What's the most unique job you've ever had?

What’s the weirdest/most unique job you’ve ever had? Do you have any funny/interesting memories from your time there?

Whenever I tell people that I was lead management a sexual chocolate and toy company, I get the most interesting reactions. My friend was talking about how they hate Christmas time because of their seasonal job working as an Elf at a Santa greet in the mall. I’m curious what experiences you’ve had - and if you enjoyed your strange jobs or if it effected how you viewed the world.

During my last summer before finishing university I worked as a security guard at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. I worked the yachting venue at Long Beach Marina. My shift was midnight to 8:00am so was pretty dull. I’ve still got my credentials and snazzy blue beret in a box somewhere.

I pugged clay for about three days once. That involves taking powdered clay and running it through a pug mill (think a big meat grinder) with water and having it come out as potter’s clay on the other end. I ended up with my nostrils encrusted with clay every night. Also, even as a young, strong healthy guy, I could never produce fast enough to hit bonus, so the pay sucked. That was probably the most hated job of my life, and that’s why it only lasted three days.

I’ve written a couple times about my first job in a poultry genetics laboratory.

Genetics research often involves controlled breeding experiments. But you can’t just put a rooster and a hen in a cage together, turn the lights down low, and put on some Barry White music and expect nature to take its course. Oh no.

So once a week it was the day to artificially inseminate the hens. That was bad.

What was worse is that you have to … ahem… collect from the roosters the day before.

I hand painted geologic maps. Basically paint by number, with excruciating detail. Oil on linen. Some would take weeks to complete and sold for thousands (or 10’s of) of dollars.

It was lots of fun for about the first day. Then the most boring thing I’ve ever done.

I worked at the YMCA here when I was 18-20. Aside from working the front desk, lifeguarding, and teaching swimming to little kids, I also worked at the racquetball courts, where I re-strung racquets for patrons. It was fun, and I was very good/fast at it.

At the same time I was a lifeguard at the country club. The club had a private lake with a sand beach, and I was one of only 4 lifeguards there.

When I was 16-18 years old, I was a carhop at a local drive-in. That was a blast.

I can’t say I’ve done anything that interesting.

Probably the most illuminating job in terms of exposing me to different things and showing me how the world works, was oddly enough, my flower delivery job the summer before I went to college. I saw all walks of life- from multi-millionaires to dirt poor people, and went all around all parts of Houston as I delivered flowers- poor areas, rich areas, office buildings, homes, cemeteries, funeral homes, hospitals, strip joints, restaurants, etc… Plus, my co-workers were a really odd crew- flamboyantly gay flower designers, straight white middle-aged redneck women, young-ish attractive woman, gay rodeo cowboy delivery driver, a pair of straight Hispanic brothers who probably weighed 400 lbs each, a white redneck boss, frat-guy owners, and so on. Even the music choices of the delivery drivers were educational- the Hispanic guys listened to Digital Underground, Tupac, Geto Boyz and a lot of other early 1990s rap, the middle-aged rednecks listened to country oldies, and the younger woman listened to Rush Limbaugh.

Kind of a surreal job in a lot of ways, but fun.

Technology smuggler. Actually it wasn’t all that interesting to carry software and hardware into countries that were turning a blind eye to their laws.

I cut helicopter LZs (landing zones) in remote Alaska. Working in the Yukon-Charley Wilderness I would be choppered in from Eagle, a tiny, remote town on the Yukon north 80 miles to absolute wilderness. He’d set me down with a chainsaw and gas, a radio, map, compass, lunch and a shotgun w/ slugs because it was black and brown bear country. I’d hike a transect all day, stopping every 1/2 mile to cut an oval where the chopper could bring my GeoChem crew in to sample later. I was completely by myself all day and it was tough country to negotiate, tussock grasses to wooded areas and hills and streams to cross.

It was the greatest job I ever had, or ever will.

Working for a private investigation firm for several years. Not as interesting as one might think, but it definitely helped shape my views about privacy.

There was a similar thread awhile back where I told my story of working in a freezer warehouse.

I will post it again here because for me it truly was the most unique job I ever had.

I will add that one of the things that made this job unique was that from time to time, we would be allowed to take home some ice cream from the “damaged” pile. Often there would be times where boxes of ice cream would be damaged and therefore unsellable, so it would get moved to the damaged pile. It was still edible, just not sellable. So I would come home with half a box of Popsicles or a few cups of chocolate swirl.

One time we had a shift where every store in the region placed huge orders for ice cream. We ended up busting our butts to fill all the orders and worked until 3AM. The manager of the warehouse told us that he was impressed with us working so hard and that we could go through the pick line and take one box of anything we wanted home with us. I saw some people taking one of the huge buckets of ice cream, or a box of specialty Popsicles, but I ended up taking a box of Klondike bars. Each box of Klondike bars had 12 individual boxes which each had 12 Klondike bars in it, so in total, I walked out that night with 144 Klondike bars. The rest of the summer, I was giving them away to my friends and family.

