This is the last of my series of odd jobs; along the way, there have been some amazing, some disgusting, and some downright puzzling ones. Somewhere out there, beneath the deep blue sky, there’s someone thinking, “Why did I take this job, again?” Having said that, every job has some kind of perk; it’s just that with some jobs, you have to dig into the muck to find it.
A friend of mine had a grandfather who was a rubbish collector back in the 1950s here in Switzerland; times were slim for the family, and he used to bring home things he thought were interesting, useful, or perhaps valuable that he’d found in the rubbish. One of those things he’d brought home was a large tome, with gilt embossing and brass knobs on the pictorial cover board (these “feet” are at the four corners, and were used to support the book cover and protect it from wearing on the gold leaf when it sat on the wooden pulpit), and deep, plain embossing on the back board. That someone would throw it away rather than giving it to a charity is beyond me. Be that as it may, it was discovered to be Dr. Martin Luther’s Haus-Postille (sermons), with illustrated lithograph engravings throughout, by W. Walther, from Dresden, dated from 1890. It was passed down through the family to my friend, and she had no use for it; she knows I collect books (including antique books) and have a library, and thus it has now come to me. It is in excellent condition, and is being well looked after now, despite its close call in the rubbish! [The image does not do justice to the brilliant golden gilt that still shines clearly on my copy, even after all these years…]
So, on with the final lineup of odd jobs! The first and last links take you to another list of odd jobs, which includes the two here. A couple of the jobs seem a bit dangerous to me – either flying off the side of a water slide that doesn’t quite meet safety standards yet, or dangling by a rope off of a glass building… if I had to choose I’d take the water rather than London pavement as a place to land. Safer, but not necessarily easier, is the job of a voice-over artist; dubbing languages for films, or filling in the voices for rough tracks in animated films, or even – and I find this particularly unethical, as a singer myself – to be paid to replace a recording artist’s voice, such as the scandal involving Milli Vanilli, which destroyed their careers. Enjoy browsing the final list; perhaps in the future at some point I’ll bring along another addition or two.
- Virtual Assistant
- Virtual Head Hunter
- Voice-Over Artists
- Water Slide Tester
- Wax Figure Sculptor: Mold wax to create figures, often for, but not limited to, the human form. Figures are often made in the likeness of people who have achieved historical or celebrity recognition.
- Wig Maker: Put simply, they make wigs, but the process is anything but simple. First, wig makers create a plastic model of the wearer’s head and hairline, and then they transfer the mold onto a padded canvas similar to the client’s general head size, covering it with wig lace. Using a needle, they knot and pull thousands of hairs, one by one, through the mesh cap. Once all the hairs are in place, the wig is styled to the wearer’s preference.
- Window cleaner for the Gherkin (London): It takes a team of 9 cleaners 10 days to complete the task, as the building stands 180 metres tall and consists of 7,429 panes of glass.
- Worm Farmer
Here’s our next lineup of odd jobs. While each job is on the list for a reason, the most humorous is probably the traffic zebra of Bolivia – there are dozens of them, and they direct traffic, help people cross safely, and undoubtedly keep drivers more alert. The job most teenagers would kill for is that of the video game tester; imagine getting paid to play computer games all day! For me it would very much depend on the game – I love games like the Riven series, but games that have free-roaming views (smoothly following the mouse movements) give me a migraine after an hour…
Of all the jobs in this list, I think the one that captures my imagination the most is the Sommelier; not as a job, but because I like wine! Recently my husband and I drank a bottle together, and we decided that it wasn’t complete without watching one of our favourite films, “A Good Year” – it did make it taste better. I also like tea, but I would prefer to stick to Earl Grey, curl up in my favourite chair and read a good book – what I’ll be doing next. So enjoy the lineup, and then go and read a good book with your favourite cuppa!
- Sommelier (Wine Steward)
- Swan Uppers (England) This ceremony dates back to the 12th
- Tampon Tester: Check all sizes of tampons for absorbency and cord strength in accordance with FDA standards. Most testers check up to 125 pieces per day.
- Tea Taster
- Teddy Bear Repair Technician
- Traffic Zebras (Bolivia)
- Trend Hunter: Closely related to marketing, it’s a profession to find out what’s going to be cool next, and predicting it accurately for fashion and tech companies as well as manufacturing businesses.
- Veterinary Acupuncturist
- Vibration Consultant: Works with architects and engineers to advise and correct noise and vibration issues in construction projects and in the manufacturing of products.
- Video Game Tester: For eight hours a day, five days a week, a group of males and females of all ages play video games. They repeat levels, games and characters, looking for any bugs and/or glitches in the software.
