… And you thought you had an odd job

Our latest column from William Thomas

As a high school student, I once had a summer job killing rattlesnakes as they slithered up to the conveyor belt at the Erie Peat Moss factory in Wainfleet. The women packaging the peat at the end of the line were most grateful. I had nightmares for months. Before I discovered I could make money by staying home and make a living making fun of my dog, I life-guarded, waited tables at the Rex Hotel in Welland and the Walper Hotel in Kitchener, painted houses, cleaned steel with a swing grinder, worked in two men’s clothing stores, taught tennis, ran a wine bar, sold books to universities, drove a delivery truck, took bets for a friend who ran an illegal bookmaking operation and sold audio/visual equipment for The 3M Company.

These income-earning exploits did not however inspire me to seek even stranger employment like sniffing armpits, testing condoms, emptying porta potties, giving haircuts to dead guys or hugging thousands of strangers. Now more than ever before, there are a lot of very weird ways to make a living in the world.

A mock juror working for trial lawyers conducting case rehearsals can make $30 an hour, much more than in an actual case. (If it doesn’t fit, you must admit, that’s still a good chunk of change.)

In Florida, scuba divers can make up to $500 a day retrieving golf balls from water hazards at 10 cents a ball while growing earthworms in your basement can earn you $20 a pound for the really good quality Red Wrigglers.

In New York City, a great looking foot can make up to $300 an hour modeling, but a guy who turns pages for musicians at Carnegie Hall makes only half that much. And Claudia De John-Saraceno, a funeral parlor cosmetologist, has never had a customer complaint in her entire career.

There are jobs out there you’ve likely never heard of … like a diener who preps cadavers for autopsies or an ocularist who paints artificial (glass) eyes or a Foley Artist who creates noises for the sound effects in films.

Those jobs I could probably do but I just don’t see myself plunging my nose into another man’s armpit and then evaluating the experience. At Hilltop Labs in Cincinnati, Ohio, Betty Lyon has been sticking her nose in all the wrong places and being pretty well paid as the company’s Odor Judge. Helping to improve on deodorants and odorizers, Betty definitely does inhale – armpits, diapers, cat litter, etc. If it’s largely unmentionable, Betty has likely sniffed it. Like if you were listening to that Charlie Pride song, Take This Job And Shove It – with her highly-educated nose, Betty could sniff out the exact location of the “job site.” In Abilene, Lou Poulsen cleans and maintains 450 portable outdoor toilets and brags that he’s “Number 1 in the Number 2 business in Texas.”

Slightly more specialized is the professional flatulence smell – reduction tester who helps make underwear more airtight. Other, less demanding but still popular jobs include “condom testers,” “deer chasers” at airport runways and “hole sitters” who watch over open manhole covers.

And when last spotted, Amma “The Hugging Saint” had arrived in North America to put the clutch on as many people as possible. Mata Amritanondamayi, a 49-year-old Indian guru has already hugged 21 million people from other parts of the world. Amma accepts donations as a professional cuddler, sometimes hugging up to 35,000 a day. (This is not a woman you want to see hacking and coughing into her armpit.) Her mission is to hug everybody in the world. That’s right, Amma is coming after you and remember, she’s not in it for the money. Amma’s a hugger not a mugger.

In Kansas City, Missouri, James Nelson took a whack in the back of the head….a whack of money, that is. Auctioning the back of his head as a billboard on eBay, he received almost $10,000 on a five-year lease. A Texas Internet company bid highest and now have their website logo tattooed to the back of James Nelson’s noggin’. (Could we please ban this business idea before we have guys shaving their heads to provide cinema screens for small, low-budget movies?)

And then there’s Mark Roberts a.k.a. The Streaker. The veteran of 300 public streaks, Mark has trotted naked through the Miss World pageant, political conventions and televised sports events. A professional flasher, Mark will “dash for cash” at a world class event with your logo stenciled on his back. (Problem is, nobody looks at his back.) Mark is also approaching big name footwear makers, hoping for a “streaker/sneaker” deal. “The Nude Dude” from Liverpool, has streaked both Wimbledon and the British Open where he dashed naked across the 18th green with a tiny golf bag slung across his shoulder and the words “19th hole” in large green letters on his back with a southerly pointing arrow just below. (His detractors might call it a … self-portrait.) I can’t tell you what he did at the Liberal Democratic Conference in England a few years ago, but the sun did not shine on the “O” in V_TE painted across his buttocks.

All things weird and seriously considered, Dolly Parton may have been a prophet. “Workin’ 9 to 5, yeah what a way to make a livin’.”

For comments, ideas and copies of The Legend of Zippy Chippy, go to www.williamthomas.ca.



Help Erie Media stay online with a voluntary subscription

Subscription Options