It was a hard job, but the perks were pretty good.

I was a locksmith for a couple of years. Nothing unique or interesting about that in itself, but I was a locksmith in Washington, DC, and the shop had a ton of federal and federal contractor clients.

I personally keyed about 30% of the doors in the then-new Homeland Security building, I did a ton of work around the Patent & Trade Office, I rekeyed an entire building for Raytheon, I opened and worked on safes at the NSA, Navy Intelligence, and many other extremely high-security agencies I don’t remember the names of.

However the one job that sticks out is the time I was still in training and we were called out to a stately private residence in the suburbs to open a large house safe. The owner’s husband had passed away and she did not have the combination to his personal, private safe. She didn’t know what was in it, and mentioned she believed it to contain hunting rifles, cash, and old stock certificates or something like that (I assume that’s what he told her was in it).

Anyways, it took us about an hour to drill and scope it, but once we got it open, my boss/trainer only opened the door a crack. He went to let the widow know we had finished, and as soon as he left the room I opened the safe door and looked inside. It turned out to be packed with porn and bondage gear. I closed the door (leaving it open a little) and walked out of the room, quickly had her sign the paperwork and we left before she had looked inside the safe. As we were driving away, I told my boss/trainer what I had seen and he said, “That’s why you don’t look!”

lieu, that does sound like a great job!

When I was in my early twenties, I worked part-time at a venom lab. I extracted venom from snakes, toads and spiders. It didn’t pay very well, but I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. The only real scares I had were when snakes would escape from their boxes and we’d have to find them in the lab.

I worked at a funeral parlor through high school and college. I did everything there is to do in such a business other than the actual embalming, as I did not have the required license for that. It was not an unpleasant way to earn some spending money.

During my last semester in grad school at the University of Hawaii, I worked part-time in a 24-hour porn shop. Aaxtion Video, on Kapiolani Boulevard not far from Ala Moana Mall. The peep-show booths had Kleenex-box holders for customer use after they’d whacked off. My job was to sweep up the used Kleenex after someone left. This was actually a more interesting job than you would think. And there was a section in the store with live girls who would do things in front of you behind a glass if you kept feeding in bills – a couple of them were strung-out junkies, but several were interesting to talk to. The other guys working there were all good people to work with. And it was funny seeing all these customers stopping in for a quick wank on their way to work in the mornings.

One of the big managers hadn’t caught on that I was working part-time only because I was a student, and since I wasn’t the sleazy type that they often got, he kept promising to bump me up to full-time until I told him I really couldn’t. But they did trust me to go out with them to the airport and pick up the visiting stars who were performing for a week or two at their strip club. To carry their luggage and stuff. Some of these were major porn stars at the time. There was also a girl with a 100-inch-plus bust. She’d been on a national talk show due to her breast size. Was pretty nice to talk to. It turned out she’d had friends in the past who lived in the same apartment complex I did in Albuquerque, although I don’t think at the same time as me. The reason they needed someone they could trust was because this meant I was privy to the hotel room they used in Waikiki to put these girls up. That was a company secret, because the girls needed to be able to rest assured the location where they were staying wouldn’t get out, and most of the staff were not allowed to know where this was. Strictly a need-to-know basis.

Next time I see one of those “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” commercials I’ll think of you saying “I froze and sweated my ass off pushing quarter ton carts of ice cream into trailers all damn day, thanks for asking.”


Working in a neurophysiology lab, I dissected out the central nervous system of the nudibranch Hermissenda crassicornis, placed an electrode into one of the photo-receptor cells, then recorded action potentials that occurred in response to flashes of light.

I ran the tongue saw at a slaughter house for a little over a year just prior to finding my present job.

I used to design surgical instruments and have seen the insides of several patients during surgery. Initial incisions are kinda freaky but once inside they’re just fixing a problem.

Surgical nurses get VERY defensive and territorial! Most surgeons are just interested in the procedure and like to explain their craft. A leading surgeon once told me, describing his colleagues, “There are frame carpenters and there are cabinet makers, you hope you get a cabinet maker.”

BTW, just like a mechanic, if a doctor can’t give a straight, fairly simple answer to what they’re going to do, you should probabaly find another surgeon/mechanic.

“See, right now I’m working the tongue saw. In a few months I’ll move up to legs. In a year, I’ll make viscera and that’s where the real money starts rolling in.”
Those who recognize the original source get points.

As far as a job, coaching high school track and cross-country. Besides running, nothing I ever did would have prepared me to work with kids of any age and I had doubts I could do it when it was offered.