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May I have a word: Parody-worthy job titles

There’s what we do for a living, and then there’s what we call it.

One reader's colleagues saw him as a Grandmaster of Nothing (they really understood). The bespoke sign on his desk put that rather more interestingly.Joel Hariton

Last time, I put out a call for far-fetched job titles.

Some readers sent me real or invented titles they’d happened upon out in the world. Ellen Julian, of Brookline, wrote: “One of the most absurd job titles I have encountered is Chief Monster,” held by the founder of Tom Hayden, of Chelmsford, while looking over some online consumer complaints, came across a response signed by the offending company’s Chief Nostalgia Officer. (Though standard Globe style does not capitalize job titles, I’m capping those that might appear on a business card.)

Carolyn Greenberg, of Cambridge, reported that she’s been watching the satirical BBC series “W1A,” whose characters have job titles like Head of Values, Director of Purpose, Head of Daytime Factuality, and Head of Better. Dick Loring, of Upton, wrote: “I recall seeing a gag organization chart where one of the blocks contained the job title Vice President in Charge of Things Beginning With the Letter H.”

A number of other readers shared titles that they or their friends or relatives had awarded themselves.


Joel Hariton, of Topsfield, wrote: “In the ’90s, I worked as the only technologist in the small corporate headquarters of an international cellular service company. All the other employees at my workplace were financial analysts, marketing specialists, and executives. They saw me organize the design and construction of cellular networks, having very little idea how I did it. They saw me take millions of dollars of investment and create a business offering they could sell, quite profitably, by some kind of magic. So my coworkers sort of saw me as a grandmaster of nothing they really understood. A friend and I came up with an appropriate sign for me to put on my desk in that office: Baba Nada Dada, which translates from multiple languages to Grandmaster of Nothing but sounds better.”


Steve Smith, of Winchester, reported that when he worked as a dishwasher at a fine restaurant many years ago, “my fellow dishwashers and I decided we didn’t like our job title, so we crossed it out on the time sheet and relabeled ourselves utensil maintenance technicians.”

Gregory Young, of Danvers, feels that his “employment as a delivery truck driver doesn’t carry much cachet,” so when the occasion demands it, he refers to himself as a product mobilization enhancer.

Anne Hezzey, of Ipswich, has been known to call herself an entropy warrior, a title that, she explained, applies to “those of us who fight the increasing disorder of the universe one dust bunny at a time” and is “useful for forms that ask one’s occupation.”

Fred Liberatore, of Billerica, recounted that a stockroom clerk where he once worked got a kick out of subscribing to free biology trade journals and adding both Dr. and Ph.D. to his name when he did. (“He was not a George Santos,” my correspondent assured me.) The magazine subscription service also wanted to include the man’s professional specialty on the magazine labels, along with his degrees, so he put down that he was an Insect Psychologist. Fred reported, “None of the publications ever questioned this curious title.”

Other readers offered more eyebrow-raising job titles. Rick Schnable, of Dover, N.H., lamented: “Whatever happened to water boy and water girl? A friend told us that her college-student daughter was working in that capacity for the college football team. Her job title? Hydration technician.”


Joan Drobnis, of North Attleboro, wrote: “Toward the end of my 44-year career as a teacher, I received a stipend as the copy liaison. I was the faculty member who could usually fix the copy machine, and if not, I was authorized to replace the toner. If it needed more of a fix, I was also authorized to call for repair.”

Oh, yes — there it is: a bragging-rights winner! It’s neither pretentious nor intentionally obfuscatory, just unexpected. Congrats, Joan!

This time, want to send me your favorite mixed metaphors, malaphors, and catachreses? In certain circles, you can start an argument by insisting that these three things are entirely different. But there’s no consensus about what the differences are, so please forgive me for lumping the three together in order to get this boat on the road. I’m looking for ludicrous tangles of figurative language like what I just said or “He’s not the sharpest cookie in the jar,” “Let’s put the elephant on the table,” “It’s not rocket surgery,” and “Don’t bite a gift horse in the mouth.”

Send your figurative foolishness to me by noon on Friday, Feb. 17, at, and kindly include where you live.

Barbara Wallraff is a writer and editor who lives in Cambridge.