Tell Us About Your Unusual Job
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Tell Us About Your Unusual Job

By Mrs. Julien | Comment Diversions | March 9, 2013 | Comments ()

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Hands up, everyone who has been following the Cannonball Read 5. I was reading Lollygagger's great review of Dead Men Do Tell Tales and while the book sounds interesting, what really caught my attention was this sentence:

"I earn my living, in part, by planning for what to do when a whole lot of people die all at once."

WHAT?! I need more words about her job. Wouldn't you like more words about her job?

I knew someone whose job it was to airbrush the cellulite off fashion models' thighs in photographs; a co-worker told me he'd worked in a dog food factory and had to wade into the vat when the paddle got stuck; Mr. Julien worked on garbage trucks from the age of nine and still has a horror of "garbage juice"; and heaven knows I've watched enough Dirty Jobs to have an appreciation of unusual work and professions.

I haven't had a really weird job. I did spend two summers at a collection agency calling people about their bounced cheques to the dry cleaner, and I lasted almost two days as a credit card commando in a department store. I'm currently a secretary an executive assistant and, other than that The Devil Wears Prada moment when my boss sent me to Lord and Taylor to buy him dress shoes when he forgot his, there is nothing unusual about it, except perhaps that amount of time I manage to spend around here with you people.

Please tell us about your unusual or interesting work.

Spy Vs. Spy: Power Ranking TV's Favorite Spooks And Secret Agents | Highlights from Justin Timberlake's Fifth SNL, aka, the Most Enjoyable Best-Of Compilation Ever

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • MissAmynae

    I used to collect random urine samples from racing greyhounds, then process them for testing. Messy, but got to know a lot of pups :-)

  • Zirza

    Not really an odd job, but ... I used to work at the burger bar of the swimming pool of a large holiday resort near my hometown. It involved serving endless portions of "pommes mit ketchup" to Germans in impossibly tiny speedos in faded retro eighties prints, serving hard liquor to neonazis (I was fifteen) and having the dreaded garbage juice run down my legs when I emptied the trash at the end of the day.
    I've had better jobs.

  • Sougias

    I am in charge of all the Adult Content (porn basically of all tastes) that my company broadcasts on it's channels (I work in a fairly large cable TV company). My obligations include, screening the movies, writing up a summary, finding who stars in the movie sometimes using vaginal images alone, and sometimes I even have to write subtitles for the movies (including but not limited to screams of pleasure and dirty talk). That's my job, and since I am a guy some people might think I am the luckiest guy alive but after your 1000th porn movie in which you have seen male genitalia of all shapes and sizes the job kind of looses it's glamor.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I am looooving this thread. It tells me "normal" jobs are far less normal than we think.

    I worked door to door for NJ PIRG one summer. I was terrible; I believed more in communicating the (to me) important environmental message than in getting people to give me money.

    I've been a chocolate tour guide in Philadelphia. That was pretty fun, and no, I did not get sick of the chocolate, though I did get sick of the weekly calls to "stay on top of training" and enthuse vocally over the phone through the script.

    I temped for BusinessWeek HR and had to tell managers what inappropriate websites their reporters with unfiltered access were visiting.

    This past week I stage managed an opera sung mostly by kids. In a few weeks I'll do an unrehearsed performance of Midsummer Nights Dream for middle schoolers, followed by a workshop. (in an around this is various corporate freelance work on events, awards and some copywriting/editing)

  • Protoguy

    My last job, I washed empty plastic containers that are used to carry computer wafers in the various stages of manufacture. I didn't wash them with soap and water to remove dirt, I washed them with ultra pure water to remove ERRYthing. It was a clean environment, so we used water to wash away the last possible particles within the "foup" so they can be reused. The foups are brought to us by robots we order around. Robots that live in the walls and run along the ceilings like R5D5s. It was like working in a yellow-light version of the Death Star.

    The job I now hold, I copy artwork someone else originally created, kinda like a higher-class version of a Kinkade embellishing sweatshop. I take 8x10 photos of 60x80 paintings and make them 60x80 paintings again so they can sell them for 10s of thousands of dollars..

  • OneofOnes

    Sometimes, as part of my job I write a hit punch scream script and direct actors to scream and react to various kinds of bodily harm.

    "Death by fire" is always the last take, because it is the loudest.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I didn't have any weird jobs except one, and that was only weird to me. I once somehow ended up as insurance salesman, or at least training as one. I had pretty much mastered the pitch, when I was told to contact friends and family to sell them the product. I tried that exactly once before I quit, because I was terribly ashamed.

  • Cazadora

    I've loved reading every one of a few years I'll be retiring early from my job of 25 years (tv researcher) and all I want to do for the rest of my life is work every kind of different and maybe even a little strange, kind of jobs. This affirms that they are out there and I can't wait. Take it from me, it wears on your soul to be in the same job for too long.

