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     Volume 10 |Issue 26 | July 08, 2011 |


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Somebody has to Do It

Aasha Mehreen Amin

In conventional economic analysis unemployment is said to be caused by many different things – overpopulation, overall poverty, low growth, lack of investment, low industrialisation, dearth of opportunities to learn new skills and so on. Plain common sense says that it is also caused by lack of imagination. All over the globe it has been proven without a doubt, that creativity and innovation can overcome the odds that give rise to joblessness.

It can also give scope for the oddest and most challenging of jobs.

Take an official 'smeller' of a deodorant company. You may think it is as stylish as being a wine taster or as enjoyable as a chocolate evaluator. But imagine having to smell, of all things, armpits with varying degrees of sweatiness to determine how effective the deodorant is in camouflaging body odour. Not so nice, if you think it may be a nine to five job, right?

Gum-busting. Source: Internet

Dung archaeologists may have similar smell issues since they spend a fair amount of time collecting faeces of animals and sifting through them to find clues about our ancestors and their lives, diets and environment. Thorny-headed worms would indicate a diet containing insects while roundworms are evidence of meat-eaters. While such charming information may not be appreciated by everyone, at least we can be assured that they are not required to smell anything and can easily wear fragrant masks or clips on their noses. In any case these archaeologists get so excited about remnants of the past that trivialities like bad smell matter very little.

Unusual employment, of course, does not have to be unpleasant. Egg brokers (shouldn't they be 'egg breakers'?) apparently have to just separate egg yolks from the whites. One presumes bakeries and fancy restaurants would be in need of their skills.

A rather delicate job is that of an Operator who determines the sex of a newly born chicken within a day of its birth so as to know what their destiny will be -to be a battery hen, laying eggs for a lifetime in a claustrophobic cage or a chunky roast chicken at dinner.

The Gum-buster operator, has quite a fun job, going from street to street with the power to remove the most stubborn and ancient of chewing gum residue. A Dutch chemist invented this darling of a device in 1998 - a little dry steaming machine that conveniently removes gum from locations in five seconds.

We can take inspiration from these out-of-the-ordinary occupations and come up with our own. We could have well-paid Spit Collectors who will carry a closed pail with a suction pipe that will suck out all the puddles of saliva on the streets, foot-bridges and staircases. During the holy month when people tend to commit the unholy act of spitting all over the place regardless of where or on whom they spit, this service could generate employment for many.

Existing interesting job-holders include: the telephone-wiping ladies who go from office to office with flannel and dettol in hand to wipe off the grease and dirt from telephone sets; the professional ear wax cleaner who carries a crude version of the cotton bud to clean people's ears, mobile photographers who go from village to village to take photographs carrying with them make-up, ties, jackets and even glittery saris for the women to pose in.

But perhaps the cutest job-holders are the little eight to nine-year-old boys at the passport office where long lines of people wait to get their much coveted machine-readable passports. These little helpers, on their own initiative, carry in their pockets - pens, glue sticks and staplers to help the confused adults who get all flustered by the formalities of the process. The smart little chaps even advise on how to fill up the forms properly, where to stick the photograph and bank receipt -things the officials will never tell you beforehand- all for a few takas. Now that's what you would call imagination.

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