Odd Jobs in an Odd Economy: A Reality Blog by Daniel McLeod

Cow Meat Feathers in Your Cap

One of the best ways to stand out to employers in this ever-tightening job market is to find an internship or part-time job. These offer chances to sample different fields and build the skills only direct experience can foster. Sure, the hours can be tricky and the pay can range from zero to low peanuts, but it’s a surefire way to diversify those feathers in your resume cap.

Take my friend JP. He lives in LA and managed to land a brief gig with Fear Factor. An astute observer of human motivation, he says of his interview, “The main point was to find out if I would do the nasty shit: the bugs, the spiders, snakes and skunks. I said I would and they hired me on the spot.” Thus a new Gross Stunts Production Assistant was born.

Although it was a seasonal stint and he worked just three days at a time, JP got the kind of hands-on experience that puts him ahead of the pack. He gutted a bunch of 200lb fish, handled bullfrogs, cow eyeballs, a pig uterus, trudged neck deep through a dumpster filled with mud, squid ink and dead worms, and used his own car to transport 100 year old cheese, live tarantulas, rats and boxes of giant Iraqi camel spiders.

One of his favorite stunt prep stories is the day the animal wranglers showed up with 500 African emperor scorpions. The producer feared they might sting and kill one of the contestants, so orders came down that each one needed to have its stinger dipped in glue that would harden and prevent stings. There were 5 PAs on hand and the mood was tense before the wranglers singled one out to help. “I was scared shitless of scorpions, man,” JP says, “I never touched one or ever even been close to one.”

Of course they chose him.

“Dig in. Grab one,” they said pointing to the big plastic containers teaming with hundreds of the ornery, lethal bastards.

“I took one look and I couldn’t do it,” he recalls, “They were picking up scorpions with their bare hands as they were trying to sting them. I was like, ‘Ummmm… can I at least get some gloves?’”

“If you wear panties and a bra you can.”

Foregoing the lingerie, he found gloves and spent all night up close and personal with legions of murderous arthropods furiously trying to kill him.

“That was hell,” JP concludes.

There are, of course, other great stories including a fellow PA puking worms, coffins filled with bullfrogs or the time he opened a truck loaded with rancid cow meat that sent everyone to their knees, coughing, gagging or blowing chunks.

All of this may raise the question about what skills my friend acquired. It’s an easy one really: the willingness and ability to be immersed in filth, handle things no sane person would touch with ten foot pole and a resilient gag reflex - all skills in high demand if you want to work in children’s marketing, Washington D.C. or as Paris Hilton’s PR guy.

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