Category:
Jobs and Occupations

Rent a Conversation

In 1973, entrepreneurs Richard and Christine Braunlich launched a business called Conversation. The idea was that it would allow people to pay to have a conversation with an expert "conversationalist." $5 for the first half-hour, and $3 for each additional half-hour. Some details from the SF Examiner (Feb 11, 1973):

The couple rented space in a commercial building at 445 Colusa Ave. in October, invested their entire savings, and spent hours redecorating and rebuilding the interior...
So far, however, the talkers have been few and far between — only about 40 customers have dropped in since Conversation opened.
About 60 percent of the customers have been women, the Braunliches report, and they talk about subjects ranging from poetry to small family problems.
Sitting in one of 14 tiny booths, customers can talk to one of 20 employees, who are called, appropriately enough, conversationalists.

And more details from the Moline Dispatch (Feb 13, 1973):

The conversationalists, who work part-time, collect half of a client's fee. The other half of the fee goes to the business. One of the first customers was a lonely divorcee new to the area, according to Engel Devendorf, a marketing executive now working at Conversation.
"She left her two kids at a movie and was here when the door opened," he said. "She just wanted to chat with somebody alive, warm and wiggling. Boy, did she want to talk."
Another woman explained that her husband was a nice guy but boring, and she needed to converse with somebody else once in a while...
"Lots of people with problems don't need professional help, but they do need to talk them over," Devendorf said. "They can go to the hairdresser, a bar or a coffee shop, but some are too shy."
At Conversation, persons with serious psychological difficulties are referred to professionals.

Evidently the business didn't succeed.



San Francisco Examiner - Feb 11, 1973

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 15, 2019 - Comments (3)
Category: Business, Jobs and Occupations, Psychology, 1970s

Pig Poop Sniffer

If you think your job sucks, it could always be worse. You could be smelling pig excrement for $1 a day.

Cedar Rapids Gazette - Aug 25, 1978

Posted By: Alex - Sun Oct 13, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Jobs and Occupations, Excrement, 1970s

Happy Labor Day 2019!

Posted By: Paul - Mon Sep 02, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Holidays, Jobs and Occupations

Rosa Hernandez: The Cleaning Lady

When San Diego performance artist Claudio Cano does her act, much of the audience isn’t aware that she’s actually performing, because her performance consists of dressing up as a Latina maid (whom she calls Rosa Hernandez) and sweeping or mopping the floor of art galleries. She notes that people in the galleries will often complain to the front desk about the maid cleaning while they're trying to look at the art, unaware that the "maid" is part of the art.

Cano also sometimes performs outside, where, in her maid outfit, she does stand out more. But even then, she notes, people rarely pay much heed to her, seeming to go out of their way to avoid her.

More info: ClaudiaCano.com, Only Here Podcast

Cano performing at SDSU Downtown Gallery



Performing at Oceanside Pier

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 27, 2019 - Comments (6)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Performance Art

The Rewards of Heroism

If there were a Cheapskate's Hall of Fame, the Chicago Board of Education would surely have to be in it. In 1994, after gym teacher Clarence Notree heroically saved a group of children from a gunman who had entered the school gym by shielding them with his body, the Board of Education informed him that he wasn't entitled to Workers Compensation for his injuries because saving children wasn't technically part of his job.

After a protracted legal battle, he did finally get a settlement of $13,447.

More info: NY Times

Opelousas Daily World - Sep 30, 1994



Franklin Daily Journal - Sep 30, 1994

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 14, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Lawsuits, 1990s

Bad-Breath Evaluator

Not as bad a job as being a gasmask tester. But still, pretty bad.

The patient sits behind a privacy screen and exhales into a tube. The breath evaluator sniffs the breath coming from the tube and assesses it.

San Francisco Examiner - Oct 21, 1997

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 21, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, 1990s

Truckers’ Wives United Against Female Truckers

As one of the first female truckers, Edna Ruth Lievsay was a social pioneer. One of her biggest obstacles, however, turned out not to be the trucking company, or the other drivers, but the wives of the other drivers, who refused to let their husbands drive with her, claiming she represented ‘temptation’.

In 1977, 200 of the wives joined together to form a group called “Truckers Families United Unlimited, Inc.” and sued to try to force the company to allow their husbands to refuse to drive with Lievsay. The judge ruled that they had failed to state a valid complaint.

El Paso Times - May 14, 1977



The Tennessean - May 6, 1977



Washington Court House Record-Herald - May 16, 1977


Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 26, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, Gender, 1970s

Testing Cab Drivers

Back in the 1920s, one Chicago cab company had some interesting tests it required its drivers to take. One was a "strength trial for the arms" in which the driver had to hold down a spring with his outstretched arm for as long as he could. There was also a psychological test:

The candidate is required to operate a somewhat complicated series of switches and foot-pedals according to carefully given directions, and while he is doing it, he is given unexpectedly a mild electric shock. The examiner observes to what extent the surprise upsets the equanimity and competence of the driver.

Perhaps Uber should consider similar tests for its drivers.

Popular Mechanics - Oct 1927



Sedalia Democrat - June 15, 1926

Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 27, 2018 - Comments (7)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, 1920s, Cars

Gasmask Testers

This was obviously before the creation of OSHA, or its British equivalent.

Los Angeles Times - Oct 21, 1927



Harrisburg Evening News - Nov 1, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Wed Oct 10, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Jobs and Occupations, 1920s

Happiness Executive

Over in Abu Dhabi, an eight-month-old baby was appointed to a position in a government office as a "happiness executive." Apparently it was believed the presence of the kid might boost morale. Or maybe it was just someone's scheme to save on daycare. Following complaints, officials are now investigating.

More info: thenational.ae

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 02, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Babies, Jobs and Occupations

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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