What's the wierdest job you've ever had?

What’s the wierdest job you’ve ever had?

For a while, I worked as receptionist at a collection agency. It was really strange. My co-workers, who for the most part were pretty nice, spent all day making intimidating calls to folks who hadn’t paid their bills. The agency collected for time-share vacation homes in the Dominican Republic. Lots of the folks who had time-shares were from Venezuela or Germany, so I got a bunch of calls from very upset people yelling in German and Spanish. Thankfully, it was just a temp job.

I have a friend who worked for a guy who bred rats for medical labs. He kept them in a big trailer, and my friend had to come by twice a day to feed and water them. He quit when he came to work and was almost shot by a guy feuding with his boss. (This was in western N.C.)

So let’s hear your experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I was the “change girl” at a pinball arcade in the local mall. This was 1973, before video games. The only electronic games we had were Pong and Space Invaders.

The perk was I got to play pinball for free!

Making corndogs in the “Hot Diggety Dog” shack at Wild World in Largo, MD (before it became Six Flags).

Actually, I was a “roving cashier,” which meant I gave breaks to cashiers in all the different “restaurants.” But cashier duties also meant cooking duties. I made corndogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes, fries (in the Fry, Fry Again shack). :rolleyes:

The park sponsored concerts, and I remember the Marshall Tucker Band played one night. People snuck liquor in and were completely wasted. We caught so many couples hiding behind food shacks and rides having sex.

This was 1982. A very weird and surreal jobs at times, but it was also a blast.


Well each individual job wasn’t that wierd, but I think I can safely say that, for about a year, I worked for the Universe’s only combination copy shop, tanning salon, and balloon delivery service.

Since I didn’t have a car, I got out of the balloon deliveries, but… wiping off those tanning beds… disgusted shudder

This doesn’t really count, since it’s not my job, but I’ve met people who “sniffed” for a living. They were testing the scent of soap. You would go to their lab and wash one arm with an unscented soap and the other with a scented soap. Then you’d go to this window where you stick your arms through a plexiglass panel. The person behind the panel would sniff and grade both arms for strength of scent. Then you went back every 15 minutes until they couldn’t smell anything anymore.

Once I asked a woman who was doing this what she told her family she did for a living (Mommy smells peoples arms, dear). She wasn’t terribly amused by the question.

I was a bill collector for B.C. Motor Vehicles. I was one of those people you heard making intimidating phone calls. Lord, what a soul-destroying venture that was.

I was a doughnut baker. After I left, I couldn’t even look at the things for 6 months. Thankfully, that’s all in my past.

I guess the strangest was the summer I spent as a carnie at an amusement park in Kitchener/Waterloo. “Hey, fella! Win one for the lady friend! One ball for a buck fiddy, four for $5.00! Whaddya say?!?”

During my junior year in college I worked in the graphic art department of a company that music promotion type stuff, mostly pop & rock shows in various locations through the midwest.

The company was best described as “dysfunctional”. The head honcho was a remote cousin to a local mafia family, and I suspect he liked to think that he was a made man, but he was really just kind of a doofus. His favorite trick was to take money that wasn’t really his (like the box office takes from shows) and not give it to the rightful owners (like the band). Then he’d buy a nice big house, ponies for his kids, nice cars for everyone in his immediate family, then promply declare bankrupcy. This guy collected lawsuits the way other people collect coins or stamps.

The rest of the people there were an odd bunch. If it was a sitcom (which it often seemed like), nobody would believe that such a random group of people would wind up together in one office, much less on the same planet.

Still, I got to meet lots of bands and musicians, from No Doubt to BB King. Got to see tons of cool shows (and tons of not really cool at all shows). Plus, I got stuff I designed printed in newspapers and magazines.

Then I got to find out what it’s like when the check you wrote for rent bounces because your employer (Mr. Mafioso wannabe) decided to put a stop payment on your paycheck for no apparent reason. So I walked out in the middle of a job and never went back.

I cleaned cheese processing machines for Kraft (at night).

I spent a summer working at the General Foods Technical Center. We did cool things like work on new flavored coffees (for the Maxwell House division), new flavors of Jello, and soybean hotdogs.

The best part of the job was getting called down to the taste-test kitchen several times a week. We tested mostly coffee. They would put us in a dark room with only a small red light (so we couldn’t detect color differences) and slide three cups of coffee through a window. We had to taste the three cups and decide which two were from the same pot and which was the odd cup. Then we gave our opinion on which was better. Obviously, if you picked the odd cup incorrectly your comments were disregarded. They kept a score sheet in the kitchen with everybody’s percentage in picking the odd cup. In the beginning of the summer I was batting about 20% but, by the end of the summer, I was well over 90%.

