10 Interesting Jobs Created for Weird Reasons

by Shweta Anand8 months ago0 comments

6 In the 1900s, department stores like Marshall Field’s would employ “professional fired men.” Their job was to take the blame for any mistake and get fired in front of a disgruntled customer to appease them. 

Marshall Field
Public domain photo from 1890 Marshall Field’s Wholesale Store. Image credit: Wikimedia.org

Marshall Field & Company was a Chicago-based department store that began in the 19th century and went on to become one of the most successful ones in the US. Its owner, Marshall Field, is also said to have pioneered the modern approach to customer service. In 1910, a book called Carrying Out Marshall Field’s Precept, ‘The Customer is Always Right’ was published where it highlighted the use of  “professional fired men” at this store.

According to this book, Marshall Field would employ people whose only job was to get fired as many times as necessary to appease their customers. Anytime a customer came in with a complaint or a demand, these fired men would be quickly dispatched to be sacked in front of them. This, in turn, is said to have reduced the number of complaints against the company and its actual employees. (1, 2)

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7. A county in Oregon has hired Klingon translators for its mental health program so that they would be prepared if patients came in speaking nothing but Klingon. They later clarified that this was only a precaution, and they had not faced such a situation yet. 

Klingon language
KSI on Star Trek. Image credit: Paramount Television

The Klingon language is a fictionalized language spoken by a species of characters in the science-fiction franchise Star Trek. This language was designed to have a fully-fledged syntax, grammar, and vocabulary that people could use for meaningful communication.

In 2003, a county in Oregon sent out an advertisement saying that they were looking for potential Klingon translators to hire. This was meant for a mental health program in the county where the officials were obligated to provide translation services for all languages possible. 

However, as news of this “for hire” advertisement spread, the county was forced to clarify that this was just a preemptive measure. Although they have had patients come in with various ailments, they said that they have yet to get one that refused to use any language but Klingon. Nevertheless, to the glee of many Star Trek enthusiasts, this move has given the language some much-awaited credibility. (1, 2)

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8 The mayor of Bogotá, Colombia hired 420 mime artists to mimic jaywalkers in an attempt to curb traffic violations. As a result, road accidents dropped by more than 50%, proving that Colombians would rather receive a fine than be mocked.

Antanas Mockus
Antanas Mockus Mayor of Bogota, Columbia (Image to the left), Image is used for representational purposes only. Image credits: Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung/Flickr via Wikimedia.org, Shutterstock

In the 1900s and again in 2001, Antanas Mockus was elected the mayor of Bogotá, Colombia. During his terms, Mr. Mockus carried out a number of social experiments that focused on studying the ins and outs of human behavior and bettering the city’s services. As part of these experiments, he once hired 420 mime artists to mimic jaywalkers that constantly broke the city’s traffic laws.

These artists would stand at the major intersections of the city and mock the dangerous and chaotic behaviors of its inhabitants. Eventually, this led to a reduction in traffic accidents and fatalities by more than 50%, proving that Colombians would rather be fined than be mocked.

Mr. Mockus also went on to spearhead other campaigns such as an innovative ad about water conservation, designating a “Night for Women” where the men stayed in and women went out to have fun, and so on. (1, 2)

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9 In Japan, companies can now hire “handsome weeping boys” to sit with their employees, watch sad films, and even wipe their tears away. Since the Japanese are thought to be uncomfortable with crying in public, this service is meant to help people open up and bond with each other. 

Weeping Boys
Ryusei wipes away the tears of a weeping woman. Image credit: bbc.com

In Japan, companies can now hire handsome young men to come to sit with their employees, watch a sad movie, and wipe away their tears, all for a price of 7,900 yen or about $65. This service is provided by the company Ikemeso Danshi, which roughly translates to “handsome weeping boys,” and is aimed at helping people bond with each other. 

Paying customers are guided towards the company’s website that gives them a few choices of young men to choose from, most of them in their early 20s. Once a selection has been made, a young man arrives at the office to watch sad films that often contain themes of human relationships or pets.

While the service appears to be largely directed at women, it has also had some male takers. The idea here is that as more people showcase their vulnerable sides this way, the Japanese people will get comfortable with opening up to each other. (1, 2)

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10 The Georgian-era churches in Britain would often employ “sluggard wakers” to sit inside the church while a mass was in progress and wake up sleeping parishioners.  The sluggard waker would use a long pole with a brass knob or fork at its ends to sharply tap sleeping individuals on their heads or poke them on their backs. 

Sluggard Waker
Image credit: Shutterstock

If you’ve ever fallen asleep at your local church during mass, you can imagine how common this is. However, this would have been nearly impossible to do in many British churches during the Georgian era. This is because, at the time, it was common practice to hire a parishioner to act as a “sluggard waker.”

The sluggard waker would closely watch the congregation and sharply poke or tap sleeping members in the back or on the head with a wooden pole. This pole would be fitted with a brass knob, a fork, or a foxtail on one or both ends.

Some churches also had specific rules on which end to use for what, with the brass knob or fork being used for male members and the foxtail being reserved for female parishioners. In a few other churches, the sluggard waker also doubled as the “dog whipper” who drove away stray dogs from the church premises. (1, 2

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