Monday, November 19, 2007

What's your weirdest job?

Since I asked about strange phobias yesterday, I'll another question that might engender some interesting answers. What is your weirdest job? For me, I think the answer would be: Pea Washer. And yes, that is literally what I did. I washed peas.

One summer between my junior and senior year in college, I needed a job but my finals ran late and all the good ones were taken. So I asked Dad for help. At the time, he was Vice President of a canning company so he got me a job at one of the plants. This was in Wisconsin, so the perfect soil and excellent amount of rainfall lends itself to making some of the best crops in the country. In this case, vegetables.

I started out as a pea washer. I stood on a high, vibrating parapet and watched a large vat of water. Peas came in from outside on a conveyor belt and fell into the vat. Every 20 minutes or so I had to adjust the amount of soap or oil. The peas needed to swim around the vat for a bit and then fall to the bottom so they could continue on their journey. The mix of soap and oil had to be perfect in order to make the empty casings (that green skin around a pea) float off the top and let the peas sink to the bottom. Too much of one or the other and the peas would float or the casings would sink. There. That's more pea knowledge than you ever knew you needed.

As you can tell, there wasn't a lot to do. I stood on my walkway and vibrated. There was one more person in the room, but the machines were too loud to hold a conversation. I tried reading a book, but my boss yelled at me. Full attention must be on the peas. So I took some paper towels from the restroom (that brown paper you roll out with a lever) and started writing short stories. I could hide the pen and pretend to wipe something with the paper if my boss came by.

When the peas stopped rolling in, I became a corn cutter. On this job, I stood in front of a long machine with several other women. We all had short sticks (dowels) and when a cob got stuck in the blades, we'd poke it until it came loose. We just walked up and down the length of the machine all day, poking corncobs. We'd also get covered, head to toe, with bits of corn starch spit out of the machine when it was cutting. My clothes would be so stiff at the end of the day, I could barely bend. Another lovely job.

So what crazy jobs have you held? Can you beat pea washer and corn cutter?


bunnygirl said...

I can't top pea washer, but I did work as an assistant to a maker of custom draperies one summer. It was the mid-eighties and all things puffy were "in" so I helped sew rings onto balloon shades. I also gave myself a 3" long second degree burn with a hot iron.

Joanna Sandsmark said...

Well there's a job I wouldn't want! I can't sew. The burn was a nice bonus, though. I never fell into my pea vat or cut my hand off on the corn blades, so you win on the injury meter. Thanks for posting!

Nell said...

I assembled hair curlers and put them onto card ready for the plastic bag lady to staple.
I was also the Dutch Edam cheese girl demonstrator complete with clogs and fake plaits.

Joanna Sandsmark said...

Both are great but the cheese girl is fantastic!