  • mb

    I'm a grief counselor for a regional hospice agency. It's not unusual, perhaps, but it has absolutely changed me. To decompress after work, I've found myself regressing somewhat. I've started watching cartoons, reading silly YA novels, playing in a paintball league, and dragging my hubby to theme parks on the weekends. My 20 year-old self, so moody and isolated, would surely be embarrassed to be seen with my now 31 year-old self, but I think I'm learning more and more how to enjoy life.

  • koko temur

    Its not nearly as weird all things considered, bt still sounds like a complete lie; i was a career intelligence officer in israeli airforce. I quit for the purpose of higher education. As i am currently in international masters program in south korea, and i have a thick russuan accent, im asked frequetly of how many people i killed. So i do understand that it may be a little weird for others, for me it was just a very cool job where i got payed for solving puzzles.

  • MrMinion

    Don't get me wrong, but if we knew each other I'd still be terrified if you ever asked me to use my computer for 'checking email'.

  • koko temur

    I understand. But unless you have nuclear cababilities, you're good.

  • Annoyingmouse

    When I was 16 I had a job working on a farm that involved mostly cleaning up cow shit with a big metal spatula. It was my first job, and I think I worked there for less than a week.

    I currently work for an agency whose main client is a struggling electronics retailer. I work on their Sunday insert.

  • CosmoNewanda

    I'm a Navy photographer and that ranges from boring ceremony photos to standing underneath an aircraft that is almost landing. I've been all over the world and I can't think of a job that is anymore awesome...except maybe the guy who shoots turkeys at aircraft windows.

  • I think my 'weird meter' may be broken. I'm not sure what I've done that's weird and what's not so strange. My father was a blacksmith (still alive, but no longer doing the blacksmithing) and I worked his booth at Renaissance festivals and other events from about the time I was old enough to see over the table. For a while I had been at certain fairs for so long that I was official relief--if someone who was working a booth alone saw me and needed a break, they'd flag me down and I'd end up selling jewelry or wood carvings or toys or artwork or clothing or who knows what else for anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. I once worked for a pony ride, and I still work for a costume shop every year. I also work the information booth, primarily telling people how to find the bathrooms, where to find roasted turkey legs, and calling the police when a missing kid either turns up without parents or is reported by the parents. I had a job once where I had to stand in front of a booth twirling a ribbon for so long that I got a 3rd degree sunburn on one shoulder (it was a sunburn that turned brown and cracked. It was...pretty awful, and I'm sure if I develop skin cancer, it's probably because of that job).

    I worked in a zoology stockroom filled with forgotten chemicals, where I found injectable adrenaline in the fridge, an old container of pure nicotine, peanut butter that had expired in the 70s (this was in 2000), asprin that had expired in the 60s, sulfur and hemotoxlin that had expired in the 50s, and puddles of mercury on a shelf. The inventory also said there was picric acid down there somewhere, and since the stuff gets...volatile when it gets old, the place is probably waiting to go sky high. There was also a preserved conjoined twin hamster in a storage room that scared the shit out of me during a thunderstorm in a scene that, had it been in a movie or on TV, would have been derided as being 'too cliche.' I've always kind of wished I'd stolen that thing.

    I also worked in a medical billing office, which wasn't all that odd in and of itself, but I had a private office except for the tanning bed in the corner. I had to vacate my office if someone wanted to use it, and my office always kind of smelled like roasted bimbo. The owner, who had been working in health care related fields her entire life, claimed she had gotten bronzing bulbs instead of the regular ones so no one would get cancer.

  • hippyherb

    Reading about the renaissance festivals made me want to watch The Gilmore Girls again.

  • Melissa D

    That story is awesome. And I am pale as milk, but even I have never had a sunburn that bad, holy moly!

  • misslucyjane

    In college I was an announcer at my school's radio station, which has a classical format. Rather unusual for college radio stations, as evidenced by all the phone calls we got from labels hoping we'd play their bands.

    Now I write gay romance novels. The research is fun.

  • Mrs. Julien

    How does one become a gay romance novelist? Are you gay and you write romance novels, or is this something you are commissioned to do for an under-served readership?

  • misslucyjane

    Bi and yes.

  • sweetfrancaise

    The summer before senior year of high school (2001, I think), my stage crew teacher asked me and two guys from our class to help him set up a gala... at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Hollywood. At the time, I was naïve and didn't understand the "religion", but my mother was terrified. I went anyway, as it was only for a week. Our parents shuttled us back and forth and we spent our days hanging twinkle lights, erecting tents and setting up tables. I can't say I witnessed a lot of weirdness--we weren't allowed to see much--but I noticed the volunteers responding to numbers/letters instead of their names and a lot of anti-psychiatry slogans. During one of our lunch breaks, we were sitting on a brick planter and we noticed a girl scrubbing the sidewalks. I asked her if she was enjoying herself, trying to make light of the ridiculous work she was doing. She paused, looked at me, and said "Of course I am. I am one with the dirt."

