From Professional Sleeper to Pet Food Taster!
You might think your 9-5 is challenging. Maybe you come into the office faced with an Everest of paperwork or have hours of back-breaking labour ahead. But do you ever come into work waiting to smell someone’s potentially disgusting breath or to eat a can of dog food?
Here is ScotJobNet’s pick of 8 of the world’s most unusual jobs:
Golf Ball Diver
Did you think all those misguided hole-in-one’s – those bunker-bound, reeled-into-the-rough balls – disappeared into thin air?
A golf ball diver is employed by a golf course to fish those precious white orbs from any water hazards on the course. It is a job which should be completed early-morning, before the course is in use. The work is physically exhausting; it requires you to be clad in full diving gear (heavy but necessary, as you will be plunging to the water’s floor), lugging bulging bags back and forth.
Collected balls are cleaned and then sold back to the course. Often, golf ball divers are paid per ball; so money earned depends on the size of the course (and how amateurish the golfers are). As well as the physical labour, a precise count of the collected balls must be kept alongside other paperwork.
It’s a simple-sounding job. A breath-odour evaluator smells someone’s breath after they ingest a product – and variations of that product – designed to freshen breath, and evaluates whether it has lived up to its purpose. They are tasked with writing a thorough report on each item, suggesting how it can be improved.
Tested merchandise includes mountains of mints and mouthwash, and gluts of gum, all often distributed from big-name companies.
The role does require some scientific background; not just the ability to recognise foul smells, but to understand them. It is a part-time job often performed by dental surgeons, who already have prior experience in prescribing medication for bad breath.
Pet Food Taster
Have you ever cracked open a can of Pedigree dog food and thought the concoction of beef, gravy and peas smelled like a delectable, Michelin-star meal?
A pet food taster has the simple-sounding job of tasting the foodstuff intended for your cat or dog. They are assigned random samples of food, which they must smell and taste. In doing so, they evaluate the balance of flavours (meaning they must train their palate to that of a four-legged pooch or feline) and, most importantly, they check the nutrition. They must then write a report discussing how to advertise and improve the nutritional value of the cat cuisine.
You might think the job is disgusting, even dangerous; how can we ingest something intended for animals? Surely it will contain ingredients unsafe for human consumption? Well, you need not worry! The Animal Feed Regulations Act 2010 states that animal food must not contain any material harmful to an animal or a human. We still do not condone tasting pet food!
In fact, many pet food tasters do not swallow the product; they spit it into a bucket like you would do with a fine pinot grigio at a wine tasting.
A professional mourner – or Moirologist – is a freelance, paid attendee at a funeral.
It is a career more common in some Eastern and Mediterranean countries, particularly in China, though is beginning to steadily spread Westward.
The job does not simply entail turning up, clothed in black, and shedding a few crocodile tears. A moirologist is an actor who attempts to convince other mourners that they are suffering an identical grief. The professional mourner inhibits a ‘character’ who had some kind of relationship with the deceased. They must cry at the appropriate moments, follow any additional instructions provided by the employer (e.g. ‘avoid Grandma: she can smell a lie’), and sometimes even deliver a eulogy.
Why might a family hire a mourner? There are a number of reasons. Most common is the need to bulk up attendance, either to save the embarrassment via absence or to boost the perceived popularity of the departed.
Additionally, a professional mourner must conduct research into the religion or beliefs of the deceased and their family, ensuring they abide by the expected customs.
Students and pensioners, listen up! Those lazy afternoons spent in slumber could be put to use in a career as a professional sleeper.
There are four main areas who will employ professional sleepers: mattress/bed companies, hotels, scientific researchers, and art exhibitions.
Working for a mattress or duvet company is about determining the comfort of a specific product through rigorous testing, and demands the writing of in-depth reports, and suggesting any potential improvements. Hotel work is similar, the main difference being that you will be offered additional duties; testing the Wi-Fi and other amenities, hotel food, staff friendliness and efficiency, as well as countless others. Again, you will be expected to produce a comprehensive report.
As a scientific research subject, scientists will monitor a number of different bodily functions whilst you sleep (with electrodes connected to the heart and the brain). This can allow for valuable information to be sourced on a number of different diseases, ailments and, chiefly, sleep disorders. The downside, if it can be called that, is that you may spend an extended amount of time sleeping (20+ hours!). For this reason, studies will last a set block of time, rather than operating like a traditional career.
Art exhibitions are a particularly unusual one. They will induce sleep via sleeping pills in order to make an artistic display in a gallery.
Although there are no specific qualifications for entering professional sleep, lots of training is needed.
Indiana Jones, and others suffering from ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), beware! This terrifying-sounding job is one of significant importance.
A snake milker extracts venom from deadly snakes in order to synthesize potentially life-saving cures, antidotes and anti-venoms. There are over 400 species of poisonous snake on the planet – cobras, vipers, asps, sea snakes – all of which can pose a risk. This job aims to close the gap between risk and fatality. Unfortunately, it can take thousands of milkings for a working-sized sample to be accumulated.
There are two methods for milking a snake. The first is by compelling the snake to bite a latex membrane, designed to mimic the texture of its prey, and collecting the venom which it injects into the faux-victim. The second method requires a snake milker to pry the snake’s jaws apart, then administer electric shocks to its head, forcing the venom glands to excrete.
Bicycle Fisher/Bike Digger
In a city where there are 881,000 bicycles and 821,752 people, it is unsurprising that many bikes end up residing in the canals of Amsterdam.
Every year since the 1960s, the city has employed a task force to extract discarded bicycles from the water. A giant metal claw removes the discarded bikes, which are then promptly scrapped and recycled. Additional debris, including car and boat wrecks, are also towed from rivers.
On average, between 12,000 and 15,000 abandoned bikes are found in the 165 canals of the city.
Oshiya are famed for their sardine-cramming of people into the commuter trains of Japan. They were originally referred to as ‘passenger arrangement staff’, but now are simply called ‘pushers’.
Their job is simple: ensure each and every rush-hour train is at maximum capacity, and the doors are able to fully close. This means physically wrestling people into every nook and cranny of the train. In the year 2000, it was found that all carriages were at 183% capacity.