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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

What’s the Weirdest Job You’ve Had?

The weirdest jobs I’ve had were not remunerated with money.  But they were often remunerated with things that were more valuable than money. For instance, I took jobs instead of having to attend physical education classes at both my colleges in Ukraine. I hated PhysEd because there was no place to take a shower afterwards and the idea of going back to class after sweating at PhysEd for an hour felt humiliating. Nobody among my classmates agreed (story of my life), so collective action was not on the cards. Another PhysEd-related injustice was that PhysEd was only for female students. Male students had a free hour instead. I don’t react well to injustices, so I let PhysEd instructors exploit my free labor instead.

Job #1 was selling books and coffee at the entrance to the college stadium. The PhysEd instructor wanted to augment her income and needed salesgirls who would hand over the profit to her. 

“You sell for me twice a week for 3 hours, and I’ll give you a B in PhysEd,” she said.

I loved this job because all I did was read books and guzzle coffee by the liter. I’m not sure people bought much from me because I was lost to the world behind my book. And then I dropped out and didn’t even need that B in PhysEd.

Job #2 was washing floors at the stadium of the college I went to after dropping out of the previous one. The conditions were the same. I wash the floors, and the PhysEd instructor gives me a C (my expectations became more modest by that time.) I was and still am so ridiculously bad at washing floors that the instructor glanced at my forlorn and aimless manipulations of the mop and started yelling, “What kind of woman can’t even wash the floors right? Who will want to marry somebody like that?” 

“I’m already married,” I said stupidly, even though I knew that the instructor was single at 35 and obsessed with finding a husband. So she threw me out and expelled me from the college. 

Those were pretty weird jobs.

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9 thoughts on “What’s the Weirdest Job You’ve Had?

  1. Shakti on said:

    Alternate titles for this post:

    Things Clarissa values more than cash or free time:

    Why Clarissa will never bike to work.

    The only way this would be strange is if the Phys Ed instructors had you groom, wash and walk dogs in exchange.

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  2. It wasn’t the whole job, but maybe babysitting a jittery performing horse.
    I was travelling with small performing horse show and one of the star horses needed to be at the entrance at the end for the finale. At a time when they were short handed (all the riders performing and everybody else otherwise engaged) they asked me to stand with the horse for the thirty minutes or so before he was supposed to go on.
    The first time was very iffy. The horse was a stallion, spirtied and was so full of nervous energy that my arm felt like it was coming out of my socket. The next time I tried something different walking back and forth about fifty feet one way and that went much better. As we got more used to each other I would take him a lot further (staying in hearing range so I knew when to be back at the entrance). Just one time something startled him and before I knew it we’d travelled 20 feet (my feet got lifted straight off the ground) before I got him under control again.
    My short time with travelling shows had some other duties that were maybe even weirder, but there is NO way I’m going to share those…..

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  3. DWeird on said:

    I once got paid for staying in a shack for two weeks in the middle of winter and drinking vodka. Lets see if our resident soviet expert can figure out the context for that.

    I don’t have much in terms of weird job stories, but I did once do quite a strange interview. It was for an entry-level web editor job at a national newspaper that was undergoing a major corporate reshuffle, not that I knew that when I was signing up.

    There was the director of the newspaper, her last job having been running a sausage factory, and a slash n’ rebrand corporate advisor. They spent about half an hour grilling me on my five-year financial plan for the company and on what major changes I was planning to help turn the company around. Mind that the job had a salary for someone with no experience and I was pretty much promised training on the job beforehand. Having satisfied themselves that I know basically nothing about the job, they hired me on anyway, not that I stayed there for long.

    Think it was mostly a dominance play to shame the very professional and courteous department head who’d been handling hires up to that point.

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    • Hmm, I got nothing on the vodka shack riddle. Please share the answer.

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      • If it were the summer I’d suppose it was an allotment garden and the owners were trying to fend of vegetable/fruit thieves.

        I’m going to guess it was to keep people from stealing something, maybe the shack itself? (ice fishing shack?)

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        • DWeird on said:

          We were a bunch of quarry workers. Both the machinery and the earth got too cold to do any actual work on in deep winter, but the business kept the whole lot of us on the payroll to minimize theft, so long as the whole bunch actually showed up. And vodka was the pastime.

          I’m not old enough to have worked during actual soviet times, but the quarry felt like it was stuck in time, both in terms of equipment and of people – most of the other workers were from surrounding villages and had been working for the place, on and off, for decades or more.

          I don’t think I’ve seen a more adversarial relationship between employees or management before or since – the former would steal everything from diesel to stone by the truckload, the latter would treat the workers as peasants in a fief – we were once called in on the weekend to steal timber from a nearby forestry effort for the company director’s sauna.

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          • “I don’t think I’ve seen a more adversarial relationship between employees or management before or since”

            Like you said, you’re not old enough to have worked during actual Soviet times…

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