It's a weird job, but someone's got to do it!
Have you ever met someone with a weird job? We're talking about the kind of job that makes you want to ask lots of questions... or maybe not, because it just sounds too gross to think about for more than a few seconds. Some of the following jobs definitely fall into the latter category, but many are also very interesting and all will make you realise "Well, someone's got to do it!"
The brilliantly named International Ice Patrol is a transatlantic organisation responsible for monitoring the movement of icebergs from the Arctic into the North Atlantic ocean. It was set up in the aftermath of the Titanic tragedy in 1911 and they hire specialist contractors to tow icebergs out of the path of ships and oil rigs. You can read more about what a huge operation it is to move an iceberg, and watch an animation of it in progress here.
Everyone knows that Amsterdam is a city of bikes but what few think about is where those bikes end up when they're no longer wanted or abandoned by users. Often the answer is in the city's canals, which is why the local government have specialist boats and staff who roam Amsterdam's waterways dredging for the thousands of bikes - and other items - found on the bottom of the canals each year. With 165 canals stretching for over 100 kilometres, it should be no surprise that once they finish dredging all the canals, it's time to start again. Watch what this looks like here.
How often do you have to queue for something? How much would you prefer not to? Or rather, how much would you pay in order not to? When he couldn't get a job doing anything else, one man in Italy started charging €10.00 an hour to sit or stand in queues on behalf of other people. He's not the only one. All over the world, professional queuers are very much in demand, especially when a new gadget is being released, or in the run up to the January or Black Friday sales when queues line the streets of the world's most famous department stores.
While many places experience the heavy crowds of rush hour in the morning and evening, we believe Japan is unique in making it someone's job to actually push people onto the trains to ensure the carriages are as packed as possible. While these railway attendants also have other responsibilities it is very clear that at certain times of the day this is their number one priority, as demonstrated in this almost unbelievable video. (Warning: Not for the claustrophobic!)
It's hard to believe, but several people around the world do eat dog food for a living. Testing petfood for smell and texture as well as taste, specially trained tasters are experts in finding the flavours and consistencies dogs and cats enjoy most. Petfood tasters are usually based in laboratories and often have a background in science or food, and of course, they have a good sense of taste. If this sounds like a job you could do, it also helps that you like animals as many petfood tasters will also work closely with dogs and cats to gauge their reactions to the food too.
In the same way that well trained taste buds are a useful tool to have for a job, so is an excellent sense of smell. Although professional smellers are hired in many roles across a number of industries, there are some poor souls whose job it is to test deodorants by monitoring their effects on the armpit, all day, every day. Next time you have a bad day, ask yourself if it was as bad as potentially sniffing B.O. all day long.
Plastination & Biological Preserver
Plastination is the process of preserving bodies or body parts after death. Whilst plastination refers specifically to a releatively new process of mummification developed by Gunther von Hugens, who is famous for the BODYWORLDS public exhibitions, preserving bodies has been somebody's job since Egyptian times. It's also a very important job as universities rely on specially preserved animals to train students of medicine and veterinary science. It's the job of a biological preserver to euthanise animals like frogs and mice, embalm them and prepare them in certain ways, e.g. injecting coloured latex so veins and arteries can be easily identified.
A gumologist is somebody who researches, creates and tests chewing and bubble gum. You could say they simply chew gum and blow bubbles all day long, but that would actually do their job a disservice as they're also responsible for creating the flavours of the world's favourite gums. While we can't help but imagine a gumologist's working environment to resemble a room in Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory, the reality is that most professional gumologists have a background in science and work closely with professional tasters, who help them create the best flavours and most bubble-ready gum.
It's not just humans who sometimes struggle to reproduce and arguably, it is a bigger problem for those other mammals and animals who face extinction. In many of the world's thousands of zoos there are specialist artificical inseminators whose job it is to collect semen and use it to fertilise elephants, pandas, giraffes, rhinos, and more. It's also the job of hundreds of farmers who artificially inseminate cows, sheep, horses, pigs and turkeys in order to keep up with our demand for meat, milk and poultry.
Snake Venom Collector
This is not a job for the faint-hearted but the fact that there are people out there who collect snake venom - "snake milkers" as they are called - should actually reassure us a little. It's thanks to them that scientists can produce anti-venin which treats those who do get bitten by a snake. Snake venom also has other useful purposes as its contents are also used in medication for high blood pressure, blood clots and heart attacks. This video shows how it's done.