Bizarre Unknown Hazards Of Famous Jobs

Bizarre Unknown Hazards Of Famous Jobs

According to a careful review of news reports, social media, word of mouth, and academic research, the worst job available today is the one you currently have. But this simple conclusion is greatly flawed. Many jobs have unreported dangers that would disgust you, traumatize you, or break your body in two. Feel free to keep resenting your long hours and low pay, but at least your job shields you from how ...

Germany Has A Special Hospital For Train Drivers Who Assist In Suicides

Train drivers have the most fun and relaxing job in the world, based on all we've seen about them (i.e., from watching TV shows aimed at small children). Their job, it seems, mainly entails waving to happy onlookers and also offering advice to the trains themselves, who are sentient and have happy faces of their own. A little hiccup, though, comes when the train they drive fatally mows someone down. In Germany, for example, trains hit 800 people a year, or multiple people a day. Every train driver is likely to kill a couple people over the course of their career.

Lantus/Wiki Commons
That's why all trains are shaped like knives.

Now, if a train kills someone, and we're acting like the biggest victim in this situation is whoever drove that train, you might think we've got things a little backwards. But leaving aside the useless question of who suffered most, the fact is, the drivers do suffer a whole lot mentally. And even though the people on the tracks -- other than the occasional damsel tied down by a mustachioed villain -- almost always choose to kill themselves, the drivers end up feeling responsible for their deaths.

This is worst where the driver sees someone on the tracks, thinks there may be enough time to halt the train, brakes as hard as they can, and smashes right into the suicidal track squatter anyway. The result: intense feelings of guilt, and full-blown PTSD. Train drivers come down with the symptoms (which can even manifest as literal pain in the heart) as often as firefighters or paramedics do. It got to the point that one German facility, The Buchenholm Clinic, shifted to specialize exclusively in drivers who blame themselves for killing people. We want to end this on a joke, but this a serious subject, and anyway, in Germany, all jokes are forbidden by law.

Astronauts' (And Marathoners') Finger And Toenails Fly Off

Space does crazy things to the body, so astronauts face myriad dangers, ranging from unintentional time travel and being mauled by the moon shark to space diabetes, Martian static, and of course drowning. But if you track everything astronauts experience, about half of all symptoms hit just the fingertips and fingernails. All of these are because of their gloves' design. EVA (extravehicular activity) gloves maintain a high pressure, and the lining in the tips is hard like a thimble. In space, your fingers keep banging these hard patches, and that apparently injures you as much as everything else combined.

This hurts plenty (the tip of your fingers are packed with nerves), and it sometimes rips the entire nail out of the finger. That process is known as "fingernail delamination," and we're telling you that name in case a salon offers that treatment and you're tempted to order it, not recognizing the manicurist as Patrick Bateman. Astronauts actually manage to get along just fine once the nail comes out, though. We guess when you're already wearing cyborg hands, the presence or absence of a fingernail isn't much of an issue.

Bizarre Unknown Hazards Of Famous Jobs
The gloves also have little heaters to keep fingers warm, which is adorable.

No, your nail flying out isn't that weird when you're already living the wild life of an astronaut. It's a little weirder for other people, though. Like runners. If you run marathons, there's a good chance your toenail might get ripped off at some point during the race, so a lot of runners take preemptive measures. And by "preemptive measures," we don't mean "pick out extra-thick socks" -- we mean they rip out their toenails themselves in advance and pour acid on the nailbeds to keep them from growing back. Photos exist of this kind of naked feet, and we flatly refuse to reproduce them here, but you can look at them to gaze upon the bodies of these athletes who swear they're at peak health and not at all deranged.

Movie Camera Operators Die More Than Stuntmen

One summer a couple years ago, a bunch of stunt performers died in quick succession on the sets of Deadpool 2, The Walking Dead, and American Made. For a little while, before something else distracted us, we all talked about how deadly and underappreciated this profession is. And yes, stunts absolutely are dangerous, with every unsung performer bound to get injured repeatedly over the course of their career. But if we're talking fatalities, that 2017 streak was an anomaly. Not that many stunt actors die. In the movie industry, more camera operators die.

Running the camera for a major motion picture is such a dangerous endeavor that if you tally all jobs in America, "cameraman" would rank ... uh, okay, it doesn't rank that high when you've got jobs out there like logger and steel worker and what have you, but their fatalities do outnumber stunt performers' four to one, which is pretty surprising for a job you don't think of as dangerous at all. Many of these deaths happen during stunts gone wrong. The stunt performer survives thanks to safety equipment and training, but the hapless camera operator sits totally unprotected.

Stunt driving, in particular, puts camera operators at risk. We've all heard of one famous actor's death related to The Dark Knight but not of the special effects technician who died hanging out the window of a truck pointing his camera during a chase. And then there are all the crew who hold cameras out of helicopters, and just like how any helicopter in a blockbuster stands a good shot of crashing spectacularly, a whole lot of film choppers end up going down. Other times, they're not even shooting a stunt while flying -- the camera crew just die flying because flying comes with risks. Speaking of which ...

Airline Crews Are Exposed To More Radiation Than Nuclear Power Plant Workers

People have trouble getting their heads around radiation. We know it makes lizards grow big and that means nukes are bad, but when it comes to getting a little more specific, we draw a blank. For example, you might think tourists are nuts for going to visit Chernobyl, which is surely still crackling with radiation even today. But what if we told you that pretty much any major city is more radioactive than most of the Chernobyl zone today, because granite buildings emit radiation? Or, it's common knowledge that nuclear plants churn out dangerous nuclear waste. But what if we told you that coal plants emit a hundred times more?

