Plague burier, spitboy & leech collector: worst jobs in history
March 20, 2005 12:39 PM   Subscribe

The worst jobs in history. Channel 4 takes you on a journey through 2,000 years of British history and the worst jobs of each era for minions like you and me. If you are curious whether you are best suited to be an Anglo-Saxon guillemot egg collector or a Georgian loblolly boy, take the career guide quiz. (via Malbec.
posted by madamjujujive (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Recently someone posted on the internet something about how terrible the working conditions are at EA, where I work. The long hours destroying families and all that, how terrrible it is to sit in an air conditioned office, with a PS2 on your desk and cable TV and access to free games and movies.

I thank god every day that I have a job that does not involve leeches or sheep intestines. Or mines. My god, the mines.

Good post, interesting read.
posted by the theory of revolution at 1:00 PM on March 20, 2005

excellent post. I was just asking my brother what Baldric was doing nowadays...
posted by Busithoth at 1:04 PM on March 20, 2005

fun! is that Baldrick? and i didn't see any plague body collectors tho--that was a big job.

i got 45--30 to 70 You don’t mind doing your fair share of hard graft, but you’d prefer not to be killed while doing it. If tough is your bag, try Sedan-chair bearer, searching for bones or cigar ends as a Scavenger, Roman gold miner, operating a Treadmill or working as a Navvy.
posted by amberglow at 1:10 PM on March 20, 2005

Baldrick is now best known in the UK as the host of another amazingly successful Channel 4 show, Time Team, an archaeology program.

I just watched 3 episodes of "Worst Jobs in History" this morning on the Discovery channel, great Sunday viewing.
posted by fire&wings at 1:15 PM on March 20, 2005

I can only speak on the CASTRATO one as an expert, but from what I can tell this is riddled with inaccuracies.
posted by glider at 1:24 PM on March 20, 2005

Modern contender. It's what I thought of, too. :) The actual TV series is pretty good.
posted by Drexen at 1:42 PM on March 20, 2005

The EA thing was seen previously on mefi, btw.
posted by Drexen at 1:43 PM on March 20, 2005

glider - I'm hoping you're a passive expert on castrato and not a card carrying counter-tenor-times-ten (or minus one as the case may be).

Loads of other jobs you might not have ever known existed can be found here.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:52 PM on March 20, 2005

As a fuller, you are expected to walk up and down all day in huge vats of stinking stale urine.

I didn't realize that urine could go stale.

I also think being an artist's model must have been a relatively good job. All you have to do is sit perfectly still - which isn't as easy as it sounds at first thought but isn't hazardous or back-breaking either.

This is quite hilarious. We just don't realize how good we have it.
posted by orange swan at 2:24 PM on March 20, 2005

These are the jobs lost to machines.

Think about it.
posted by spazzm at 2:45 PM on March 20, 2005

Now I'm imagining robots mashing cloth in pools of urine all day ^_^
posted by Bugbread at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2005

I can only speak on the CASTRATO one as an expert, but from what I can tell this is riddled with inaccuracies.

Probably true. Please elaborate on what you do know.

(I nominate Court Jester for a touchy monarch. Any other suggestions?)
posted by IndigoJones at 3:07 PM on March 20, 2005

Being a Fuller was certainly a nasty career. Ughhh.

A really awesome post madamejujujive.
posted by caddis at 3:09 PM on March 20, 2005

glider: from what I can tell this is riddled with inaccuracies.

What did you spot? Certainly, I think the programme understated the disgustingness of being a scavenger: in Jack London's The People of the Abyss, his account of going incognito in the East End in 1902, Chapter IX: The Spike talks about scavengers having to pick food from hospital waste. Good excuse to mention Mayhew: Volume 2 has some of the dirtiest jobs like sewer-hunters.
posted by raygirvan at 3:52 PM on March 20, 2005

this series was on months ago in the US on Discovery/tlc/history (i forget which) and it was GREAT! But it had aired in the UK before that even... dunno how old it is.
posted by Dome-O-Rama at 4:09 PM on March 20, 2005

75 - You’re bold as brass and brave as a lion, but not such a messy pup. You might be prepared to cope with being an Arming squire with its potential for you becoming a knight, but you’re actually ideally suited to some of the high-risk worst jobs such as Topman, Powder monkey, fish-fingered Viking sailor/warrior, outnumbered Riding officer, Petardier's assistant or even Guillemot-egg collector.

I am not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but it is probably fortunate for me that I live in this century where I can sit in my airconditioned office instead.
posted by dg at 7:22 PM on March 20, 2005

FWIW, nobody today (including glider) has knowledge about being a Castrato. "Castrato" doesn't just mean you were castrated, it means you were specifically castrated *before* puberty. I can't stress that enough; the entire point was to prevent voice changes due to puberty. We have music today that not a single person alive has heard performed properly because nobody else can reproduce the sounds of a castrato's voice and it was written for a castrato. In fact, we only have a few very old, very scratchy recordings of any castrato at all and that was recorded when the last living castrato was something like 80 years old, so its just Not The Same.

Modern men sometimes have firsthand experience of being castrated since orchidectomy is performed for a few types of cancer, but since that is only done after puberty it isn't the same.
posted by Justinian at 7:33 PM on March 20, 2005

Hilarious -- both the perfect subject for poor Baldrick to illuminate and the perfect way to face Monday in a cube as opposed to say a vat of stale urine. Thanks, mm.
posted by melissa may at 8:18 PM on March 20, 2005

I scored a 95! Says I could be a Viking sailor/warrior... I was once told by a self-proclaimed psychic at a bar that I "needed to get back to my Viking self and stop letting people screw me!" hmmm...
posted by LouReedsSon at 5:28 AM on March 21, 2005

Sounds like a clear cut career path to me, LouReedsSon ;-)

melissa may, what!! You mean you got a cube without urine? I am filing a complaint to HR.

Good links raygirvan and Slack-a-gogo, thanks.

Things are much better in the workplace, generally, but we haven't eradicated all horrible jobs. Matteo's recent post the other day is right up there for contemporary bad jobs - and here's another horrific modern day scenario. Unfortunately, many dangerous, disgusting, and frightening jobs are still with us.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:56 AM on March 21, 2005

Not the least of which is being the hand of power behind MeFi, of course.
posted by dg at 5:23 AM on March 23, 2005

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