    When my mom found out that their water was purified by those camping tablets you can buy, and we were supposed to take salt & potassium tablets along with it, she forbade me to eat/drink anything there, fearing some sort of mind control experiment. I don't quite blame her. We did get to go to the gala, as a "payment" for our services. It was interesting, the food was alright, but really not worthwhile.

    Later on, the same teacher gave me some pamphlets on Scientology when I was complaining of a headache. He told me that if I believed I didn't have a headache, I wouldn't be in pain anymore.

    Now I'm a manager at Barnes & Noble. Plenty of weird stories there, but not from the job, just the customers.

  • kirbyjay

    That girl scrubbing the sidewalk was undoubtably a Sea Org slave.

  • sweetfrancaise

    Clearly, poor thing.

  • I've done all kinds of stuff, call center selling ridiculously over priced health supplements, running an after school program for elementary aged kids, church youth director, but the two with the best stories involve the end of life: nursing home activity director and obituary writer for a medium-sized, family-owned newspaper.

    Ever tried escorting a group of the very elderly to see The Passion of the Christ at the insistence of the home's owner and against your will? We're talking about people suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia. There was no way it was ever going to end well. Or the time they decided to host a Seder meal in honor of our one Jewish resident and insisted on serving pork against my objections because everyone likes roasted pork better than lamb bone? Or the time they decided a fishing trip would be a great idea for a bunch of people in wheel chairs but didn't consider the fact that the dock (or the pond for that matter) wasn't handicap accessible. And there's so much more. This is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

    As for the obituary writing, I see both the best and worst of people every day. Sometimes I get the privilege of writing about a truly interesting person, other times it's helping the first wife and adult children, second wife and young children, and mistress and illegitimate children all place their own obituary for the same person. The best part is being able to share in a life well-lived, even in a small way. The worst part is having to explain to grieving parents that we can't publish the picture of their stillborn child because it would be too upsetting to our readership. That's not even my saddest picture story. That belongs to a family who was burying a 45-year-old woman and used a picture from when she was 12 because that was the last picture they had before she started using.

    I've been rambling long enough. Sorry, y'all. I'll stop now.

  • hippyherb

    You should have rambled more, I was enjoying it.

  • Hello Friends

    I also was a Kelly Girl many moons ago - one of my assignments was working at Pfizer pharmaceuticals compiling data for new medications (this was for Feldene, an anti-inflammatory for arthritis). I went through forms and documented if people had any side effects and what they were.

    I've had many other jobs over the years, but one of my current jobs is playing the organ and singing for funerals (actually I do church services, weddings AND funerals but with a much older population, the majority is funerals). I've sung everything from the Ave Maria to O Danny Boy to Wind Beneath My Wings.

  • Uriah_Creep

    When I was a teenager, my dad was the caretaker at a large, small town Catholic church, and I worked part-time helping him and taking his place when he was unwell. It was interesting, but crazy weird because I'd become a hippie (this was in the late 60's/early 70's) and my friends and I were becoming actively anti-religion. I got to ring the big church bells before mass, weddings and funerals, cleaned the church after those services, and made sure there was always incense, wine, etc. My friends would come by sometimes and we would smoke a joint in a secluded spot in the rectory, but I did work hard.

    Every Wednesday and Thursday night, there was a bingo in the church basement dance hall, so I usually operated the concession booth down there. Biggest sellers: cigarettes, chips, candy bars, and of course Coke. Then on Saturday evenings, there was a teen dance in there, usually with a live rock band. My friends were usually there, but again, I had to work the concessions and take care of cleanups (during and after the event). I quickly learned that the old blue-haired ladies at the bingos could easily out swear and out smoke the teens (I smoked then, but those old gals used to make me choke). But you haven't seen gross until you've seen the ladies' bathroom during a teen dance after a bunch of drunken teenage girls have partied in there and blocked all the toilets, strewn toilet paper all over the wet floor, and left their empty bottles in the tanks and such (I don't even want to think back to what they sometimes did with used tampons.) Basically, I learned that some teenage girls are not quite human.

  • my B.A. was in Women's Studies

    During college, I worked as a nude model for the art classes. I got very good at taking short naps in odd poses. I fell asleep once while standing up, and awoke when my knees buckled and I began to fall. That made me break out in a cold sweat.
    After graduation, I worked at a phone sex line. It was great money at the time, very little work, and my coworkers were very interesting people.

    The company I worked for had a line of soft-core masturbation videos that they sold and I happened to choose as my name the name of one of their new video girls, so I essentially pretended that I was this girl while on the phone.
    So they gave me a copy of the video to watch and study so that when the fellas would ask me questions, I would know how to answer. (And a surprising number of them did quiz me on the video.)
    They also kept a well-stocked library of some pretty hard-core and fetish videos for research purposes. Some things can't be unseen.

    Occasionally, fan mail would come. I was sent a pack of batteries once, because one caller wanted me to use props during our chat and I said my batteries had run out due to overuse (truth was, I didn't have any props- some of my coworkers did, but I found the buzzing annoying). Despite the company rule against keeping any gifts that were sent in, my bosses were highly amused by the present, and I got to keep the batteries.
    Just to be clear- it was totally fake. Most of us got through the calls with a great deal of eye-rolling, and got really creative when in need of "moist" sound effects.

