HR Strange But True!
October 06, 2009 proposes these “Top 10 Strangest Jobs in History,” which now are mostly extinct due to the advent of technology. So those who aspire to these professions may want to go for career counseling--well, unless you are Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe.

10. Jester. The advent of sitcoms and the Comedy Channel seems to have made this job unnecessary. No one hires a private comedian these days, says Listverse, which reports that the last know full-time jester was employed on the island of Tonga. Unfortunately, the job was victim of a ROI in 1999.

9. Toshers and Mudlarks. While these jobs sound fanciful, they are actually synonyms for Victorian scavengers. Toshers went down into the sewers, while mudlarks dredged river banks, looking for things to sell. E-Bay may bring this profession back.

8. Knocker-ups. No, it doesn't mean that! Before the invention of reliable and affordable alarm clocks, knocker-ups went from building to building using long bamboo poles to loudly tap on the windows of their clients to awake them so they wouldn't be late for work. The diligent knockers wouldn't leave until assured their clients were indeed out of bed. Of course, Listverse asks the obvious question, “Who knocks up the knocker-up”?

7. Toad doctor. Before dermatologists--and late-night infomercials--toad doctors traveled around Europe curing skin diseases and other ailments by applying toads to client's bodies. Sometimes they hung the toads from a muslin bag around the sick person's neck. The job description, says Listverse, requires knowledge of traditional medicinal folk magic; no advance degrees required.

6. Dog Whipper. Predecessor to our dog catchers, but with a twist, dog whippers were employed outside of churches in the 16th to 19th centuries to chase away pooches that had followed their masters, so the dog packs wouldn't yelp during services. Though today the practice would be considered cruel, the churches paid for this service according to their records, says Listverse.

5. Resurrectionists. Today we would classify these workers as body snatchers. They would seek out shallow graves, open caskets, and remove the bodies, which they would sell to the newly opened medical schools of early 19th century Europe. They were careful not to take any jewelry or valuables from the coffins to prevent them from being charged with felony theft. The Anatomy Act of 1832 ended this profession, according to Listverse.

4. Fullers. This is a profession that has become a common surname like cooper. But the job description is more distasteful than making barrels. Fullers were workers in the fledgling woolen textile industry, and they processed the newly woven cloth to degrease it and make it whiter and softer by dunking it in vats of urine (which contained ammonium salts) , usually by standing in the tubs themselves. Luckily, says Listverse, the discovery of a process to extract “fuller's earth” having the same properties from common clay that took urine out the job description.

3. Whipping boys . In the 15th and 16th centuries, royals were thought to have divine rights and could not be physically punished. Therefore, sons of nobles were brought up alongside royals so they developed a close bond. Then, when the young royal misbehaved or failed in studies, the whipping boy was beaten instead. This was supposed to upset the royal so much that he would not misbehave again to keep his friend from being punished. Yes, we hear you saying this profession is not extinct, at least in your company.

2. Groom of the stool. Yes, we mean stool. This was the name given to the person who cleaned the king's “privy chamber” and more (think Wet Wipes). This actually was considered a prestigious profession for the son of a nobleman. Other job duties, says Listverse, including carrying out a variety of administrative tasks within private rooms. Perhaps this profession still exists--as personal assistant--but the excrement may be only verbal.

1. Gong farmer. In Tudor England, there were chimney sweeps, and there were cesspool cleaners who dug out the dung. By law, “gong farmers”--perhaps the first euphemistically named profession--did their jobs at night and hauled the refuse to outside the city limits. The workers, definitely not a protected class, were also prohibited from living in certain neighborhoods due to noxious odors emanating from their homes. Listverse says this was “a real sh## job to have.”


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