more sensitive venues like comfy chairs to recall fond memories or talk with their friends.  Kind of like the rest of us.

The GO position requires no formal qualifications but Jezz, for one, thinks it opens a whole new field of research:  "In archaeology a lot of the material you find is people's rubbish from the past.”  There’s a time factor here that, despite her credentials, seems to have escaped Jezz’s notice.  To be considered an artifact something has to be cast away more than a week ago, preferably many centuries ago.  Think of what she’s doing to future generations of archaeologists.  She’s the archaeological equivalent of a strip miner, laying waste to seams of history as soon as it comes to rest on the planet’s surface.  Before long the GO will be coming around to collect tomorrow’s garbage.  And think of the legacy she’s leaving behind for the current generation of Suffolkers.  In the next millennium they’ll either look back on the folks in Suffolk as neurotic neat-freaks or cultural misfits or both.  See how much damage a well –intentioned, insecure person can do?

If there’s room on the payroll for a Garbology Officer in Suffolk, I’ve got some ideas for other positions that should be posted immediately:

Chief Garbology Officer – The natural career path for the Garbology Officer, and a guaranteed slot after three successful years as GO, further securing Jezz in her comfortable sinecure.  This kind of thing can go on as long as the tax base in Suffolk County is increasing or until the natives get their pitchforks and torches out and descend on the Council en masse. 
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Homology Officer – Develop heightened societal awareness of the teachings of Homer Simpson.  The successful candidate will be incompetent, alcoholic, intolerant, abusive to family members, utterly blind to the needs of others, and possess a surprisingly high threshold to pain.  Of course, if the Homology Officer position is created it will have to be supplemented with the Margology Officer position, which raises awareness of the healing nature of Marge Simpson.  Creating Homer without Marge would disrupt the natural harmony of the universe and send Suffolk County spinning into a previously unexplored region of hell.
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