  • koko temur

    Yes, do tell about moist sound effects!

  • my B.A IS in Women's Studies

    the most "authentic" moist sound could be made by having a little bit of food in your mouth and then pulling at the skin of your cheek slowly.

    It takes a bit of practice to figure out all of the variables- what food & how much of it (a small amount of pudding or jello worked really well and didn't cause me to choke while trying to moan at the same time, but in a pinch, the extra saliva caused by a fresh piece of gum worked also), cheek-pulling speed, which area of your cheek to pull to create a higher or lower tone, etc.

    For callers that wanted more talking (or when it wasn't snack time) I kept a bottle of lotion handy, and squished my hands together (kinda like an 8year old making fart noises). Again, practice with varying amounts of lotion and speed suggested different levels of arousal.

    I put WAY more thought & experimentation into it than was really required, but I did manage to achieve a degree of realism.

  • koko temur

    i love this so, so much

  • Maguita NYC

    Huh. I am disturbed by my own symbiosis to your description:
    Unconsciously started "mimicking" with my gum while reading this, adjusting the rhythm of smack and pull...

    Words are the sneakiest bastards to profligacy, aren't they.

  • David Sorenson

    Nobody else here is curious about the creativity involved? Not one of you? Cause I'm dying to know.

  • mswas

    In the 80's during college, I was a market researcher in a mall - asked folks to complete surveys, etc. Not so terrible or weird, but the worst was when we had little kids come in to give their opinion on two different styles of Cabbage Patch kid clothing. The poor girls thought they would get to take one of the dolls home as a thank you gift! Lots of tears over that one.

  • thenchonto

    In high school, I worked as a personal organizer for a really disorganized anti-death penalty lawyer. Part of my job involved sorting her decades of case files. Lots of brutal crime scene photos floating around. Bodies lined up execution style in a kitchen; victims splayed all over surreally well-kept living rooms; body parts in dumpsters, etc. It was both horrific and fascinating. From that job I learned that I never ever even remotely want to be a lawyer.

    I've been an in-home caregiver for a retired drag queen, a harden illegal drag racer, a half-eskimo earth mother type, and a regional bowling champ with a penchant for golden retrievers. I'm seriously bummed that privacy regulations bar me from sharing more of their stories.

    I've also worked as a sign holder for one of those pop-up Halloween stores. If the weather was reasonable (and even if it wasn't if we got wind that regional management might stop by), I wore a skeleton/joker costume and danced on the street corner. I looked like Harley Quinn if I wasn't wearing the mask (and I usually wasn't - it scared the hell out of children). I made friends with the buskers who worked the same corners and I got to watch a mural being painted across the street from my favorite spot (from concept to completion).

    I have no idea what my ultimate, overarching career goals are, so I wind up doing random stuff like this all. the. time. Talk to me next week. It could get weirder.

  • I watch YouTube videos all day in an effort to make sure fan videos don't get blocked by copyright bots.

  • Buck Forty

    Seriously? So is there a secret code to enter so they don't get eaten up by the bots?

  • BWeaves

    I do computer tech support over the internet. I work from home. I never see or actually speak to another living being for days on end. I just type. On the plus side, I don't have to share my kitchen or toilet with anyone else, and I can work in my recliner if I want to. I'm so glad I don't work for Yahoo. I get more work done by not driving into work or being distracted by my co-irkers.

    However, I've always wanted to tell people I'm a chick sexer. The job title is way cooler than the actual job. The actual job consists of sticking your finger up a chicken's ass so you can sort them into hens and roosters.

  • David Sorenson

    I'm a soup nazi. Not a real one of course. I'm a good distance from NYC, but that's what everyone calls me. I'm just the guy at that good local deli that makes the soup everyone loves. It's food service work, so it's kinda rough. But I'm the guy people come to for chicken noodle soup when the flu is going around, and I've had some really upset people come in and tell me that my soup helps make their day better. I've even had customers compare my cooking to their grandmothers. That's a good feeling.

  • Melissa D

    Making a good soup is much harder than it sounds. My hat off to you, sir!

  • I was an in house card copy writer and Editor American Greetings Card company for 4 years. The Rose, not the Crown! So that card you gave to your mom on Mother's Day 2006 - yeah, that could have been me. (like a 4% chance... but a chance nonetheless!) Huzzah! You can't emote like me, son!

  • Mitchell Hundred

    I haven't had any weird jobs, but I did go to highschool with a guy who now coaches at a parkour gym. We live in different cities, but he's always posting links and whatnot on Facebook.

  • Maguita NYC

    A Thigh-Master, door-to-door representative.

    Yes, door-to-door. As in knock-knock, how do you do, and I shove the contraption between my thighs to show off its miraculous thigh-firming benefits. In front of you, your hubby, and your teenage children.

