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The awesomest compilation of weird and crazy jobs ever

Some of the hardest jobs pay the least.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2009 2:12AM

This guest post comes from J. Money at Budgets Are Sexy.

And you thought today was going to be boring. This all started the other day when my girl MoneyMate Kate posted about some crazy jobs she's taken in the past (Italian ice truck driver, bone counter, substitute mommy). I was dying.

Once I began to compose myself, it got me thinking. I've done some pretty whacked-out stuff, too. But as I started writing this post, another thing occurred to me: If she's a frugal person with a frugal blog, and I'm a frugal person with a frugal blog, wouldn't it make sense that other personal-finance bloggers would have similar experiences, too?

So I reached out to my PF friends and readers on e-mail, Twitter and the Money Blog Network Forum (a great resource, by the way) and hit them up for the weirdest jobs they've ever done -- and holy cow, did i get some whammies.

I knew that some of us frugal people will get down and dirty to make a few pennies, but what I didn't know was how far they'd go. We're talking dirt sifter, tick remover, Chuck E. Cheese dresser-upper -- jobs you couldn't make up if you tried.

So, grab a coffee, close your office door, and get ready to enjoy some crazy awesomeness.

I'll start with some of my former jobs:

Campground timeshare tour guide -- $700 to $1,400 per sale. You know those tours you "have to take" in order to claim your "free" prize or weekend getaway? I was one of those people who gave them and then tried convincing you to buy a timeshare at the end. And in this particular case, you'd get your very own campground lot forever and ever. (Oooohhhh ahhhh.)

Wrecked-car washer -- $10 an hour (plus anything you'd find). Two of us guys with a van full of water and a generator, listening to headphones and washing the crap out of these things in the hot sun. Apparently, smashed cars that are washed bring in $500 more at auction than do dirty/bloody ones. And since it cost only about $5 per car, the company raked in the money.

Stamp maker/packager -- $12 an hour. Packaging and making stamps (the 42-cent ones) on an assembly line. Twelve-hour shifts, four days a week, one 15-minute break every two hours. The craziest part was that we couldn't wear any clothes with pockets, or bring any bags that weren't see-through, so we wouldn't be tempted to steal and sell them on the black market. It felt like prison.

And now, jobs from around the blogosphere, as described by the bloggers themselves:

Bone counter -- $5 an hour. Temp job in the shipping/receiving department of a company that took cadaver bones (which arrived semi-butchered and frozen) and chopped them up into usable bits for transplant purposes. I was the only temp they didn't gross out. -- MoneyMate Kate

Tongue boy -- 5 cents per tongue. Cut the tongues out of codfish. -- Money Grubbing Lawyer

Meatpacker -- minimum wage. For eight hours, I manually flipped one half of figure-eight hamburger patties so they landed on top of the other half, concealing a slice of cheese in the middle to make a "pizza" hamburger. -- Financial Reflections

Utility study researcher (nicknames: space cadet, space police) -- minimum wage. Walking around my college campus, poking my head into classrooms and counting the number of students in the room -- much to the confusion of students and professors. -- Stephanie at Poorer Than You

Stock boy at Victoria's Secret -- $10 an hour. See title. -- My Journey To Millions

Bug book stippler -- $2 an hour (in 1967). Stippled (added dots to) illustrations of bugs in a book being written by a college entomology professor. -- Mr. ToughMoneyLove

Dirt sifter -- 50 cents more than minimum wage. I would scoop dirt onto a screen, then shake the screen so fine dirt would come out of the bottom. -- Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar

Promotional rep for Altoids mints -- $12 an hour. I had to hand out free samples of mints to people in movie theaters, and before each movie had to use a microphone to interact and play trivia games with the audience. I had no boss. The company just shipped me 14 massive boxes of Altoids mints and promotional material and told me to work until I had no more inventory. I made my own hours, got to watch all the free movies I wanted with my friends, and got a free megaphone out of the deal. Score! --  Krystal at Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Class note-taker in college -- $5 a week. I did it for one semester thinking I'd be a better student. Nope! -- mauliesmalls

Timeshare telemarketer -- $10 an hour. Selling timeshares in Williamsburg, Va., to people living in Williamsburg, Va.! We had a call list from another account and a third to half of the numbers were locals. It had easy four-hour shifts. I hated the work and left shortly afterward. -- Green Panda Treehouse

Pea inspector. I've never done any crazy jobs but I knew one guy who was a pea inspector. He inspected peas in a pea factory. -- Ashley at Wide Open Wallet

