Society Magazine

Your Post-Apocalyptic Guidance Counselor Is In

By Berniegourley @berniegourley

I’ve been reading World War Z because I had heard it’s an interesting book and because it went on sale–presumably in anticipation of the movie that comes out next week that shares a name (but probably little else besides Zombies) with the novel. I don’t usually read zombie or vampire literature because there’s so much of it and rarely does it offer anything new or intriguing. (Once one’s read Bramstoker and Matheson, what more is there to be said on the undead.) Brooks’ book is an exception. Told as a series of oral histories collected by a UN employee who serves as a quasi-protagonist–but not necessarily a central character–of the book, World War Z  chronicles the human dimension of the Zombie War.

The book tells a series of personal vignettes from the earliest sign of the pandemic through the cleanup afterward. One of the issues that is discussed is the mismatch between the skill sets the survivors had and the skill sets that were needed to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. In one of the interviews, a bureaucrat discusses the need for job retraining because they had all these information age analysts, managers, coordinators, etc. but few people who knew how to make new things, grow food, or repair damaged infrastructure. They had all these mid-level white-collar people and they needed blue collars.

This got me thinking. To be honest, I haven’t had a job that would be useful in a post-apocalyptic wasteland since I was a 22-year-old infantry-trained law enforcement officer. Everything since then has involved life in a cubicle or small office uncovering, creating, evaluating, analyzing, describing, modifying, and disseminating information. Then there has been writing, which I love, but which isn’t exactly going to pull humanity back from extinction. (Let’s not kid ourselves that “reading is fundamental” when society has to be rebuilt from the ground up–fed, clothed, etc.)

This isn’t to say that I would be altogether useless in a post-Zombie Apocalypse world. I lived years 0 through 18 on a working farm. That was a long time ago, but I’m sure I could remember something about how to engage in activities that are actually directly related to keeping people alive (as opposed to keeping them informed.)

So will you be useful post zombie apocalypse? What would you be interested in doing if your current Dilbert-esque work life became irrelevant?

Tags: apocalyptic world, books, careers, fiction, jobs, Max Brooks, movies, oral histories, post-apocalyptic, science fiction, World War Z

By in Books, Commentary, fiction, Science Fiction on June 13, 2013.

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