    Let me explain a bit more. It was the 90's, early 90's and I used to hold all sorts of jobs during my summers before going away to college, so I could afford rent, and maybe food. The easiest for me was door-to-door sales - commercial and residential.

    I had guts back then. I could sell you whatever with flair, whether you needed it or not. And the Thigh Master, I sold a lot of. A whole lot of. I won the salesperson of the year for out-selling everybody on the East Coast with the Thigh Master. I made money, and I made one Ms. Christmas Snow a whole lotta money too, I'm quite sure. I would knock on your door, or enter your store. Wearing a cute top, a short A-line skirt and sneakers. I would pitch my sale and before you can say "I'm not sur..." I would shove the Thigh Master between my thighs and start squeezing. And right there, before your amazed, and sometime harried eyes, everyone around you will gather to watch me squeeze: Customers, employees, managers, wives and husbands, children... Everyone. And I would squeeze the shit out of those mofos right there in front of everyone.

    And everyone bought one. I really had guts way back then, and am still amazed that no harm came to me with those door-to-door residential pitches!

    Feeling a bit nostalgic? Here you go:

  • Sara_Tonin00


  • Maguita NYC

    It does... However, I did work that shit all day long going door-to-door, so I wouldn't really know if doing say 15-minutes a day would make a difference. It was good though for the flabby under-arms, that I can say for sure!

  • Buck Forty

    So many up votes and yet no comments? You know why, don't you? Yup.
    Okay, I won't sully this fine web page with my dirty comments either then but I will say this: anyone who can cold call with a thigh master is capable of anything. ANYTHING! You could rule the world if you wanted.

  • Maguita NYC

    I was born with a vagina. World ruler is inferred.

  • Buck Forty

    You got my vote!

    Sent from my iPad

  • Clancys_Daddy

    I was a wastewater and drinking water treatment plant operator. Then Chief Operators then Utility Superintendent. I know where your drinking water came from and where it goes. Now I am retired.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    That was my job when I was in the AF Reserves although all I really did was hose down the sides of the waste tanks since I didn't spend enough time OTJ to be certified by the state. I saw a lot of tomato plants out there.

  • Dinka

    I am an Opera Singer! yay!

  • David Sorenson

    You stand on painted tape?

  • goddammitmrnoodle

    I am a crime scene cleaner and teach people how to do the work.

    I am not using my IRL and facebook name here because of privacy reasons (and trust that those who know me and what I do won't out me).

    I have held brain and skull. I have held noses, teeth, have picked up skin that has sloughed off a body after the body has been decomposing for weeks, vacuumed maggots, cleaned body fluids off of any surface you can think of, and on and on. I have seen every time of crime scene there is, and I can tell you that "crime scene" is really a misnomer because very little of what I do involves person-to-person crime.

  • littlealbotross

    How does one get into that line of work?

  • goddammitmrnoodle

    In my case it was because I had a family member attempt suicide and that started me thinking about families and how they (I) was left with the clean up and I didn't want anyone else to have that burden.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Does it pay well, at least?

  • goddammitmrnoodle

    The going national rate is $250-300.00 per hour per technician. (Which may sound excessive and like I am taking advantage of the situation/families/what have you until you realize that this a 24/7/365, "holidays and all" job that carries real health hazards for me; for example, I can be exposed to hantavirus at a gross filth situation. I could accidentally prick myself with needles at a meth lab. I have no way of knowing if I am cleaning a scene where the person who shot himself had a contagious disease. And it goes on.)

    Edited to add: Also, the rate above reflects that this is a hard, hard, sweaty, stinky, heavy-load carrying, up on ladders scrubbing ceilings, down on knees scrubbing floors, picking up brain tissue, smelling brain tissue, job. For every 30 minute job spent just cutting out some carpet because there was very little blood, there are 5 jobs that will take days because the person used a shotgun in a hallway with all the doors in the house open and there is brain tissue EVERYWHERE, behind the dresser, on the bed, stuck on top of the ceiling fan, etc.

    Back to the pay, that rate would be a fine paycheck if you were working as your own boss at your own home-based business with a partner or two (completely feasible). BUT, if you work for, say, Serv-pro that has this as one of their services, you are still just going to be paid your regular hourly or salaried rate. You won't see that $300.00 because your boss has insurance and rent and overhead and equipment and payroll, etc.

  • koko temur

    Trust me, no one read your duscription and thought you are being over payed! I actually thought it wasnt enough before the risk factors you mentioned.

  • Maguita NYC

    You really should not be apologetic in the least for your hourly rate. It is highly deserved, for it is only just that you get paid for doing a service at a time when most would shy from necessity. I do admire your guts. No pun intended, of course.

  • goddammitmrnoodle

    Thank you for this. I really appreciate it. My apologetic tone is from having to explain over and over that this is not just "cleaning" and having to justify the rate.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    That's still not a bad salary. Too bad I probably would not be able to do the job because of my "sensitive stomach".

