These days, scores of reality TV shows focus on difficult and sometimes dangerous occupations. There's Ice Road Truckers, Deadliest Catch, Ax Men, Gold Rush and Oil Rush, just to name a few. What's the appeal? Are we happy to relate to people with even crappier jobs? Or are we jealous of their raw, focused and frontier-like lifestyles?
All of this begs the question: Could any shows of similar ilk be set in Park Slope?
I say Fuck Yeah. Almost any job can become dangerous under the right circumstances. So without further adieu, I present to you five theoretically dangerous jobs in Park Slope, and the equally theoretical folks who might be brave enough to work them:
1. Food Coop Cart Escorts
Frederick moved to Park Slope from Denmark 3 years ago. A part time student and fashion model, he joined the Food Coop and was immediately put on walker duty. You’ve probably seen them on the sidewalks, wearing bright yellow/orange safety mesh vests and pushing carts.
“At first I was happy with my work assignment as I got to be outdoors, says Frederick. "Plus I get a little exercise. Very quickly I learned that most of the time it’s pure hell. Have you ever tried to navigate the sidewalks of park slope with a giant trolley full of exotic produce while getting yelled at for possibly bruising melons or crushing free range eggs? Even the most peacenik granolas can get violent about their food.”
Frederick points out many of the other hazards one encounters on every trip: strollers, yippy dogs, joggers, crazed children on scooters, bicyclists, livery drivers, ambulances, cat adoption pop-ups and sugar fueled Catholic schoolgirls.
“The worst,” says Frederick, “are those green energy people. I tell them I’m a renter yet they hit me up 20 times a shift, begging me to change utilities. Now I know why Americans love their guns.” Those aren't the only people who threaten the safety of a Food Coop Walker. There are also lonely female Coop members to watch out for. There’s rumored to be groupies who belay shopping until Frederick and other 20-something male members -- nicknamed "The Soy Boy Toys -- are working their shifts. “Some people take the idea of escort literally,” complains Frederick. “We get to their building and I’m supposed to turn around and head back to the store, but then they tell me about their back problem and ask for help stocking their pantries. So I come in their pantries.”
2. 7th Avenue MTA Subway Attendant
It might not seem a dangerous job, encased in grenade-proof Plexiglas and protected by sound-muffling communications equipment. However, the attendant position at this specific station has the highest on-the-job mortality rate in greater NY for transportation workers. Why? According to studies, the cause of death in each case is boredom. Outside of disorientated blind people or drunks looking for a place to pee, absolutely nobody in Park Slope even knows there’s a human attendant at the 7th Ave. stop.
In fact, it was 5 days before the body of last attendee to die (Sharleen DeForce in May, 2012) was discovered. She was found face-first in an iPad, and had attempted to type the following message on Facebook: ‘Can’t get a fucking wifi signal…’
“Even WE forget there’s an attendee shack in that station,” admits MTA spokesperson Mike Hite. “It kind of sits there in the middle of the station, far from any street entrance. Come to think of it, that would be the perfect place to cook meth. Wait. This is off the record, right?”
3. Elocution Instructor
Samantha Swanson is a well-polished socialite and wife to a major publishing executive. Her life was seemingly peachy until Chandler, her 4 year-old son, uttered the phrase, “It’s a bootiful tittyaytion” during a family dinner at Organic Burger.
Like many children of the Slope, Chandler has a Caribbean nanny, with whom he spends 8-14 hours a day. Kids naturally mimic the accents they encounter, so it’s only natural that many Park Slope children pepper everyday conversation with phrases such as:
- Big man ting
- Inna di morrows
- Yu swag tun up
- Pass the dutchie
Enter Eliza Higgensbottom, elocution tutor to the Slope’s finest families. Born in London with an MSt in Languages from Oxford and 5 years at the United Nations, Eliza helps train children in pronunciation and speech skills.
“Obviously the first hope is to eradicate any West Indian words and phrases," says Eliza. "Nobody wants their child running around the yoga studio yelling ‘Hey Mon!’ or ‘Mudda Skunt!'.”
“The second step is to affect accent. That is, we want the children to sound smarter which obviously means training them to sound less American” she adds.
This is when Park Slope parents, who spend about $400 per child with Eliza, become confrontational and sometimes violent. “One couple, for example, were split on their ideals. The father insisted a French accent would make their kids the poshest on the playground. However the mother pulled me aside, put a knife to my ribs and said: ‘The Queen’s English. I want my sons to sound like Christiane Amanpour.’”
4. Childrens' Mechanical Ride Repairman
“The are certain situations in life that are naturally fraught with danger. A swarm of killer bees will attack to protect their single queen. A momma bear will tear your face off should you seem a threat to her cubs. Likewise, when a children’s coin operated ride stops working in Park Slope, the situation can rapidly degenerate into violence.”
These are the words of Phillip Ferguson, a professional ride mechanic whose face was recently stitched up in the ER at New York Methodist following a recent "incident."
You’ve seen these rides peppered through out Park Slope: the donkey, the train, the giant lizard horse. For 25-50 cents, kids get a mildly bucking Bronco-like adventure ride while jamming to rocking songs like “It’s a Small World” and “My Humps.”
Unfortunately, the kids of Park Slope are well nourished and, in consequence, tend to break these machines with their unbelievable strength and weight. In other words, those ice cream vendors in the park and at PS 321 have thwarted the game developers.
“Hell actually does have a fury more poignant than a woman scorned," Ferguson adds while pointing to his still-bleeding wounds. "Try standing between a toddler with quarters and a broken dino-fish.”
“Even worse,” he says, “are the intimacy-lacking housewives of Park Slope who use these machines as some sort of personal entertainment device. It’s simply wrong to dry hump a train. And it takes 3 months to get replacement parts for the M-DK5 Chocolate Choo Choo. Get a dryer.”
5. Stroller Reclamation
Back in 2007, Park Slope resident and Goldman Sacks executive Andy Hyman noticed that stroller prices were skyrocketing along with real estate. As such, he developed a new class of internationally traded products: stroller financing-backed securities.
Basically, average people were encouraged to finance – rather than buy – expensive strollers that few people would have qualified for just a few years earlier. These loans were packaged and re-sold via the global investment banking industry. We’re talking $30-40 billion in Bugaboo-backed assets.
But, as the Wall Street Journal noticed, “People keep refinancing to take out more cash. There are folks in Park Slope with a $50,000 income and a $452,000 baby stroller.” And then the bubble burst. Congress bailed out the banks, but many people still owed huge monthly payments on strollers that were now worth $32. Once you get three months behind, the banks can initiate a repossession process.
Meet Phil Barnett. Repo man. He and his crew drive the streets of park slope in a black, tinted Chevy Tahoe, hunting couples with expired titled strollers. “I kinda feel bad for them," Barnett admits, "since we end up snatching their kid’s ride. But it’s my job.” Legally, Barnett and his colleagues can’t repo a stroller with a kid on board, “but the second they are unstrapped, we are on the move.”
Barnett’s an intimidating fellow covered in tattoos. He carries a paint ball assault rifle and a Tazer on each hip, claiming that confrontations with pissed parents are very common. "You can say 'hey, don't shoot the messenger' to these parents a thousand times, but they're still gonna' come at you with full force now and then," he explains. "Luckily, I work out at the Armory YMCA, so I can fend off the attacks of both parents pretty easily. After a while they tend to get tired and eventually walk away from me and head over to Dizzy's to re-energize."