REVIEW Take these jobs: Some love 'em, but many would call tasks odd
'Odd Jobs' shows the people who give Mount Rushmore a face-lift or dust the Smithsonian's dinosaurs.
By CAROLE GOLDBERG
"Odd Jobs: Portraits of Unusual Occupations" by Nancy Rica Schiff (Ten Speed Press, $16.95)
The holidays are over. You're back on the job, feeling overworked and understimulated. But it could be worse. You might be dissatisfied with what you do for a living, but how would you like to be a dog sniffer, a knife thrower's assistant -- duck! -- or a diener?
Those are among the 65 occupations detailed in "Odd Jobs."
Author Schiff, a professional photographer in New York City whose work has appeared in Time, Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine, has filled this nifty book with striking portraits of people in unusual professions, each accompanied by a succinct description.
A wide variety
Francie Berger, a Lego model maker in Enfield, Conn., is one of the odd-jobbers. Pictured sitting up against a huge model of the U.S. Capitol made of the little plastic blocks, the book tells us Berger began playing with Lego blocks at 3 and that her architectural thesis at Virginia Tech was designing a large working farm using nothing but Lego bricks.
Some jobs sound like fun: video-game designer, beer taster, potato-chip inspector and dinosaur duster at the Smithsonian.
Other weird work situations: crack filler at Mount Rushmore, fish counter during spawning season at Ballard Locks in Seattle, a riddler (someone who rotates champagne bottles) at a winery in California and a matzo cracker at the Streit's factory in New York City.
You'll see a guy who tests tampons and a woman who tests condoms; a man who designs bras and a woman who designs dresses for Barbies; and the headmistress of Miss Vera's Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls, which contends it is the world's first cross-dressing academy.
Besides the dog sniffer, who analyzes the breath of beagles to check the effect of their diet on their teeth, there's the duckmaster, who wrangles the waterfowl who parade daily through the lobby at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., an earthworm farmer and a horse anesthetist.
And a diener? Pronounced "deener," it's someone who works at a hospital preparing cadavers for the pathologist before autopsies are performed.
Whatever you do for a living, it's got to be better than that.