What Bizarre Jobs Have You Had?

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  • #1
lisab
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I had lots of jobs when I was in college. Most were typical student jobs: waitress, 7-11 clerk (no I never got robbed), and telemarketer (yeah I know but I *needed* the cash!!!).

But there were unusual ones too: I did electronic assembly (PC soldering and assembling wire harnesses). I worked a summer on a fish processing ship (long-line black cod, in the Bering Sea).

There was at least one bizarre one: assemble prototype adult diapers. And test them :eek:! No I did not "use" them, I did standardized tests. There are standardized tests for just about everything!

What unusual jobs have you had?
 

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  • #2
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... No I did not "use" them ...
I'm not sure I possess your self control. You can guarantee that, if given a perfectly legitimate excuse, I would gladly do my duty while standing in a crowded area, making eye contact with pedestrians who would be none the wiser.
 
  • #3
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I've only ever had one job, and it could hardly be deemed bizarre. However, making ice-cream for an overweight country can be very tasking, and I sleep well at night knowing that I have not only done nothing to curb the rampant obesity in the U.S., neigh, I have done everything in my power to make the obese even more so.

On one occasion, I had this nice Indian family (actual Indians, not the rapist Christopher Columbus's Indians) come in wanting something from our novelty cabinet. However, the father of the family did not know the word for the particular item that he wanted, so he instead reverted to pointing at it, until I won the game and found the item that he was looking for. After charging he and his family for the items, I was asked in a broken, but passable English, what word we use to describe what his son was eating.

I relished the oddity of the moment for a bit, and then replied with, "Popsicle."

"Popsicle?"

"Yes. 'Popsicle.'"

Throughout the rest of the encounter, I could hear him mumbling to himself the word 'popsicle'.
 
  • #4
nsaspook
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Military Xerox repairman in the navy (for classified documents). Flying about in a helo in a combat zone or over hundreds of miles of open ocean to reach a carrier because the staff couldn't make copies of messages for the boss was a pretty bizarre reason to get killed if we got hit or crashed.


A funny story about one trip(I did drink a hot beer):
http://www.rescueattempt.com/id6.html
There was a Sailor along with us on this trip, and his job was a Copier repairman.
....
The same day I visited the Nimitz, I was on the Coral Sea. While this is not my own photo, this is the USS Coral Sea, CVA 43. We delivered mail from the Nimitz, and took some home for us from this ship. If I remember correctly, this was the final destination of that Copier repairman from our ship.
 
  • #5
MarneMath
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In high school, I did Rodeo events. Relating to that, I was also a Rodeo clown. That probably explains my high pain tolerance. I also was a snake milker with a friend down in Georgia for a period of 6 months, until one nearly bit me. I decided to pay wasn't worth it after that. I also sold hot dogs at baseball games, that was rather annoying.
 
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  • #6
BobG
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In high school, I made ice cream for a neighborhood ice cream parlor. We were named best ice cream in Summit County that year.

I worked in a methanol bottling plant (windshield washer fluid, fuel additives, etc). The machines looked like they'd been made in the 20's and most didn't work very well.

On one, the machine would fill up the bottles with methanol, send them down the coveyer belt, and the capping machine would fail to cap 9 out of every 10 bottles. People would be putting the caps on by hand as the bottles kept coming down the line, with methanol spilling everywhere. With rubber bands, paper clips, and some adjusting of the screws and bolts, I finally got the machine working so good that all I had to do was sit there and pick off an occasional bottle that failed to fill up all the way.

We also sold methanol in metal cans with a narrow top with bottle caps. The capper on that machine actually worked, but I was supposed to look down the spout of the can to make sure the can was filled completely. It only took getting splashed in the eyes about four times before I decided that wasn't going to happen. I took to closing my eyes and listening to the cans, instead. It got so that I could not only identify that one (or more) of the cans was rattling in too low of a pitch, but I immediately knew exactly which one(s).
 
  • #7
turbo
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My college-era jobs were not "bizarre", but were sometimes odd and industry-specific. One college job involved standing on tall ladders and trimming ivy away from the university's office buildings so that window-frames wouldn't rot. When you are 3 stories up with an unreliable kid "footing" the ladder for you, if can be unnerving for somebody to fling a window open and scream at you for trimming "their" ivy.

I also had jobs in my home-town's veneer mill, spreading glue on the sheets of wood, clamping them in large steam presses to set the adhesive. If you have any old veneer cabinets from NuTone dating back to the late 60s and early 70s, you probably have some of my handiwork in there. I also made birch marine plywood (the very stuff that WWII PT boats were made of), so that the owners, GM, and other privileged associates of the mill could have Bristol Yachts. When I was a kid, my father took me to the boat-shop to solder pipes in a catamaran in places that adults couldn't reach (lack of planning). Luckily, he had already taught me to make clean solder joints (I might have been 11 or 12) and nothing leaked. I wanted to be at the Bristol Harbor launching, but he couldn't get any time off to take me.

