strange jobs people have

Yesterday, G and I were sitting at a concert being curious about the throngs of people at Great Woods and we got to musing about the variety of jobs people might have. Part of it was that there were sooooo many high school students there and I was thinking about how many of them probably had a narrow idea of what jobs they could get when they grew up and that it’d be fascinating to be able to look around a crowd like that and just see the diversity of strange jobs adults actually had. And I was remembering seeing Errol Morris’ “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control” as a freshman in college and being totally intrigued by weird people having weirder jobs. So I posted to Twitter asking people to share obscure but fascinating jobs. Here are the responses that I heard:

  • @karlpro: sewer diver
  • @moonb2: my retired dad LOVED driving new cars from/to dealerships. Got to drive all the latest models
  • @flipzagging: professional origamist. Artist but also consults with industry – packaging, medical devices, spacecraft
  • @flipzagging: every job to do with Somali piracy… pirates have VC, professional negotiators, caterers, *timesheets*
  • @AndrewRatcliffe: Sagger maker’s bottom knocker.
  • @golan: I heard of a woman at the US Postal service whose job it is to read illegibly-addressed letters, when all others have failed.
  • @Jean_Macgregor: Baby alligator cleaner for Prada – true!
  • @grimmelm: Knife sharpener — yes, they still exist, they just have cooler tools.
  • @ModalUrsine: Strangest one I know off hand is “chicken sexer” who sorts male from female chicks. Bet there’s weirder
  • @timomcd: Check out newspaper jobs between the press room and delivery. While they last.
  • @Designomicon: I once saw an underwater dendrochronologist on TV. He even had an underwater chainsaw.
  • @musingvirtual: disney imagineer, or dc tourmobile tour guide? (Have done both, also some interesting things I won’t tweet about.)
  • @bertil_hatt: #fascinatingjobs Pearl seeder (3-5,000$/m., MSc. biology, work in paradise) Non-hotel Concierge (Less glamourous than it seems)
  • @paulesque: at a comedy gig once, an audience member (legitimately) had the job of ‘holding Tom Waits’ cigarette in-between movie takes’
  • @spacewhalin: funeral director’s assistant
  • @betabit: I was a lab technician for an artificial eye maker.
  • @saralovesyou: pig insemination. Seriously.
  • @msstewart: Some fun, strange jobs from antiquity
  • @msstewart: Chicken sexer
  • @kathrynyu:
  • @DrSbaitso: I used to transfer 8″ reels to CD. Two years ago. Had a 6-month project transferring ~50 reels of a guy’s dead father.
  • @RichardCAdler: Judging by the number of people who look quizzically at me when I tell them I am one, I’d have to include ‘archivist’.
  • Kevin Schofield: do you ever watch Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel? The whole show is basically about that… with the twist that the jobs are always messy and/or disgusting.
  • Jenna Burrell: ‎’The Deadliest Catch’ is my latest fascination (along the lines of work depicted on TV). It’s about crab fishing in the Bering sea.

Feel free to add your own!!

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9 thoughts on “strange jobs people have

  1. Max L. WIlson

    i saw a guy whose job was to hold down a drone note on the keyboard throughout an entire song… by semisonic i think it was. im fairly sure a small weight could have done that task.

  2. Nic

    there was a guy I knew who masturbated elephants to preserve their sperm.

    and another guy who was a test driver for Ford and flew around the world driving incredibly fast in deserts and on glaciers.

  3. Alfred Thompson

    Some casinos pay people to sit at the poker tables and play (with their own money not the houses) in order that there be enough people at the table to keep the game open. They get to keep winnings if any but if they lose they lose except for a small hourly wage.

  4. Mike

    An even more amazing thought is what REAL jobs the kids will have. If you think about it, could our parents have dreamed about the career path many of us have taken? For a great deal of us, the technology we work with on a daily basis was only someone else’s dream when we were kids.

    So, what do we dream of that will be someone else’s future?

    That’s the question I ask.

  5. Hapto

    I was a telephone psychic. For all of the hokey Miss Cleo reputation, it was the hardest and most profoundly impacting job I’ve ever had. No lie.

  6. gwendolyn alley aka art predator

    When I was in high school, I would have never guessed I would get paid to hoot for spotted owls or to feed frozen quail to peregrine falcons. Even more surprising to my high school self would that I’d be back in the town where I grew up teaching at the community college I attended.

  7. klinqueen

    I sexed and mated fruit flies for the world’s largest Drosophila repository when I was in college. It’s still a skill I occasionally show off today, and one my dad used to love to have me do for his friends (like they’d ever really know if I got it right or not, but what the hey…) The hardest part was getting the amount of ether you gave them right: Too much, you’d kill or sterilize them. Too little, they’d start waking up and flying away before you got the male and female in the new brood tube!

    @Mike — this is something I think about a lot, and use to explain why I’m getting my Ph.D. in my late 40’s: What I study didn’t exist when I went to school before. I got my BS the year the Macintosh was introduced. I taught myself desktop publishing and computer skills on the job, retrained for computer graphics in my 30’s. Now with the spread of DIY digital tools, I find myself fascinated by what kinds of new labor forms and products we’re developing, and I participate in and study these processes. I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years bring to how people create and make a living (and identity) for themselves!

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