Strangest Job You’ve Ever Had?

I always love when writers — or anybody, really — talks about the jobs they took to get them to where they are now. It’s always such an odd assortment of work. (I shredded documents to hide from the EPA in one job, and in another, found myself working for an advertising agency where all the ad execs looked like porn stars and all their desks and offices were adorned with sex toys — so, uhh, maybe not an advertising agency? I worked for the ICRDA, the International Cash Register Dealers Association, where I crashed a tour van in a parking garage.)


Weirdest job you’ve ever had?



  • My strangest is a job working from home as a telephone survey caller. I’d done telephone survey work before, but it was strictly market research. This job however, was more aimed at forcing people to opt-in on offers and services, which I didn’t enjoy doing. I felt bad waking up 68 year old ladies from their naps to try and indirectly sell them cheaper energy services.

    But now I’m a web developer and part time writer.

  • I worked at a pet store in small town Kingman, Arizona. My main duties were cleaning the mice and rat cages. The store even had a basement where they kept a hoard of rodents for breeding, I had to clean all of those cages too. I did that job for three weeks before I was fired. According to my boss, I wasn’t working out. He had this weird, paranoid suspicion that I was going to kill his animals. Right…

  • I did a stint as a matsutake mushroom picker in the backwoods of northern California, and before that, I had a job digging ditches. Which I’m sure many people have done, but I was a 12-year-old girl at the time.

  • I guess what’s strange about this job is the reputation of the location I worked at, and the fact that I was super shy and took up a sales job to force myself out of my shyness. I sold bling bling and fake watches (hey, a few of them were legit) at a kiosk in a mall that had (still has) a reputation for high theft rates and gang violence. Everyone knew about the reputation and most people had a weird sense of humor about it. One night when I was showing a teenager some silver chains from the case, he grabbed them, took a couple steps away from the shop like he was going to sprint away, but then turned back and grinned at me before coming back. I laughed and told him that I didn’t get paid enough to chase him.
    I never had any jewelry stolen while I worked there, but the hubcaps off my car were stolen during a day shift… they were pretty damn shiny and too nice for me to have on my shitty green Prism apparently.

    Not too many white people worked there, so occasionally someone would come up and quiz me about my views on various racial issues. I guess after a while I was seen as being okay. Also, since I was white and the people I worked for were from India, sometimes I had to convince customers that I was not the owner. It was really awkward. I was 20, I didn’t own shit.

    I worked at the owner’s shop in another location too, which was also kind of strange, but at that location I once got to watch the grouchiest mall cop try to catch wayward bats with a butterfly net.

    • May 1, 2014 at 4:06 PM // Reply

      Once, back when I was working as a legal secretary in the late 1970’s, I had a phone call from someone who refused to believe I was the secretary, that I must be the actual lawyer trying to lie his way out of the talk the caller wanted to have. My guess is that this was because in the entire Phoenix metro area at the time, I and one other guy were the only males working as lawyer’s secretaries. Everyone knew that secretaries HAD to be women! (A lot of people were surprised to see me in that position, but that was the only guy who actively refused to believe it.)

  • I worked as a gun-toting, dead-duck-chucker for a hunting dog competition once. First, go into random field and hide behind blind. Then one owner at a time brings out dog, when person a mile and a half away waves a white piece of cardboard at you, fire gun into air, count to 15. Then pick up dead half-frozen duck from bucket of dead ducks, snap it’s neck and lay it flat against it’s body, fold it’s wings over body (keeps head tucked in), then lob into air to create perfect arc – 9ft high, 15ft long. After thrown, sit on bucket of dead ducks while dog is released and timed to find thrown duck without getting distracted by scent of dead duck thrown you are now sitting on. Repeat for 10hrs/3 days. As dead ducks get less half frozen, have fun trying to recreate perfect arc with blood now squirting out of bullet hole and coating wings/neck/etc. Also, if bored, and ducks are mostly unfrozen, squeeze their bellies slowly for long death-rattle-like quacks.

  • Telemarketer. For a South African political party popular with the White South Africans. At that time I was neither South African nor White. I still am neither South African nor White :-)

  • May 8, 2014 at 4:54 PM // Reply

    Worked for a pastry chef who cooked BBQ inside a gas station. That job made me lose my faith in humanity. Then I sold knives with a biological engineer, a nun, and an ex- meth dealer. No lie.

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