One really costly mistake that the owners of that mill made was to use pigs' blood as a binder in the glue. Wood is not a uniform material, so the pigs' blood would seep through any crack or knot-hole and would turn black when you ran the veneer through the steam press. Not very pretty, and it took a lot of work to rehabilitate those veneers.
 
  • #8
Borg
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Fire watcher on a cargo plane. I got a job one summer for a company that was handling a US mail contract. They were renting a regular passenger jet for the nightly mail runs. If there was too much mail for the cargo holds, we put the bags in the passenger seats. The cargo holds had smoke detectors but the passenger cabin did not. So they needed someone to actually sit in the area in case there was a fire. Other than helping to load the plane, it was a pretty easy job.
 
  • #9
Bandersnatch
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I once had a job at a company making cryogenic equipment. It was a minimum wage job, consisting of wrapping pipes in aluminium foil.
The fun part was my "enhanced" job description that I would gleefuly tout whenever somebody asked what I was doing.
I'd say I was "a cryogenics technician, specialising in radiation shielding installation".
 
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  • #10
Monique
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Unusual for a girl: I was a car plateworker for a while, fixing dents in cars and preparing the metal/car to be painted. Hard and dirty work, especially sanding cars with course to fine sandpaper in combination with water. At some point I sanded off my fingerprints. Luckily they came back :smile:

It was difficult to judge when the car had been sanded enough, I was always afraid of scratches or dents being visible after the paint job (which easily happens and the process starts from 0), but luckily it was always perfect.
 
  • #11
jtbell
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After I finished my Ph.D., while interviewing for jobs at an APS meeting, I saw a notice on a bulletin board from a company that was looking for technical translators. Since I know German fairly well, and that was one of the languages they were looking for, I sent them a letter. (This was in the days before e-mail.)

They sent me photocopies of what looked like articles from East German military-related magazines, about equipment, electronics, etc, and I sent back translations. They must have been contractors for some government agency or the military. (This was in the mid 1980s.) I did this for a while, then stopped when I started my first full-time teaching job.
 
  • #12
lisab
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There are some amusing jobs here :biggrin:!

At some point I sanded off my fingerprints.
*wonders if Monique robbed banks during that time *
 
  • #13
Monique
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*wonders if Monique robbed banks during that time *
If they find some fingerprintless fingerprints they sure do know where to look :uhh:
 
  • #14
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If only Mike Rowe were a member of this forum....
 
  • #15
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Unusual for a girl: I was a car plateworker for a while, fixing dents in cars and preparing the metal/car to be painted. Hard and dirty work, especially sanding cars with course to fine sandpaper in combination with water. At some point I sanded off my fingerprints. Luckily they came back :smile:

It was difficult to judge when the car had been sanded enough, I was always afraid of scratches or dents being visible after the paint job (which easily happens and the process starts from 0), but luckily it was always perfect.
I worked in a paint a body shop when I was in high school. The boss told me if I could feel any irregularity in the surface with my fingers, it would show when painted.

After all of that hand sanding my fingerprints were also gone. I never did decide whether or not that was an advantage in the feeling process.:approve:
 
  • #16
George Jones
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I worked taking liquid nitrogen down a salt mine to help "find" a 17 keV neutrino.
 
  • #17
lisab
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There was a bizarre job I really wanted to apply for but the commute was too long. The place was a small non-profit specializing in health services for third-world countries, and the job was developing a condom for women.
 
  • #18
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I can't think of any, really. Probably the most exotic job I had was commercial fishing out of Alaska, which I was essentially raised into. Then I ran away and joined the circus (academia).

I guess academia really is a bizarre job if you think about it; kind of a priveledged position. According to the previously mentioned Mike Rowe, we need more people in trades jobs in the West.
 
  • #19
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There was a bizarre job I really wanted to apply for but the commute was too long. The place was a small non-profit specializing in health services for third-world countries, and the job was developing a condom for women.
Now I am wondering how you found out about that job. Was there an ad in the local newspaper?:devil:
 
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  • #21
Evo
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Wow, there have been some weird jobs by members. I didn't have any weird jobs, but I'm old enough to have had jobs that are pretty much non-existent now. I worked as a soda jerk and short order cook at an old fashioned soda fountain and lunch counter in privately owned neighborhood pharmacies. Yes, like the one you see Jimmy Stewart working at in "It's a wonderful life". I did not wear a hat.

I was also a "cord board" telephone operator for the phone company.

