5 Professions That Used to Be A Whole Lot Radder

A little off the top and a lot out of my veins, please
5 Professions That Used to Be A Whole Lot Radder

When you hear the word “job” these days, the immediate picture is a hollow sort of man tapping away at a keyboard, or someone taking deep, calming breaths in a restaurant freezer so they don’t throttle their next customer. Neither comes off as a particularly passionate pursuit. For most modern jobs, the driving force behind them is simple, crushing capitalism, combined with a general preference to have a ceiling over their head. Unfortunately, that means a lot of us are in for a long life of data entry and emails.

Sometimes, even jobs that used to be genuinely cool have had all the sharp edges filed off by the slog of time to become shadows of their former selves. A profession that might have once had the town enrapt with awe, fear or some combination of both, eventually became thoroughly menial labor. Maybe it’s not so surprising that most people I know are clinically depressed when the product of a year’s hard work is more often than not a couple bigger numbers in an Excel spreadsheet.

Here are five jobs that used to be way radder…

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If your barber is wearing this hat, youre going to need an installment plan to pay for your haircut.

Despite all the TikToks and full-sleeve tattoos, you still can’t fully convince me that barber is a bad-ass job. I promise, too, that this isn’t just thinly veiled jealous rage from a bald man who buzzes his own head in the bathroom like a Slavic peasant. I don’t care how many skull rings are click-clacking in the ears of your clients or how many free, hair-filled beers you give out.

Back in the day, however, barbers’ purview extended below not only the head, but the skin. Given their natural skill with a careful blade, for a long time, barbers would provide basic surgery, too. Bloodletting, especially, was a service that many barbers offered. You could go in for two types of cuts and come out two types of light-headed. In fact, their surgery skills are what led to the red stripes on barber poles.



I must complete this blade so I can finish having sex with the whole village.

The image of the master blacksmith of yore is pulled straight from the side of a bitchin’ custom van — a bearded, muscular figure, whipping away on hot steel while the bellows send fire and cinder swirling around his sooty face. Finally, with a hiss of cooling metal, they pull a brand new weapon from the water or oil, somehow always their finest work yet. The blade or bludgeon would go to work in blood until it was dug up centuries later and displayed in a museum for children and nerds alike to ogle at.

Today, blacksmiths still do exist, though naturally in much shorter supply. The soot and cinders are still part of the job as well, but the product on the anvil is decidedly more underwhelming. Burning off all your forearm hair and perhaps some skin in search of a perfectly balanced blade is one thing. Doing it for the end result of a bunch of horseshoes or expensive fencing, not so much. These days you’re more likely to find a blacksmith blowing on a corndog at Comic-Con than repairing arms at a battle outpost.



Personally, I lost interest in religion when they stopped using glowing orbs.

The power of the church has greatly decreased pretty much everywhere in the United States outside of maybe Italian households or the Republican National Convention. Naturally, that also leads to priests becoming a little less awe-inspiring. They used to be the font for God’s wisdom and power, and now they’re mostly just strange, celibate men in a funny collar. Forget exorcisms, it’s time to hand out pamphlets and coordinate coat drives.

That’s all, of course, outside of the very large, pedophilic elephant in the room. Are all priests a bunch of inveterate sexual predators? Of course not. Still, any job that requires the caveat “not the kid-diddling kind” has gotta sour the mood at a wine mixer. Plus, if prestige TV has taught me anything, it’s that you constantly have murderers coming in to either meet with the detectives hunting them or to say weird stuff to you through the confession screen.



Theyre here to snatch two things — your soul, and that WAIST!

Now this might require at least a small caveat that I don’t think executions are “rad.” I’ll leave that to people from the dark ages who hadn’t invented the idea of a hobby yet. That said, even for one of the world’s grimmest jobs, at least in the past there was some fun pageantry involved. You got to dress up like a weird wizard or some sort of religious Uruk-hai leader and carry around a sick fucking axe.

Now you’re just standing there throwing a lever in a scratchy beige uniform? Insult added to mental injury. Sure, they were basically exiled from public interaction but that’s kind of cool in its own way, right? You’re like a combination of the Angel of Death and Shrek. Nobody bothers you, and the hours are pretty short. I mean, there’s the guilt, and the sorrow, and the going directly to hell if it exists, but I have to imagine that “THUNK” is very rewarding to hear.



Men! Fill your hard drives with all the Yu Yu Hakusho you can carry!

It used to mean you were sailing the Seven Seas, slamming back bottles of rum, and getting so horny you thought manatees were a pretty lady. Cool hats, gold teeth, getting to fire a cannon at least once. Now it just means you have all of Cowboy Bebop on a Plex server. Massive glow-down. You used to face off against the British Navy, now the only flag you have to look out for is one for a cease-and-desist in your email inbox.

Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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