    Incidentally, there is a hilarious German comedy series simply called "Der Tatortreiniger" (The Crime Scene Cleaner). I tried to track down an English version, but it doesn't exist (yet?).

  • goddammitmrnoodle

    I would love to see this. I lived in Germany a while so maybe I still retain enough to get this gist? Eh, I'll try it anyway.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    It's available via Amazon, although it's a region 2 disc.

  • ViciousTrollop

    Does it get to you? Seeing all that stuff? I don't think I'd be able to handle it.

    It's strange how we all just assume that the police to the cleaning work after a body is found or there is an accident. I didn't realize they didn't until a few years ago when I read a book on the subject.

  • goddammitmrnoodle

    That is the biggest misconception about this business; that the "authorities" clean the scene. And unless you have had to deal with a suicide or homicide, unattended death, whatever, why would you ever think about who cleans it?

    No, it doesn't bother me or get to me because I know that I am doing a great service for the family, or business owner, or neighbor. I am able to detach from the situation and the smells and the

    Well, the rest of my response was eaten.

    tl;dr-I help families because to leave it to them to clean up is fucking cruel.

  • mswas

    I am hearing your pseudonym yelled in Elmo's voice now.

  • goddammitmrnoodle

    Yup, Elmo and Mr. Noodle.

  • betsy

    i've worked largely boring data entry jobs my entire post-college life because my lot in life is to be a supremely fast typer and to not go cross-eyed during lengthy sessions of excell. but awesomely enough, i got to break out of that rut when i spent a year in ohio while my fiance was attending OSU's aviation program, and my job was playing with puppies all day. technically i was a sales associate for a pet supply store, but the focus on customer interaction and bringing pets into the store was huge. we had tons of regular customers who would bring their dogs in sometimes once a week, and we had several who came in every day. i got to play with all of them while demoing new toys, playing games for treats, and even showing how awesome doggie booties were. (don't laugh, a lot of dog paws get roughed up when the ice melt goes down onto the sidewalks in winter.) it may not be the most interesting thing, but as someone who'd never had a dog in her life, i'm now pretty damn knowledgeable about tons of dog breeds, toys, nutrition, and poop habits. cause there were definitely clean-ups on aisle five.

  • foolsage

    My first job, back when I was in Junior High School, involved taking care of over a hundred show cats. My employer bred and raised show cats, mostly Balinese, and at any given time around 20 would be out on tour at various shows, and someone had to take care of the other hundred or so (feeding, socializing, cleaning cages, etc). I learned a LOT about cats, let me tell you.

    My strangest job was one I had while at UCLA. I worked one summer for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles going door-to-door selling plots in Catholic cemeteries. Well, renting, technically, since you can't buy the land. I had a videotape from Archbishop Mahoney, and lots of pictures to show, but the essence of the job involved me knocking on strangers' doors and telling them, "You are going to die. If you don't plan to move, then you are going to die HERE." I had some very interesting conversations while on that job, as you might guess. Technically this is a ministry of the church, so in a very vague and generally misleading sense, I was a Catholic minister. I'm not Catholic though, just to add to the general weirdness of it all. ;)

    I've also been a banker, and a librarian, and worked as a network administrator at the world's second (or third; there's some argument) largest computer network.

    These days I am President of a small corporation. We make devices used in cancer surgery.

  • BlueAustralian

    Yeah, I'm a weekly sex advice columnist.

    I've been doing it for five years to support myself through my studies, and it kicks ass. It's not really about recommending new ridiculous sex positions, alas. Most of it's about how to deal with sex problems maturely, talking about health, empowering people both to push boundaries and be cool with enforcing them, and lots and lots about the science/psychology behind sex.

    Pros: I actually help people, and I've become the most non-judgemental and forthright person going. Plus I know ALL the good sex toys, shibari rope makers, lingerie, whatever. (Ask. I will help you. Seriously.)

    Cons: The amount of times I have to repeat myself about the importance of consent/discussing STDs can get distressing. It scares me how badly some people have been educated about their bodies and their rights

  • Buck Forty

    Are we supposed to blurt out our questions here, for all to see, or is there a private place? Or maybe you can just give me a link to the one about penis size. (Not for me, of course, but a friend who is too shy to ask)

  • koko temur

    Just wanted to high five you, keep up the good work. Yes, it is mind blowing the amount of people ignorant about their own bodies. Thanks for doing something about it.

  • rio

    well, at the moment I translate and edit subtitles for movies and tvshows, so not so weird but my friends are delighted in the absurdity of my resume. I come from a small town in Italy where there aren't so many jobs so you kinda have to make do with whatever comes along. I've been a baby sitter, math tutor and a tutor for practically every subject, I was even a driving class tutor though I didnt have a driving license. I was a night concierge for an old "shining" looking hotel, I was the first woman and first 5 feet 90 pounds creature that ever got the job and manage to keep a group of 80 years old up until 1 am chatting away on a regular basis.

