I worked as a blood processing technician, doing waste pump-outs at a marina, trained Field Trial/Hunting Dogs, worked on a dairy farm, worked on a legit weed farm trimming and growing, sandblasting at a machine shop, assisted with veterinarian surgeries, and served as a prison psychiatric technician doing 1:1 observations on naked psychotic inmates that were a danger to self and others… and those were just the legal ones
My wife (RN) worked for 10 minutes in the Criminally Insane Geriatric ward in Duchess County , NY. There was a guy who could have been the inspiration for Hannibal Lecter-
tied up,scratching,spitting and clacking his teeth. She quit when she got into the elevator to go to work with an extra large woman.
Wife,“What floor do you work on?”
Large Woman,“Oh! I’m an inmate.”
Cleaning cat cages at a cattery. 300+ litter boxes a shift. My Mom made me come in the side door to the basement and change clothes before I came upstairs. Some of the cats were not socialized and we didn’t touch them. I forgot one day and put my arm in a cage with a cat named Switchblade. My arm came out with a cat attached.
Lab assistant and mouse brain section er at the VA Neuuropharmacology lab where they were studying the effect of vitamin C on Alzheimer plaques in the brain. Made the poor mice dangle from a tightrope then sectioned their brains for electron microscopy after they were sacrificed.
I’ve spent most of my life as a chemist. I spent one summer during college grinding rocks, dissolving the rocks in acid that could explode, and spraying them into a flame to see what elements were in them to see if the company wanted to dig the metal up.
After I graduated, I have spent my career as a chemist researching alternative energy. As part of my job I’ve worked on an industrial scale gasifier that decomposed wood chips into hydrogen and carbon monoxide…several thousand cubic feet of carbon monoxide at 700°C…in an 8 story building. I sampled the gas by trudging to the top of the reactor as many as 13 times in a 12 hour shift with tools and metal sample containers and ice.
As another part of my job, I was supposed to measure soot from Diesel engines on filters that measured differences as little as 0.1 microgram (1/1,000,000) of a gram. The problem was that the trucks vibrated the building during testing so I couldn’t measure the weight differences. I had to do the weight measurements at night when the building was quiet. Since I didn’t have anything to do, I was set to operating the trucks on a dual roll dynamometer capable of testing trucks that are loaded with 80,000 pounds. I got to operate exotic, multimillion dollar, one-off custom hybrid electric commercial trucks on the dynamometer. I tested garbage trucks, delivery trucks, busses, and over the road trucks. It made measuring filters late at night worthwhile.
For approximately five weeks between semesters I worked on the factory line packing TimTam and mint slice chocolate biscuits for Australian biscuit co Arnotts…picking up by cotton gloved hand either 11 tim tams at a time or 13 mint slices and dropping them in their tray off the production line. I assume they soon went to vacuum packing some time after as you can see a slight circle on each TimTam, now. I was probably the only white person working there at the time…btw Tim Tams were re-labelled as Mates for the US market. I didn’t eat chocolate coated biscuits for 3&1/2 years after that, couldn’t cope with the smell of chocolate& biscuit! Now of course in the vain attempt to suit everyone they’ve released all the ridiculous flavour variations…even pina colada…pineapples should not be allowed anywhere near cakes biscuits or pizza in my opinion.
Fifty one years ago, I was an art major fresh out of college. I worked as a page layout person at Charlton Press in Derby, Connecticut. The job was minimum wage and painstakingly difficult.
Back in 1968, there were no computers. Magazine layouts were all set by hand. How? All the pictures and copy (text) were put through a waxing machine. Once waxed, I would carefully cut the waxed copy into single line text and press it in place with tweezers.
The copy could be repositioned because of the wax.
It was July, hot and humid, no ac and the boss was very mean.
I only lasted two weeks.
Next to trying to sell encyclopedias door to door in 1967, this was the worst job I ever had.
Cleaned the morgue at a local hospital, second shift. Somehow, I think it prepared me for law school.
One summer job I had was sorting buttons for a fabrics and notions company. This seemed like it could be kind of visually interesting. It wasn’t. Every morning a true mountain of those little white buttons on men’s dress shirts would be poured onto my table and I had to sort them by size. Until that job, I had no idea that there are possibly 7 different sizes of those little buttons used on one dress shirt.
My first job was as a caddy at Montclair (NJ) Golf Club [https://www.montclairgolfclub.org]. It was the summer after my 14th birthday – just old enough for working papers – and I joined some high school golf team buddies who had been caddying there.
