Weird Universe

Jobs and Occupations

Death of the Human Ostrich

1906: Robert Naysmith, the "human ostrich," died from eating too many hatpins and brass nails.

Back in the day, I think there were a number of people who earned a livelihood by exhibiting themselves as human ostriches. Tough way to make a living.

(left) Topeka Daily Capital - July 17, 1906; (right) The Sketch - July 4, 1906

Saint Paul Globe - Sep 24, 1898

Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri Nov 27, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, 1900's

Safety Glass Tester, 1939

High-test safety glass was developed jointly by five American companies during the 1930s. It had an inner layer of polyvinyl acetal resin. This meant that you could smash a man's face into a pane of the glass, and it would crack but not shatter. As demonstrated by the safety-glass tester below.

Image source: Newsweek - Apr 10, 1939

Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Nov 24, 2015 | Comments (8)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, 1930's

Get rid of that man — he’s a homicidal maniac!

Sounds like Norman White had a good scheme going. I wonder how he got busted.

The Southeast Missourian - July 5, 1955

Man Gets Self Fired To Collect Week's Pay
LONDON — The voice on the phone said: "Get rid of that man White — he's a homicidal maniac." Norman White, 29, lost the job he started only an hour before.
The same thing had happened four times in three weeks. Each time Norman was fired within two hours of starting a new job, and each time he collected a week's pay.
Today he started another new job. This one — sewing mail bags — will last longer. The voice on the phone, a City Court was told Monday, was White himself posing as a police officer. The court gave him eight months in jail for obtaining money by false pretenses.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Mon Nov 02, 2015 | Comments (3)
Category: Crime, Jobs and Occupations, 1950's

Funeral Traffic Control

1948: Chicago's Mt. Carmel cemetery sought FCC approval so that it could operate a two-way radio system to direct funeral processions, so as to avoid traffic jams in the cemetery.

I wonder if they had to build a traffic control tower as well?

Freeport Journal-Standard - Apr 14, 1948

Posted By: Alex | Date: Sat Oct 17, 2015 | Comments (3)
Category: Death, Jobs and Occupations, 1940's

Sleeping Time

I like this guy's way of thinking. Too bad the judge didn't go for it.

Altoona Tribune - Jan 21, 1957

Sues For Back Pay For 'Sleeping Time'
LONDON — Albert English, 70, went to court claiming 2,051 pounds—$5,742—in back pay.
He said he was paid 6 pounds, 7 shillings, sixpense—$17.05—a week for 30 hours work as a restaurant odd job man, but that he should be paid also for the 61 hours weekly he spent "asleep with an ear cocked" in a bedroom behind the restaurant provided free by the management. The judge threw out English's claim.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Jul 30, 2015 | Comments (2)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, 1950's

Ken Gidney, Professional Ant Catcher

Ken Gidney made $1.4 million catching ants. He supplied the ants for the Uncle Milton Ant Farm sets. He got the job in 1956 (by being first in line in response to the job ad) and continued at it for over 20 years, getting paid 1 cent per ant.

His technique: "At first I excavated and I would catch 'em on broom straws. Then I found I could dig a narrow hole alongside an ant hill and place a baby food jar next to it." He would blow into the hole using a plastic hose and the ants would scurry out into the jar.

Sources: Lawrence Journal-World - Jul 4, 1976; The Evening Independent - Feb 17, 1976
Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Jun 04, 2015 | Comments (2)
Category: Jobs and Occupations

In-home lice removal

This company has found an odd, but apparently profitable, niche: "personalized and discreet head lice removal services" in the comfort of your own home.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Mon May 18, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Insects, Jobs and Occupations

Fresh Meat

Ad agency Mother New York has posted this recruitment video to let people know about its desire for "fresh meat" (new interns) in its office. Apply here.

via Ad Week
Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Mar 26, 2015 | Comments (9)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Video

Water Sommelier

"arno steguweit is europe's only water sommelier, and a certified wine sommelier in germany. after ten years in the hospitality business, including creating europe's first water menu, arno's role focuses on how best to taste and recognise quality within different waters."

You have to give Arno credit for creating his own job category. I wonder how much business he gets. Check out his website here. [via]

Posted By: Alex | Date: Mon Feb 09, 2015 | Comments (12)
Category: Food, Jobs and Occupations

How to pick-up women

Bryan "Double B" Barton of Sacramento teaches a class on how to pick-up women. In it, you'll learn lines such as these:

“Do you have something in your eye… oh wait, it’s just a sparkle.”
“You’re so beautiful you made me forget my pick-up line.”
“Are you a parking ticket? Because you got fine written all over you.”

There's also a technique he calls the "neg" which is "an insult wrapped in a compliment, and it’s basically to say I know you’re here, but I’m not in awe of you."

Full story (with video) at
Posted By: Alex | Date: Sun Jun 15, 2014 | Comments (10)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Love & Romance
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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.