5 Insane Jobs People Had to Do Before Modern Technology

#2. Human Alarm Clocks

Bernard McMullen

We have a hard enough time getting out of bed (that's the affectionate term we use for the bathtub we sleep in -- it ain't comfy, but you take what you can get on 'Internet comedian' salary), and we have functional, affordable alarm clocks. How the hell did they manage it before we mastered tiny machines that scream us awake?

Kenneth Clapp
Because as we all know, alarm clocks are totally a recent invention.

With people, of course: The task of an alarm clock was once accomplished by the neighborhood knocker-up.

Don't let the title fool you; this wasn't the guy they hired to impregnate all the town's women (that was the milkman's job). A knocker-up was the person who walked around town in the frigid early hours of the morning with a 12-foot stick and knocked on the townspeople's doors and windows to rouse them from their slumber.

Bacup Natural History Society
Windows shattered, but that's the price you pay for an early start.

As easy as the job may sound (if they were anything like us, they'd be right back in the tub by noon), imagine waking up before everyone else and braving the frost and vampire attacks just so that you can be the most hated person in town.

Your alarm clock is the receiver of more abuse and vitriol than Nickelback's publicist -- imagine if it had emotions. The knocker-up probably took a thrown shoe to the face every other house.

Touchstones Rochdale
Call one a pain in the ass and he'd playfully blind you with his stick.

It does raise an interesting question, though: Who exactly woke the knocker-up up in the morning? Whooooaaaaa-

Oh wait, roosters. Right. Carry on.

#1. Dog Whippers

John Gipkyn

From the 16th all the way to the 19th century, it was more common to let your pet dog run carefree throughout the neighborhood than coop him up in your yard. And just like us, apparently a dog's favorite pastime was to bolt off to the nearest church to harass parishioners, steal the communion bread, hump the priest's leg, and generally make a nuisance of itself.

Wolfgang Moroder
And yet they all go to heaven.

For this reason, churches employed what was known as a dog whipper, which ... well, it was exactly what it sounds like. Whenever a church service was interrupted by one of Satan's best friends, the dog whipper's task was to evacuate it from the premises as efficiently as possible. Via whipping.

Dave Levart
Each church had whips handy in any case. Don't ask.

Dog whippers were first mentioned in church records back in 1622, and they were traditionally armed with two weapons of choice -- the titular dog whip, and a pair of dog tongs that enabled them to handle the mongrels without getting close enough to be bitten. They really missed the boat on that name, though: "Dongs" was right there, guys.


Alexander Pan is a dreamer, a wannabe writer, soon to be an engineer, and (ironically) looking for a job, no matter how weird or crazy. If you've got nothing better to do, you might as well shoot him an email and he'll respond if he feels like it.

Related Reading: These jobs are ridiculous, but this list of jobs Hollywood doesn't realize it needs makes perfect sense. We've also collected a list of super common jobs that are also super freaking dangerous. But hey, there are some lessons you ONLY learn from having a shitty job. And here they are.

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