Weird Universe

Jobs and Occupations

Jimmy Tayoun, Prison Consultant

Jimmy Tayoun was a Philadelphia City Councilman who got busted for accepting bribes and concealing income from the IRS. As a result, he spent some time in a federal prison, but he used the experience to good advantage by penning a 64-page guide of practical advice for those on their way to prison, which was published upon his release in 1995. He titled it, Going To Prison? It seems like a book that deserves a place in any library of the weird. [Allegheny Times]

He also set up a 1-900 number to answer questions from "fearful first-timers," charging them $2.50 a minute to select from a menu of seven topics. In this way, according to wikipedia, he pioneered the profession of "prison consultant" (apparently he was the first to use the term), that being someone who "provides newly convicted criminals with advice on how to cope and survive in the unfamiliar surroundings of prison."

Jimmy's tips included these words of wisdom:
  • Bring a good amount of cash if you can.
  • Ask the custodial officer for a couple more razors, some more soap, and later for toothpaste. After a while you will learn where it is stored, check the door until you find it open, and help yourself — though never take too much since your lockers do get checked
  • See a dentist before serving time
  • Be wary of probation officers
  • Never snitch on another inmate or guard
  • Bring two pairs of eyeglasses, though "nothing fancy schmantzy"
  • Get a doctor's note to avoid being assigned a top bunk
  • Arrange private transportation to prison to avoid being handcuffed on the trip

Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Apr 17, 2013 | Comments (5)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Prisons, 1990's

How To Get A Permanent Vacation

Faking your own abduction to get a day off work will turn out way more effective than planned. Especially if the police catch you at it!
Posted By: patty | Date: Sat Oct 20, 2012 | Comments (4)
Category: Jobs and Occupations

Workers’ Hands

From "The Worker's Hand" by George Rosen, M.D. in Ciba Symposia (July 1942).

As someone who's spent too much time at a keyboard during my life, resulting in bad carpal tunnel syndrome, I can definitely empathize with these hands abused and deformed by work.

A tanner. Creases deeply stained.

Walnut sheller. Stained fingers.

Wood carver. Oval callouses in the center of the palm.

Jeweler. Dislocated distal phalanx of the thumb.

Glass polisher. Shortened, brittle nails.

Metal worker. Penetration of metal particles into the skin.

Worker in a glass factory. Callosities produced by mechanical work.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Mon Jun 18, 2012 | Comments (14)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Skin and Skin Conditions

The World’s Oldest Traveling Salesman

James Fenlon of Des Moines, Iowa started working as a traveling salesman at the age of 17. Seventy-two years later, age 89, he was still working as a "traveler," earning him the title of World's Oldest Traveling Salesman. His specialty was selling windmills to farmers. He sold over 57,000 of them.

Toward the end of his life, his boss tried to get him to take it easy, telling him he could stay on the payroll as long as he lived, even if he never knocked on another door. But Fenlon insisted on continuing to work. He died on Aug 7, 1916. The cause was said to be a combination of hot weather and age. There's a brief bio of him here.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Sun Jun 17, 2012 | Comments (5)
Category: Jobs and Occupations

Judd Harris, Gravedigger

Shown is Judd Harris, the gravedigger in Cordova, Alaska circa 1940. He became a gravedigger because it was more certain work than prospecting for gold, though not easier because of the rock and frozen ground. He made $15 to $18 a grave, but averaged only eighteen graves a year... "and some bad years there are hardly a dozen."

You can read about Judd Harris and other Alaskan characters of the mid-twentieth century in Harry Franck's The Lure of Alaska.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri May 25, 2012 | Comments (2)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, 1940's

See A Thief, Catch A Thief

I don't know about you but I've been looking for a new job lately and have not had much luck. But I got excited when I saw this article today - a company in Britain is going to start streaming video feeds from surveillance cameras in the hopes that "armchair cops" can help catch thieves in the act. Participants can earn up to $1,000 pounds when offenders are caught. Of course there has been some criticism about the scheme. You can read more about it here.
Posted By: Nethie | Date: Thu Oct 07, 2010 | Comments (6)
Category: Business, Cops, Crime, Government, Jobs and Occupations, Video, More Things To Worry About

