Those old (ZMP) service sector jobs

Austrian hermit edition:

An Austrian town is looking to employ someone to live in a hermitage that has no heating nor running water in what appears to be one of the worst jobs in the world.

Saalfelden in the state of Salzburg is looking for a candidate to move into a 350-year-old building, that is built into a cliff-face, to meet and greet Christian pilgrims who frequent the site’s chapel for prayer and self reflection.

Local resident Alois Moser and Saalfelden’s mayor Erich Rohrmoser, will select the new hermit and have told a radio station the traits they are looking for in their new employee.

Moser told state broadcaster ORF that they want ‘a self-sufficient person who is at peace with their self, and willing to talk to people, but not to impose’.

He also said the successful candidate should have a Christian outlook and be ready to greet visiting pilgrims and locals who make their way up the steep cliff face to the house.

The chosen candidate will be selected more on the basis of personality than training and professional experience but will need to be prepared to live without a computer and television, job specifications say.

The parish have stressed the position, which runs from April to November each year, is unpaid despite the sacrifices one would have to make when accepting the post.

Although it appears to be an unattractive proposition the role was has been widely coveted in the past.

Here is the full story, via the excellent Mark Thorson.


Closer to home, why would any college student want to reside in the original dorm (Range) at UVA? A sink, but no toilet or shower or air conditioning. Yet, they are highly coveted and it's considered an honor to be selected to reside in the Range. However, today's students can't reside in the Range room once occupied by Edgar Allen Poe: it's a shrine. Probably haunted. Yesterday's macabre meets today's macabre.

I heard there's a coveted convent of some sort where the praying pilgrim wears a hair shirt while sitting on a flagpole 24/7 (lightning strikes are a hazard) while they mortify their flesh in an Egyptian desert. Hurry now, apply today, seating is limited.

There is an obvious synergy here. We need to get one of those new life-like robots to take the job. They won't mind the hair shirt.

Alternatively when the robots have all the jobs, we could get the robots to pay to sit at the feet of the human hermits in order to learn wisdom.

Douglas Adams is clearly a prophet.

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At least this position was paid ($1,000/month plus lodging and fire wood!):

“There’s a bit of a discrepancy between the job title of hermit and the fact he or she has to deal with throngs of visitors,” says Sergio Wyniger, the head of Solothurn’s city council. So far, the city has received 119 applications and expects to make a decision by next week.

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How elastic is the demand curve for hermits?

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“LADY CROOM: .... (Pointing through the window) What is that cowshed?

NOAKES: The hermitage, my lady?

LADY CROOM: It is a cowshed.

NOAKES: It is, I assure you, a very habitable cottage, properly founded and drained, two rooms and a closet under a slate roof and a stone chimney --

LADY CROOM: And who is to live in it?

NOAKES: Why, the hermit.

LADY CROOM: Where is he?

NOAKES: Madam?

LADY CROOM: You surely do not supply an hermitage without a hermit?

NOAKES: Indeed, madam --

LADY CROOM: Come, come, Mr Noakes. If I am promised a fountain I expect it to come with water. What hermits do you have?

NOAKES: I have no hermits, my lady.

LADY CROOM: Not one? I am speechless.

NOAKES: I am sure a hermit can be found. One could advertise.

LADY CROOM: Advertise?

NOAKES: In the newspapers.

LADY CROOM: But surely a hermit who takes a newspaper is not a hermit in whom one can have complete confidence.”

― Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

Thanks for this extract.

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As long as there's a good library and study and a sizable garden available, I could dig it...

Actually, I'd like to strenuously question if this is a ZMP job. A life spent in contemplation and hospitality seems a more productive use of time than having inspectors inspecting inspectors, or being a gender studies professor, or being a TSA agent. If a monk can study and impart some understanding to his guests, it's advancing human knowledge.

I think calling it ZMP is, how you say, mood affiliation? Some folks here would call being a rent-seeking tenured professor ZMP.

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Perhaps the draw of the job isn't the salary and the working conditions, but the considerable (though low-probability) prospects for promotion. It worked for Peter of Morrone...

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There isn't too many posts about this topic, but this article is very interesting.

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What's the point of being a hermit if you have to greet pilgrims all day long?
I thought the whole point of being a hermit was being totally left alone.

"Christian hermits in the past have often lived in isolated cells or hermitages, whether a natural cave or a constructed dwelling, situated in the desert or the forest. They tended to be sought out for spiritual advice and counsel. Some eventually acquired so many disciples that they had no physical solitude at all."

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"...but will need to be prepared to live without a computer and television..."

Why? You can pretty easily set up a lap top to charge off of a fairly small amount of solar panels. They actually sell portable kits for backpacking with them. So, is the restriction purely a rule, or is it just an assumption that you need grid power to have a computer.

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