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How People Got Into Really Obscure Lines Of Work

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One of the hardest questions for certain people to answer is “what do you want to do?” There are people who know what that answer is from the time they finish potty training, but for others…there doesn’t seem to be anything typical out there that seems like a good fit.

Which I guess is how people like these 16 get into super obscure lines of work – there’s something out there for everyone, if you look long enough.

16. Geologists do such a wide range of things.

Concrete petrographer. I just started this month.

I studied geology in college and now my job is to look at concrete using petrographic methods I learned at school and conduct ASTM tests to determine quality of concrete.

Very interesting work because concrete is engineered rock and there’s A LOT more to it than you think

15. That’s cooler than anything I’ve done with my film degree.

I work in QC (Quality Control) for media.

In one company they occasionally paid me to watch porn to make sure it was in sync and in good quality for video on demand distribution.

In another company I spent years watching movies before release in secure theater-like rooms, to make sure the files are ready for distribution (subtitles and audio in sync, no picture corruptions, stuff like that). I always got to watch the biggest movies of the year in a giant screen weeks before they were released (sometimes months!).

I got the job by going to film school.

14. Is your name Jeeves?

I’m a House Manager for a family of four, basically I’m a female butler.

I’ve worked for them for 14 years starting as the kids Nanny, they’re my second family pretty much!

I organise trades people, holidays, birthdays, daily meals, dinner parties, housekeeping, the list goes on..

It’s challenging at times but keeps me on my toes and I enjoy that.

13. I guess you really can find anything in the paper.

I was a puppeteer for many years and I actually got that job from an ad in the classifieds.

It cracks me up that there is a scene in Being John Malkovich where he tries to find “puppeteer” in the classifieds and fails.

12. That guy is definitely the life of the party.

My dad told me of this one time he went to my mom’s work Christmas party, (she was a banker). As the bankers talked shop and tried to sound impressive, the spouses grew bored and talked among themselves. The guy who drew the biggest crowd was this man who worked at a toilet factory and he did quality control. His job was to flush toilet paper and simulated poop down the toilet. The people at the party, (especially the men) were riveted by his descriptions and peppered him with questions while all these upper management bankers looked on with irritation.

11. I think “play” is a weird term, but okay.

I work in a clinical lab where I get to play with baby sweat for a bit of my day.

We are testing for chloride level. Increased chloride in sweat is one of the diagnostic markers for cystic fibrosis.

I am a clinical laboratory scientist. Not all clinical labs perform this test but I am lucky enough to work at a lab where we do a couple interesting low volume tests.

10. Someone definitely has to do it.

So not job, but company/industry. (I was their first marketing person)

I worked at a company that specialized in Phased Array Ultrasonic non-destructive testing.

The technicians made a shit ton of money and got to work in crazy places like Nuclear power plants in Canada and offshore oil rigs in Norway.

They even worked on some of the NASA launching pads.

9. From one bug lover to another…

I work in a lab where I raise moths! I got it by telling my lab partner that I love bugs and he hooked me up

8. This would be such a fascinating job.

Official court stenographer. I type everything everyone says in court. I was told about it in high school and thought it sounded cool so I went for it.

Took 5 1/2 years in college, but I’m nationally certified to type 260 WPM and regularly push above 300 WPM in court.

7. This definitely qualifies as obscure.

You know when you’re watching a sports program and you see the little pop-graphic in the corner (ie. a baseball players stats, or an advertisement for easy-mac, or “stay tuned for Saved By the Bell @ 9!”)? Yeah. That was me.

I updated those graphics and uploaded them to Fox Sports. Since Fox Sports is a 24-hour channel, there’s always one guy in the office 24-hours a day.

6. Wait, people can’t clean their own grills?

I cleaned grills for super rich people in Palm Beach. Even got to clean Michael Jordan’s at one point. And it was recommended to me from a friend who was in sobriety with me after I got clean.

5. Who knew it would be so complex?

I spent a year on a team reclassifying the Duke University Library system from Dewey Decimal to Library of Congress. Had to learn like four different alphabets just to label them properly.

Duke University has one of the largest research libraries in the world with millions of books. In addition to the main library, we went through engineering, biology, art and divinity. There was also another main library on East Campus. The whole operation took about 2 years I think. I was there from December 2006 to February 2008 when the project ended.

The Dewey Decimal system works perfectly well for small American libraries that cater to an English speaking, Judeo Christian populace. The Library of Congress system is more egalitarian and perhaps more importantly, has unassigned sections for disciplines that have not yet been discovered. Large university libraries and other world class collections are better served by the LoC system.

I don’t quite remember the number of people on our team, but it was about 15 of us doing the physical labor. We were a company that did contract work for libraries. We mostly labeled books, scanned barcodes and reshelved.

The reason I learned those alphabets was because we had to meet production and the barcode sheets only used the Latin alphabet. Most of the time the barcodes on the book and the labels matched, but sometimes they didn’t or were missing altogether and then you’d have to waste precious time figuring out what was going on. I’d scope ahead when we were about to hit a section in another writing system to make sure I was prepared.

4. Of course she applied off Craigslist. Where else?

(Past job) I worked at a whorehouse.

I was the ‘receptionist’, guys would come and id buzz them in after confirmation of their ‘appointment’ from the intercom. They would enter, check id, get then a water or pop, take payment. Then id call the girl from the intercom and they would led him to the room.

It is technically an adult massage parlour. I applied off craigslist. Went for the interview.

Only real rule was receptionist cannot become escorts and escorts cannot after chose to be reception.

3. This is a very cool, spy novel kind of job.

I’m a Hostage Survival Trainer.

I was working in international development within IT, and was asked to go and sort out the finance system in Iraq back in 2007. The ministry I was working in got attacked by a militia and myself along with my 4 guards got captured.

Over time the guards were killed and I got released in an exchange deal after being held for over 2.5 years. I did an AMA about it some years ago.

2. A sad but important job, I think.

I’m one of two employees at a pet crematory.

1. This sounds like part of a romance novel.

I used to work on a lavender farm!

It’s totally unrelated to my field of study and incredibly difficult in terms of manual labor, but man was it a beautiful place. I tended to the plants, took care of goats, and did processing for the herbs and honey.

My grandparents are farmers and so I grew up with mediocre knowledge of field work and beekeeping and when a friend’s mom decided to start a business centered around lavender she asked me to help out for the summer.

I’m fascinated by this (but I also wish someone had told me “writer” was a real job when I was much younger!).

If you do an odd or obscure job, tell us what it is and how you got into it in the comments!