The Silicon Valley Voice

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Arriving Now — Your Next Job

Really, I don’t understand this brouhaha about unemployment.

Sure, it’s tough to lose a job. You have to say goodbye to all the dear work friends who stabbed you in the back so that you would be the person who got fired and not them. You will no longer have a manager to point out your many faults, and without an HR department, how will you ever know the correct safety procedure for handling paper clips?

But just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean that you can’t find meaningful employment. Nor do you have to continue putting resumes in bottles and casting them out to sea — a much more productive technique than applying for positions on online job sites, where no one will respond to your application. Stuffed in a bottle, however, your floating resume will eventually reach Bangladesh, where your job has relocated.

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In fact, there are more than a hundred ways you can earn a living right now — 101, to be exact, if we can believe the title of a terrific new book, “101 Weird Ways to Make Money.” The author of this invaluable resource, Steve Gillman, promises that his self-employment ideas, though “weird,” have “big upside and not much competition.”

I’m with him on the big upside. Who isn’t 110 percent positive that huge fortunes are waiting to be made in cricket farming and mattress recycling? But that lack of competition is certainly going to change when this book hits the best-seller list. Is there even one of your former bosses or co-workers who wouldn’t instantly abandon their current position to frighten geese from golf courses or to sell used cars from their front yard?

Interestingly, many of Gillman’s job ideas have to do with animals. He does include typical jobs, like dog walker and pet-taxi service driver, but the real bounty in the book concerns creatures that are not quite as cuddly. I refer to the major moolah waiting to be made as a maggot farmer, a leech grower or a worm grunter. (Please — no angry emails. I know that maggots can be very cuddly, especially after a Cosmo or two.)

If the occupation of worm grunter has caught your eye, I don’t blame you. Looking beyond the glamour of the profession, worm grunting has virtually a zero-cost barrier to entry. To get started simply involves “pounding a wooden stake called a ‘stob’ into the ground in rich woods and rubbing a ‘rooping iron’ across the top of it, creating vibrations that can cause thousands of worms to exit the ground within a 30-foot area.” All you have to do is collect the worms, and then collect thousands of people who actually want to buy worms, and wait for the money to wriggle in.

As Gillman comments, “Your profit margins will be higher if you collect rather than farm worms, but time has to be considered.” There may be some other considerations as well, but who cares? I can already see your beady little eyes filling with dollar signs.

If a bucket of worms is not your cup of tea, you might consider moving up the evolutionary chain to the weird career of caging wild kittens. “It’s a relatively new industry with little competition,” Gillman says, so “don’t lower your potential by pricing your service too low.” Personally, I was thinking of $100 a kitten, but with the author’s shrewd business advice, I’m raising my fee to $500 for one or $750 for two, plus an additional $50 up-charge if they’re really, really cute.

And speaking of advice, here’s a can’t-miss weird job possibility. It’s a lower-status position than a worm grunter, but you could make mega-bucks as a consultant. Of course, you do need special knowledge about a subject. The author suggests monetizing your abilities at dating, but you would have to be hired by people who are worse daters than you, and finding such losers could prove difficult, if not impossible.

Personally, I lean toward the more practical weird jobs — like crime-scene cleaning. “Mopping up brains” is how Gillman describes this occupation, which may seem sick-making at first, but consider all the disasters you had to clean up at your last job. Trust me — after what you’ve seen and survived in the workplace, cleaning up “decomposing remains of murder victims” and “washing blood off windows” is going to feel like a vacation with pay.

Bob Goldman has been an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@funnybusiness.com.

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