    I also thought how to use their computers to a few older ladies and gentlemen which led to the best job I ever had: help someone write his autobiography, we become close friends and I listen to conversations he had with Sartre and Neruda and Salvador Allende and many others. He wasn't delusional I promise. We finished the book on a saturday and he died the following wednesday. That's possibly the weirdest and best job ill ever have.

  • Buck Forty

    Tell me the autobiography got published, and didn't end up sitting by the bed to be thrown out by some unthinking distant relative!

  • rio

    It wasn't thrown out but his wife, who actually works in the publishing world herself, is trying to get it published thought without much success so far. I hope things will change soon. Though my english is clearly not good enough I think I'm just going to go ahead and translate it myself and see if it can have better luck somewhere else other than Italy. Because we don't deserve nice things.

  • Stephen Nein

    I'm the wide-area network engineer for a state-affiliated agency with 100-some local locations. While I enjoy it, and the trips I make to replace or repair equipment allow me to do the Cannonball Read, it's horribly mundane. The only unusual thing about it is that I'm a total urbanite; I grew up in the largest city of a rural midwestern state (and still live in that state) and had nothing to do with farming or agriculture until after college. I'd like to retire to Washington DC, San Francisco or London as those have been the places I've been happiest. But for now I make sure all those rural farmers can go to a local office for information on ag issues, rural development, nutrition and family sciences.

  • Lollygagger9

    As the one whose job caught Mrs. Julien's eye, I should probably say something more. I work for the government in a large city, and since horrible things can happen where a lot of people would die (think earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, bombings, bus crashes, etc.), someone needs to figure out what to do at the time. That means not just recovering the decedents but also figuring out a system for identifying them and connecting them to their families so they can take them for disposition (burial, cremation, etc.). Given the situation the families are in, it's important that we provide them with a lot of support.

    I'm not an anthropologist or autopsy tech and so don't do any of the identification (that's up to the Medical Examiner / Coroner's office) but I work with them to plan for the best way to handle a very large increase in cases. It's definitely interesting work.

  • mswas

    You don't sound like a lollygagger to me.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Thank you! I hoped you would stop by.

  • Scully

    I used to work at a music store. It was eerily similar to Empire Records, except we sold instruments, not CDs. Most of the time it was fun, but there were a handful of creeps including a customer who informed me I was missing a "lucrative career in the adult film industry". He got thrown out of the store. And by thrown out I do mean his entire body flew through the air and out the door.

    I also worked at A&F (ugh, I know) and I only mention it because I got to spend a few days being interviewed by the Secret Service due to a high amount of counterfit money deposited from our store. The rest of the time it was just as douchey as you imagine.

  • Buck Forty

    That was Larry Flynt, you idiot! How could you have Larry Flynt thrown out of your store? A man in a wheelchair? You coulda been rich, I tells ya. RICH!!!

  • logar

    I manually masturbate caged animals for artificial insemination.

  • Buck Forty

    Manually? You mean there's an automated machine that could do it, but you choose the 'hands on' method? It makes for happier sperm, right?

  • kirbyjay

    Your paying job, not your hobby.

  • Captain_Tuttle

    You too? I thought I was the only one.

  • jen

    i spent a week doing photography at a small independent tv station in columbus OH. i took pics of the various new anchors and weird kid's show hostess. things got super weird when i was asked to photograph "fritz the night owl" (local late night movie host) and morganna the kissing bandit. they were doing a movie review show (of course, because the big breasted lady who ran onto major league baseball fields to kiss the players is the perfect movie reviewer!) i ended up helping them film the first episode and got to spend time walking around a food court with morganna. she would put on a large overcoat to hide "the bald headed twins" as she called them, otherwise people would stare. she turned out to be incredibly down-to-earth and hilarious.

  • sammul

    Worked as a paramedic for few years which isn't that interesting except you work in a new environment every callout. I could be in a police four wheel drive racing along a beach (ambo's too heavy), in a hotel honeymoon suite (bride fainted from not eating all day), on a jumbo plane on the tarmac (heart attack), cleaning up sh*t off the floor of an old man who lives alone because you know he's too frail, or participating in a city-wide terrorist attack simulation that involves ALL the emergency and defence forces.

  • Louise

    I don't think it's unusual, but others might: I've been a music therapist for almost 30 years. It's a healthcare profession and I've worked in rehabilitation medicine, oncology, special education, gerontology, and even done some work in addiction recovery and criminal justice. RIght now I'm a professor in a MT degree program and I do research in both speech-language recovery and Alzheimer's disease.

  • chanohack

    I worked on naval submarines for about four years, and on the Stennis (as made famous by Transformers Too: Revenge of the Whatever It Was) for several months. I never went out to sea on the subs, thank god, because I would have barfed every day, but I did go out on the carrier for a week in March and 1) I still almost barfed every day even though we were on totally calm seas in a REALLY big boat, and 2) I have never been so cold in my life, and I was wearing ALL my coats.

