King Henry VIII – Best Job Ever

Who are you?

Well, I was King Henry VII of England. I’ve been dead for, like, five centuries, but, through the magic of technology, time-travel, ghost-whispering, and make-believe, I’m here to talk about the award-worthy The History of Work Series. You see, my job was featured as the Second Best Job Ever, which is ridiculous. Can explorers divorce/murder their wives, establish their own religion and tax the crap out of the landed gentry? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

What do you do for fun?

Fox hunting. I also like to eat and drink. In your time, there’s this 120lb Japanese kid who wins all these hot dog eating contests, right? Well, I would eat four times as many wieners as he does in half the time and then wrap up the day by eating him, too. Look, I wouldn’t call eating people “fun,” I’m just saying that I did it before, okay? A lot of other kings liked horseback riding, but, truth be told, when you weigh 340lbs crushing the back of an animal is a bit mean-spirited and also made me feel like a bit of a fatty. In addition to eating in one afternoon what Northern England ate in a month, I also liked colourful robes, fancy hats and concubines.

What is your favourite community? Why?

I like the community of people that I locked in the Tower of London for treason because they remind me how great I am. There’s nothing like a huddled, scared group of Catholics, Spanish spies and non-Tudor-Kingmakers to make a guy feel pretty awesome about all the power at his disposal. Sometimes, I like to stand in front of their cells and eat big, huge legs of turkey while discussing the tenets of Anglicanism.

What is your superpower?

Largest human being on Earth in the first half of the sixteenth-century. How’s that for a synecdoche?

How do you use it to build community?

Perhaps the extended metaphor of my size allowed me to further establish the community of England by creating the nation state’s own church. Also, if I wasn’t so large there’s no way that people would’ve stood for me executing so many innocent people…like my wives.

My Three Favourite Things About Henry VII are…

[Editor's note: we'd just like to make it clear that we have many, many, many least favourite things about Henry VII; for example, Godfrey and I are fundamentally against murdering our wives regardless of how much closer they bring us to an alliance with Spain. We also don't care for overtaxing a taxed population - for Godfrey, especially the landed gentry - for militaristic purposes. Finally, gluttony isn't a great thing at all and this man is a bit of a poster-child for eating more than we need to. Oh, one more thing, don't let this get back to Hank, but we asked about 145 other people to be in "Get to Know Your Community" for the History of Work series and, well, they all declined to comment. This guy, though, well he isn't shy about speaking his mind. To say the least...].

1. He let us interview him!!! While Kurt’s interview with Santa Claus certainly expanded our readership amongst disgruntled elves and children of wealthy countries that are influenced by American popular culture, the fact that we locked down Henry VII (who has in fact been dead for over five centuries) will play huge with the History, Reformation, divorcee, and giant-robe crowds. I mean, if this were to happen in his day, well, Godfrey and I would probably have been thrown in the Tower of London on the charges of slander and, certainly, treason.

2. Giant pants. I remember, a few years ago when I was living in England, standing in awe as I gazed upon Henry’s giant armour. Honestly, a man from the sixteenth-century being so big was pretty darn amazing. Such sheer greed and gluttony contained in one pair of pants was certainly an historical warning of what big fat white guys could – and would – do to the world. Henry was a messenger. We just missed the message.

3. Entrepreneurial Boat-Rocking. The guy had a vision and he stuck to it, which is pretty admirable. Sure, it was based out of selfishness and an ego the size of his pants, but he took on powerful enemies and didn’t flinch once.

- As told by Godfrey von Bismarck and John Horn

The Fifth Best and Worst Jobs Ever!

As outlined by the Introduction to the History of Work Series, this is Part 1 of 5 of the Best and Worst Jobs in History. Godfrey and I don’t stand on ceremony or words. We get right down to business. Without further ado, here are the selections:

Best. Job. Ever. Number 5!

Being a Pirate has simultaneously transformed and stayed the same since there was water and people had boats. The mediums have changed (ie. the Internet or a Hedge Fund instead of a ship), but the methods (ie. lying, cheating, killing, hacking, stealing) have stayed the same. Historians and popular culture will tell you the a career as a pirate means freedom, adventure and rum, which is true. It also meant democracy, health insurance and possibly getting hanged, drowned or put in jail for the ridiculously greedy ponzi scheme that you pulled on the financial world. This career is a celebration of independence, entrepreneurship and risk taking.