Just like this one, except maybe 30 years later, but nothing had changed, not even the clunky headsets.

attachment.php?attachmentid=60889&stc=1&d=1376428147.jpg


The best part was international calls to Mexico. When a caller in the US wanted to speak to someone in a small town in Mexico, I would call the operator for that town (it was always some lady that had a telephone in her home). Since she was the only person in the area with a phone, and many people lived in remote villages, I would give her the name of the villager that was wanted for a phone call. She would assign someone to go by donkey out to the remote village and bring the person back to her home and tell me the day and time they might be there (the person in the US was usually a migrant worker so they would go at that time to a designated payphone and wait to hear from me). When they delivered the person via donkey to the Mexican operator's home, she'd call me and I'd call the payphone and try to get the caller to the phone then we'd patch them together. Of course this required collecting lots of coins at the payphone, which we manually logged according to the sound we heard the coins make. The rates were manually calculated from books. (This was before computers, and we were expected to do the math on scratch paper.) We didn't even have calculators, although old rotary type desk calculators existed. Yes, I had to speak enough Spanish to collect money and get the calls connected. "senior, por cobrar aqui? meant "sir, for collect here?" :biggrin: It was a mutually agreed upon phone lingo. Good times.

Thanks for this thread lisab!
 

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  • #22
Cthugha
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Nothing too bizarre.
First, kind of an unusual job for a guy:
I was a nursing assistant at an ophthalmology ward in my local hospital. Actually the ophthalmology was the section doing the most surgeries, more or less because these did not take long. It was also the ward located the furthest away from the surgery room. We needed to move the people in their beds almost along the entire basement, then up in the elevator and back across half the building on the upper level, so I was pretty busy moving beds back and forth. I also saw a powerful laser for the first time during that time. The really bizarre things about this job were, however, rather the stories of the patients: That guy who has a horrible accident with his tractor while trying to get up a hill, overturning several times doing that, and gets out of it almost completely uninjured except for a glass splinter in his eye. Or the guy who hears that cracking sound, looks up to see what it might be...and in that moment the chestnut hits his open eye...

The second job was a bit more bizarre.
I was a security guy at a ski jumping hill at a ski jumping event.
441152834-publikumsmagnet-beim-weltcup-muehlenkopfschanze-willingen-archivfoto-iD34.jpg

There is a small stairway directly between the hill where the jumpers land and the area where the fans are located, which goes all the way up to the top, just in case of an emergency. My sole job consisted of standing there and making sure that no fans try to sit on this staircase. It was in the beginning of February, it was freezing cold and the duty started around 5.45 am. Needless to say, the first fans - usually roughly 15 year old teenage girls who considered ski jumper Martin Schmitt as equivalent to boygroup members and just screamed his name all day - were already there. I felt horribly cold all day, but at least I had a much better view than the fans and I was paid instead of having to pay for standing around all day in the cold like the fans did. However, it was pretty impressive seeing those guys land directly next to you. One of them had a crash landing. He was not injured, but it looked pretty horrible and happened at an impressive speed.
 
  • #23
Monique
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The best part was international calls to Mexico. When a caller in the US wanted to speak to someone in a small town in Mexico, I would call the operator for that town (it was always some lady that had a telephone in her home). Since she was the only person in the area with a phone, and many people lived in remote villages, I would give her the name of the villager that was wanted for a phone call. She would assign someone to go by donkey out to the remote village and bring the person back to her home and tell me the day and time they might be there (the person in the US was usually a migrant worker so they would go at that time to a designated payphone and wait to hear from me). When they delivered the person via donkey to the Mexican operator's home, she'd call me and I'd call the payphone and try to get the caller to the phone then we'd patch them together. Of course this required collecting lots of coins at the payphone, which we manually logged according to the sound we heard the coins make. The rates were manually calculated from books. (This was before computers, and we were expected to do the math on scratch paper.) We didn't even have calculators, although old rotary type desk calculators existed. Yes, I had to speak enough Spanish to collect money and get the calls connected. "senior, por cobrar aqui? meant "sir, for collect here?" :biggrin: It was a mutually agreed upon phone lingo. Good times.

Thanks for this thread lisab!
Wow, that's a good story! Sending out someone out by donkey in order to make a phone call, great how that used to work.
 
  • #24
DennisN
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At first I couldn't think of any bizarre job I've had - but then I realized... I've worked for a science fiction convention;

I've been a driver for this fellow, an assistant to this replicant, this droid, this guy and this guy + some other actors I can't remember at the moment.
 
  • #25
DennisN
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Thinking of my work at SF conventions, I remembered a little story I simply can not resist telling o:).

As you may understand, some actors who appear at science fiction conventions are not actually very famous, at least outside the SF genre.

I have a friend who sometimes has a mouth that speaks before his head processes thoughts (he was also working at the convention).

This friend of mine was in a car with two not so famous actors (but they had been in very famous SF movies) - the car was taking them to their hotel the first night. The journey went through the central parts of the city, and as the car approached the very best hotel we have in our city, my friend was trying to provide some interesting local information; he pointed at the luxury hotel and said to them:

- This is where all famous people stay when they visit this city.

And then the car passed by, heading for the not so glamorous hotel where the actors actually would stay.
 

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