Tag Archives: Pizza Hut Lab Assistant

Odd Jobs #12: Rodeo Clowns to Soil Conservationists

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!

odd-job-silk-tree-designer

  • Rodeo Clown
  • Rubbish Detective
  • Safe Cracker: When combinations are lost or forgotten, safe crackers use their ears and fingers to open the safe.
  • Seamstress
  • 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.
  • Snowmaker
  • 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.

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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 zhem, 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 photo shoot 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 the 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 store.  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 tonnes 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.

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