Engineering intern for Metro -- $12.50 an hour. Performed QA/QC on the construction of a Metro line by visiting different construction sites and verifying that the work was being correctly executed. I had absolutely zero qualifications for this job and I have no idea why Metro hired engineering students for these positions. -- Budget Save Buy

Donation solicitor -- nothing. (Salary was based on donations solicited, and I'm not a very good salesperson.) I had to go door-to-door to solicit donations for CALPIRG. (I didn't even know what CALPIRG was.) -- Lynnae at Being Frugal

Direct-marketing rep -- $200 a week. Convince people in malls and train stations to sign up for a credit card (for real). Worst. Job. Ever. -- Mr. Stokes at Brizzle Bound

Cutco knife salesperson -- nada. (Never made it out of training, couldn't bring myself to sell to friends and family.) Selling Cutco knives to friends and family. -- Living Almost Large

Tick remover -- one penny per tick. Remove ticks from dogs with tweezers. We can almost hear you saying "ugh!" but as kids we loved the job because it relieved the dogs from the pests. -- FIRE Finance

Dishroom girl in a dorm cafeteria -- $6 an hour. Hairnet, long plastic apron, gigantic sprayer and garbage disposal, washing ridiculous quantities of wasted food down the drain, filthy sopping mess by the end of my shift. -- Frugal Babe

Electrical-environmental systems specialist, USAF -- Enlisted pay grade E-2 through E-5. Aircraft mechanic -- worked in 30-plus countries in temperatures ranging from 20 below zero to 135 Fahrenheit (not including wind chill or heat index). -- Patrick at Cash Money Life

Cubicle farmer -- too good to quit. Ever seen "Office Space"? -- Patrick at Cash Money Life

Chinese drive-through-window fast-food worker -- $6 an hour. Took orders for Chinese food in an old Burger King, packed up food, and re-boiled dumplings in the same water for a week. Only lasted a month. Jonathan at My Money Blog

Library organizer -- $10 an hour (with a max of 20 hours a week). The mission: Working with a local organization, I was to start a local French lending library in one year with no budget (and by no budget, I mean no money available to me besides my salary, not no budget, spend whatever you want). Some asides: Believe it or not, I lived on that salary for a whole year. It involved having a roommate and never going anywhere, but I did it. And knowing I could live way below the federal poverty line gives me the confidence to stay on my relatively generous budget now. Oh, and in the end I had over 10,000 books all on their shelves in Dewey Decimal categories, and 100 multimedia resources (movies and music mostly) that I purchased from a grant I got. I even opened a month early. And the old people said I couldn't do it. -- Nicole at Breaking Even

Model for drug treatment center brochure -- $150 (one-time fee). A friend from our church was doing some literature for Hazelden, drug treatment center to the stars. He needed someone to do a before and after picture for the brochure. On the before picture I was a sad, drug-addled youth, and in the after I was a happy, well-adjusted young man. It was pretty funny sitting there making sad faces pretending to be on drugs. -- Pete at Bible Money Matters

Farmhand on a blueberry farm -- minimum wage (at 14 years of age). While this job sounds fun, it actually entails riding on a massive blueberry harvester, at wide-open speed, through fields infested with wasps, bees and fire ants, in the 100-degree heat of July. -- No Credit Needed

Chuck E. Cheese dresser-upper -- minimum wage. Entertain customers, kids and mainly myself in the sweltering heat of Hot-lanta dressed as Chuck E. Cheese. -- Alan Corey at A Million Bucks By 30

Watermelon thrower -- $10 an hour. I worked in a watermelon patch the summer after my senior year of high school. As a thrower, we would pick up watermelons from the field and throw them into a trailer with a 6-foot wall, where a "catcher" was waiting with open arms. It was the hardest work I've ever done. I only lasted a week. The money I earned that week helped me with a down payment on my car for college. -- Prime Time Money

Calf catcher -- nothing. Wrangle a calf with bare hands and try to gently push it through a cattle squeeze. Try not to get kicked. (I'm a city girl, so moving to a ranch was a rude awakening on how weird jobs can be.) -- Squawkfox

Whew! So did I tell ya, or did I tell ya? We frugal ones sure know how to party. For all who participated -- thank you (especially you, Kate). And for all who still want to, go ahead and relive your job all over again by dropping a comment.

Related reading at Budgets Are Sexy:

Published Feb. 5, 2009


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