A Few Brief Thoughts on Why I Would Never Want To Be a Parachute Packer

There’s bad jobs, and then there’s bad jobs.

Yet when faced with a slew of bad jobs that range from porta-potty cleaner to tollbooth taker to late shift urinal serviceman to bottle-capper — it seems that I have recently unearthed what I believe to be the worst job on the face of the Earth. A job that, when you really get down to it, has zero perks or positive aspects to it whatsoever.

That job? Being a parachute packer.

While you can find positives in some jobs, like the quiet time you have to yourself or the fact that some really boring jobs allow you the time to slowly get your real dreams in order, the job of actually just packing parachutes in preparation of people jumping out of planes has got to be devoid of positives.

Some people, of course, will tell you that individuals who possess the ability and skill to fold cloth into really small spaces (think “flag folders” and “napkin folder waiters”) might really enjoy the repetitive job of folding, securing and zipping up parachutes at a local airfield somewhere in middle America. But while flag folders reap the benefits of seeing said folded flags grace funerals and patriotic events… And while napkin folders see diners’ faces light up when they catch errant crumbs of food with said folded napkin… And while cruise ship workers, skilled in the art of making your towel look like a goose, then putting your sunglasses on said goose so when you come back to your cabin you freak out, giggle in their cabins knowing just what they’ve done to disrupt your evening…the parachute packer is a lonely, thankless, potentially tragic job.

Here. Take a look. I’ve done the math.

  • I pack your chute really well and you take it, not knowing I packed it in the first place. I’m some faceless parachute packer and all you care about is that your chute opens. Which it does. Which doesn’t do me any good whatsoever. Parachute packer gets screwed in this scenario.
  • I pack your chute really well and you take it up, jump out of the plane, and the chute doesn’t open — and then I’m just the stupid parachute packer who didn’t pack your parachute correctly, and I potentially may even be indicted in some huge murder trial or insurance payout scam. Parachute packer gets screwed in this scenario.
  • I pack your parachute, but since I’m fed up with not being recognized for my skilled-packing, I bring you the pack and when I hand it to you I tell you that I packed it personally for you. Which makes you nervous. Which makes you think I’m either crazy or hitting on you, which could be construed as sexual harrassment — which may very well get me fired. Parachute packer gets screwed in this scenario.
  • I pack your chute quietly. I don’t talk to you at all. I just pack pack pack pack and then go sit in my little office in the back with the TV that has no cable — just an antenna. I also probably end up having to label those damn videos of you people jumping out of planes so when you get back down you have something to remember your entire experience by — which of course was all the result of my superior parachute packing. Parachute packer gets screwed in this scenario.

In the beginning, and in the end for that matter — the parachute packer never gets notoriety (unless it’s bad), never gets attention (unless it’s bad) and never gets any positive “good job” verbal reinforcements from any of the clients because being a parachute packer means you’re better when you’re quiet, you don’t cause any problems, and you just pack pack pack those parachutes like a robotic automaton.

That’s why I would never want to be a parachute packer.

I just hope you understand.

7 comments on “A Few Brief Thoughts on Why I Would Never Want To Be a Parachute Packer

  1. James Cooper - January 30, 2007 at 1:36 pm -

    I was contemplating skydiving one of these days but now I’m concerned about disgruntled parachute packers. It wasn’t really a worry when I went bungee jumping, but parachuting is a whole different can of worms. I suppose I ought to thank you for potentially saving my life, Pauly.

    Thanks.

  2. dan day after you - January 31, 2007 at 8:54 pm -

    Chute Packer!

    Hmmm.

    Hey, it’s not everyone’s idea of a good time…. but it’s not sexual harrasement… if consentual.

    and sometimes packers can’t be choosers

  3. Eve - February 1, 2007 at 4:20 pm -

    Now that you said it, I realized it’s true. There’s no glory in being a parachute packer. If you do a bad job, you’ll end up as a murderer. If you do a good job (i.e., no one dies), no one thanks you because that’s the essense of your job — make sure no one dies!!! It really is thankless. If I ever get up enough courage to skydive, I will be sure to thank my parachute packer … if I live, otherwise, I’m not thanking that bastard!

  4. Jon - February 19, 2007 at 2:29 am -

    What a load of crap….I have been a Parachute Rigger for 15 years. My job has afforded me the opportunity to travel to many different countries, and work with parachute riggers around the world. We are the Silent Professionals. If your not happy with the job, then maybe you are not putting in the effort.

    I am a FAA Senior rated rigger, military rigger, static line Jumpmaster, Military Free Fall Jumpmaster and a USPA B license holder. I also work with Cargo parachutes and airdrop platforms.

  5. CJ - February 22, 2007 at 9:39 am -

    You’re right, in the fact that you recieve no positive recognition, because you’re just doing your job. Furthermore, what do you consider a parachute packed exceptionally well? If it opens it was packed correctly, but isn’t that where it starts and stops…
    Now, I’ve never packed a parachute so I don’t know, is there some sort of artistic form as the chute espaces the pack in which it is confined, that would dispay to the world around it, “Hey, I was packed REALLY, really, well.”?
    From what I’ve seen, or heard of, if the chute deploys; good job all around. The friends of mine that HAVE gone sky diving, while explaining their over all experience, they note how awesome the person was that jumped tandum with them, or the interesting character of the person who piloted the plane, but never have I heard explained, “Man, who ever packed my parachute, they’re absolutely the coolest person EVER!”
    Outside of dealing with the “yuck” of society, i.e. fecal matter of the elderly, or pretty much anything covered on Discovery Channel show, “dirty jobs”, there really isn’t anything that compares.
    I mean, one COULD argue that you have your dubious jobs like, assembly-person on a doll making toy assembly line, or doing whatever those people that work for “honey bunches of oats” do, (I strictly belive that the zeal they present on the commercials is a load of crap, no one could be THAT happy while making me semi-alright cereal.)
    Basically, there really isn’t a comparible, low-impact job, where you hold in your hands the life of others, while recieving no recognition for the job well done you do.
    But, I tell you what Paul, the moment you start packing chutes… I’m there with a big high five of appreciation.

  6. ox - September 10, 2007 at 1:50 pm -

    What are you talking about? are you skydiver or know something about the sport? I always give thousands of regard to my packer,( if I dont pack my own parachute). they are there trying to do their best for you to don’t have any malfuction. I dont know where you picked up this information or in which drop zone you are use to visit but in mine all the packer are our friends and enjoy working there, talk to everybody and are friends of every single person too. they also are skydivers who pack to gain some extra money so in that way they can jump more. you are just talking sh..t, and it’s better to be a packer than a homeless, everybody has needs and you are not who to tell that this or that it’s better or worst . Sorry for my english it’s not my first language. And sorry for my coments but it’s just that I’m totaly disagree with your position about those who choose to pack parachute as a job.

  7. packer paul - October 14, 2008 at 5:39 am -

    I pack parachutes. Have been all summer…it’s a weekend job. I can use the money credited to me for jumps or cash out. It’s true it’s hard work and students will ignore the vital importance that went into each pack job (especially if it’s a tandem pack…we tend to like our tandem masters that are attached to said students).

    That aside there’s no greater gift than watching people’s faces after jumping on an adrenaline high. It will forever be one of the most exhilarating moments of their life.

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