The Real World and You
  "It's a jungle out there." So goes the old line about job life. But for those who thrive on the great outdoors, it's a jungle in there, working at a desk job or in a factory.
     Here are the ins and outs of working environments, from some insiders' points of view.

By Jo Cooper
     Here's a quick quiz to test your E.Q.--Environment Quotient. All you need to know to take this quiz is:
Who ARE you...?
1) Does the sound of machinery bother you?
2) Are you particularly sensitive to odors?
3) Do you need to wash your hands if they're the least bit dirty?
4) Would you rather be outdoors than inside?
5) Do you enjoy rugged outdoor activities, even during bad weather?
6) Are you self-disciplined, able to stick to a task without direct supervision?
John Kraushaar

7) Do you enjoy hours alone, with no one to talk with?
     There are no "right" or "wrong" answers to these questions, of course. But how you respond can help guide you into a comfortable job habitat.
     If you answered "no" to Questions 1, 2, and 3, a hands-on job in industry might interest you.
     Peggy Rae Hunt, a second-press operator for a printing firm, has this to say about her work environment.
     "Presses all make noise. Some are louder than others. Some air pumps have no mufflers. And some machines have parts, like counterweights inside cylinders, that come apart. This doesn't hurt the machine's performance, but they make a loud, clanking noise that is nerve-racking.
     "Usually the day shift is noisier. Most printing companies let you wear earplugs, but you have to take them out when the press isn't running so you can hear the instructions for the next run. Then you squeeze the plugs with your dirty fingers and ink and grease gets in your ears. Rubber plugs are a little better, but they are hard to get used to. And have you ever tried to chew gum with earplugs in?
     "Some inks smell," the press operator explains. "Alcohol and blanket-wash fumes mixed is the worst. During every wash-up, you get the feeling of being under nitrous oxide, like when you go to the dentist. When I'm cleaning a

  back cylinder and my feet start to tingle. I know I've had enough and I get out and get some air."
      "Printing is not a clean business. Your clothes get filthy because you have to crawl under some equipment to clean it. The ink will come off your hands with special cleaners, but your work clothes are just that. You don't wear them anywhere else."
     "It's a challenging job. It's still a non-traditional field for a woman, so it was difficult to advance from fly-boy, (the term for an entry-level worker), to press operator."
     Says Peggy Rae Hunt: "The money is good, but you earn it."
     If machinery, and money, interest you, and dirt and noise don't bother you, printing, or another hands-on occupation, could be your calling.
     Did you answer "yes" to questions 4 and 5? Then how about an environment that covers 300,000 acres of mountain terrain?
     John Kraushaar, a supervisory park ranger in Sequoia Park, California, hikes or skis 15 to 25 miles
a day to cover the territory. He is responsible for overseeing park resources, and for visitor protection.
     In his 14 years on the job, one of his most memorable experiences was finding a high school student who, while backpacking alone, broke both ankles and waited for two weeks to be rescued.
     "I also rescued two young men who were caught ill-prepared for a massive winter storm. The had survived four nights in the snow, with temperatures dropping to 10 degrees F. They were dressed only in clothes for climbing."
     The only thing John Kraushaar dislikes about his job is not having enough time to spend with the park visitors who want information from rangers, and not having enough time to do everything that needs to be done.
     For some people, the lonely hours and the low starting salaries offset the benefits of working in the wild. But if you enjoy being outdoors, other occupations may be right for you: Geologists, farmers, ranchers,
landscapers gardeners, and construction workers are among those who usually spend the bulk of their workdays outside.
     Do you like "home work?" Growing numbers of people are joining the ranks of the "cottage industry," working at home. If you answered "yes" to questions 6 and 7, you may be suited to this, too.
     Working at home includes not only the full-time profession of homemaker, but also those who either run a business or work for an employer while using an office in their home. Among them; mailorder businesses, computer programmers, and writers.
     It can be a solitary life. A writer, for example, may spend five hours a day sitting alone at a computer or typewriter, and several hours on research projects (reading, library, phone calls).
     Writers can set their own hours, and, for some, this works well. But as a writer, you are your own boss, so you must be self-disciplined. This is not as easy as it sounds.
     If as an isolated writer, you do
...enjoys the work environment of the great outdoors

not adhere to a schedule and complete a certain amount of work each week, you will not earn enough money to pay for postage. If you miss deadlines, you will not be given future assignments. Some people work much better on a regular nine-to-five job with direct supervision.
     Even office jobs vary. Some are hot and stuffy: others have beautiful views. Some are noisy and lively: others are quietly efficient, and quietly dull.
     No job is perfect, but try to find one with an environment that suits your personal likes and dislikes.
      And remember that it's people who make the biggest difference in a job setting. A happy person creates a good environment.

By Ralph Cooper, 12-26-07
     This story was published in the CAREER WORLD magazine of October, 1987. Peggy Rae Hunt is Jo's youngest daughter and was recounting her own personal experiences when she worked in a printing plant in Visalia. She and her older sister Elsah still live in Three Rivers, a small community near the entrance to Sequoia Park. Ranger John Kraushaar was a friend of theirs and readily agreed to be interviewed for the article.

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