Summary of Academically Sound Findings and Analysis:

PIRATE

LOW

MEDIUM

HIGH

TOTAL:

Level of Hardship

Lots of risk-reward here. For example, Bernie Madoff, one of the twenty-first century’s more notorious pirates, is facing a lot of hardship now. This being said, many Somali pirates (flush with cash and power after several years of mostly successful hijackings and coastal defending) are living much richer lives than their parents and grandparents ever did. Pirate ships were, as we all know, the first places where democratic principles were written down (100 years before the French Revolution), they saw health-insurance established, and tolerance of ethnicity and gender were also realized here before anywhere else on Earth…or at sea.

All this being said, having your face exploded by a cannon or your arm semi-hacked-off with a rusty cutlass isn’t really “medium” hardship…

3/5
Opportunity for Advancement Why do you think so many merchant sailors and Royal Navy seamen deserted their serf-like existence to become pirates? Because every pirate is only a few votes away from becoming a First Mate or Captain!!!

Women were also able to advance in this profession. In fact, the greatest pirate in history was a woman named Madame Cheng.

3/5

Meaningful Nature of Work For someone who has an entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, loves a tropical climate, and is known to sip some rum every now and then, this job is for you.Whether today or 400 years ago, pirates have always found meaning by thumbing their noses at the status quo and finding different ways to make the world work. Meaning is what you make it when you’re a pirate!

4/5

Worst. Job. Ever. Number 5!

The First World War Message Runner was responsible for maintaining a battle’s lines of communication before radio existed – in fact, it would not be uncommon to see a message runner carrying a cage of pigeons through the exploding muck of the Western Front because, well, pigeons were more reliable than transmission cables. Not only was the job horribly dangerous, if you think about the daily nine-to-fives (we’ve all had them) where nothing gets accomplished and you feel like crap walking home in the rain, wondering what it’s all for, the life of the Message Runner was just like that…except, instead of data-entry, powerpoint presentations, or hammering nails, you faced imminent death every single day.

No water breaks or smoke breaks, as the glow of a cigarette would be spotted by a sniper a mile away. Oh, and the mud on your boots would invariably cause your feet to rot (it was called “Trench Foot”). And, remember, if you quit, your friends will probably die.

Summary of Academically Sound Findings and Analysis:

FIRST WORLD WAR MESSAGE RUNNER

LOW

MEDIUM

HIGH

TOTAL:

Level of Hardship

It’s not just the getting shot or shrapneled or bayonetted that makes this job one wracked with hardship. It’s the overwhelming knowledge that, if you fail, the lines of communication break down and there is a really, really good chance that your comrades – and your friends – will die in a hail of gunfire and explosions.

It’s also incredibly hard to run through mud that is waist-deep when you’re tangled in barbed-wire and you can’t see anything through the haze of mustard gas.

0/5
Opportunity for Advancement Hey, if you don’t get horribly wounded by shrapnel or captured by the enemy you could get promoted to, like, Corporal! …awesome…

Fun historical fact: Adolph Hitler actually started his “career” as a message runner in the First World War. Clearly, this is a traumatizing job (see above).

1/5

Meaningful Nature of Work Your work is incredibly meaningful – life-saving, even. But this only makes things worse.

5/5

Reflections on these Jobs

GODFREY: The jobs in this series are not always bound by place and time….Take piracy,  well, it’s alive and well, on the financial trading floors of the world. Sure, they’ve swapped their peg legs for Prada, their hook hands for Blackberries and soiled sea clothes for Armani and white collars, but they’re still pirates. I won’t beat this analogy to death, but if you think of the rolling graphs of the Dow Jones index as the high seas, and derivatives as highly risky booty, well there you have it. The risk that everything could sink – you along with it – just makes it better.

First World War Message Runners is probably the most sadly futile and comically absurd occupation that ever was.

JOHN: Amazing! Our matrix totally works! Hopefully we sucked some of the romanticism out of piracy (ie. Bernie Madoff is a pirate and Johnny Depp will never play him in a movie). Every kind of pirate is all about teamwork, adaptability, innovation, and they’re typically great communicators.

As for Message Runners, well, nothing screams futility like a guy running through mud to deliver a message that might possibly affect minor changes along an immovable stalemate in a totally useless war. Sigh. As it turns out, creativity can’t outmatch exploding shells.

PIRATE

LOW

MEDIUM

HIGH

TOTAL:

Level of Hardship

/5

Opportunity for Advancement

/5

Meaningful Nature of Work

/5