As a child, what did you dream about becoming when you got older? You can probably remember at least one instance where a teacher asked what you wanted to do with your life. Maybe you wanted to be a firefighter or police officer, or maybe you had stranger plans for the future.
Some people follow very unconventional career trajectories. In fact, there are people who work jobs you wouldn’t believe even exist (let alone jobs you could aspire to as a kid). But, everyone has their calling in life — some of those callings are just a bit more out there…
1. NASA’s Staff Sniffer: It’s obvious that astronauts face plenty of danger when they travel to space. A lot can go wrong, and they need to prepare for anything. But, you probably had no idea something as simple as a bad smell can throw off a whole mission.
Because astronauts can’t open a window if an unpleasant odor arises, the smell can actually cause severe illness sometimes. A man named George Aldrich was hired by NASA specifically to use his ultra-sensitive nose to sniff out any potential off-putting scents traveling to space with astronauts.
2. Font Specialists: It’s literally impossible to go through an entire day without seeing some kind of writing. Words surround us all the time, but did you know there’s a whole lot of thought that goes into the fonts of the letters we look at?
Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones are two huge players behind the font choices of clients like Delta Airlines and Barack Obama. They go through an incredibly detailed and often grueling thought process to come up with the font styles we see plastered all over.
3. Dynamite experts: Plenty of people have unique jobs, but not many have a job as interesting and, frankly, exhilarating as Dee and Rich Gibson. The two met while skydiving, and the chemistry between them was, well, dynamite.
So much so, in fact, that they made a career off of staging massive explosions for crowds to enjoy. The two love everything about pyrotechnics, and they travel the world demonstrating their love of “things that go boom” to curious spectators everywhere.
4. Hand Actor: There are plenty of unrecognizable actors who work in Hollywood. Even if they have a pretty solid resume, they just haven’t struck audiences in the ways others have. Steve Hershon was seen by millions of people around the world, but of course, you wouldn’t recognize his face…
Hershon was a hand actor. Any time directors needed a closeup of a man’s hands, Hershon was most likely the guy called in. Through this unique acting gig, he was able to make a living without dealing with pesky fans bothering him.
5. Robot designer: When a man named David Leventhal was 20 years old, he had dreams of one day breaking into Hollywood and partying with his favorite celebrities. So, he figured out a creative way to do it.
He cashed in the pop culture robot craze in the 1980s, and he built himself a robot outfit he called Casanova. Using this piece of technology, he managed to slip into premiere parties and rub elbows with some of the biggest celebrities at the time.
6. Star Wars animatronic operator: Any fan of the Star Wars franchise certainly remembers the vile slug-like creature called Jabba the Hutt. He was one of the physically largest characters of the films, but how exactly did the movie’s creators bring him to life?
It took a whole team of people to operate different parts of Jabba at the same time. The body was mostly empty, and workers would squeeze inside before shooting began. It was an intricate journey to bring the massive character to life.
7. Hangman: When we think of the death penalty, our minds usually conjure up images of the electric chair or the lethal injection room. However, there’s one country that still has a slightly barbaric was of executing prisoners.
In India, a prisoner can still be hanged. Pawan Kumar is one of India’s few officially registered hangman, and he’s the last person a prisoner sees before a cloth covers their head, the noose slips on, and the trapdoor opens beneath their feet.
8. Fangsmith: A woman named Ra Ubasti is frequently visited by customers seeking a rather unusual bit of dental work. You see, she caters to those who identify as vampires and enjoy drinking blood!
Using dental acrylics, Ra has become an expert at fashioning fake fangs for those who belong to the vampirical subculture. She takes molds of her customers’ teeth beforehand, and her handiworks certainly look like props from a Dracula movie.
9. Ice Merchant: With the invention of refrigerators and ice machines, we don’t often think about the work that used to go into collecting ice. A 67-year-old Ecuadorian man named Baltazar Tenesaca hasn’t lost touch with the ice gathering methods he learned as a child, and he still keeps the practice alive.
Baltazar climbs a mountain called Mt. Chimborazo twice a week during the winter months to harvest ice he claims is the “tastiest and sweetest” ice on the planet, “full of vitamins for your bones.” The immense effort he puts into something as simple as ice is astounding.
10. Bone Hunter: By the time World War II ended, both the island of Japan and the Philippines were littered with dead bodies, and thousands of them never made it back to their homes for proper burials. That’s where a man named Santos Bayucca comes in.
Santos spends his time crawling into small caves and digging underneath the earth in search of the bones of deceased soldiers so he can return them to their families for closure. Like all of the jobs on this list, it might be odd and maybe even dangerous, but it has to be done — check out the video below for more info!