Dangerous Versions of Boring Jobs

6 min read
Girl Knitting

There are definitely some aspects to this life that are quite boring. The average American spends two years standing in line and three years doing laundry over the course of a lifetime. All the mundane tasks you have to perform leaves you with a fraction of your life to do the things you actually want to do. But these folks didn’t run away from the banalities of existence in search of endless adventure. They found the most boring jobs in the world and made them metal. Here are 7 of them:

Changing A Light Bulb 1,999 Feet In The Sky

Worker Skyhigh

Teetering on ladders, holding brittle glass, and having fingers close to electric currents still leaves changing light bulbs boring. At least you don’t have to worry about falling to your death, fainting from lack of oxygen, or having birds randomly fly into you. Some people do.

TV reception towers get built so high that the very tops need to be illuminated at all times, like lighthouses in the sky, to keep planes from crashing into them. Changing that top light bulb isn’t a household task; it’s an extreme sport. The KLDT tower stands at a whopping 1,999 feet, making it one of the tallest structures in the world. Nick Wagner, a project manager of National Tower Controls, is responsible for what happens at the top. When he’s summoned to the KLDT mast, his job entails riding a tiny lift for the first 1,900 feet straight up in the air. Then he has to climb the final hundred feet by hand with nothing but a few carabiners between him and an uncomfortably long fall.

Next time you binge-watch Storage Wars, remember that you can at least change a bulb while looking down and still see the planet you live on.

Cleaning Loose Debris On Power Lines With Flamethrower Drones

Powerlines Trash

Trash can end up hanging out on power lines. Since shoe elves don’t get hazard pay, someone has to climb up a pole and clean it up. In China, high-voltage line maintenance workers are using flamethrower drones to clean the mostly plastic junk from the lines. The flames take only 15 minutes to burn dangerous high-voltage lines clean. Feels important.

There’s no word on whether or not this incredible breakthrough in trash technology is coming to any place other than China. You know what to do. Tell elected officials to make drone trash fires a reality in your neighborhood today!

Picking Christmas Trees With A Helicopter

Getting a Christmas tree usually consists of making a trip to the store and getting some teenager in a vest to load it into your trunk. And even for them, the danger level registers somewhere between “splinters” and “enduring strangers’ family arguments.” But there are more adventurous types out there. Since 1976, Christmas tree growers have deemed harvesting their trees by hand to be “unrealistic.” Instead, they now harvest by helicopter. Without stopping, pilots will drop a hook to grab a tree. The helicopter then flies to the other side of a field and, again without stopping, drops the tree in a truck, and then it goes back for more.

Mountain Climbers Clear Garbage (And Corpses) From Mt. Everest

Mountain Climers

Garbage collection is one of those occupations that you might not want to sign up for, though you thank God every day that they exist. The average sanitation worker might have to get their hands dirty with old diapers, used needles, and last night’s Chinese food, but it could be worse. They could be doing the job up on Mount Everest. These trash collectors aren’t mere garbage men, they’re garbage mountaineers. And they do their jobs while freezing their toes off – sometimes literally. Mountain climbers carry 176-pound trash bags, and once those are full, they’re winched up to helicopters which whisk them away to a camp below. Which is a good thing, because otherwise Sherpas would have to carry these bags by hand through somewhere called the Khumbu Icefall, which sounds frightening.

There’s a grim reason these trash bags are, well, people-sized. Sometimes they have to collect the remains of dead camp occupants. That isn’t something you find on everyone’s resume.

Horse-Riding Librarians Delivered Books During The Great Depression

Normally, the guardians of study materials and the dictionaries with all the bad words circled aren’t the kind of people you look to for advice on angry mob management skills or how to best brave the wilderness in search of clever children. But some ladies living in the 1930s did exactly that.

During the Great Depression, horse-mounted lady librarians roamed Kentucky, desperately looking for people who could read. Imagine riding your horse for days, covering hundreds of miles per month, all kinds of books strapped to you, as you make your way to the hill village nobody else visits. And out of all your books, your Bible is the most vital one – not because you’re super religious and need the Lord to get you through a good horseback adventure, but because you need to protect yourself from people who think you’re some kind of reading carpetbagger.

Some of the Kentucky mountain folk were suspicious, and the sight of a Bible being waved around by a dangerous literate person was enough to soothe the hill beasts to such an extent that they were willing to learn how to read. However, children would flock to these horse-riding book-wielding bad-asses. The mobile library initiative ended in 1943, as the government decided teaching folk how to shoot Germans was more important than teaching them how to read. After the war, the intellectual frontierswomen were replaced by the kind of motorized bookmobiles still in use today. Not all progress is a good thing.

A Librarian Was Tasked With Keeping The Manhattan Project Secret

Senior Librarian

Another librarian job! Before now, it was probably in your top ten of most boring fields. Sitting quietly in a room is basically the dictionary definition of mind-numbing. Sure, things occasionally get spiced up by punishing loud patrons with spitballs and wedgies, but ultimately, being a librarian pretty much guarantees you’ll never do anything which warrants an FBI probe and crushing existential guilt.

But that’s what happened to Charlotte Seber, keeper of America’s greatest secret, the Manhattan Project. Seber had been hired as the head librarian of the facility’s scientific library by J. Robert Oppenheimer himself. Why would one of the greatest scientists of all time care about a librarian job? Because he wanted Seber to do something more: devise security methods for keeping all their information safe.

Seber was tasked with safeguarding details of the project from spies, political enemies, and sometimes her own bumbling staff. These numbskulls would leave classified documents laying out in the open, take out research books from the Santa Fe public library under their own names, and generally run their mouths off so often that she wound up working 75-hour weeks keeping the world’s most dangerous weapon hidden.

Her hard work was rewarded with accusations of being a dirty communist for daring to be liberal-minded. She wasn’t booted off the project, but when it was over, she was doomed to become a production assistant at a theater, as her political affiliations kept her from getting another high-profile librarian job. Though becoming an actual librarian after being a bookish James Bond for so long probably would’ve driven her insane with boredom.

The Knitting Spies


“Danger” and “knitting” are not words that go together in a sentence. But during times of war, ladies could make danger-knitting their lives. Crafty spies realized long ago that codes could be knitted into your average baby bonnet, turning local housewives into domestic James Bonds. They would count train cars and monitor their comings and goings, sneak plans for bombs and aircraft, and generally be around to code messages while listening in on important plans. This allowed grandmotherly spies like Molly “Old Mom” Rinker to sit on a hill, knitting and observing British troops, all the while passing her eagle-eyed observations straight to George Washington.

But by the time the big wars came along, knitting spies had kicked it up a stitch. Phyllis Latour Doyle, knitter extraordinaire, parachuted into Normandy during WWII to be a secret agent working for Britain. Once there, she simply grabbed a bike and rode into enemy territory with a sunny smile and a helpful disposition, chatting with German soldiers like they were old neighbors. When she heard some juicy military intelligence, she used a variety of codes from her spy lexicon of about 2,000 knotted messages, which she would put into a silk yarn that she would wrap around a knitting needle. That needle would go into a flat shoelace, which she used to tie up her hair and simply bike right out of enemy territory again. Artsy and crafty. Which goes to show that Philip J. Fry was right: Never trust grandmother types during times of war. They’ll stab you right in the back with those needles.