If you've learned anything from watching late-night reruns of Dirty Jobs, it's that not all jobs are created equal. And that some people get paid good money to do some weird-ass stuff. But the world's most outlandish gigs don't all involve horse insemination and sewer inspection. From chicken sexers and elephant dressers, to ear cleaners and professional cuddlers, here are 15 of the craziest careers you should have considered before getting a degree in Theater Arts.
Toques (Electro-shock givers) Mexico In Mexico, some men lug around caja toques -- battery operated boxes that dispense electrical charges -- and offer shocks of electricity for between $2 to $4 a pop. Popular around bars and clubs, some people believe it sobers them up while others feel it heightens their buzz. Bonus: Check out the Backstreet Boys giving the toque a whirl in this interview.
Oshiya (People-onto-train Pushers) Japan You thought your morning commute was crowded? Be glad you don't live in Japan, where professional pushers are hired during rush hour to literally shove as many people onto the trains as possible.
Professional Snuggler Japan Not just home to heavy-petting cat cafés, Japan also has cuddle cafés, where, for around a dollar an hour, you can snuggle or sleep next to a real live woman. The trend has recently taken off in Rochester, NY, as well, where for $50 you can indulge in a private, 45min snuggle session (haha, right) at The Snuggery.
Panda Fluffer China Ok, so really, this job is officially a panda "handler", but, since pandas are famously unwilling to mate/ totally lazy/ uncomfortable with their sexuality, lots of panda handlers have turned to adult flicks and Viagra to help a brother bear out.
Professional Mourner Africa, China, and the Middle East This ancient practice has been mentioned in The New York Times as early as 1877, and is for some a highly desired career. Basically, it’s what it sounds like: men and women get cold hard cash in exchange for their tears and vocal weeping; the goal being to create a more mournful atmosphere. The UK is even getting in on the action with Rent-A-Mourner.
Cuidacarros Costa Rica, Brazil Pretty simple, these dudes watch your car and make sure nobody steals it while you're gone. They get paid upon your return and while some accept whatever you give them, others have a more regimented price list, usually between $1 to $10.
Bike Diggers/Bicycle Fishers Amsterdam Amsterdam is known as one of the most bike friendly places in the world -- it's even claimed there're more bikes than residents -- so it's not surprising that many of said cycles end up in one of city's 165 canals. Waternet, Amsterdam’s Water Authority, employs people year-round to fish out between 12,000 and 15,000 rusty two-wheelers a year.
Car Plate Blockers Tehran, Iran Since local authorities place restrictions on the number of cars allowed on the road (license plates ending in even numbers are allowed one day, odd the next), drivers hire people to walk/stand behind their cars to cover the plate.
Chicken Sexer Most places with chickens/large commercial hatcheries These trained professionals actually get paid to distinguish the gender of new chicks. Long story short, a common way to do this is called "venting", during which the chicken sexer squeezes the bird until it relieves itself and, subsequently, offers a nice long look at its genitalia. You can't make this stuff up.
Ostrich Babysitter South Africa Possibly the cushiest job ever, it involves keeping an eye on baby ostriches and making sure they don’t peck the crap out of each other. That's literally it.
Surfer’s Paradise Meter Maid Gold Coast, Australia Introduced in 1965 to put a sexy spin on the town's dreaded new parking meters, these gold bikini-clad beauties did the opposite of the usually grumpy old meter maid, and inserted coins into expired meters. Today, since those the meters are all electronic, they mostly just pose for pictures and give directions.
Gender Equality Consultant Sweden Sweden, unlike Australia apparently, is one of the most gender-egalitarian countries in the world, and, naturally, employs gender equality consultants at local daycare centers. What does a gender equality consultant actually do, you ask? Wears a gold bikini and... just kidding. They ensure that stereotypical gender norms aren’t enforced, of course. We have no idea what that means.
Stanley Cup Keeper Canada and the United States Awarded to the winner of the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals, this trophy (which dates back to 1892) makes the rounds during the summer with members of triumphant team; it needs to be accompanied by a keeper at all times. Even in pools.
Professional Ear Cleaners India Though a dying one, professional ear cleaning is an art -- and one that's been passed down for generations. Or so we're told. Basically, these guys work the streets of India, cleaning people's ears "of any foreign body, wax, and dust" with a cotton covered needle and a pair of pincers. Seriously, here’s a video.
Official Elephant Dresser India, Sri Lanka, China, South Korean In countries where elephants find work in more than just zoos and circuses, certain individuals have the honor of being their official outfitters, creating intricate and colorful costumes for elephants participating in religious festivals.
Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's über-efficient German associate travel editor, and once spent a week working in housekeeping in a hotel in Hawaii. Follow her to making her bed perfectly at @Sohostyle