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This is a question Strange things you've been paid to do

I once spent two years being paid by the UK government to play Quake.

What's the strangest thing you've been paid to do?

(, Thu 30 Sep 2004, 10:13)
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Collecting poo
Years ago, I was working for a pharmaceutical company developing anti-parasitic drugs for veterinary purposes. The drugs had to be tested on the appropriate parasites, which needed to be extracted from excrement. Most of this came from sheep - this involved coaxing them into a narrow stall and doing a nappy change on them, then dissolving the stools in warm water and sieving the parasitic worms out - not really unpleasant for me or the sheep apart from being slightly undignified.

Unfortunately, there was a requirement for another worm to be tested which could only be readily obtained from cats. You can't put a nappy on a cat (and I would love to see someone try) and the need for fresh and on demand shit meant extracting a cat from its luxurious living quarters and putting in a plastic dustbin, then turning a hose on it, to "persuade" it to dump. This is horrible for the cat, and not fun for me, as I got thoroughly scratched and bitten. But the best bit was that cat shit does not dissolve easily, so had to be blasted through a sieve with hot water to extract the worms. The resulting miasma of cat intestinal bacteria was measurable in the air several corridors away, and stank like only hot cat shit can do.

18 years on, I still cannot resolve the conflict of cruelty to a few cats to try and relieve millions of other domesticated animals from suffering, but I can still smell the air in the lab complex.
(, Thu 30 Sep 2004, 16:15, Reply)

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