I once spoke to a farmer who told me that what he enjoyed best about his work was that all day long he was doing different things: mending fences one moment, milking cows the next. Better than slogging through the 9-5 at a desk. But it takes a particular kind of person to thrive on variety.
For those in the art world—and the rest of the world, apparently—who scoffed at the anonymous “Art Couple”‘s listing on the New York Foundation for The Arts job board (quickly dubbed the “worst job ever” by the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times), have you considered that you are simply not up to the task? But why shouldn’t you be? That four-year degree required for this position has surely prepared you to multitask as their Executive Assistant (and travel agent, and secretary, and nanny, and dog walker, etc.).
Perhaps, consider that by the end of your experience you will be fully capable of presiding over a household of your own, though perhaps not in a Hamptons mansion or Manhattan penthouse, but in a hovel somewhere.
A hovel you have paid for with your handsome salary! The job listing promises a salary somewhere in between $65,000 and $95,000 with health insurance and a 401K. Look deep within yourself: have you gotten any better offers?
The truth is that, as demanding as this couple is, it’s a common enough job. There’s no shortage of extravagantly wealthy couples seeking personal assistants, particularly in New York. It’s the art world connection that wounded so many hearts. The idea that the connection to art alone made a grueling job desirable, even glamorous was, in the end, just twisting the knife.
Before you turn your nose up at the Art Couple, perhaps you might consider the position of “Companion to Elder Adults,” many of whom were “artists themselves or patrons of the arts.” This position, another gem on the NYFA job board, promises professional development, which at first glance seems a mean lie, but is actually true. Think of the novel you could write based on your touching friendship with an elderly artist. It’s sure to be a best seller.
At the end of the day, all this buzz about the art world’s so-called “worst job ever,” and every other posting like it, comes down to one question: Would you or would you not like to be part of a great cultural tradition, that of the downtrodden but determined servant to the cultural power elite? You could be like that unnamed narrator of Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, who, in the end, betrays her very not-self-aware employer. Better yet, you could be Andrea of The Devil Wears Prada, but unlike that sentimental fool, take full advantage of her deal with the devil and forget that hot but unsupportive boyfriend. Girlboss your way into notoriety!
Take the job!