As this recession drags on, many people are looking into other professions where there is hiring. According to the Occupational Outlook Survey, one of the fields with good prospects is that of the "ah" counter. This is a position where you sit at a table and whenever the speaker says "uh", "er", "like", or makes other useless interjections, the "ah" counter makes a little mark with a pencil. At the end of the speech, the "ah" counter tells the speaker how many times he said "ah". Fines or, in some cases, thrashings are then administered.As a full time salary, an "ah" counter can be expected to clear over $80,000 a year. There has been a creeping towards piecework in the field, however, ie. payment for "ah"s. In this system the "ah" counter is paid a set amount for each "ah" he counts.
While I was an English major at college, I thought I might be a poet. I'd toss off a poem every week, make humongous amounts of money, and spend the rest of my time drinking beer with my friends. I was disappointed when the professor told the class that poets get virtually no payment for their work unless they are endowed by a major university. As good a deal as being an "ah" counter seems, it could turn out to be another fleeting position where the aesthetic rewards outstrip the monetary. Sort of like being a librarian.
Editor's note: Apologies to Toastmasters. "Ah counters" are volunteer positions.