As a first-year “B” caddy, I spent a lot of time waiting in the caddy shack as the older experienced “A” caddies were given golfers, and I was sent out lots of times to “shag” balls – think playing outfield with golf balls flying at you. I made $10 for my first caddying round of golf, which was pretty good at the time when other classmates were making 85 cents per hour. A benefit of being a caddy was being able to play golf and use the club pool on Mondays for free!
I returned for two more summers, becoming an “A” caddy the second year. As an “A” caddy, carrying clubs for 18 holes earned me $20 per bag plus tips for about 4 hours of physical work. My best weekend ever netted me almost $250, but there is a side story here.
On that Sunday, I was ready to head home after caddying two rounds with two bags each, and over $100 in my pocket for the one day. The Starter pulled me aside and asked me to stay and “do a special” – typically a VIP – and drive a cart for two golfers rather than walk. The man who rode in the cart with me for 9 holes was 75 year old Eddie Rickenbacker – WWI Ace, Medal of Honor recipient and founder of Eastern Airlines. The second golfer, who walked and paid me, was Jon Lindbergh – yes, son of Charles Lindbergh. The time spent with them and the conversation created a great memorable experience.
Hmm, I don’t think I’ve had anything as interesting as the ones I’ve read here so far. The only one that can even approach this thread is when I was the head coach for a high school tennis varsity team. . Maybe when I was a research assistant to two professors who were the chairs of different university departments doing a multidisciplinary creative writing course but I think that’s also a pretty run-of-the-mill job.
I currently manage a Leather Bar. Aside from the obvious, it’s just like any other job, but occasionally I’ll have friends who visit me at work and someone will walk by in a jockstrap and you think… oh yeah, this isn’t what most people think of as a standard work night.
I have had a variety of odd jobs in my life. I got a job taking nails out of a pile of lumber in the basement of a bath house in San Francisco in the late '70s. it was the only sexual bath house that was really for everybody. The managers liked the way I pulled nails out of the lumber so the carpenter could reuse them so they asked me to take some locks apart and clean them. Then I got a job as janitor, desk clerk and snack bar attendant at the bathhouse. My favorite hours were midnight until 8 am. The most interesting people came in then. I also worked on a fish processing barge in Togiak Bay Alaska during herring season. I helped my roommate clean out the spiral freezer one day, vacuuming out fish parts from the filter so it could drain again. I worked in an adult bookstore in Anchorage after that. I learned a lot about human nature working there. A few years later I became a colonic hydrotherapist. Its a dirty job but someone has to do it. I worked in 3 different clinics, it paid my living expenses through Naturopathic medical school, and got me into my first clinic when I graduated. I learned even more about working with people who are not always well doing that. I have also worked with children from babies through high school students in several states. Life is what you make it.
Well, it was a volunteer job, not a paying one, but in the early 1990s I helped install a 1928 theater pipe organ in a 1926 movie palace. The project took 3 1/2 years. In the process I learned a lot about pipe organs and got to use some of my electronics knowledge wiring the instrument.
Below you can see the organ console in the center of the orchestra pit. The pipes are behind the grilles on either side of the proscenium.
These photos were taken over 20 years ago. The theater itself has undergone some restoration since.
OMG! That must’ve been crazy-making!
I was a part-time burrito roller for a food company in Salt Lake City. One day the burritos were coming down the line really fast and we couldn’t keep up with the folding. I had been reading Naval history and shouted out, “Damn the burritos and full speed ahead!” Well, either they never heard of Admiral Farragut or my swearing shocked the sweet women of the burrito line into speechless ness. Nobody applauded my play on words.
I just have to say I love this thread and these jobs (and lives!) are fascinating!
I was a self-employed printer the summer I was 15, some 45 years ago. My dad, an eternal hobbyist, had a small hand-operated printing press, and I used it to make a few bucks printing letterhead and business cards for the neighbors. I learned a bit about typesetting and a lot about the courage and drive you need to run your own business (the following summer I opted to work as a receptionist).
psundik, I remember the days of waxed copy. We were still using it at a small-town newspaper in the mid-1980s. The ability to reposition or change single words and even single bits of punctuation was wonderful (sigh). We did have air-conditioning, though. In the summer in Arkansas, the copy would surely have melted off the page otherwise. And my bosses weren’t really mean – just stupid (that’s a whole nother story).
But trying to sell encyclopedias door-to-door was far worse. I think I lasted a week (and never sold anything).