Worst jobs throughout history

My friend and I were talking about some of the worst jobs we have ever had. And she told me a story of a cleaning job she had working in a copper mine.

She ran into a bunch of gross stuff. As you can probably image, drillers do very dirty work. They get covered in grease and all kinds of gunk.

There was one guy who insisted on blowing his nose on the tiles in his shower. It would harden into black streaks and she had the lucky task of scraping it off the walls. Gross!!!

This got us to thinking about what the worst jobs have been throughout history. So I decided to find out more. Here are my top 5 worst jobs throughout history.

Punkah wallah

At number five for the worst jobs in history, we have a punkah wallah.

What is a punkah wallah I hear you ask? Well, basically it’s a human fan. Back when ceiling fans were the hot new invention they weren’t motorised.

Punkah wallahs spent their day walking around for hours pulling on the cords of all the fans to keep them going. Imagine, standing for hours pulling on a heap of cords to keep your master cool on a hot day.

Vomit collector 

Number four on the list of the worst jobs in history is a vomit collector.

Romans, typically the wealthy ones, were known to throw lavish parties. At these parties, there was every type of food and wine you could imagine. They would eat till they were full and then move to a room where buckets or basins were set up waiting for them.

Yes, you know where this is going. They would make room for more food and wine by making themselves vomit.

It was the job of the vomit collector to clean the basins, buckets and floors of the vomit room and sometimes other fun surprises, like human waste. Yuck.

Leech collector 

Entering at number three of the worst jobs in history is leech collector.

Back in the day blood leaching was a very popular healing method. But, how would you go about collecting these creepy crawlies? 

Enter the leech collector. It was their job to wade through filthy swamp water and let leeches attach themselves to their bodies. The lucky leech collector would then have to wait until the leeches were full of blood before detaching them.

Then they’d go back into the swamp and do it all over again – this time with open and bleeding wounds. Sounds like a fun way to get an infection. 

Rat catcher 

Number two on the list of the worst jobs in history is a rat catcher.

The job of a rat catcher was to control the population of rats. This helped stop the spread of diseases like the black plague and limited damage to food supplies. 

These human pest controllers would catch rats by hand, with traps or with specially trained dogs. While they were well paid, the job came with risks like dying. It was not uncommon for them to get bitten and end up with infections or diseases from the rats. 

illistration of a rat catcher, he is wearing a top hat, jackets puts and is carring a cage with a rat init

Gong farmer

Last but not least for the worst jobs in history. Drum roll please… it’s a gong farmer.

What is a gong farmer I hear you ask?

Back in the day there was no plumbing, so were did all the waste go?

Enter the local gong farmer. Their job was to clean out long drops, outhouses or anywhere people did their business. They were well paid but there were only allowed to work between the 9pm- 5am and it was back-breaking work digging out a cesspit.

News flash! It not the nicest smelling job either and some gong farmers even died from the fumes. Whatever you’re doing right now, it can’t be as bad as dying in a poo pit.

Final thought

It’s been eye-opening exploring some of the worst jobs in history.

I know next time I am enraged by my commute or being chained to my desk, I will think about my historical brothers and sisters and be glad I am not covered in leeches.  

Image: Giphy, iStock, Wikipedia

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