Sometimes you run into a guy who just plain doesn't have a real job. When you meet a sports mascot, a "food critic" or an Internet comedy writer, you kind of shake your head and wonder what it's like to draw a paycheck for something completely ridiculous.
Keep in mind before you apply, though: Some of these frivolous-sounding jobs are harder, more dangerous and deadlier than anything you've ever done in your life, such as ...
#6. Flight Attendant
What People Think:
Flight attendants read the safety instructions and hand out snacks, then they say goodbye to people as they leave the plane. Hell, airlines don't even need to hire people for this job -- couldn't passengers just take turns doing that shit?
Otherwise, it's all about traveling around the world, yet never having to sit still for hours at a time. Flight attendants get to meet all kinds of exciting people and get on the plane before all the other assholes. It's like being on vacation all year round, only they get paid.
That gesture is French for "Go fuck yourself."
You may not realize it, but flight attendants are basically the airplane equivalent of those rhesus monkeys NASA used to launch into space. As they take your crap with big, fake smiles on their faces, you might notice that those faces are flushed and sweaty because flight attendants are very likely to get sick. In fact, their health is so poor that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually has an entire program that examines and evaluates flight crews for things like infectious diseases, mold and the constant barrage of cosmic radiation that affects every flight (most of us don't fly enough to be affected by it).
"We figure we've got around a 30 percent shot at getting superpowers."
Honestly, how many of you have a job so crappy that scientists study you to determine the experimental mystery diseases you might catch just by showing up for work? And to be clear, this isn't just a preventative measure in case something happens in the future -- most flight attendants rate their physical health from "fair" to "poor." Being packed into an airtight tube with 200 other people every day will make you sick.
As for how the job affected their mental health, on a scale of 1 to 12 (with 1 being "I'm cool" and 12 being "You probably had to slide this test under the door of my padded cell"), most ended up with a score of 6 or higher. In total, 17 percent of flight attendants showed signs of psychological distress. The biggest complaints were low job satisfaction and sexual harassment by passengers.
Then there's the being-away-from-home part. If flight attendants have families, they might as well leave them all in the woods and hope some kind wolves raise them, because they're going to be staying in hotels most of the time and spending about 80 to 90 hours a month in-flight. That's not counting the time they spend waiting in the airport and things like that.
"Each day I picture myself strangling all of you with this."
And, of course, if we're going to talk about flying, we have to mention terrorism. (It's a law. Listen carefully next time you see Starscream on The Transformers.) Nowadays, flight attendants have to be trained to spot suspicious activity and, in case shit gets real, they have to know self defense as well. Plus, if someone gets sick or hurt, they have to be fully trained in first aid and CPR. How much is a free flight to Barbados once a year worth to you?
Then there's the everyday stuff. Like everyone else who works in customer service, flight attendants have to put up with dickheads, some of whom will apparently do things like kick them if they don't bring another drink. Only it's worse, because airline customers are probably going to be some of the shittiest to deal with, since no one likes all the bullshit that goes along with flying.
"Sir, I'm gonna need to see your balls right now. Both of them, please."
#5. Professional Wrestler
What People Think:
Professional wrestling is a contact sport with no contact -- a sissy slap-fight with nonsensical story lines and amateur acting. It's more dancing than fighting, elaborate moves that are designed only to look cool while missing the opponent completely. And that ain't real blood; they just suck at opening those little ketchup packets from McDonald's.
Next time, just order a McFlurry and move on.
They die early. And we mean there's a really good chance a professional wrestler will die before 50.
First, try willingly falling onto a stage made out of wood and steel dozens of times a week, then let us know how it feels. But, OK, you could have guessed that part -- we've covered how difficult it is to wrestle before, including what it's like to continue performing with broken bones. But to many a wrestler, going out there and performing is the easy part. Everything else about the job separates the overly muscled men from the overly muscled boys.
Above: An overly assed face.