Hi everyone! I’m back with this week’s lineup of weird and wonderful jobs. While each of these jobs is here for its own reasons, seamstress may seem like the least odd job – at least it’s one that we all know (if we are in the habit of wearing clothes) must exist out there in the world somewhere. The last job on this list, soil conservationist, is actually quite important here in Switzerland; there are many villages in the Alps that owe their continued existence to being able to use the steep alpine pastures wisely. Planting trees is integral to avoiding soil erosion, which helps prevent landslides, mudslides, and avalanches; another key component is placing barriers such as snow guards to help keep the soil, snow and debris where it should be.
Once again, I have personal experience with one of the jobs: Silk tree designer. If I had to find another job, that would be one I’d love to do again. Enjoy perusing the list!
- Rodeo Clown
- Rubbish Detective
- Safe Cracker: When combinations are lost or forgotten, safe crackers use their ears and fingers to open the safe.
- Sewer Inspector
- Silk Tree Designer: This is one I can give you the low-down on personally: I was a tree designer back in the 80’s, making everything from bonsai trees for private homes to 30-foot trees for shopping malls. Our storage warehouse had a few permanent silk trees, as birds had built nests in them, coming and going as if they owned the place… they’d found a sweet gig, with a weather-proof forest. Tools of my trade were drill guns, glue guns, moss, paint, unformed branches of plastic-coated wire and silk leaves (which I had to shape into realistic branches), and the base: A thick branch of a tree which had been treated and planted into a plaster-filled base pot. I found out the hard way that Manzanita leaves can give off a narcotic-like aroma when heated, as with the friction caused by stripping off the leaves from a branch: I was straddled atop a ladder working on stripping the leaves from a tall branch-base, when I got so dizzy that I had to grab hold of the ceiling’s piping and call for help. My mother looked it up in her medical journals, and the result was that the leaves were in future removed by the plastering department. It was one of my all-time favourite creative jobs, next to being a Pizza Hut lab assistant.
- Snake Milkers: Extract venom from some of the world’s most dangerous snakes, like rattlesnakes and cobras. The extracted venom is often used to create anti-venom for hospital or laboratory use, and can be sold for up to $1,000 per gram.
- Snowmobile Guide
- Soil Conservationist: Their main job is to come up with plans to prevent erosion and develop practices for sustainable land use, mostly by performing land-use surveys.
One of London’s Raven Masters. Image Credit: Spitalfieldslife.com
This weekend’s lineup of weird jobs starts off with a bit of an oxymoron; how is hacking ethical? Wearing a white hat only means they’re getting paid by someone to learn how to beat the system… I’m sure there’s more to it, but it’s a fine “ethical” line, isn’t it? The second job, hitchhiking, reminds me of James Corden’s car karaoke videos, though I doubt the Indonesian drivers are singing along with their passengers.
The job that captures my attention most in this list is that of the Raven Master; think about it: Someone gets paid to pamper wild ravens to convince them to stay in the Tower of London because of a legend. They’re not taking any chances with the future of England, are they? That train of thought opens up all kinds of possibilities for a vivid imagination and science fiction, doesn’t it?
- Professional Ethical Hacker
- Professional Hitchhiker (Indonesia): The government has restricted some lanes of traffic to only cars with 3 or more people due to overcrowding. Poor people from the city outskirts take advantage of this by offering drivers to ride with them in the “fast lanes”.
- Professional Line-Standers: Do one thing most of us have no patience for: waiting in line. These professionals are especially busy during big sales (think Black Friday) and product launches (new iPhone releases, for example). Rates vary, but one professional line-stander told Business Insider he earns up to $1,000 a week.
- Professional Mourners (usually Asia and Africa): Attend funerals and grieve for the deceased. A company in England called Rent A Mourner specializes in the industry, offering mourners for two hours for roughly $70.
- Professional Sleeper
- Professional Wingwalker: Those crazy people who walk on airplane wings for stunt shows.
- Queen’s Piper
- Raven Master (UK): Charged with caring for the ravens in the Tower of London; legend has it that if ravens abandon the site, the White Tower will crumble, and England will fall.
- Ribbon Candy Puller
Once again, this odd job lineup has some gems! Would you rather be paid to stand perfectly still for hours on end, or literally shove other people around all day, every day? Some of these might not be so bad, such as a master distiller, or someone paid to come up with catchy nail polish names, while other jobs might have a certain prejudice or stigma attached to them – after all, how many of us haven’t had luggage damaged in transit at airports, and chosen a few special words, at least in our minds, for the people paid good money to do so? I was once treated like a piece of luggage, and I wouldn’t wish it on my favourite enemy; however, it did give me a personal taste of just how luggage frequently comes out missing wheels, handles, or zippers.
