Social Question

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

What's the weirdest, most unusual, or most remarkable job you ever had?

Asked by Espiritus_Corvus (9792 points ) November 11th, 2012

It’s a pretty straight forward question. Tell the story…

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22 Answers

gasman's avatar

I was a saxophone player at Walt Disney World. Worked 40 hrs a week & had to join the musician’s union, as part of the 20-piece All-American College Band. We marched in two parades a day, right behind Mickey Mouse, and played half-hour sets around the park, then disappeared into the tunnels & popped up somewhere else for the next set. Our uniform costume consisted of white shirt & pants along with a jacket & shoes colored red, white, and blue. Straw hat, too. They dry-cleaned our clothes ever day.

The music was a combination of Disney, patriotic tunes, and jazz-rock. Musically it was the best band I ever played in, and I made a lot of good friends with fellow young musicians. All of us lived in an apartment complex in Orlando. Although we were well paid, it’s one of those jobs where I would have paid them just for the privilege.

Definitely the most memorable summer of my life.

jordym84's avatar

Though not very weird nor unusual in the true sense of the words, my most remarkable jobs have been at Disney World. I’ve done three different internships there (the first two – housekeeping for 8 months and front desk for another 8 months – were to fulfill my university’s internship requirements, and the last one – theme park photographer for 4.5 months – was just “for fun”) and boy did I learn about people and how their brains work (the word “work” used very loosely here) when they’re on vacation! Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast and met some truly amazing people from all over the world all three times, but there were times when I would find myself wondering if there is a check-point somewhere on the way to Disney where people drop off their brains to be picked up later when they were on their way back home, after their holidays ended. On the bright side, I now have tons of really interesting stories for my future kids and grandkids haha

ucme's avatar

I once had a job circumcising elephants, the pay wasn’t great but the tips were huge!!

linguaphile's avatar

I lived in Fort Payne, AL where the country band “Alabama” was from. When I was 19, I worked for a while in their headquarters and warehouse while they were at the peak of their run. I started with quality-inspecting t-shirts (went through over 500 a day, at least) then moved to loading up their tour trucks with merchandise and helped out with their June Jams (did anyone here ever go??). I also filled orders from the tour people and fans—the tour people’d order stock refills and fans would order keychains, caps, shirts, etc. I ran through the warehouse filling orders then packing them to be shipped. I had that whole warehouse and the stock numbers memorized. We would have truck-load-up competitions, trying to beat the best load-up times—because of that, I became a pro at using the dolly and learned how to do tricks on those wheels. Got into several concerts free and babysat Teddy Gentry’s kids a few times. I knew the band members personally.

I was run out of the job by my immediate boss, a redneck named Cledell— he didn’t want me there after I started noticing that the computer’s inventory didn’t match the actual number of t-shirts in the boxes. He took me off all the fun tasks and made me sweep the entire warehouse- I quit, but 5 years later, Cledell and a crony were busted for embezzling t-shirts and selling them at 100% profit at flea markets. Wish I had figured why the numbers didn’t match up sooner!!

After that, I worked in a sock mill for a few months. It’s amazing how much goes into making socks, really.

gondwanalon's avatar

I was a laborer in an aluminum extrusion factory during one hot summer while in college. I worked with all Hispanic men who spoke very little English. They hated me for no valid reason. One of them tried several times to injure me with hot aluminum. It was so weird.

SuperMouse's avatar

I was a housekeeper at the local no-tell motel. I kid you not, they rented rooms by the hour (also by the day, week, and month). During my tenure there an entire biker gang was renting a small block of rooms and near as I could tell paid their bills by dealing drugs out of the rooms. Once someone left three beers as a tip. I was 17 and polished them all off before the end of my shift. When I was trained, I was taught to use the toilet brush to scrub the bathtub, then we put one of these on the toilet seat.

dabbler's avatar

In college I worked an engineering co-op job for the BayAreaRapidTransit BART in the San Francisco area. Most of the job was routine but part of the job was assisting engineers doing brake-rate studies on the system. Tests were conducted to determine emergency stopping distances under various conditions that weren’t already commonly experienced.

Among other things, they constructed a worst-case scenario by reserving a siding track a couple miles long and installing sprinklers along it that went off every hour or so, to create track that is heavily rusted and wet. No train traffic ran on that track for over several weeks.

The test was done in the middle of the night to avoid interfering with regular passenger service. By the night of the test the track had a thick coat of rust on it. The track was wet again by the sprinklers and the test train with lots of instrumentation was staged up the line. I rode with the test crew as they brought the train up to normal running speed, close to 60 mph before hitting the test track.
When we reached the test track they hit the full emergency stop. Even with the fancy anti-locking brake system the test train slid over a mile and a half, past the end of the test section and, with the goopy rust built-up on the wheels, all the way through the next station on the line. A repeat test followed immediately, and with the track re-wet the train stopped in a fairly reasonable distance. The built-up rust made all the difference.

Subsequently, safety protocols were revised so that no stretch of high-speed track lay idle for more than a week so no rust could be allowed to build up. If any piece of track were unused for a week they’d just send a service train over that section to knock the rust off.

marinelife's avatar

I worked in a cannery that processed shrimp in 10-ton buckets. I wore hip waders and stood in freezing cold water all night for a summer.

dabbler's avatar

@marinelife Wow, your screen name is quite apt for that line of work !

Coloma's avatar

^^^ I worked in a crab processing factory when I was 18, cracking crab legs open on an anvil with a hammer. They had to shoot out of the shell whole or, you were docked for damaging the leg meat that then had to be sold as inferior. Banging your hands on the side of a big tub to extract the meat whole.

