by Allen J. Sheinman | August 31, 2012
The list

Labor Day is just around the corner (two doors down from the unemployment office), and in its honor, The List offers you this roster of weird but guaranteed genuine occupations.

Worm picker: Many Canadian farms routinely employ multiple pickers to sift through the mud and muck to extract the choicest, plumpest worms by hand, from whence they are sold as bait. According to, the salary maxes out at about US$.04 cents per worm, so there's plenty incentive to keep digging, presuming there's any incentive to begin with. This is the kind of job whose employees' spouses implore them not to take their work home.

Chicken sexer: Another farm-based job, this one requires examining baby chicks to certify whether they're male or female, a tricky proposition considering their reproductive system is tucked within their little torsos. A week or two at the tiller and you yourself likely will be certifiable.

Airplane repossession agent: People who fly their own planes can default on their payments as well as the rest of us. Enter the airplane repo person, who can earn up to 10 percent commission on the resale value of the plane. Of course, you'll need a pretty sturdy tow truck and a strong set of chains.

Gum buster: This is a person who operates a mobile apparatus that shoots bursts of hot steam and assorted chemicals to dissolve the discarded, caked-on chewing gum that adorns much of the paved byways and public monuments in our cities and towns. According to, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and New York City's fabled Statue of Liberty are but two clients of such a service. Not to be confused with a periodontist.

Banana gasser: This specialist takes truckloads of still-green bananas (shipped in this state to prevent bruising), deposits them within an air-tight chamber and sprays them with ethylene gas (the amount calibrated by a special computer program called Probe) to facilitate the ripening process, so they'll be nice and yellow when they arrive at the produce department. According to, the process can take up to eight days per load, which begs the question: Wouldn't bananas ripen on their own by then?

Wrinkle chaser: No, we're not talking Botox, we're talking a special iron used to smooth out shoe materials as wielded by a trained, authorized, card-carrying wrinkle chaser, employed by companies such as Dr. Martens. According to, there are subspecialties within this job according to the part of shoe being worked on, e.g., liner ironer, wood-heel-cover ironer, etc. Of course, given the usual hierarchical bias, the lace ironers tend to consider the heel ironers as beneath them.

Source: Meetings & Conventions and those cited above