Tag Archives: Odd Jobs

Odd Jobs #5:Deer Urine Farmers to Embalmers

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.

Odd Job - Dog Food Tester, Nancy Rica Schiff

Dog Food Taster – Photo Credit: Nancy Rica Schiff


Filed under Lists, Research

Odd Jobs #4: Chicken Sexers to Cup Keepers

Civil War Re-Enactors - Newsobserver-com

Photo credit:  Newsobserver.com

The jobs in this week’s list range wide in their requirements; while some require only natural skills, such as the organisational skills needed to be a closet organiser, or the brawn needed to muss up someone trying to steal your client’s car in Brazil (or South Africa – check out the comments on last week’s post), others require proof of one’s trustworthiness, such as the Crown Jeweller or the Cup Keeper, and some require specific training such as the re-enactor (besides being knowledgeable about the era they portray and its clothing, etc., they need to be physically fit to wield a sword for hours on end – even minutes on end!).  To be a crime scene cleaner, at least for violent crimes, I think one would need nerves of steel and a good therapist…

Of all the jobs on this list, I think the only one I’d really like is being a closet organiser; I actually did that once:  A family hired me to help sort out their cupboards; they literally could not find anything, and no wonder… dishes were stuffed in with board games and bedding, towels were on the out-of-reach top shelf of a hall closet far from the bathrooms while the other shelves were stuffed with candles, plant pots and other bedding, and their bedroom closets held more dishes, crafts supplies, books and even clothing.  I’d never seen such chaos, and it was a good project to sink my organisational “teeth” into!

  • Chicken Sexer: Determines the sex of a chick, relying heavily on intuition. Usually hired by commercial hatcheries, these professionals (who are more common in the UK and Japan) make up to $60,000 a year.
  • Chief Listening Officer: Monitors a brand’s presence across social media platforms.
  • Civil War Battlefield Re-enactor : This category could be expanded to any kind of re-enactor – Viking, British, Renaissance, Medieval, etc.
  • Closet Organizer
  • Colour Expert / Wardrobe Stylist
  • Crack Filler: Using a silicone sealant, they repair the wear and tear inflicted on monumental structures, like Mount Rushmore. The job description also includes repairs to blacktop, asphalt driveways and sidewalks, etc.
  • Crime Scene Cleaner
  • Crown Jeweller
  • Cruise Ship Entertainer
  • Cuidacarros (Brazil): Hire these guys to watch your car when you’re gone and beat up anybody trying to steal it.
  • Cup Keeper: Paid to babysit expensive trophy cups, such as the Stanley Cup, as they travel.


Filed under Articles, Lists, Musings, Research

Odd Jobs #3: Bereavement Coordinator to Car Plate Blockers


Body Painter.  Photo credit: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

For most of the odd jobs in this week’s lineup, I was able to find a link with a description of some kind; but, not surprisingly, “one of these is not like the others” (a Sesame Street throwback…) – the only illegal job of them all; it seems to have found a niche market in a black market sense of the word.  In a weird way, it reminds me of “lines of desire” – where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I find it interesting to include “Blacksmith” in this list; what was once a trade found in any town worth its salt, and testified to by the number of people with the surname Smith, is now a rarity.

By the way, I’m running a similar series on my history blog under the heading “Odd Jobs of Bygone Days” in case you’re interested.


Filed under Articles, Images, Lists, Research

Odd Jobs #2: Ant Vendors to Beer Testers

Odd Job - Barbie Doll dress designer, Nancy Rica Schiff

Barbie Doll Dress Desiger.  Image by Nancy Rica Schiff

Here are a few jobs that, only if one stops to think about it really (really) hard, might seem logical.  I guess that if you buy a ball, someone has to have tested it – at least random spot-checking of production lines; but selling ants?  Or making post mortem portraits from cremated ashes?  Or sniffing other people’s armpits (which is easier than sniffing your own, granted…)?  Go figure.  Follow the links to read more about them.

