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The Butcher, the Baker, and: the Taxidermist?


Most people don’t simply wake up one morning and just know what job or career they’d like to have; it’s generally a gradual process of realization. Some jobs, though, aren’t something you’d just fall into - they’re the sort of thing that must be actually chosen.

Take taxidermy, for example. A class casually taken at the university isn’t likely to suggest the idea of cleaning, stuffing, and mounting dead animals professionally; likewise, it’s not something that would typically come up in casual conversation. Ted Gilbertson, Santa Barbara’s one and only professional taxidermist, began his career in the field in perhaps the simplest way: he needed taxidermy services, none were available, and he filled the niche. Taxidermy, like many other professions both unusual and more mainstream, has the added bonus of being, well, pretty gross. Corpses in general aren’t most people’s favorite things to deal with.

On the other hand, there are some professions - dealing exclusively with the living - that surpass taxidermy in the competition for the title of “most disgusting job.” One candidate might be colonic irrigation, listed creatively and euphemistically in the index to the yellow pages under “Baths - Internal.” Alice’s Natural Health Care, a colonic provider listed in the phone book, advertises both “State Of Art Water Filtration” and “Disposable Equipment.” We certainly hope so. Some of the treatments are self-administered, but others - they require a technician. That had better be one high salary.

Of course, some of Santa Barbara’s weirdest service providers have the advantage of being completely unrelated to either corpses or colons. There are six Santa Barbara listings for providers of meditation instruction, which has to rank right up there on the list of odd choices of profession. At the risk of drawing down the wrath of every devotee of meditation in the area, teaching people how to keep their minds blank and zone out would seem to be redundant; most of my acquaintances became experts in that particular skill during high school social studies classes. At the risk of sounding a little too snide, I could also point out that teaching most people how to keep their minds blank is simply redundant, in general. Perhaps we should simply pretend that was never said, and move on.

Other strange professionals in Santa Barbara include accordion instructors - as Weird SB has already expressed opinions regarding the unnecessary numbers of accordion players locally, no more need be said - private detectives, and providers of Feng Shui services. Under the general heading of Feng Shui practitioners, many other services can be found - among them vibrational essence therapy, interspecies communication, and assistance with buying or selling a house that is free of negative energy.

There are quite a few more, some of which may be featured by Weird SB in the future, but all of those above qualify as truly strange career choices. Anyone who’s bored in their office job may want to think about the bizarre plethora of professional options out there - especially one of the ones that doesn’t involve other peoples’ internal bathing routines.

Seen anything strange lately? Let us know about it, and you may see a solution to the mystery here. Contact Elena at weirdsb@gmail.com.

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