In the past few years, there have been an increasing number of reality shows spotlighting people that have unusual jobs. We don't mean programs like "Dirty Jobs" or "Bizarre Foods," but rather series that focus entirely on specific occupations whose existence we might have been barely aware of if it weren't for reality TV. And as such shows proliferate, even the once-exotic professional-tattooing subculture has come to seem practically mainstream. Here are the ten occupations that we find the most strangely fascinating to watch:
"American Stuffers" has introduced us to Daniel, a father who spends his days turning frozen family pets into stuffed creatures to display in their owners' homes. It's certainly a talent, and it does seem to provide some comfort to people who are grieving for their deceased pets, but it is more than a little bit creepy.
We love shows about guys doing seemingly impossible tasks with heavy machinery while dealing with weather or logistical issues (like "Deadliest Catch," "Ice Road Truckers" and "Big Shrimpin'"), and "Swamp Loggers" is no exception. Who knew it was so hard to cut down a tree and transport it to its final destination? (Actually, we probably could have figured out that it was hard, if we had ever given it any thought.)
8. Pawn Shop Owner
The guys in Vegas on "Pawn Stars" make it look like a fairly easy gig, talking to people and bringing in experts, but since that show has taken off in popularity, we've been treated to a wider variety of shops and clientele. While Vegas focuses mostly on rare novelty items, the staff of "Cajun Pawn Stars" in Louisiana has to figure out how much to offer for a goat. And the Detroit-based "Hardcore Pawn" has a client base that is far more prone to profanity (much like some of the angry folks who have run-ins with tow truck operators on "Lizard Lick Towing" or with meter maids on "Parking Wars"), and they are often trying to sell worthless goods. It really does take a village.
7. Truck Stop Manager
We stop at rest areas on our road trips, but never have we thought about the person in charge of them. Particularly the ones like on "Truck Stop Missouri," which really are full-service and offer every convenience from gas to food to a motel to even tattooing and cow patty bingo. And we had no idea how many locals visited truck stops until we watched this show, or how many LARPers and roller derby girls lived in the Show-Me State. Guess they showed us.
6. Non-Professional Cage Fighter
MMA fighters have to start somewhere, and that can mean small-time bouts outside local bars, or even in vacant buildings. It's a dangerous sport, as we've seen on "Caged," involving teens getting punched in the face and tossed into metal fences as they try to stay alive (and support their families).
Watch the series premiere of "Caged" in full right here:
5. Cross-Country Shipper
How do large and unusual items get from one coast to another? We honestly had no clue, but if you've always wondered how giant gnomes or glittery horses or "Little Shop of Horrors" set pieces get moved, "Shipping Wars" offers that answer. There are a lot of non-UPS folks out there, competing in bidding wars to drive their sometimes pieced-together vehicles around the U.S. while hauling various oversized goods.
4. Biker Bar Owner
We knew of Sturgis, South Dakota's infamous motorcycle rally before we ever tuned in to "Full Throttle Saloon," but we never gave much consideration to the bar owners who have to put on a spectacle for less than two weeks before all the potential customers disappear for a year. It seems like quite the stressful life, so we don't begrudge Mike Ballard spending quality time with a woman who wears less clothing than a Pussycat Doll.
3. Moonshine Maker
Yes, moonshine still exists, is still quite illegal to make, and isn't just some weird historical flashback to "Boardwalk Empire." The folks on "Moonshiners" go to great lengths to conceal their stills from local authorities while creating their liquid gold. And selling it is an even more dangerous task. Apparently, this is not the sort of thing you can just purchase online.
2. Storage Locker Auctioneer
When both "Storage Hunters" and "Storage Wars" appeared, we discovered that you could not only make a living by purchasing abandoned storage lockers and reselling the contents, but that there were also auctioneers who go from locale to locale, driving up the bidding. We always thought that if you didn't pay, your precious things would be trashed, or maybe the storage unit's owner would go through the stuff and sell it off. But no, there is actual money to be made in the auction process, with the fast-talking guy guaranteed a payday every time.
1. Home Organizers That Specialize in Hoarders
There were always organizers on "Clean Sweep," but mostly they just took messy desks and gave people a file cabinet, or put up shelves inside closets. But "Hoarders" and "Hoarding: Buried Alive" showcase a job with even more of a narrow focus (and requiring a stronger stomach): helping people who live in hovels. It's a massive task, and there's not enough Febreze in the world to convince us to do it.
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