May You Live In Interesting Times

Thanks to Avoid This Job reader Jessica, we have new sadness to add to our The Kids Are Not Alright category:

Let’s cut right to the chase here:


Are you actually trying to sound like a molestation factory? Or the front for a child slavery ring? Because it doesn’t sound good. At all. Phrases like “the shooting last about three hours” are not helping.

It could be worse, I suppose. You could leave out ANY details on what type of shoot this is, specify a wide age range but an unsettlingly specific hair-color, and then say something like “we like to get to the child level, our style is very playfull.” THAT would sound creepier, but– oh. I see. Well… this is awkward.

It’s possible (let’s say, even LIKELY) that you are running a fully above-board operation here, and so we offer a word of advice: this ad is not doing your business any favors. The casual, non-native-speaker misspellings and mistakes, the vagueness of purpose… And in addition to the nightmare-inducing “interesting” compensation, you appear to be trying to sweeten the deal by making this sound like a fun experience for kids. Stop that.

True fact: 95% of children have absolutely zero interest in “see[ing] a professional photography studio in action.” For the average six-year old, observing a professional children’s photographer at work falls squarely in the center of the Boredom Scale, somewhere in between “going to the bank with your overly-perfumed Aunt Lisa” and “watching reruns of M*A*S*H on a black & white TV.” It is SLIGHTLY more interesting reading a back issue of Architectural Digest, but significantly duller than reading the back of a cereal box.

Anyone who prefers their compensation in money, as opposed to interestingness, should avoid this job. And red headed children: RUN LIKE THE WIND!

Scary Clown


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10 Responses to May You Live In Interesting Times

  1. riley finn says:

    I love fashion styling!!
    Super-funny post…

  2. John Dutton says:

    Your comments are funny, but I suspect that the person who wrote the ad is a 99% bilingual French speaker. Here in Montreal we see a lot of these kinds of mistakes, which are termed “false friends”. These are words which when you see them seem to be the same in both languages but actually mean something different. A good example is “sensible”, which in English means what you think it does, but in French means “sensitive”. This results in Quebec French speakers saying things like, “My penis is sensible”.
    What I’m leading up to is that the phrase “compensation intéressante” is French for “attractive compensation”, which the writer has assumed is rendered as “interesting compensation” in English.
    The other word that gives away that the writer is a native French-speaker is “tutor”, which doesn’t mean that the child has to bring their remedial math prof with them to the shoot, but is simply the French word for “guardian” as in “legal guardian”, rendered mistakenly as the equivalent word in English.
    Spelling mistakes such as “playfull” are also common (and understandable) mistakes for non-English speakers to make.
    Of course, none of this takes away from the fact that children should Avoid This Job!

  3. AvoidThisJob says:

    Thanks for your comment, John! I suspect you are entirely right about what’s going on here. I am kind of a language nerd, and I LOVE faux amis! I had a French professor who was forever warning us to be careful with “introduire” vs “presenter” and I have never forgotten. Nor have I forgotten the (horrifying) story of my mother, when she was a teenager in Paris, telling a dinner table full of adults, “je suis pleine.” Oops.
    Although according to Google, that is actually OK to say in Quebec! Just not in France…

  4. John Dutton says:

    Oh boy, have I got some faux amis for you, mon ami! I really did hear a guy say that he told his doctor he had a sensible penis.
    I’m a writer and often have to deal with texts written in English by francophones, so I come up against faux amis every week. The most common one is probably “important” which is pretty subtle, because it can mean the same thing as in English but often simply means “large”, as in the phrase “la plus importante firme légale au Canada” (Canada’s largest law firm). Unfortunately a francophone might render this in English as “Canada’s most important law firm” which has very pretentious overtones.
    And yes, Google is right, saying je suis pleine is no big deal in Quebec.
    Anyway, time for bed. Maybe I’ll send you some more faux amis soon.

  5. Kat says:

    Oh those confusing words! Speaking mediocre Spanish to my Cuban in-laws, I tried to say I was embarrassed by something or other, so said “estoy embarazada” which means in Spanish “I’m pregnant.” Oops…

  6. Lea says:

    Kat, I was just thinking about “embarazada.” I remember being in a Spanish class with a Catholic priest, who told us that he once said, “estoy embarazada” to some parishioners. This caused a lot of confusion, then mirth.
    I don’t think it helped his embarrassment, though.

  7. Emily says:

    It’s so often sexual, these problems with false friends, isn’t it? Italian, oh man. The words for “excited”..such a minefield. It sounds like you should use the word “eccitato” since that’s the closest to “excited”, but eccitato can mean you’re SEXUALLY excited. So you can imagine the embarrassment if you declare to a waiter “Oh, I’m so excited for this food!” or to an elderly shopkeeper “Italy makes me so excited”.

  8. Have you read the Sherlock Holmes story “The Red-Haired League”? Maybe the “photographer” here is just trying to get the kids, and with them their yuppie parents, out of their McMansions so his accomplice can rob ’em blind.
    That’s the least-molesty possible explanation, anyway.

  9. AvoidThisJob says:

    That’s an excellent point. The possibilities can be nefarious, without being molest-y. Like,
    apparently the ancient Egyptians used to sacrifice redheads… this could possibly be some sort of revival of an ancient Egyptian cult?
    Someone call Dan Brown, ASAP: we’ve got his next bestseller!

  10. Blucatchr92 says:

    Am I the only person amused here by the OP wanting to “shoot” some “redheads”?
    DISCLAIMER: I have lots of redheaded friends that I love dearly. Be kind. :\

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