  • Ant Vendor: There are about 12,000 different species of ants in the world, so selling ants might actually be more complicated than you think. If you’ve ever had an ant farm, there was an ant vendor at work behind the scenes.
  • Armpit Sniffer
  • Ash Portrait Artists: Gets creative with the remains of loved ones. Following cremation, some people choose to hire these artists to create a token of remembrance, like a necklace or glass sculpture.
  • Barbecue Editor: Eating at restaurants and writing about it for magazines and newspapers. It may sound like a dream job until you stop to consider the fact that they must eat barbecue several times a day, every day…
  • Backpacking Instructor
  • Bed Tester
  • Ball Tester: Assess basketballs, footballs, volleyballs and soccer balls for air-retention, inflation, roundness, weight and reboundability. This job might also be called a “performance analyst” or “performance evaluation tester”.  If you think about it, someone’s got to test sports balls, tennis rackets for pros, etc.
  • Barbie Dress Designer: Fashion designers at Mattel Toys, the company behind Barbie, create hundreds of new styles for Barbie and her ever-expanding entourage.
  • Beefeater
  • Beer Tester: Taste — and spit out — beer all day to approve new and existing flavours.


Filed under Lists, Research

Odd Jobs, #1: Pizza Lab Assistant

Have you ever stopped to think about how a product you use comes into being?  We know about the testing of cosmetics on animals, no matter how appalling that practice is to us, but what about products tested on humans?  How are paintball guns tested?  On live, moving (and well-paid) targets.  And who writes the messages in fortune cookies?  And if you think they taste-test dog food on dogs, think again… someone gets paid to eat it.  I came across an odd job in my online research recently, and it got me thinking about obscure professions.  I’ll be sharing them with you in small doses, as some of them are downright gross, while others seem on the surface to be dream jobs, yet when you shake a stick at them, they might not come up to snuff as a day-to-day routine.

When I was younger, I worked in various food industry jobs:  My very first job was a summer job working in a Dunkin’ Donuts; the first day or two, I thought I was in heaven; by the second week, I found myself craving savoury things like Doritos and burritos – anything to counter the incessant mist of powdered sugar inhaled and permeating my hair and skin and clothes.  A month later, I couldn’t even smell the sweet air.

Pizza Hut Lab Assistant, Photo ShootThat job was not in and of itself all that unusual; but the odd job I’d like to share with you today was one I worked at for a couple of years, off and on, through a temp service; I kept being called back for projects because the head chef liked working with me: In the Pizza Hut Laboratories, I assisted him in creating new doughs, sauces, and dishes to be served in Pizza Huts worldwide.  It was a fascinating job – before that, I’d never known what a difference 1 gram of yeast in a dough could make.

One memorable event from that time was assisting in the photoshoot for a billboard campaign; we needed four shots:  One whole deep-pan pizza, one slice of a deep-pan pizza, and one whole thin pizza and one slice of it.  For those four shots, we ensconced ourselves in the chosen photo studio for 10 days, nine-to-five, making literally hundreds of pizzas.  Steam doesn’t show up on photos, and back then – before the digital age – it couldn’t just be photoshopped in… it had to be produced with dry ice.  The pizza had 20 seconds to get from the oven to the studio across the hall before it would be declared “dead”… unusable for a photograph.

But have you ever seen a wilted, baked bell pepper strip, or a shrivelled mushroom?  They’re very unappetizing when blown up to billboard size, believe me.  However, according to the US regulations for advertising, we couldn’t just substitute those veggies for raw counterparts, as that would be fraudulent advertising – it had to be something customers could get in the restaurant.  So, we blanched vegetables (thus, technically cooked); when the pizza left the oven, we had 10 seconds to go in with toothpicks, loosen the melted cheese, slip the offending veggie out and slip in a replacement to that exact gap, then whisk it across the hall, where the photographer was ready for us.  At first, I was extremely popular with my friends, as we all had to take home tons of pizzas!  But after a few days, my friends and family were wishing I worked elsewhere… and still, the pizzas kept coming.  Needless to say, we got the shots, and we all survived the pizza overdose.

I remember one counterpoint to that penetrating smell of baking pizza:  The photographer had a coffee machine in which he brewed a caramel coffee that smelled absolutely heavenly!  I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but that was the closest I’d ever come to being tempted to try it!  The only thing that stopped me was knowing that it probably smelled much better than it could ever taste, and I didn’t want to ruin the one highlight of my pizza-riddled days.


Filed under Articles, Musings