Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Worst Job of All Time

Awhile back I read this article on the worst jobs in the history of England. I especially liked this one, Roman Era Gold Miner-

This position involves extremely long hours in terribly cramped conditions, in the middle of nowhere, up to 25 metres (82 feet) below ground. Gold is extracted from seams deep beneath the earth's surface using a tiny iron pick that showers you with razor-sharp splinters that will almost certainly blind you. Fires are regularly set to speed up the gold extraction, and if you're not burnt or choked by the fire, you may be maimed or killed by the subsequent explosion as water hits the hot rock.

You have to carry huge amounts of mined spoil on your back through low, narrow tunnels to the surface. You may be crushed by falling rocks at any time. Only slaves or prisoners need apply.

Still not convinced? Read what Peter L Bernstein, author of The Power of Gold: The history of an obsession, has to say:

The best description we have of the horrors experienced by the workers in these mines has been provided by Diodorus, a Greek who visited Egypt about the time that Caesar ruled Rome. The air in the shafts was foetid, constantly depleted by the tiny candles that barely illuminated the terrible darkness. The heat was intense, the earth frequently gave way, quartz in the rock released arsenic fumes that caused excruciating deaths among the many who inhaled them. The slaves had to work on their backs or sides and were literally worked to death if they were not crushed to death by falling rocks before they expired from exhaustion.

For some time I felt this was probably the worst job in human history. Until now.

I picked up a side job doing transcriptions of audio interviews for a legal firm. Why I thought this was a good idea, I don't know. Now my nights are spent huddled over my keyboard, furiously mashing the keys as I struggle to stay no more than two sentence behind whoever is talking.
I had to sign a non-disclosure form, so I can't talk about the interviews, but OH MY GOD I didn't know human beings could be so utterly boring, and bloviate at such length on subjects no one could possibly find interesting. And I have like 30 hours to go still. Hell, I need to go download a fresh batch of files to start right now. I just finished the most recent one last night (after the computer crashed 1/3 of the way through the job, scrapping all my work.)
Also, I have to play the files at .5 speed to even have a chance at staying caught up, so everybody sounds like they're stoned. Although for laughs I can play it at 1.5 and everyone sounds like they're coked up.

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