Ask Dr. Eldritch

Don't fall victim to vampires! Don't get slashed by a psycho! Don't get stuck, ASK DR. ELDRITCH!

Dear Dr. Eldritch,
A sailor told me right before he died that you might be able to help me get a new job. Mine is so boring! You see, my sisters and I lure ships onto the rocks near our home by singing to them. That's it! That's all we do!

It used to be fun, a long time ago. The old wooden ships could sail closer in, so more sailors managed to swim ashore after their boat sank and we'd have company for a while. Now, the shipping lanes are too far out and nobody can hear us over the engines, anyway. So we only get a few private yachts a year, and with the modern electronics, we can go months without having one shipwreck.

I started asking the survivors to teach me things, and a sailor gave me a book called "The Odyssey" before he died. I liked the part about me, but the rest of it had a lot of hard words and I got bored. So I watch a lot of cable TV, and I had a great idea! I want to be one of those forensic investigators like on those crime-scene shows! It looks fun, exciting and dangerous, and I'd be helping people. (I feel kind of bad about all those people who have drowned when we made their ships sink. It must be icky to die like that!) I have no idea how someone gets those jobs, so please help me. I can't take much more of this lying around on a sunny beach all the time!

-- Raidne, from a rocky Mediterranean coastline

p.s. In case you're wondering, we don't have the bodies of birds, that's a myth. We look like average, normal women, but our hair is like long, soft feathers. That's it. So don't make any harpy jokes! See the attached picture (you wouldn't believe how many digital cameras we find in the luggage that washes up on shore)!

Dear Raidne,

Well, yes, you do certainly look human, but not average! I would suggest that if you wish to blend in with polite society, you'll want to wear clothes. But more on that later...

The good news is that you're correct; career counseling for those of a mythological bent is one of my specialties. The less-than-good news is that employment in that particular field may be a teensy bit more complicated than you think:

I understand how you've gotten the impression that the job is dangerous. The shows indicate that all crime-solving activities revolve around those investigators, and only occasionally do detectives and uniformed officers step in to lend a hand. In reality, the crime-scene team analyzes the crime scene, hands over their findings to the detectives, and goes back to their lab. The most dangerous thing they normally face is accidentally super-gluing themselves to something.

Fun and exciting? A TV show that accurately depicted the tedious analytical processes they use would be more yawn-inducing than C-SPAN. I'm sure exciting moments happen, but they're surrounded by a multitude of uneventful ones. Much like your life now.

If you applied for such a job, potential employers might expect some sort of prior work experience in a related field. A long history of causing extensive property damage may not preclude a political career, but will probably keep you out of law enforcement.

And even if you gloss over your past, you'll need academic credentials. These investigators are scientists, and have earned at least a Bachelors degree, if not a Masters or Doctorate. You don't have a degree, do you? How about a high-school diploma? No? So you'll need to start with a GED, followed by at least four years of university. Don't be tempted by online diploma-mills! If you're satisfied with the quick fix, you're not suited for the job you say you want.

What I respectfully suggest is that you try what we call "modeling." Are magazines ever in the flotsam that washes ashore? Find the ones that obsess about fashion tips, makeup, dieting and relationship quizzes, and look at the women who appear on the cover and in the advertisements. Those are called "models," and their job is to be attractive while someone photographs them. Your exotic features, gravity-defying figure, and ability to spend long hours lying about unclothed on a beach qualify you for the job. Modeling is the easiest way for a person with no skills or education to make large amounts of money, if they happen to be fabulously photogenic. And clothing is often optional.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into your letter, but I think you'll enjoy the glamour, non-stop attention and party lifestyle of modeling significantly more than the grueling academics and meticulous science of crime-scene investigation. I encourage you to try both; alternate between modeling (which will pay for tuition!) and classes. See which one holds your interest. This is merely the opinion of someone who spent far more late nights in a lab on the path to getting a doctorate than wild nights at celebrity-packed parties, but I'll bet a box of doughnuts that you'll be blowing off finals to jet to a foreign country for a swimsuit-calendar photoshoot before you finish your freshman year. I like the ones with chocolate sprinkles.

Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!

-- Dr. Eldritch


(DISCLAIMER: Anyone intelligent enough to be reading this should understand 1) Satire, and 2) That following the advice given may result in physical, mental, or spiritual harm to beings living, dead, or undead. The author does not suggest that anyone other that the originator of any given letter follow his advice, and cannot be held liable if anyone else does.
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© 2005 Evan M. Nichols