Take the daily grind, for one. As recently as the late '90s, it was not uncommon for wrestlers to be on the road 300+ days a year and to go months between days off. Today, things have softened, and full-time wrestlers are only on the road about 250 days a year. Babies.
This rushed and unrelenting travel schedule can bring even the toughest hard-asses to their knees. Tons of wrestlers, including legit tough guys like Brock Lesnar and Nathan Jones (the latter of whom had served seven years in maximum security prison), quit the business mainly because of the travel schedule.
This guy takes up two full seats. In first class.
If they survive the brutal travel schedule, there's a good chance professional wrestlers will end up crippled or dead. Drug use has always been rampant in wrestling, as it's the only way some of these guys can survive the grind and deal with the very real injuries they regularly work through due to having no insurance or benefits offered through work. Steroids, sleeping pills and hard-line painkillers are all readily available, and the results are not pretty. An extensive study focusing on wrestlers from the early '80s to today reveals that the death rate for wrestlers age 45 and younger is higher than for most any other job, unless there are a ton of up-and-coming volcano inspectors out there we haven't heard about yet.
"Your theory was correct, Jim -- it's pretty hot."
Then there's the brain. Taking a steel chair to the cranium happens all the time in wrestling -- and yes, they are making contact -- and many moves involve wrestlers being dumped on their necks and heads. Concussions are commonplace and, unlike in the NFL, the show does not grind to a screeching halt if somebody gets hurt midmatch. Brock Lesnar reports not being able to remember the ending to his WrestleMania match with Kurt Angle, as he had knocked himself loopy during a failed finishing move near the end. He went on to win the match. While blacked out.
"Wait, did I win, or is my face being overly assed?"
Chris Nowinski suffered over a half-dozen concussions in a two-year career. They studied Chris Benoit's brain after his death and concluded that he had traumatic brain damage and dementia equal to that of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient. He was 40.
#4. Costumed Mascots
What People Think:
They're furry cheerleaders who don't look nearly as good in a skirt. Mascots are seen largely as silly entertainment for the kids, who just love to watch grown men dressed as various anthropomorphic creatures doing the Pee-wee Herman big-shoe dance because the home team just scored a run.
And soul-scarring forefathers who have just escaped hell.
You probably wouldn't last one minute inside that suit. To be a mascot, you need to be able to withstand working conditions so bad that the local elephant masturbator might send you a sympathy card. For one thing, that cute little costume you'd be wearing? It can weigh anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds, far more if it rains, and that doesn't include the big-ass head. Lugging around the giant Mr. Mets head day in and day out could quickly snap your neck if you don't keep it in shape.
And even with a fan inside, temperatures in the suit can get to 113 degrees or more, resulting in quick dehydration or heat stroke if you don't excuse yourself repeatedly for water. This must be done strategically, of course, since nobody's allowed to see you with the head off, least of all a bunch of dumbasses who just have to have their picture taken with the dying man dressed as Tigger right now.
"I owe you nothing, Carly Simon."
So now you have a heavy, wet, furry suit that makes you feel like you're being cooked alive. That suit now smells like a worm's asshole, and you can never wash it. The material won't allow a good scrub, so you can only dry-clean it. This does diddly squat for the smell, which is why mascots will almost never wear another mascot's head. As an NBA mascot put it, "If you put [my mascot head] within a foot of you, you might gag."
Moments after this photo was snapped, the actress vomited.
Then there are the injuries: yes, the skinny kid in a giant gopher suit is just as likely to get hurt as any athlete. A study of pro sports mascots revealed that more than had suffered a heat-related injury, 44 percent complained of chronic lower back pain and about 20 percent sustained knee injuries at work. And not just sport mascots, either: more than a third of the 1,900 people working at Disney World in 2005 suffered some sort of injury.
Awareness of one's nose distance is vital to both mascot and patron safety.
For all this, mascots typically pull in $60 or so per night, even at the major league level. The surly kid at 7-Eleven who spits in your coffee and reads magazines all night pulls in more than that.