Got a call this morning from a tele-marketer from a cemetery, trying to sell me a grave site. At my age, my first reaction was: “What, you know something I don’t?” Then I realized that this was just another person performing a job I had no idea existed. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t recall any time as a child when I longed to grow up and be a grave salesman. I was too busy daydreaming about becoming the centerfielder for the Yankees, a fireman, a cowboy, a soldier, a cop, a sailor or a movie star to wonder about how people acquired the six-foot deep holes where they got buried. There were precious few astronauts back then in the Analog Age. It was a brand new job and one where the first guys were replacements for space monkeys, not exactly the stuff that little boys’ dreams are made of.

No doubt the lady who called me up offering me eternal comfort and tranquility (How would she know? She sounded so convincing!) didn’t aspire to her job either. That would be even more odd than yearning to be an accountant, a job everyone knows about. So you start thinking about oddball careers, and what else might people do with themselves that would occur to nobody else. So you do a little research, make some calls, and compile a list. And lo and behold, you find some unusual occupations indeed! Consider doing this every day:

METH-AMPHETAMINE LAB TECHNICIAN: Unlike your colleagues in legal laboratories, you operate in trailer homes, abandoned barns and corrugated tin sheds. You mix some very volatile substances without benefit of a long white lab coat, safety equipment or ordinary sanitation and hope that:

A – You don’t get raided by the police                                                                   B – You don’t get robbed by crazed meth-heads                                                 C – You don’t blow yourself and the immediate vicinity to smithereens                 D – You don’t get tortured and murdered by rival drug gangs                               E – All of the above

If you answered “E – All of the above,” you’ve only just glimpsed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the drawbacks of this job.

THE GUY WHO COLLECTS ROAD KILL: When you see a dead animal on the highway or your local street, notice that it’s not there the next day. And no, those carcasses are not disintegrated into dust by all the cars and trucks that add insult to death by mashing the poor thing as flat and wide as bed sheet. A special guy in a special truck comes along and cleans up this bloody, furry mess and hauls away the squashed remains. A worse job than his? His assistant.

PORNO MOVIE MAKEUP ARTIST: What, you thought all those bodies were smooth and perfect? While they might be very near perfect, in the glare of the Klieg lights required for filming, special makeup is required to make certain body parts, how shall we say… glisten. That’s two sets of lips that need careful attention. These jobs are hard to get, since nobody ever quits or retires. They die very happy, though.

OPRAH WINFREY’S WARDROBE PERSON: There’s only so many times you can let out a dress or assure somebody that they don’t look fat when they are. And when your boss fluctuates in weight from year to year from chubby to Buick-sized, you’re likely to be putting in a lot of overtime and scouring the old Roget’s Thesaurus for synonyms for “full-figured” and “robust.”

HAIR PLUG INSTALLERS: Few doctors dream of using their long and very expensive educations to create an army of silly looking doll-hair men using their pubic hair, but the big dough these insecure baldies lay out is too tempting to actually cure sick people for a living. As an added bonus, there are few emergencies in the middle of the night involving hair plugs, so your weekend golf game and mistress visits are seldom interrupted.

MATTRESS TESTER: This job was not invented by Al Capp, who gave it to his comic creation, Lil’ Abner. There are people who’s job it is to test mattresses, by (how else?) sleeping on them and reporting to the designers on how comfortable or uncomfortable they are. This job, while not too intellectually challenging, is nonetheless considered a desirable career path. Line forms to the left.

JACK DANIELS BOTTLE CAPPERS: In the Jack Daniels Whiskey distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, tours are given of the place. It is a fascinating education on how corn whiskey is made. It begins with the hand-made and carefully charred oak barrels in which the whiskey is aged, and then moves on to the automated factory process of actually bottling the whiskey, all kinds of tubes, machines, conveyor belts and automated boxing apparatus, until the very end, when the full bottles in open cases are rolled to a half dozen very busy ladies who then screw the caps on by hand. After that, another machine adds the plastic cap wrapper and seals the box. Why this one function of a hundred different operations is done by hand is never explained, but hey, in this economy, a job’s a job, right?

MENS’ ROOM ATTENDANT: In many a fancy restaurant, catering hall or hotel, you find a men’s room attendant. Outside of severely disabled individuals, are there many men who need assistance to relieve themselves? Handing you a paper towel after you wash your hands doesn’t seem like such a vital pubic service, and whatever tips these men receive are hard-earned for having to spend their entire workday among some decidedly unpleasant smells and sounds.

PET PSYCHIATRIST: More of a scam than an actual job, these people figure it would just be wrong to refuse big dollars from people with more money than brains. Kudos to them.

BUNGEE CORD MEASURER: While this might on the face of it seem like a frivolous occupation, considerable pains are taken to hire individuals with a good grasp of mathematics, the elasticity of the bungee cord when combined with various body weights, the safety margins required, and completely free of psychotic tendencies.

HISTORY REVISIONISTS: This is a booming business these days, which can only be attributed to the scarcity of real jobs in this depressed economy. Why else would anybody undertake the task of convincing the nation that the Bush Administration was The Golden Age of America? Here’s the selling points for Bush The Younger Nostalgia: 

The Bill of Rights is overrated                                                                               War is its own reward                                                                                   Letting a city drown is an exercise in market forces                                               Taxing the super wealthy is a sin                                                                   Financial industry regulations are for sissies                                                         Science is for Jesus haters                                                                                   Being smart and reading a lot is show-offy

It’s a challenging job, made even more so by the fact that there’s a really smart guy in the White House now who’s paying attention to what’s going on in America and doesn’t have a giant ranch to escape to so he can clear brush for weeks on end while the Vice President runs the country for the benefit of his billionaire buddies. But, undaunted by the magnitude of their task, the History Revisionists are out in force, predicting an end to life as we know it and wishing the president of their nation to fail. Now, if they’d only throw in a set of stainless steel steak knives at no extra cost, maybe they’d make some sales.

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