The centuries pass, the seasons change but the difficulties in finding work never ceased to exist. And of course, the unemployed will always look for any unpleasant or odd jobs they can find, which nobody wants to do. Let’s go on a journey back in time to discover such strange jobs that have thankfully been eliminated.
Knocker-up (England and Ireland, the era of the Industrial Revolution)
Long before the clocks were affordable and actually ringing, the man-alarm clock had a duty to wake people up in the morning to go and work in the industries. Using a long, light stick (usually made of bamboo), he hit insistently the windows of the houses of the workers, to make sure that the client/worker had awakened. And all the trouble for a few pence a week. The question is, how did the knocker up wake up?
Dog persecutor (Europe, 16th to 19th century)
An employee of the local church, a persecutor with a whip was in charge of keeping away the unruly domestic dogs that accompanied the animal lovers or those who wanted to pray. For those upsetting the liturgy, they were made to go away with large wooden tongs. The persecutor grabbed them and the dogs were forced out of the temple. The fee for his salary was often included in the accounts of the church.
Toilet servant (England, 15th century)
When His Majesty went to the bathroom for his… thing, someone had to wait patiently beside him to wipe him and clean the royal toilet. The kings entrust this enviable task in the offspring of nobles and affluent families, who gradually took on the task to becoming the royal secretaries, enjoying high social status. Thus, the phrase I go where even the king goes alone probably has a base.
Suppliers of the hydraulic organ (from the times of ancient Greece to Byzantium)
The hydraulic organ or water organ was a very popular wind instrument (precursor of the well known church organ) which operated with a combination of water and compressed air. As the operator of the instrument pressed the keys, teens or slaves cared for the supply of air by raising and lowering the air blowers. Apparently it was seasonal work, as it was used in the entertainment business of horse racing and tp play military music.
Fuller (Roman era)
The woolen and cotton fabrics, even then, needed much care to remain clean and fluffy. The slave who were in charge of the laundry service would work in a trough filled with urine and fabrics and he would be in it up to the ankle. The urine at that time played the role of the detergent. It was an early laundry and it was particularly valuable and also taxed. This is not surprising, since the ammonium salts help in cleaning and whitening of fabrics.
Clerk for curses (Roman era)
The profession had assured customers: crowds of good old Romans flocked to temples and altars to submit their own written curse. The patient scribe was there day and night at the service of the public, to carve onto a thin sheet of soft lead the detailed curse that the customer wanted. Then the plate with the anathema was thrust upon the altar or the wall of the temple.
For more on weird jobs check: 5 Weirdest Jobs That Just Might Be Cool, The 10 most terribly weird jobs, She quit her job dancing and filming a video for her boss