God that job was fun. Met a great boyfriend there too.

worked for a company that imported things from hong kong, and then re-packaged and sold them to drug-stores.

spent a summer when i was 15 putting combs, hairslides, eye patches, baby bottles and assorted other weird items in boxes and bags of 100.

not much fun.

Well, one of my longest friendships is with a girl who swears I should form a personal corporation called “Anything For A Buck, Inc.”.

I’ve had quite a few odd paying gigs. Some of them are:

Makeup lessons for a transvestite
Mural painter
Phone sex operator
Warner Brothers character (usually Sylvester)
Cast member at a murder mystery dinner theater

Plus any number of retail and office jobs. I currently work as a paralegal during the day, and as a massage therapist on evenings and weekends. If it’ll get the rent paid, I’m all over it.

I was a carnie for two summers straight while in high school.

Ahhhhh, the memories. I was queen of that place. They acted like they’d never met anyone like me. I was Employee of the Month my second month there.

Teehee. It was ALMOST hard to leave that job.

Really, it was great though. I was certainly able to hone my “selling” skills. I also had to work on being more outgoing and pushy. It was good for me.

Just after I graduated college, I temp’d at a company that graded standardized tests. I spent hours just putting ScanTron sheets through a grader and then checking them and packaging them to send them back to the schools.

My best job was working as a student secretary to my programming professor. Since it was a small college, they didn’t have graduate assistants, so I did a lot of the work they would’ve done. I made up test questions for the freshman classes, graded papers, etc.

I was a babysitter for baby trout in Nepal.

I had been in the Peace Corps in another country and treking around Nepal when a Peace Corps Volunteer who was working on a program in Nepal to introduce fingerling fish into some of the irrigation systems was bitten by a rabid dog.

The local government asked me to watch over the fish while they matured while the guy who came up with the program was flown to Germany for the shots to deal with the rabies. My responsibilities basically meant I fed the fish at predetermined times and kept the locals from slipping in and stealing any for their dinner table.

Well, I worked for my college’s theater as a “techie” (yes, paid). We were in a fairly small city and our theater was often used for professional groups as well as college productions.

I particularly recall the time I worked backstage when Alvin Ailey Dance came through—one of my tasks during the show was to assist this big, sweaty guy with his quick costume changes.

Also did some pretty wacky “scouting” for props–including persuading one of the local restaurants to save left-over lobster shells for use in a play. One time, I had to construct a fake turtle that could be pulled apart onstage, flinging blood & guts everywhere…then be reassembled for the next night’s show (I still have it at home).

Pick one:

1)Beach Bimbo.A Florida property development co. had a small(about 3/4 the size of a football field) private island out in Lemon Bay. They would bring prospective(male) homeowners out & there would always just happen to be a few scantily clad gals(including yours truly)playing vollyball, & grilling burgers,chops,chicken,and/or steaks.We always had an extra ice cold beer or mixed drink
for the suckers-er-swell guys we hoped would be new neighbors.

2)Boat Bimbo.Let’s all go deep sea fishing(and drinking) with Captain Jack!

3)Apartment Painter.A jock sniffer(Booster Club member w/deep pockets) at a certain college hired a basketball star for the summer to supervise the repainting of an apartment complex he owned($15,000-not bad for a summer gig-especially one you don’t really have to show up at).About 20 kids were hired to do the actual painting.Every day one apartment had to be painted.You could tell which one by the keg of beer(generously provided by the JS) & the blaring stereo in it.People wandered in and out & I guess the painting got done.

4)Bartender.In a bar very popular with baseball players & their various hangers-on during spring training.

5)Freelance Projectionist(Chicago area). Among my clients was an all male social club that met in various North Shore homes(25 men in full drag for a Mamie Van Doren Film Fest-quite educational!).

I was going to start exactly the same one.

I had the conversation with some co-workers, and here’s the results, in reverse order:

Me - “Mandolin player at a museum in Japan”

Colleague #1 - “Manager of turkey masturbation crew”

Colleague #2 - “Roofer”

What’s wrong with roofer? we asked.

Then he finished his sentence:

“at Dachau”.

I dunno if this will count, but I had a job I’d call “surreal”.