Next up on World’s Deadliest Jobs - Mushroom Hunters

While it might seem quaint to walk through the woods to find and pick mushrooms, apparently it can be quite deadly. Authorities in northern Italy say that at least 18 people have died recently while hunting for the tasty fungi. Avid seekers are growing careless and ignoring safety procedures because the weather for the month of August has lead to a surge in mushroom growth. Most of those who have died fell off the slippery mountain slopes. Now, I realize that truffles can be worth more per ounce than gold, but I don't think it's worth a person's life.
Posted By: Nethie | Date: Mon Aug 30, 2010 | Comments (11)
Category: Accidents, Death, Jobs and Occupations, Nature, Europe

Witch Wanted - Must Be Able To Cackle!

UK tourist attraction Wookey Hole, a theme park built around a large hole in the ground, is advertising for a live-in witch. The job also requires that the person taking it teach witchcraft and magic to the tourists, cackle, and not be allergic to cats. You are also expected to provide your own "magical accoutrements", though no mention is made on whether you can claim back the broom as a travel expense. Because of anti-discrimination laws in Britain, both women and men can apply for the position, which pays £50k ($80k) pro-rata (BBC News).
Posted By: Dumbfounded | Date: Wed Jul 08, 2009 | Comments (5)
Category: Jobs and Occupations

A Third Helping of Food Related Weirdness

A UK school has banned students from including bananas in their lunchboxes, because one teacher has a severe allergy to them. The teacher from the Plymouth school is said to have a "potentially fatal" reaction to bananas (so is presumably also unable to visit supermarkets or parks), causing her council employers to recommend the fruit be excluded from her work environment (Mirror)

Somewhere that teacher may want to cross off her list of holiday destinations is Wilmington, Ohio as the town has just held its 15th annual Banana Split Festival in honour of the supposed invention of the dish, in Wilmington, in 1907. The festival also features the "Banana Split Master’s Competition", now in it's 5th year, won this year by Pete Kramme for his "Sweet and Salty Banana Split", which adds cream cheese and pretzels to the traditional recipe (Wilmington News Journal).

Speaking of odd flavours, here's a two-fer. First up, the Double-Down Saloon is offering two-for-the-price-of-one on it's 'eye watering' bacon-vodka martini on Jun 19th, in celebration of National Martini Day (Examiner). Also, a UK barman hopes to beat the credit-crisis this summer by selling beer flavoured ice-cream. The barman, David Wardleworth, is keeping the exact recipe a secret beyond saying that is does include "Thwaites Original" British cask ale. Despite a historic reputation for liking their beer warm, the ice-cream is apparently proving popular with the British public (Burnley Express).

And it turns out weird flavours are not the only way the recession is impacting the world of ice-cream. The poor economy, combined with lower gas prices, has apparently fuelled a boom in ice-cream trucks, whose drivers stand to make from $100 to $200 a day. And it's not just the money and the lure of being your own boss that drivers find rewarding, according to driver John Jones "You get to see a lot of happy people, you get a lot of smiles." (Wichita Eagle).

And the ice-cream business certainly looks about to boom in Linden, NJ, where police are preparing to hand out tickets for free ice-cream to any kids they see wearing a helmet when cycling; the tickets will also include information about a recent law change, that makes helmets compulsory for under-17s. Even better, no child will be left out as the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey is supplying free cycling helmets for children, also available from those friendly boys in blue (My Central Jersey).

More >>
Posted By: Dumbfounded | Date: Tue Jun 16, 2009 | Comments (9)
Category: Food, Health, Jobs and Occupations, Politics, Robots

What NOT To Say At Work

There are some very specific things you shouldn't say to your co-workers. Offensive things. Questions and comments that could lead to a lawsuit, or getting fired. But how do you know exactly what those things are? Aside from using your common sense, the Delaware Department of Transportation was kind enough to make this brochure. They also issued an apology when, surprise!, people found the brochure to be offensive.
Posted By: Nethie | Date: Tue May 12, 2009 | Comments (12)
Category: Communications, Government, Jobs and Occupations, Signage, Work and Vocational Training
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.