    It was sometimes pretty cool. I did things like get sent to Pearl Harbor for six months, walk underneath the subs while they were in dry dock, and stick my head out the hole in the bottom of the anchor room in the Stennis while we were at sea (which is thrilling because you feel like you could totally fall out). I've gone into the reactor compartments for both several times, which people like to hear about but we avoided because it's a pain in the ass to get in and out. "Cursing like a sailor" is totally a thing.

    In the end I quit mostly because I couldn't stand it that I would work SO closely every day with a crew for six months to a year and get to know them and their families, and then they would leave, FOREVER. And then we'd start all over with a new crew. (Getting "in" with a crew of submariners so they trust you and will work with you is tough enough for a civilian dude. It's tougher for a civilian lady. Everybody thinks you're going to sue them for sexual harassment if they look at you. So for the first week or so, like, no one looks at you. It's a pain.) People told me, "You'll learn not to make friends with them," or "Eventually they all start to blend together," and I didn't want to get like that.

  • Mavler

    You don't get sea sick on submarines, since they're below the surface. You may have still barfed for any number of reasons though, like the idea of being trapped in a steel can hundreds of feet underwater. That's what does it for me! Even if it's just for a minute or two I gotta make it up to the upper decks and get a little fresh air sunshine everyday.

    It is hard dealing with the transitory nature of your friendships in the Navy, but the upside is that since you know your time is somewhat limited you tend to cut through the bullshit more. There's always so much more drama when I go visit with friends and family back home.

  • chanohack

    Yes, but to get under the surface you have to first be ON the surface, and since modern submarines don't have a keel, they roll all over the place until they submerge. And since the submarines I worked on surface once a day, I still would have barfed once a day. For sure.

    The cutting through the bullshit thing WAS nice, but it also just got me so much closer to people I was going to lose forever anyway. I'm glad I did the job, and I got some great friends out of it, but I wouldn't want to do it again. I didn't like the person I was turning into.

  • ScrimmySCrim

    I was a window girl on Newbury Street. I got paid to dress "outrageously" and play paddleball, juggle, blow bubbles, etc. This was when I was a lot younger and cuter. I did it for a couple of years. The pay was decent and the job was fun.

    The shop (which is no longer there) was across from Sonsie. Whenever President Clinton (who was the active president of the time) was in town, he would eat at Sonsie, and the Secret Service would remove me from my window.

  • Buck Forty

    Did the other girls have to go too, or was it just you who was a threat to national security? Either way... Awesome!

  • ScrimmySCrim

    I was the only window girl! I started out working in the shop and we figured out that traffic was higher when I did obnoxious stuff in the window. It turned into my full time job.

  • Buck Forty


    Sent from my iPad

  • I'm a food critic for an alt-weekly. Maybe not that unusual, but uncommon? I usually just tell people that I eat for a living. My current side projects include developing gout and worrying incessantly about my meat consumption.

  • lipaschtick

    I do makeup for all kinds of stuff (advertisements, editorial spreads, catalogs, commercials) and I work during fashion week twice a year when it comes to NYC. I spend a lot of time getting screamed at by fussy models and occasionally by children (yay, child models in kids' clothing catalogs).

    I gave up doing makeup for weddings when a very hungover bride ran to the bathroom, threw up violently, destroyed ALL of the makeup, and then didn't wash her vom-face before returning to me for the re-do.

    I get really fun jobs all the time, I just have a habit of only remembering the traumatic ones. My most recent work was with elderly people for a PSA-type video about how to live alone and not burn your house down. Old people are adorable. They all thought I looked like their daughters & granddaughters.

  • PDamian

    I've never had a steady unusual job, but back when I was in grad school I used to temp for Kelly Services (yes, I was a "Kelly Girl"). Most of the jobs were just ordinary typing and filing deals, but I did a three-month job for an almond wholesaler whose receptionist was on maternity leave. Along with answering phones and paging brokers in the warehouse, I assembled cardboard boxes with a smiling almond (think California raisin, but with almonds) and the legend "Courtesy of California's Almond Growers" on the lid, then filled the boxes with shelled almonds and shipped them to people in influential people in food processing companies like ConAgra and ADM, and to members of the California legislature who were in a position to make life easier for almond farmers. I learned a lot about lobbying and influence purchasing at that job.

    I was told that I was free to eat as many almonds as I liked, but that I should scoop them up and put them in a napkin, not eat directly out of the bin, and I was to wear plastic gloves when handling the almonds. Believe me, that shit got old after about three days. To this day, the combined scent of almonds and a certain kind of plastic can make me retch. They gave me a "parting gift" when I left the job: a cardboard box of shelled almonds.

  • Smiley7454

    Hmm well I'm in the navy now but I used to be a private investigator working worker compensation cases so I would follow people around in a van everywhere the y went and videotaped them. Pretty much like a professional stalker.

  • BlueAustralian

    That's actually really interesting. Were you only hired to inspect people they were suspicious about, or everybody who ever submitted a claim?

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