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9 Jun, 2009 05:58

“Odd” jobs not that strange after all

Potato chip inspectors or odor judges are not occupations most people would think of when choosing a career. In the US there is now a growing trend of people choosing more unusual forms of employment.

Millions thought they were playing it safe with a mainstream job and lost it, but those who were doing something off the beaten track have ended up on the safe side of the crisis.

Marko Costanzo from New Jersey is a Foley artist – he recreates all the natural sound you hear in movies. He works with some of the best filmmakers – the Cohen brothers, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. Marko says he couldn’t dream of a better job and doesn't mind people thinking his career choice is strange.

“It’s an odd job because most people don’t know that it exists, and there are only a hundred or so people in the US that do this.”

He works about eight months of the year, and spends the rest of his time with his feet up at his home in Barbados.

“Oh, this is the coolest job, this is absolutely the coolest job,” Marko is convinced.

While Marko has the time of his life doing what he does, not all people with unusual jobs have it so easy.

Claudia Dejohn Saraceno is a funeral director and a professional embalmer in New York. She admits her profession does impose limitations on her life and relations with people:

“I don’t go to visit anybody sick in the hospital, because I don’t want to scare them. But a lot of people do get nervous. You do lose a lot of friends that way.”

Claudia was one of the first women to become an embalmer in New York over 30 years ago. She says she wouldn’t recommend this to anyone because you have to be on call 24/7, but she still loves what she does:

“I don’t feel like it’s strange. What happens is – when I go to sleep at night, if I make it easier on somebody who lost somebody, then I feel better.”

Claudia, who even embalmed her own mother, was one of the participants in a photo shoot for a best-selling book on Odd Jobs. The photographer Nancy Rica Schiff traveled all over the US to create her book on the strangest jobs out there.

She has seen cow inseminators, potato chip inspectors, dog sniffers, and odor judges.

“No one thought their job was odd. They thought they had regular jobs. It’s funny – they didn’t think their jobs were odd, but they did admit that when they told people what they did, people would laugh,” Nancy recalls her experience.

She says the variety of jobs out there should be an inspiration to youngsters choosing a career path and for those who are simply ready to turn in a completely different direction.