Odd Jobs

As the old saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” especially when it comes to jobs.  Most jobs make sense: we need transportation, so necessity paved the way for inventing pilots, bus drivers, and train conductors.  You can’t have items manufactured without factory workers, pupils without teachers, books without authors, or healthy pets without veterinarians.  All of those things make sense.  There’s even a job for “Iceberg Removers” – USA Coast Guard members part of a team called the “International Ice Patrol,” which patrols and finds icebergs, and provides safe routes around them, even physically moving the iceberg if it’s impossible to circumvent.

All of those make sense, right? But what about those odd jobs — those really sort of strange ones that you hear about every now and then.  Do they really serve a purpose? What kinds of people invent them, and why do we need them?

For example, take a more well-known odd job, the Professional Cuddler.  For around $60 an hour, you can hire someone to cuddle with you.  The boundaries involved in that are clearly defined, and although it seems silly to some people, the job fulfills some real, deep-seated needs among people today who just need to be noticed, cared for, and held.

If you’re getting married and are short some friends, you can hire a professional bridesmaid or groomsman, who will stand up for you as you embark on your journey into married life.

If you know you’re dying, and know you probably weren’t the nicest person on Earth, you might want to include professional mourners at your funeral in your final plans.  They can stand in for people who might have wanted to be around — or if your friends live too far away to travel to give their final goodbyes.  And they actually exist! It’s a real job.

There are many, many jobs like that fill a need, as quirky as it is.  There are professional “line-standers,” people you can pay to stand in line for you for the next iPhone if you don’t have the time to; professional Pokemon Go players who will do a great job on the game and sell their app to someone else (sometimes up to $10,000!); and professional apologizers, who will, for a sum, gladly take on the difficult job of apologizing for your mistake to a client.  There are even professional Christmas tree-light-detanglers!

Most of these sound superfluous – (Christmas tree light-detangler? Really?) – but I was struck most by the needs that these sorts of jobs filled when the jobs centered around emotions.  The professional cuddler, for example; or the stand-in bridal party members.  The folks who invented these jobs saw a need that people had for connection, and they capitalized on it.  I like to think that professional cuddlers and professional mourners are in it for more than just money — that they have a need of their own, a desire to connect with others around them physically, with cuddling, or emotionally, by being able to mourn and show compassion for someone they don’t know.  Maybe professional bridal party members are really good at encouraging people, so they offer their services to calm anxious brides and grooms; maybe professional jelly bean counters are just really good at arithmetic, and just want to share their gifts with the world, all while making a little money.  (I made that last one up, but it probably exists!)

To that end, you have to admire folks who see a need and are able to find solutions to answer them, as quirky as they are.  And you have to admire folks who recognize that they have that need in themselves to hire someone to fill them! It takes a lot of vulnerability to admit that you don’t know everything and you just plain need help.

There’s plenty I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure I’ll stay away from hiring any Christmas tree light-detanglers.  But, life happens! Who can say.

Until next time, be well!

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