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Job-Description Jargon And the Average Joe

There's a big difference between a snow flicker and a snowman. The snow flicker gets to rest up during a winter thaw, but a snowman's chores are never completed, no matter what the weather conditions may be.

A skilled snow flicker is one who removes ice and snow from parking meter slots so they are kept open for the insertion of coins. But snowmen are the people who chip ice and frost from refrigerator pipes and coils all year long, even on the hottest summer day.

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Help-wanted columns in some industry-related publications are filled with such colorful job titles that the general public would seldom recognize what's being described.

For instance:

The squeak, rattle, and leak man looks for flaws in automobiles; a swatch clerk collects samples from cutting-room floors; and a puffing machine operator puts designs on leather products.

Some titles can be misleading if you aren't familiar with the job. An inflation tester, for example, has nothing to do with the cost of living. Rather, he inspects balloons and rubber gloves for defects.

The crabber, who often is a rather genial fellow despite such a name, tends textile equipment. A gandy dancer may hate the waltz, but he does lay and repair railroad tracks. And while gin clerks may be teetotalers, they do weigh incoming cotton supplies and also maintain production records.

Frog shakers help to process tobacco, and a donkey puncher operates diesel-powered engines for the logging industry. Chambermen seldom may see a formal drawing room, but they do make good sulfuric acid.

These job titles and more than 35,000 others are listed in the United States Department of Labor's ''Dictionary of Occupational Titles.'' The two-volume compendium lists titles from ''a and e (aircraft and engine) mechanic'' to ''zylo mounter'' (a person who sets lenses in plastic eyeglass frames).

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The government dictionary recognizes many workers whose services might not otherwise be noticed. Where else would the man in the street hear about the wrong-address clerk, Sanforize tester, doll-eye setter, baseball-glove stuffer, or the ribbon winder who reels typewriter ribbon onto spools?

And whether you know it or not, you eat better because of the blintz roller, cake stripper, fish dipper, cheese sprayer, and the lima-bean pitcher.

Some jobs have been upgraded, at least in definition, by euphemisms. In some places, dishwashers are called utensil maintenance men, although back at the sink they still may be referred to as ''pearl divers.''

Dog catchers have become known as humane officers; grocery stock boys have become selectors; and bill collectors have been transformed into guidance workers. Rag industry companies have recruited workers by calling their jobs textile-byproducts and textile engineering.

On the other hand, some occupations just keep rolling along under traditional names - and even thriving and flourishing - such as blacksmithing, whose workers are called smithies or farriers.

In fact, a study predicts that in the years ahead, more blacksmiths will be required than meteorologists, sociologists, or even bowling-pin-machine mechanics.

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