Wanted: Porta-Potty Scrubber, Worm Farmer

Odor Sniffers, Worm Ranchers,
Porta-Potty Technicians and More

By Buck Wolf

Jan. 28, 2003 --   Have you thought about the prospects for yourself in the Porta-Potty business? For Lou Paulsen, it was a royal flush.

Paulsen, 65, closed his marina 20 years ago and jumped into outdoor toilet maintenance in Abilene, Texas, after reading an article about the growing industry for portable outdoor toilets at parks, construction sites and events.

He and three employees now clean and maintain 450 Porta-Potties throughout Texas, and with business doing well, he doesn't mind the ribbing.

"People think it's a dirty business. It's not if you do your job right," says Paulsen.

"When someone asks, I usually say I'm in the No. 1 and No. 2 business."

Strange Professions for Strange Times

If you want to see some of the strangest professions, you've got to see Nancy Rica Schiff's Odd Jobs (Ten Speed Press), a collection of photos documenting some unusual occupations.

Finally, you get to see who tests condoms — and how the job gets done. Ironically, Schiff found a man who tests tampons and a woman who tests condoms. The processes, of course, are scientific. But both product testers have a sense of humor about their jobs.

You'll also meet a Barbie Doll fashion designer, a potato chip inspector, a worm rancher, and an alligator wrangler.

With so many people looking for work, and so many companies turning to part-time employees, some strange professional opportunities are opening up.

"Just when you say you've seen it all, you get a job opening for someone to chase deer off a landing strip at an airport," says Linda C. Haneborg of Express Personnel Services, an international staffing and recruiting company based in Oklahoma City.

Airports often need various animal wranglers to keep wildlife from becoming roadkill.

Humans often need some wrangling, too. Haneborg says she had one client hire workers at $8-an-hour simply to watch open manhole covers to prevent injury.

When you're out of work, you have one less reason to put off jury duty, and if you really like performing your civic responsibility, maybe you should consider being a mock juror.