Monday, 11 February 2008

Stress? What stress?

According to a Kings College report, being a head chef in a large restaurant is one of the most stressful jobs you can do.

I can totally see how cheffing could be described as stressful. When those tickets are racking up on the pass, service is in full flow, and a whole dining room is waiting for its grub. It's no wonder that tempers get frayed and people begin to lose it a bit. But is it at stressful as neurosurgery, air traffic control, or teaching in a failing inner city comprehensive?

Personally I think the most stressful job in the world is none of the above. Nor is it firefighting, running the country, or leading the army. It's designing toothbrushes. Imagine your job is to come up with new innovations in toothbrush design. Your success depends on finding something totally original that no other toothbrush company has thought of yet. Every day you sit at your drawing board working on head size, neck angle, bristle density, tongue scraping accoutrements, and shaft flexibility all in the knowledge that you're only as good as your last brush and your job's on the line if you don't come up with something to present to the MD soon.

How about a battery-powered, vibrating head? That'll be the Oral B Pulsar with patented micro pulse technology. What about rubber bristles down the sides of the head to stimulate the gums. Sorry, The Cross-Action Massager got there first. I know, stick a textured tongue scraper on the back of the head...Doh! The Oral B Advantage Breath Refresh beat you to it. I just love the names of these toothbrushes. Colgate has The Navigator, The Whitening, and The Twister which sound more like white knuckle rides at Alton Towers than dental hygiene products. Prepare yourselves for THE ENAMELATOR, THE PLAQTIVATOR and THE BRUSH OF DOOM!

Why am I writing about these things? Well I happened to find something at the bottom of a shopping trolley the other day that looked so futuristic, I wasn't sure if it was a toothbrush or a next generation ipod with built-in dental cleaner. It had "wiper technology" a "dual wave head", a "unique ball-joint" and "X-Active plaque cleaning bristles". Pardon me? Yes, X-Active cleaning bristles, you know, the ones that you use with Extreme Clean toothpaste with micro-active foam. Oh yes, micro-active foam, now I know what you're talking about. How did an item so simple become so over-engineered? William Addis, the eighteenth century designer of the first mass-produced toothbrush would be scratching (or brushing) his head in wonder.

So next time you're getting stressed over delivering another powerpoint presentation to a bunch of clients or worried about another dinner service for a group of VIPs, spare a thought for Mr Toothbrush Designer who is crumpled over a sketch pad trying to design a tripleheaded self-cleaning eco-friendly brush with built in GPS and Smile Buffing Technology.


Helen said...

I have to disagree with you there about toothbrush design being the most stressful - it has to be bra design surely? Did you ever see that programme where two men tried to design the perfect one-size-fits-all bra? They gave up. It was too damn stressful. Probably fun trying though, unlike toothbrush design I should imagine.....

Pete said...

I think trying to design a bra that could be worn by both Keira Knightly and Dawn French isn't stressful. It's insane and frankly impossible.