One of the weirder jobs that I have had was proofreading the contract for building a palace for the King of Saudi Arabia. I promise, I am not making this up! Pages and pages of mind numbing details and legalese, this contract was the size of an encyclopedia. How many nails per how many inches, what specific types of nails — nothing was left to chance.
My job was to make sure that every punctuation mark was perfect: no missing or misplaced commas, no missing or misplaced periods, and no misspelled words. This was 1977, before there was spellcheck. *I* was the human spellchecker. Fun!
The way I got this job was by answering a Help Wanted ad for a temporary employment agency. This was during the post oil embargo days in the city of Houston, Texas. I was already working as a real estate agent with Century 21 in downtown Houston, and I’d had much success in listing a number of properties for sale with my broker. I was only in my early twenties, and having lawyers and doctors sign on the dotted line, trusting me with the sale of their most expensive investments, was heady stuff.
However, the economy was still struggling to recover from the recent OPEC embargo, and there weren’t a lot of buyers around. Meanwhile, it costs money to be a successful real estate agent, and they typically don’t pay you until a property sells and closes.
Throw in the expense of two preschool children who needed a babysitter every time I left the house, and I quickly ran out of money. I needed a job with flexible hours that would pay the rent and put food on the table in the here and now. So I answered an ad in the Houston paper that said I could work as many or as few hours and days per week as I wanted.
The first thing the agency did was give their applicants an aptitude test to see what areas you excel in. I scored particularly high in grammar and spelling, probably because I’ve been an avid reader since the second grade. Shortly after I signed on with the agency, Big 3 Industries, the company that was handling the construction of the Saudi Arabian King’s new palace, called the temp agency and said they needed a couple of proof readers. So the agency sent me and one other grammar whiz over.
We sat together at a long table in a private room, each of us with an identical stack of papers that were bound together in files. Each file was a separate “chapter” of the one contract. We took turns reading aloud while the other read silently on the same page. We did not find a lot of errors, but we found some.
I hope the Kings have enjoyed their palace. I found the above photograph online on several sites, with no copyright or photographer information beyond the fact that this is the “Saudi King’s Palace.” Looks awesome, doesn’t it? It’s kind of cool to think that in a very small way, I had a role in the construction of that building.
About ten years later, I actually did physically build an industrial sized garage, from the foundation up, in Calais, Maine. That is to say, I built it along with a crew of about seven other “displaced homemakers.”
But that is a whole other “weird job” story. And I don’t even know if I want to tell you about the time I was working as an unofficial, non-armored car driver, delivering close to a quarter of a million dollars in cash and securities to a downtown Houston bank. On the way to the bank, I pulled up beside a US mail box and accidentally mailed a bag full of money, along with the letters my boss had given me to put in the mail… 😂
Thank you for stopping by. Please feel free to share any weird jobs that you have had in the comments. God bless! 💘💘💘
PS: If you’re curious about how I retrieved the money that I accidentally mailed, or how I came to have that much money entrusted to me in the first place, I answer that in my reply to Tricia’s comment below.