What’s YOUR oddest job?

GRIN # 87

From a reader: What’s the oddest, funniest or most interesting job you’ve ever had?

I had to go way back for this one.

In the space of a year I went from being Belkie Bear to working at a heavy metal radio station.

The bear bit took place the summer before I went to college. A few things to note if you’re ever tempted to fill this kind of position. First, the costume is hot-flash inducing and it stinks. Second, you’ll scare little children no matter how much you wave your big bear paw around. It’s pretty humbling, actually. I felt like King Kong in, well, King Kong. Finally, you’ll want to find a place you can air yourself out. Periodically I would head outside and pace in front of the store entrance. It looked like Belkie Bear took regular smoke breaks.

Less than a year later, I was working at WKNC 88.1 at NCSU. After making up the weather, I read the news from a wire service. I felt I was well on my way to a fascinating career in the media.  One day, however, the station manager told me it was time to move into a DJ slot. “But I don’t want to,” I told him.

“You have to,” he said. “You can’t read the news forever.”

I couldn’t?

He put me on the 3 to 6 am shift every Saturday night, coming on right after a guy I called “Satanic Jack,” a brooding fellow with nose and tongue piercings who took heavy metal pretty seriously.

WKNC had  a great music library. Although it was a heavy metal radio station at the time, the library housed Eric Clapton, Jane’s Addiction, Nirvana, Tom Petty–all kinds of music. One night during my shift, I decided to pepper the rotation with a few of those groups–in between the regular bouts of Tesla and Metallica–to see if anyone would notice.

They did.

The phones lit up.

Satanic Jack came in to see what the hell was going on.

And I had a lot of explaining to do. No wonder I didn’t end up in broadcasting.



12 Responses to “What’s YOUR oddest job?”

  1. I was an obituary clerk for about three years.

    • That IS interesting! Question: Why don’t they ever list the cause of death? I’ve always wondered that. And not to be morbid, but doesn’t everyone?

      • Privacy. Sometimes you can figure it out, or at least guess, from where they want donations sent in lieu of flowers (e.g., American Cancer Society).

        I never (or at least VERY rarely) talked to the families. Only the funeral homes. We provided them with fill-in-the-blank obituary forms to get the pieces of information we needed, which they faxed in, and we talked to them by phone to confirm that we had received it and/or to confirm details. Those were some interesting folks to talk to!

      • I bet! Don’t you know they have some stories to tell.

  2. In my hometown newspaper they list the cause of death, the only time they don’t is when the family doesn’t want to say and then it just says “family chooses not to disclose cause of death.”
    & I was a telemarketer for 2 days, tried to sell magazine subscriptions. Not as odd as it was awful. =)

  3. You’re too sweet!

    I’m sure we’ve all done some terrible jobs in the past! But I think your bear costume wins that contest!

  4. Hi Christa,

    You probably don’t remember me but I met you at a N.C. Press Club meeting they held downtown at the old octagon shaped hotel – can’t remember the name of it – and at Wake Technical Community College last year at a NCWN seminar with you and Amanda Lamb as keynote speakers. I’m the guy that spoke to you about writing short stories. Told you that you wouldn’t remember me … I’ve got some good ones, but can’t seem to get them on paper.

    Anyway, about WKNC … I listened to these guys back in the late 70s early 80s, and they played good stuff as you mentioned like Clapton and the Stones – mostly on vinyl then I’m sure. In fact, my radio dial in my first car stayed tuned to 88.1 – especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

    During the daylight hours then, they played what was then called “alternative music” which consisted of head-banger stuff that you referenced, classical, punk, and so on.

    Those were the days when they didn’t even have names for the other stuff. I’m a classic rocker as if you can’t tell.

    Speaking of times changing … kids today routinely “hug” each other rather than “hi-five” like we did. I’m talking guys hugging guys – I’ve witnessed this more than a few times.

    I got into a discussion with my seventeen-year-old last night about this very subject – hugging other people in public. And, the debate went on and on.

    Apparently it is the newest thing, but I informed her that the only people that she would ever see me hug would be my kids (her), my wife, and my parents – maybe my sister.

    Am I that old? Wow, how times have changed!

    • Hi Tim, I DO remember you! Times have definitely changed; there’s no doubt about that. You should submit some of your stories to competitions; that’s a great way to get feedback:)

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