It’s almost Thanksgiving, and the topic of gratitude should be at the top of everyone’s minds (or at least near the top, somewhere between stuffing and sweet potato casserole). Everyone’s got something to be thankful for, whether it’s family, health—or, of course, a great job.
Let’s be honest, though. It can be pretty easy to take some of this stuff for granted. Sometimes it takes a little creative schadenfreude to remind you that, hey. life might not be perfect all the time, but you’ve still got a pretty good thing going here. And while we can’t help you in the “family” or “health” categories, we’ve rounded up some jobs that will make you grateful for your cubicle or cash register.
It takes a special breed to fill the following generally odious occupations. In fact, if you’re someone who does have one of the careers below, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear that—far from feeling icky about it—you’re actually doing your dream job. If you’re one of those people: We salute you, and wish you the happiest of happy Thanksgivings. Just wash your hands before you sit down next to us at the dinner table.
What it is: What, you thought they hired actual dogs and cats to make sure their chow is up to spec? Professional tasters do pretty much exactly what you’d expect: smell the food, taste the food, and scrutinize it to ensure it’s appetizing for its intended market. If it’s any consolation, at least all meat used in pet foods must also be deemed fit for human consumption. Bon (or bone?) appetite!
What it is: Believe it or not, there’s a huge market for maggots out there—from fly-fishermen, who use them as bait, to greenhouse workers, who need them to help pollinate vegetables—and those squirmy, wriggling little critters aren’t going to raise themselves. Those who do this job have to harvest maggots from fly eggs (maggots are actually fly larvae), in surprisingly high-tech facilities with incubation rooms and special ventilation systems to keep workers from breathing in too much ammonia—one of the main hazards of the work.
What it is: Snake milkers don’t extract milk, but venom, which is used to create the antidotes (called “antivenom”) given to people suffering from snakebites—kind of like the way a flu shot contains a tiny bit of the flu. Step one: Hold the snake’s mouth open. Step two: Shock it with electrodes. Step three: Get venom. We’ll stick with milking cows, thanks!
What it is: Turns out it’s really hard to determine a chicken’s gender. Like, so hard that farms need to hire trained specialists just so they know which chickens to move over to the egg-laying department. There are two leading methods here, one of which involves looking at feathers, another of which involves squeezing out chicken poop—and neither is particularly appealing.
What it is: File this one under “bizarrely logical.” Deodorant companies hire these folks to make sure their product is doing its job, and the only way to truly ensure that is to have them get all up in someone’s underarm and give it a good whiff. In our technology-obsessed, increasingly automated world, there’s comfort in the fact that some jobs can still only be done by good old human beings.
What it is: Pronounced “gooey duck,” geoducks are giant mutant clam things that can command over $100 per pound. You can find them along the northwestern coast of the United States, where divers collect millions of pounds of geoduck annually—they’re particularly popular in China and Japan. Imagine coming face-to-face with one of these underwater and you’ll begin to understand why this job made the list.