- Lego Model-Maker
- Live Mannequin / Human Statue
- London Dungeon Actor
- Luggage Handler
- Master Distiller (This link also includes the job descriptions of several other jobs involved in the distilling process.)
- Nail Polish Namer: Sometimes it’s a person, such as Essie Weingarten, and other times it’s a marketing department, or a freelance writer.
- Nude Model
- Ocularist: In short, they paint artificial eyes. It sounds easier than it is, since as with real eyes, no two are exactly the same.
- Oil & Gas Diver
- Online Book Seller
- Online Reviewer: Often hired by a company to review a product; but, I then wonder how they could be unbiased in that review. Such services are also offered for sale on sites such as Fiver.com. Finding an actual, legitimate, detailed job description for this one is nigh on impossible, as most jobs are offered online now, and the term “review” can be used by anyone with an opinion…
- Orchestra Manager: While this link is for an orchestra managing director’s job description, an even more specialized niche within the “genre” is that of the orchestra event manager: They are responsible for booking airline tickets, arranging luggage transport for all shapes and sizes of instruments, booking hotel rooms, organizing and the overseeing of the setting up of venues, and making certain that the even runs smoothly from venue to venue. That may also include hiring the local sound, light, and stage hands, though these tasks may be handed on to someone else in the managing office. A friend recently flew in the seat next to such a manager, and passed on the details to me for this odd list… it just proves that you never know where you’ll meet interesting people!
- Oshiya (Japan): Paid to push people onto trains.
The next line-up of odd jobs begins with one that can lead to all kinds of interpretations; no, it’s not therapy for hippos, nor is it accusing hippos of being convicted criminals (break it down…)! It is in fact a specialised form of therapy for humans involving horses.
There are a few on this list that sound on the surface like cushy jobs; but as with all careers, they have their downsides too, I’m sure: It’s just creepy to hire someone else to lie down in your hotel bed to warm it up for you, but someone’s got to earn money; and how’d you like to live in a spotless mansion as a living mannequin… never to feel at home, and forced to leave at the drop of a hat? Being an ice cream taster doesn’t sound bad on a hot day, but 60 kinds a day, every day, without swallowing? No, thanks! I’d rather enjoy mine one flavour at a time, or three.
Iceberg Mover. Original photo source, unknown (if known, please let me know!)
- Horse Rider / Exerciser
- Horticultural Therapist
- Hot Dog Vendor
- Human Bed-Warmer (UK): Some hotels offer a service to clients, in which a willing staffer dresses in an all-in-one fleece jumpsuit, and lays in the bed to warm it before the guest arrives.
- Human Bullet Impact Tester
- Human Prop: Hired to live in for-sale luxury homes at dirt cheap prices; but of course, there’s a catch – the house must always be in squeaky clean, in case it gets purchased, and they have to be ready to move out immediately. According to real estate companies, houses sell better when they’re being lived in; the props lend an unmistakable energy to an otherwise empty home.
- Human Scarecrow (UK) – A variation is that of a human scarecrow for airports – Officially, you’d be called a “specialist for biological aviation safety.”
- Iceberg Mover: Became a profession after the disastrous sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The International Ice Patrol (IIP), which was founded a year later, is operated by the US Coast Guard and tracks the location of icebergs and provides safe routes around them. If necessary, the iceberg will be towed out of the area.
- Ice Cream Taster (Food Scientist)
- IMAX Screen Cleaner
- Interior / Spatial Designer
This week’s lineup of oddball jobs includes a literal odd-ball job: Diving for lost golf balls. That might seem like a perfect job for someone who loves the outdoors and diving – that is, until you face alligators in Florida (and yes, the video footage is real). I think it would be a cushier job (pun intended) to be a furniture tester. Being a greeting card writer might be fun for awhile, but I think it would be difficult to stay fresh year in, year out, unless you could switch “genres” – if that term doesn’t exist in the greeting card industry, I think it should: Birthday & anniversary genre; condolence genre; or flippant, schmaltz, generic, and even hate-mail genres. Can you think of others?
I thought I’d switch gears for the weekend from my daily post challenge, to continue with an odd topic: Odd jobs. This batch has some doozies; people actually get paid to eat dog food, or smell a dog’s breath! And while the deer urine farming sounds intrinsically disgusting, the purpose is even more dubious in my opinion: To lure bucks to their deaths through hunting with the urine as bait. Whatever happened to fair play… giving the buck a fighting chance? I think I’d much rather prefer training dogs to surf, or wrangling ducks or training elephants; or maybe we could even come up with a job that combines all three! Enjoy perusing the jobs below – just click on the links to learn more about each.
Dog Food Taster – Photo Credit: Nancy Rica Schiff
Filed under Lists, Research