OMG! The pain, the pain….lol
I lasted 3 weeks.

I also was a ranch hand at a horse ranch that is owned by a famous american business family.
The horses all had stone fountains to drink out of with live fish in them, huge heated and air conditioned barns and indoor arenas, 4 homes on the property and a helicoptor pad.
The place was sheer paradise on several hundred acres in the high foothills, with miles and miles of wilderness riding trails, a beautiful river and backed up to thousands of acres of BLM land. Truly a magical place.

anartist's avatar

Working on setting up a traffic study. Was part of a crew that worked at night laying down strips of wire and tape over the DC beltway to set up a system to measure traffic flow at different times of day. We met nights at various exit ramps, and had an escort/assistance crew of state police who stopped traffic while we ran our tape across the roads. The cops always had a whole lot of coffee and doughnuts available for us in their patrol cars.

Being an artists’ nude model was also pretty interesting.

ETpro's avatar

Reading some of these replies, I realize I am not even in the same league. My oddest experience would have been commonplace once upon a time. I worked as a carpenter’s helper then lead carpenter back in the 1960s. I had two rather oddball job assignments during that stint.

First, I built a vacation home deep in the woods of rural North Carolina. There was no electricity there, so we put the entire house up using hand tools. There was a time when everything was built like this. But I daresay there haven’t been many carpenters in the past 50 years who had this experience.

I also was one of many workers who built the concrete forms for the pouring of the Destroyer & Submarine piers at the Norfolk Naval Station at Sewells Point.

gailcalled's avatar

I love this question and wish that all of you had given your age at the time of the job. From some of the info, I can infer it.

cookieman's avatar

Shortly after college, I got a job as a frame shop manager for a glass company. We made decorative mirrors mostly.

The shop was owned by two perpetually drunk brothers who were often angry and had no problem swearing at us or throwing 2×4s at our heads.

To add insult to injury, the frame shop was on the second floor of the glass company. No windows, no heat, no air-conditioning.

I lasted two years there.

trailsillustrated's avatar

about 18— model for large and (then) famous swim suit manufacturer. Very cruel and hard work. Forced to pose in cold conditions acting like I was having the time of my life. about 20— a doorknob and fitting factory in sheffield. Cold and miserable yet some of the people were wonderful. about 22? a call girl for a (at the time) very notorious madame in S. Cal. Met all manner of interesting people (wild stories!) yes I flew on the concorde and did lots of drugs. Paid my professional school fees in cash. Wish I had been smarter about everything,lol.

geeky_mama's avatar

During one summer break from college I worked at a radio station (unpaid internship) and I needed a job with evening hours so I could earn money after my day at the station each day. I eventually ended up finding two part time jobs that fit the bill—one was loading and unloading trucks for RPS (now a division of FedEx)—and it was like being paid to work out. I got arms that looked like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2.
The second was being paid to attend concerts (as “press” – for mainly up & coming alternative bands) and write reviews for a few local magazines—but before I found those two perfect late night jobs I applied for another that sounded like a job answering phones.

After being trained in on how to use the phones the hiring manager told me I needed to come up with a fake name. This puzzled me..but I went with it. Then I sat in my little cubicle and watched the other women (oddly, all women..hmmmm…) answer a few calls. I was over-hearing things that made me blush and realized quickly that this was a 1–900 phone sex line! I finished out my shift and then never went back.

I also once had a job in college for a direct mail company that specialized in high-end pieces like invitation packets for Executive conferences. We were picked for the job for our ability to “copy” another person’s signature. We had to hand sign (mimicking the handwriting of the supposed author of the letter inviting some VP, President or CEO to a Conference) each letter packet. So..I was paid to forge other people’s signatures.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I haven’t had any wild jobs, but I have had some fun experiences in my past. I got to assist on a c-section on a cow and deliver a calf and assist on an operation to fix a cow’s displaced stomach. We flipped the cow over on her back and each of us held a leg on the cow. I don’t recommend that in a London Fog coat, but it was fun and my customer really appreciated me willing to get dirty to help out. I was in my 20’s.

Jack79's avatar

After Communism fell in Eastern Europe, I was hired by the East German government to teach some simple communication skills to executives in various big companies (whose names I will not say here), many of which had been bought by international conglomerates.

It was a fun job because I worked in different factories etc, and got to see the inside of places I’d normally never visit, such as chemical plants, steelworks, airport hangars etc. The students, most of whom were in their 50s, were very friendly, but their English was terrible. I had to teach them everything, from basic English greetings (since most had learnt Russian at school) to how to write an email, and of course to stop calling their American counterparts “comrade”.

The best thing about that job is that I got to learn German in no time, since every word I said was repeated 10 times around the table.

@gail oh I was 25 at the time and living in Prague. I saw an ad for a job in a local newspaper, called an answering machine and got a call back a couple of days later from someone who gave me instructions to go to “Schillerplatz” for an interview. I said “is that in the centre of Prague?”. “Nope, it’s in Dresden”. So I got into my car and drove the 200km, showing up broke, hungry, tired and with torn jeans. Looking back I can’t imagine why anyone would hire me. I guess they were even more desperate than I was (or thought I was super-cool to not care about appearances).

poisonedantidote's avatar

If you killed your self by jumping in front of a train between 2002 and 2003, in the UK, around Essex and beyond. Then chances are I was the one who showed up at 3am to clean up your mess.

augustlan's avatar

Love this question and all your stories.

lifeflame's avatar

wow, my life feels so mundane compared to the stories here… Makes me want to go out and try a crazy job for a few months…

Coloma's avatar

@lifeflame Well come on over here, I’ll teach you how to herd geese. lol

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