And you might think that if you work in a nuclear power plant, you've stumbled into the job with the most radiation of all. But no -- the expected annual dose for nuclear power plant workers (or coal plant workers, for that matter) is dwarfed by the amount absorbed every year by flight attendants. High altitudes drench you with cosmic ionizing radiation. That's probably going to be your biggest radiation source even if you fly just once a year, and things get a whole lot worse if you're up in the air for hours every single day. In addition to the daily radiation shower, a flight crew is also likely to experience half a dozen lifetime solar particle events, unpredictable celestial shitshows that belch out super extra radiation.

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Many flight attendants join the Three Mile High Club

That all adds up to a higher chance of getting cancer, according to a study of thousands of American flight attendants -- four times higher, with some cancer types. Researchers also wonder about factors other than radiation, like if maybe permanent jetlag leads to skin tumors. The CDC offers helpful advice on how a flight attendant can limit their radiation risk, by switching shifts to avoid long flights and polar routes. Which, you might realize, doesn't help flight crews overall, just passes the risk from one coworker to another. The only true solution involves flying planes through underground tubes, using tunnels originally created by the mole men.

Slaughterhouse Workers Get Mentally Wrecked, From All The Slaughter In The House

Next time an activist talks you up about the evils of the meat industry, here's how to really screw with them. Listen politely to their description of animal slaughter. Nod sympathetically when they tell you about how cute animals are and then how brutally they're killed, how drawn-out the whole process is, how much blood and wailing is involved. Then, at the end, say, "Wow, that sounds awfully traumatic for the guys who work there. We really need to automate that."

Bizarre Unknown Hazards Of Famous Jobs
Every night, workers dream of pig squeals, and not the cute kind.

Because yes, killing animals for a living takes a huge mental toll (in addition to the more obvious physical toll you associate with that kind of manual labor). It often results in symptoms of PTSD -- or, as some term it, perpetration-induced traumatic stress, as this trauma stems from committing violence rather than receiving it. The concept of perpetrator trauma rankles some people, who think it's their job to divide everyone into heroes and villains and then root for the former, but it really shouldn't. PTSD, after all, is classically linked with soldiers, who get it from doing stuff as much as having stuff done to them.

If you work at a slaughterhouse, you're also more likely to turn to substance abuse or commit domestic violence. One study even found a correlation between the presence of a slaughterhouse in a community and the amount of crime committed there, with mentally scarred slaughterhouse workers the hypothesized culprit. You should be a little skeptical of that, as other factors might explain the connection, like gangs thinking it's really cool to hang out somewhere called the "slaughterhouse district." If we agree to call them abattoirs instead, maybe all crime will vanish.

If You Hate The Sound Of A Dental Drill, Imagine What It Does To Your Dentist

You recoil when you hear a dentist's drill because you associate it with pain. This is true whether you've personally experienced extended, anesthetic-free probing or whether you've just heard the horror stories secondhand. Dentists, presumably, instead associate the sound with money, and if they do realize the drill hurts some people, this pleases them because all dentists are sadists. This is a fact; a dentist invented the electric chair, and if any employee of a slaughterhouse shows no PTSD symptoms after five years of work, they are assumed to be a monster and receive a dental degree on the spot.

Bizarre Unknown Hazards Of Famous Jobs
Sterilgutassistentin/Wiki Commons
You know who else had dentists? The Nazis.

But no matter how much dentists enjoy drilling victims, you can't listen to a blaring noise every day for decades and keep your hearing perfectly intact. In plain numbers, a dental drill may not seem as dangerous as, say, a construction worker's jackhammer, but it really is when you factor just how close the tool is to the dentist's ears when in use. Most dentists' ears suffer long-term. Besides hearing loss, a majority of dentists report hearing constant ringing 24/7.

The obvious answer is proper ear protection. So dentists do wear protection, but they tend to choose active-noise cancelation plugs rather than the thickest over-the-ear muffs some construction workers use because total protection interferes with dentists' ability to listen to the cries of the innocent. The other solution is to phase out the traditional drill (or "high-speed dental handpiece") in favor of an alternative process powered entirely by lasers. One problem with this solution is that it would make dentists way too cool.

As A Falconer, You Let Birds Have Sex With Your Head

If you work raising animals, there's a good chance your job involves extracting a fair amount of semen. Maybe this requires masturbating the animal manually. If the beast's not so into that, or if it has a nasty habit of mauling the nearest human when fully aroused, there's always the alternative of anal electroejaculation, in which you insert a vibrating dildo in a male animal who may or may not be sedated and secured.

Birds are tricky because their non-mammalian anatomy resists most of the masturbation techniques we find most familiar. If you're a falconer and need some of that sweet bird baby batter, you pretty much have to prime the male for real sex, by courting it like a real female. In the '70s, falconers came up with a technique that's still in use today: the falcon sex hat. The following video is not safe for work, unless you are a falconer, in which case it is your work:

You first must prep the male by feeding it by hand till it views you as a bird yourself. You must then go through a courtship ritual, offering the bird food and receiving feathers in exchange. After a lot of bowing and chirping from each of you, the bird will be aroused. Then you must turn your back on the bird, as through presenting your genitals and then let the falcon attempt to have sex with your head. The special falcon sex hat collects the semen. Naturally, you can sell your spare hats to bird furries and make a fortune.

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for other stuff no one should see.

Top image: 272447/Pixabay, rgerber/Pixabay

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