A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I love the British Broadcasting Corporation! In a time when 99% of the gutter-feeding media are giving the other 1% a bad name, the Beeb (as it is affectionately called) is a bastion of reasonable thought. For example, last week they reported that the village of Saalfelden in Austria was in the market for a hermit. Apparently, the hermit they had retired last autumn, and they haven’t been able to fill the position. This is real news — the kind of news that not only informs us but also makes us think. Particularly, I was thinking, “Wow! I didn’t know the world still had hermits. I thought the old guy down the road, talking to his vegetables, was just nuts.” It surprises me that being a hermit is a genuine profession from which some people do retire. And that knowledge opens up a whole can of other questions; not the least of which is, for a hermit, what does retirement look like?
Is there a pension plan? Do they get dental? What about seniors’ housing? Most retirees want to go live in a quiet place in the country; do hermits find the nastiest, noisiest tenement in South Philly and move there? Do they spend their days hanging out at the mall? Taking public speaking courses at the community college? Jazzercise at the gym? What about eHarmony?
Then there’s the whole question of how and where does the village of Saalfelden find a replacement for the hermit they lost? The problem is the nature of being a good hermit actually precludes networking or strutting your stuff on craigslist or LinkedIn. Plus, if the citizens of Saalfelden do find a hermit (I’m assuming by word-of-mouth) how would they tell if he’s unhappy with his present situation? Or how do they convince him that Saalfelden would be a good career move? This would be tough, considering hermits, in general, are not susceptible to reasonable arguments. It would probably be a lot easier to just start fresh and print up some flyers.
HELP WANTED: No Experience Necessary.
Picturesque alpine village south of Salzburg seeks an older gentleman to fill a long-term position as the local hermit. Compensation commensurate with soul-eating poverty. Hovel provided. All applicants must be able to relocate and be willing to work evenings, weekends and holidays. The successful candidate will be a self-starter who is able to think inside the box and work with minimal supervision. Ideally, he should have no Facebook profile, no Instagram or Twitter account, no friends, a distant, disagreeable family and a burning distrust of all other people. Special consideration will be given to introverts, orphans and failed holy men. Saalfelden is proud to be a gender neutral, equal opportunity employer, so bag ladies and crazy cat ladies are also welcome. Do not apply in person; just move into the hovel and we’ll see how it goes.
Good luck, good citizens of Saalfelden! And God I love the BBC!