Donald MacInnes: Don't laugh - being a lumberjack would be more than OK

In The Red

I beg your indulgence if I have relayed this tale to you in a previous column. The old noggin isn’t what it used to be and my advancing years tend to throw a… you know… what d’you call it… spanner in the works of my memory clock every now and then. So, if I have already laid the following on you, just pretend you’re listening to a favourite, if dotty, old uncle and try to refrain from laughing at me.

My American ex-brother-in-law once worked on building sites in New Orleans. He would leer delightedly while telling me tales of unfortunate workers plummeting to their doom from the escalating structure, flying past him as he sat on level 16 eating his lunch (which, if I know my former brother-in-law, probably didn’t necessitate much chewing, as it came in a bottle handily marked Jack Daniel’s).

One such lovely memory was how a chap fell from about 40 storeys up and landed on a three-inch gap between two blocks of concrete. He apparently filled the gap completely. *shudder*

So, aside from all the horror storeys (ha!), the one thing he would recall from his time spent in Louisiana was the fact that, in New Orleans, the definition of a good job is not how much money you get paid, but how much time you get off. By that rationale, everyone in the bayou wants to be a school teacher.

As jobs go, of course, the one I hold could be worse. I work for a newspaper which isn’t the Daily Mail, so I have little to complain about. We even get to hear about exciting breaking stories before most of the country. So I should count myself fortunate. However, that didn’t stop me the other day from embarking on a wistful daydream about the perfect job, triggered by a new reality show which my wife and I were watching about a group of carpenters in the US who spend their time fixing people’s elaborate treehouses. My missus then told the tale of a friend of hers who had quit his office job to become a lumberjack. Apparently, the career change was a huge success. Aside from the freezing cold, rampaging bears and risk of being crippled by a chainsaw, the chap had never been happier.

I sat listening to her, nodding…  and sighed: “Wow… I would LOVE to be a lumberjack.” As far as I can figure out, I already own a couple of tartan shirts and can grow a hefty beard in about a week. I also like forests and power tools, so would appear to be perfect for a life spent screaming “Timberrrrrrrrrr!”

While I think I may have hinted in the past that my dream job was flying a fast attack jet (maybe an F-15 or F-16), I think I would always struggle when it came time to drop that napalm on that rebel village in the mountains. Quite frankly, I would rather fell trees.

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