What is the world’s worst job?
Telemarketer maybe? Slaughterman? Proctologist or gong farmer? Slightly different to a Kiwi dairy or sheep farmer in that the gong farmer was bloke in Tudor England who made two shilling a ton for emptying cesspits and privies of human waste – that’s $120 in today’s money so a good but disgusting earner?
I suppose there are modern day gong farmers – they drive big pump trucks rather than walking around with a bucket and ladle emptying dunnies.
Other worst jobs – the poor abused parking warden, executioner or podiatrist.
Let me throw one in there – although it doesn’t have an official job description. ‘Slave’ should cover it.
The ‘slave’ – me in this case – stands on what’s called a sled, which is attached to a hay bailer which, in turn, is attached to the John Deere. The driver of the JD sits in the air conditioned cab, listening to his favourite tracks and sipping cooled water, while he drives up and down a paddock of freshly tedded lucerne hay.
The baler spits out the bales of hay and the poor slave, me remember, has to stack them. One this way, one that way until there’s a nice tidy stack. Then he trips it off the sled so another tractor can pick it up and take it off to the hay barn.
All this is in the debilitating 30 degreeCelsius plus heat of a Mid-Canterbury summer day. Lucerne hay is damned heavy, the slave is in full-melt down and about to surrender. “Stop the train, I want off!!” There are blisters forming in the crooks of your hands from grabbing the twine binding the bales. Your nostrils are bunged with dirt and detritus from the hay. And when you breathe, you inhale just dust. It’s inhuman. The only time I ever felt like crying on the job. For the next three or four days you are disgorging spittle and snot the consistency of mud.
You get to the point you don’t give a damn if the Corriedales have anything to eat next winter. That evening when the farmer sees my hands he dabs them with methylated spirits to harden both my hands and my spirit. Sadist!
Next month in Coast & Country News, the best worst job in horticulture.