Jobs and Occupations
During World War II, rat catching was one of the traditionally male jobs that was taken over by women. At least in the UK. I like the part of this article that details the "grim satisfaction" the women got from smashing rats with shovels:
The anti-rat workers have had some peculiar first reactions on meeting their adversaries. One, seeing her first dead rat, exlaimed: "Oh, you poor darling."
Despite all their modern training and equipment, it's sometimes necessary to rely on primitive methods — like bashing out the enemy's brains with a spade. The girls get grim satisfaction from this hand-to-hand combat. They know they're doing every bit as much to help win the war as are their brothers and sweethearts who are hunting rats in uniform.
Source: Miami Daily News-Record
(Miami, Oklahoma) - Nov 18, 1943
Here's a weird job you can do at home — raise cockroaches. Yuan Meixia of China is making a good living doing it, having transformed her house into a cockroach farm. This involved cementing shut every crevice and hole in the house so the critters can't escape, and replacing all doors with zippered silk nets.
According to the South China Morning Post
: "Yuan places honeydews, apples and rice bran on shelves at each end of the room, where the insects swarm and feast. On the living room table is a bag of glucose for the baby cockroaches, or nymphs, which resemble little red beans."
She sells the roaches to a local pharmaceutical company.
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
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!
Judi Collora, owner of Mrs. Doe Pee's Buck Lures
, makes her living selling deer urine. She sells it to hunters who use it to lure deers. Apparently it's a pretty good living. Businessweek.com
figures she's a multimillionaire.
Some factoids about the deer urine business: 1) it's seasonal, because deers pee more in the summer than they do in winter. 2) the urine is collected by means of a two-story barn. The deer are on the top floor, and their urine drips through grates into vats on the first floor.
Despite her success, Collora is worried about the future. She fears that an Obama victory in November will cause the collapse of the deer-urine industry. So it sounds like Romney has the deer-urine vote in the bag.
From "The Worker's Hand" by George Rosen, M.D. in Ciba Symposia
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.
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
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
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.
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.