1. Diaper sorter
The World's Worst Jobs
One lucky woman in the US spends her day sorting through thousands of used baby diapers before they are bleached, cleaned and reused. Cleaning one nappy every two seconds, the colourful contents often drip onto her shoes. No matter – she merely uses the next nappy to clear up the offending spillage and moves on without even a pause for thought.
2. Animal masturbator
Researching animal fertility or artificial insemination poses one rather obvious problem: how is the sperm extracted in the first place? Researchers who want animal sperm have a number of less-than-attractive options at hand. Electroejaculation involves a rectal probe being used to send pulses of electricity through the ‘lucky’ animal’s nether regions. In the case of gaining semen from dairy bulls, an artificial vagina known in the trade as an AV is commonly used (now you know what to spend Aunt Maud’s Christmas voucher on). Apparently, bulls soon learn what’s going on and follow instructions. Digital pleasure, which is used on pigs and even turkeys, involves the animals being administered a more, er, traditional method of relief.
3. Pesticide drinker
According to an old Discover magazine, you can get up to $200 a day for testing pesticides. No US laws govern such practises, and an industry spokesman commented, “It surely kills fewer people than drinking alcohol does and it also pays the victims, rather than having the victim pay.” We can’t help but think he’s missing the point.
4. Flatus odour judge
While odour judges might be used by dental companies researching the efficiency of toothpaste or mouthwash, one Minneapolis gastroenterologist recently paid two brave souls to indulge repeatedly in the odours of other people's farts. 16 healthy subjects volunteered to eat beans and insert plastic tubes into them. The gas was collected and inhaled by the odour judges.
Remember that next time you want to complain about a funny smell coming from the office fridge.
5. Isolation chamber tester
“Imagine taking a car trip cross-country with your family. Now imagine that it lasts for months on end, that you can't open the windows, and that you can never get out of the car.” That's how Marc Shepanek, NASA's Deputy Chief for Medicine in Extreme Environments once described the severe psychological challenge that astronauts face on long-distance space missions. But at least they’re going somewhere. Just imagine the torture of the men and women picked to test the immobile isolation chambers on the ground. At NASA, space engineers responsible for on-board life-support systems regularly spend months at a time in uncomfortable captivity to test the equipment. Extra cash? No. Still not convinced? You try recycling your own urine for drinking water. Then repeat it a dozen more times over the next 91 days. Exactly.
6. Carcass cleaner
Natural history museums display clean white skeletons or neatly stuffed animals, but their field biologists drag in rather less attractive specimens, commonly carcasses ripe with rotting flesh. Each museum's on site taxidermist has his own favourite technique for sprucing his specimen up to display standards. One zoologist swears by his preferred strain of flesh-eating buffalo-hide beetles, while Jeppe Møhl at the University of Copenhagen Zoological Museum deposits sperm whales and dolphins into vast empty tanks and lets nature take its course. Finally there's the old Fatal Attraction boiling method which is useful for samples that even the bugs won't touch. It’s an approach favoured by archaeologist Sandra Olsen, who can only say of boiling down tough old hyena paws: "It felt like inhaling the gases would literally kill us” Luckily for her it merely gave her a lung infection.
7. Sewage plant gate cleaner
Working in a sewage treatment plant is a grim proposition at the best of times. But some lucky individuals are plucked from obscurity to scrub the gates that filter out all the ‘material’ from the water as it passes through the plant’s cleaning cycle. Not so much ‘diving for pearls’ as ‘diving for - well, you get the idea, right? I put this in the same category as the sewer divers of Mexico City.
8. Asbestos remover
The developed world now has a clear understanding of the risks of being in close proximity to asbestos (lung cancer, heart disease, skin complaints, infertility) and it is no longer used as a building material. Luckily, it is now uniformally being removed - sometimes by individual. One poor soul explains, ‘All day I crawl around in dirt, grime, and spiders in my underwear inside an air-tight suit wearing a very uncomfortable respirator. Millions of asbestos fibres float around me, getting in my hair and eyes. I would be a prison guard any day of the week over an asbestos remover. This is by far the worst job in the world.’
9. Endangered species ecologist
Think your job is pointless? Can’t see where you’re going or why you even bother turning up to work anymore? Try being an Endangered Species Ecologist. The lush island of Hawaii (okay, it sounds pretty good so far, granted...) has 34 bird species on the endangered list. Half a dozen of these feathered friends haven't been seen for decades, but faithful scientists don't have the heart to declare them extinct. Futile much?
10. Taxi driver
The job you’re most likely to be murdered while doing. Enough said.
So now, you have ten reasons to say to yourself: "My job could be a lot worse, and I know just what to put in the suggestion box for the boss to take on as a new vocation."