I worked for a place we’ll call “Micro-Face”. They were a computer hardware and software distributor, allegedly. They had spent a lot of time selling Amiga stuff for video production. This was in 1993, when the Amiga was pretty much dead, and only a few video producers really were using them. The company decided that with the Amiga in its death throes, they’d start distributing PC CD-ROM software (the CD-ROM was just starting to take off, but EVERYONE was distributing them, especially the big distributors, Merisel and Ingram.)

I was one of the ones selling CD-ROMs. I was told when I interviewed that there would be no cold-calling, that I’d be supplied with a list of customers. This, of course, was a lie. So I spent most of the time cold-calling. It was miserable, because we hardly had any product - for some reason they just wouldn’t order stuff. There were days where I literally had nothing new to sell people. Even when we did get stuff in, they came in ridiculously small quantities. There was a game that was actually pretty hot and we thought we’d be able to sell - and we got in 12 of them total. We’re supposed to be a distributor. And our prices were ridiculous. I had people actually laugh at me when I told them what we were charging.

I got frustrated and asked the sales manager what I could do, since I couldn’t sell anything. After all, we had no product, no quanitity, and no price for them, so how on earth could I tell people to buy from us. His solution was to sell the fact that we’re friendly, unlike Merisel and Ingram. I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

This place had to be hemorrhaging money. The entire time I was there I don’t think I ever sold enough to pay my salary for a week. After a while I didn’t even bother to call customers anymore, because I had none, and I had nothing to sell them even if I did. I found an entertainment info-line in New Orleans (press 4 for movies, 5 for restaurants) and I would just hit numbers on it, having the messages play over and over, just to look like I was on the phone. Nobody else seemed to be selling much of anything either.

Finally after 2 months I couldn’t take it anymore and just walked out. I had never done that before, and it scared me, but I just couldn’t take being there any longer. I felt like I’d been participating in some kind of money laundering scheme, since I saw no obvious ways the place was making money, but nobody seemed concerned about it. They’re still in business, too.

When I interviewed at the place I work now, I mentioned Micro-face and my experience there. The HR person told me she hears the same story often from people who worked there, and they all use the word “surreal” to describe it.

Trapsetter at a gun club. I had this job when I was in high school. I sat in a concrete hut which was half buried in the earth. The hut was about 30 feet in front of a line of shooters. With me in the hut would be numerous boxes of clay pigeons and a machine with an incredibly powerful arm for flinging the pigeons.

My job was to set pigeons on the arm. As soon as one would be whipped away, the arm would rotate back to it’s cocked position, and I would have a couple of seconds to set the pigeon in the correct place before the next shooter yelled “Pull!” and the arm would whip about again. Some of the shooters were very quick to call, and my fingertips would be brushed as the new pigeon launched. Me and none of the other setters ever got digits ripped off which seems kind of miraculous (sp?) in retrospect.

You had to be especially careful when the shooters were shooting doubles, as two pigeons would have to be quickly and correctly placed on the arm.

The pigeons had terraced ridges around them to help with aerodynamics, and sometimes to amuse ourselves, we would cut off an outer ridge or two with a pocket knife thereby affecting the flight pattern of the bird. It would rise and drop and curve in it’s flight and be hard as hell to hit. Another trick was to scrape all the reflective paint off of a bird when night shoots were taking place. It would fly out of the setting shack and quickly dissapear into the night before the shooter had a chance to nail it.

We could tell when the shooters knew we were screwing around with them, as we would hear a scatter of buckshot smack into the concrete around us as the shooter shot at the setting shack as a form of commentary.

During tournements, we would be in the house for hours at a go, usually in triple digit heat. We would suck down sodas to keep cool, and piss into the cans when need be. We’d climb out of the shack hours later covered in sweat.

I lived by the guy who ran the gun club, and he always gave me a ride to work on the weekends. I would go over to his house after the Sunday sessions and hang out with his son who also worked at the club. On Sunday afternoons, once back at home, the gun club manager would take a prescription downer of some sort and drink a couple of beers. After awhile, he would sort of slip into a mild fugue state. We knew he was still cognizant, as his eyes would track us around the room, but he was pretty much plastered to the chair for the rest of the afternoon.

His son and I would take advantage of Dad in a coma to have some teenage boy fun. Picture it, a zombie adult, bulk gunpowder used for reloading shells, and two teenage boys of questionable maturity. We stopped making pipebombs after we scorched the hell out of the gun club managers lawn.

Good times.

I was a “Quaalude Salesman” in high school…