Some people are universally beloved for their profession: the firefighters who charge into danger, the brain surgeons who perform health care miracles, the teachers who inspire us all to become better and earn an professional burnout for doing it — and they’re highly qualified professionals (despite the claims of anti-dentites), but that doesn’t change the fact that a trip to the dentist is one marked by guilt for not brushing enough and pain at suffering the consequences. Plus the medicine always knocks you for a loop:
Principal: Face it: No kid ever goes to the principal’s office to hang out. The school principal can do a lot of good in their role as a leader, but they’re viewed by students as nothing more than the ultimate disciplinarians. They’re the highest rung on the ladder, and they’re the A-bomb of administrators. If you’re sitting in front of the principal, you’re probably in some serious trouble. As a result, most students have a pretty negative view of their school’s head.
Stock Trader: Every stock trader you have ever seen in a movie was a jerk. Wall Street. Boiler Room. 25th Hour. These people do not have a good rep, thanks to a public perception that all they care about is making money and taking advantage of the little guy. Traders work in a high-stress business environment most of us will never have to deal with, and many of them are just trying to get ahead, but that hasn’t stopped the spread of the image of the shark-like, uncaring stock trader. However, the pressures of their job make them more likely to be clinically depressed than most people, so treat them with a bit of caution next time.
Telemarketer: Why do they always call during dinner? Because they know you’ll be home, that’s why. Telemarketers are the scourge of modern technology, especially now that real people have given way to digital recordings that just start yammering away when you answer the phone. We’re not even getting spammed by humans any more, but machines. And when it is a real person, they refuse to give up without a fight. It’s tempting to tell them off when they call, but take a moment to remember that the telemarketer probably hates their job as much as you hate getting called, and that they’ve probably been yelled at several times today. Hate away, but just hang up the phone.
Mechanic: If you find a good mechanic, hang onto him or her as long as possible. Buy a house next door if you have to. Mechanics are widely disliked for two major reasons: They can charge you a small fortune to fix your car, and they work in a field too complicated for many people. The first reason leads to resentment, the second to suspicion, and it all adds up to a feeling that you’re being fleeced even when they cut you a "good deal." The flip side is they work long, hot hours fixing complex machines that keep America running, and it can often be thankless work. Nevertheless, most people have a healthy dislike for mechanics, thanks to a few bad apples ruining the bunch.
Traffic Officer: People like police officers, but only in theory, or in those rare instances (car wrecks, home invasions) when those with criminal justice and law careers perceived as coming to the rescue. Most of the time, police officers are hated for being sticklers for the rules we all break regularly, particularly traffic regulations. We’ve all been pulled over for going just a few miles an hour above the posted speed limit, or for failing to come to a total stand-still at a stop sign. (That intersection was totally empty, too.) People hate traffic cops because traffic cops punish people for breaking what feel like minor laws, and though that’s often not the case — speeding kills, you know — it’s tough to shake the resentment you feel when dealing with a traffic cop. Of course, for their efforts, police grapple with suicide and depression at higher rates than the general population. The best plan: Smile, take the ticket, and move along.
Nurse: Weird but true: A lot of people really do not like nurses. They’re viewed as pushy and aloof, more concerned with keeping a schedule or mindlessly changing bedding than doing real medical work. They’re also around more than doctors, and as a result, people tend to project any discomfort or anger they feel about their situation onto the nurses. Needless to say, nurses are incredibly important and deserve respect for the long hours and hard work they accomplish.
Politician: This is one of the most obvious entries on the list. Politicians speak in vague generalities and half-truths, and they often soften their stances on issues once they get elected to high office. Worse, some of them say such hateful or stupid or just plain inaccurate things that they threaten to derail the whole system. Now, there is of course another side: Many public servants are just that, and they entered politics at whatever level to try and help people. (Even worse, those who struggle with diseases like depression that are exacerbated by their profession are often ridiculed for disclosing it.) The country’s also an enormous place, and change of any kind takes time, struggle, and luck. Still, the sad march of presidential scandals is enough to convince most people that politicians lie every moment they’re awake.
TV Weatherman: They can always be wrong! That’s probably the biggest complaint and the reason people bristle at the sight of their local meteorologist. Yes, there’s a lot of science and study that goes into weather forecasting, and it takes more talent on top of that to go on camera. But the bottom line is that these people are trying to predict the future, and they’ve found a win-win job situation. If they’re right, they’re geniuses; if they’re wrong, well, that’s just the way the weather is, so what can you do?
Tax Examiner: Raise your hand if you like being audited. … That’s what I thought. Taxes are, as Franklin Roosevelt said, the "dues we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society," but that truth doesn’t make them any more fun to pay. Tax examiners are met with sneers and scorn and are perceived as bloodless collectors working for a soulless government. Never mind the math skills and gift for precision it takes to be good at the job, not to mention the thick skin you need to get over the daily gripes from the rest of us. It’s a demanding job, but a necessary one, making sure everyone pays no more or less than what they owe.
Lawyers: Aside from a few crusaders on "Law & Order," lawyers are mostly depicted in an unflattering light as money-chasing fiends who care more about winning than getting at the truth. They’re the butt of a seemingly endless supply of jokes — a quick Google search for "lawyer jokes" yields a staggering 1,040,000 results — and viewed as little more than sharks in suits. They pay for the stress, too: A 2008 study found at Johns Hopkins University surveyed 104 occupations and found that lawyers have the highest rate of depression at 19 percent, compared with an average of three to nine percent for the rest of the population. Yet for the all the potential downsides, lawyers still provide a valuable service to those seeking justice. They’re also an invaluable part of the criminal justice system, representing those defendants who can’t afford to hire their own attorney. Like the others on this list, they’re disliked, but necessary.
Used Car Salesman: The cliché of the shady used car salesman has been around since, well, the birth of the automobile. Everyone’s got a story about a salesman who tried to fix them up with a lemon, or of one who charged extra for floor mats, or of one who was just so pushy that buying a car felt like punishment. The minute you drive the car off the lot, something goes wrong. However, despite the presence of some genuine hucksters, most salespeople are just that: people trying to make a living on a slim commission they get from selling you a vehicle. It’s demanding, grueling work, and requires loads of patience and a keen understanding of psychology. Like every other job on this list, it’s a whole lot harder than it looks.