“So what do you do for a living?” is a common enough question when engaging in small talk with somebody you’ve just met. But for a select few of the world’s workers this signifies the beginning of the end of any conversation, followed by awkward excuses and another evening spent stood alone in the corner at a party.
Here is our guide to the top ten odd jobs from around the world, so if you’re sitting in your office bored out of your mind just be thankful you’re not doing one of these.
10. Egg Breaker/Smeller
The smell of rotten eggs has to be one of the least pleasant, most vomit-inducing aromas known to mankind. It’s no coincidence that the sulphuric pong is the main ingredient in stink bombs, an enduring favourite of school pranksters. Yet there are people out there who are actually paid to sniff out this sickening stink.
Egg smellers, also more pleasantly known as egg breakers (but with no less unpleasant duties), are employed to separate yolks and whites for use in food products and sniff out the bad eggs in the batch. It’s enough to put anybody off omelettes for life.
9. Worm Picker
To catch a fish you must first catch a worm. Or get somebody else to catch it for you. That’s right, for the princely sum of as much as 4 cents per worm you can make your living crawling across Canadian farm fields pulling up wiggling bait and stuffing them into a cup.
As if that’s not fun enough, the best time to do this is normally in the dark in the rain. Still, at least you’ll have the day free for a spot of relaxing fishing.
8. Cow Inseminator
It’s amazing the science and technology that goes into breeding top quality cattle; a special computer programme is used to work out when a female cow is on heat, tracking barcodes show whether the cow is historically compatible with the sperm donor to avoid inbreeding, and modern cell freezing techniques keep the semen on ice until the appropriate time.
Yet at the end of all this there has to be somebody who is willing to stick their arm, all the way up to the shoulder, up a cow’s vagina. Step forward the cow inseminator. Sure, you get a (really long) glove, and you may give a bored cow a bit of a thrill, but are you ever going to be able to look at a hamburger in the same way again?
7. Body Farm Caretaker
Ah, life on a farm, the open air, the sprawling fields, the horrific stench of putrefying corpses… The USA’s body farms have replaced cute cuddly animals and flowing fields of corn with rotting human bodies carefully arranged into various positions. There are corpses half-buried in mud, cadavers weighed down in ponds, and even stiffs in the trunk of cars.
Before you start calling the national guard however, this isn’t the work of a particularly agricultural serial killer (or should that be cereal killer?); These farms help forensic students study decomposition in different situations, meaning that they can do more of that neat deductive stuff you see on CSI where they tell you how long ago the victim was murdered and that they were having a nice bath in mud at the time.
This may be all well and good, but some poor soul has to drag the dead volunteers out into the field in the first place, then arrange their rapidly-rotting corpses into scenarios that will be interesting to study, then clean up the maggoty mess once the students have had their fun/completed their investigation. Welcome to the life of the body farm caretaker.
6. Chicken Sexer
So you’ve handed in your notice at the egg-smelling factory and now it’s on to a new career in a role you’ve been assured will be ‘surrounded by hot chicks’. Welcome to the world of chicken sexing.
A chicken sexer’s sole job is to discern whether new hatchlings are male or female. The females go off for egg production and the males can be used for breeding purposes.
Worse still, this isn’t a job any old layperson can do – you have to have special training to be able to identify the right chick gender because at hatching all the chicks’ reproductive organs are inside their body. So how do you get a look at them you may well ask? That’s right, imagine a day spent looking up chickens’ behinds and suddenly that desk job doesn’t seem so bad does it?
5. Shark Tank Cleaner
Whatever Robin Askwith may claim, window cleaning is probably not the most fun of professions. Now add to that the requirement to share your job with one of nature’s most deadly predators while simultaneously being watched by a crowd of onlookers who are secretly hoping you’ll get eaten, and you’ve entered the world of shark tank cleaning.
Admittedly it’s not just sharks that need their homes scrubbed in big oceanographic parks – you can also spend your day in a scuba costume picking off bits of chewed fish and faeces from the tanks of everything from killer whales and dolphins to walruses and stingrays. And just imagine how much poo a whale produces.
4. Roadkill Cleaner
Dead animals are safer than sharks and octopi right? Well maybe, but that doesn’t make them any more fun as you shovel their rotting corpses off the highway and into the back of your pickup truck. And you thought live skunks smelled bad.
3. Virtual Gold Farmer
There’s gold in them thar websites! Well, virtual gold anyway. If you hate the sunlight, or indeed movement beyond repeatedly clicking a mouse, then this is the career for you. Spend hours online on multiplayer fantasy games such as World of Warcraft, slowly and laboriously farming gold, then sell it to other nerds who have been forced to get real jobs to pay real money for currency that doesn’t exist. Or something.
2. Fortune Cookie Writer
“You will soon be asked to pay for a Chinese meal.” This and other gems could be yours for the writing if you can persuade fortune cookie manufacturers of your incredible clairvoyance (or ability to translate Chinese into English, either is good).
This falls into the same category as cracker joke writer and greetings card message creator, as jobs which sound like fun the first time, but just wait until you’re struggling to find that thousandth innovative way to tell somebody they’re about to meet a tall dark stranger, while not insinuating that it could be death.
When it comes to the zombie apocalypse, most people would agree that they wouldn’t be first in line when they’re handing out brains to eat. However, you can make an unhealthy £30,000 a year by shuffling around and drooling at the London Bridge Experience in London, which is more than most fast food workers doing the same thing.
It’s not entirely sure what the promotional opportunities are for this role, but presumably you could always get your own nice spot on a corpse farm…
Tom Parnell is a former journalist and freelance online writer. He is currently working with the nice people at National car hire.