The Silicon Valley Voice

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People Who Like People Who Don’t Like People

Are you a people person?

If the answer is “yes,” then you can stop reading right now. This is a column for people who don’t like people, and you will be much happier if you find yourself another people person. The two of you people people can spend quality time sitting around and liking each other.

The rest of us will sit here and barf.

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As Barbra Streisand so lyrically put it, “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” They are also the most annoying.

Fortunately, there are jobs for people who don’t like people, and you can thank Bridget Quigg — one person whom I quite like — for finding anti-social employment opportunities for anti-social people. As Bridget put it in a recent article on Monster, “We’ve found some jobs with as few interactions with homo sapiens as possible.”

If you’re wondering what kind of work works for people who want to avoid people, Quigg quotes Katie Bardaro, the lead analyst at PayScale, Inc. “Non-people people should look for jobs that require lots of heads-down work, where time alone is necessary to complete tasks.”

The way I see it, this is a solid confirmation of your decision to apply for the ultimate heads-down position — pillow tester for a high-end bedding manufacturer. And you can count on me to provide a glowing recommendation based on your ability to doze through the day, waking only when the 5 p.m. whistle blows, and you can rush home to take a nap.

With a $97,400 median salary, the best paying, people-hating job is that of an actuary. As an actuary, you will not only be able to wear your pajamas at work, but you will be “helping insurance companies and other businesses figure out the likelihood of injury or death in various scenarios.” This is the perfect job for you, since you already spend your few conscious hours thinking up totally gristly and totally gruesome accidents that will end the lives of your bosses and co-workers. “The CEO choked on his caviar on the way to work, and ran his Bentley into his yacht? How sad!”

If making a living by predicting the death of your fellow humans feels unsettling, you may be happier predicting the demise of various consumer products, television shows and politicians. As a data analyst, you will not only pull down a fat $54,400 median salary, but you will be able to spend 24/7 with your nose in a spreadsheet and your toes in your sheepskin-lined Uggs. A bachelor’s degree is supposedly a prerequisite, but I wouldn’t worry about actually knowing anything about statistics, or even basic arithmetic. When pressed for results, just flip a coin, or make up an answer. Watch the news! When it comes to facts, nobody’s going to know, or check, or care.

If you don’t like people, and you also don’t like numbers, don’t despair. You can also choose a job where you work with animals. “As a zoologist,” Bridget Quigg writes, “you can not only avoid humans, but also feed giraffes and help baby pandas have fewer tummy aches.” The median annual salary for a zoologist is $46,400, which seems like a lot of money to feed Pepto-Bismol to dyspeptic pandas. But be warned: job growth is not expected to be robust. Note also that one state has the most people employed caring for loons, hyenas and bedbugs. You guessed it: California.

If you don’t like animals much more than people, you could also look for employment working with plants. The median annual salary for a horticulturist is $31,000. Watching trees grow may not seem like an exciting job, but on the plus side, very few plants insist on listening to Gagrakacka Mind Zones while they work, or spend the lunch hour telling you about their spastic colon.

Of course, if you really want to make mega bucks and work in a people-free zone, consider the career of business humor columnist. I’ve had this gig for more than 10 years, and I’ve yet to see another human being, except for the representative of the bank who comes once a week with a wheelbarrow full of cash.

Unfortunately, I do have to talk to this homo sapien, if only to say “hello,” and “please don’t run the wheelbarrow over the carpet. It’s cashmere.” I tell you — my work life would be just about perfect if they’d only give that job to a panda.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@funnybusiness.com.

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