Title: 'Odd Jobs' Before NSA (part 2)
Release Date: 2018-03-01
Document Date: 2005-09-02
Description: Some more wacky jobs agency employees held prior to joining the NSA include dancing waitress and mosquito bite test count subject.
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(U) 'Odd Jobs' Before NSA (part 2)
FROM: SIGINT Communications
Run Date: 09/02/2005
(U) Here's the conclusion of our review of former "odd jobs" held by NSAers. Part 1 appeared
yesterday. Thanks to all who sent in their stories!
I spent 30 years flying for an international airline prior to being hired on by the Agency.
As a flight attendant supervisor and as Director of Customer Service, I dealt with all
the problems that occurred in flight and many that got my attention on the ground. It
was great fun and I sometimes wondered why they were paying me to have dinner in
just about any foreign capital on the planet and to be exposed to so many foreign
cultures that would only enriched my life. Having said this, I wouldn't trade my current
position in SID for all the tea in Beijing or Darjeeling!
Perhaps the strangest job I held was as a "Mosquito Bite Test Count Subject" for the
Monmouth County Mosquito Extermination Commission in Monmouth County, New
Jersey, while I was in high school.
The job consisted of driving a 4WD truck to pre-determined points in forests and swamps
around the county. These were marked on a topographic map by the commission's chief
entomologist. When we arrived at each site -- usually something of an adventure in itself,
as these tests were conducted from about an hour before to an hour after sunset, out in
the boondocks -- the Test Count Subject would step out of the truck and remove his
shirt. The subject would the stand still for exactly one minute and the observer would
count how many mosquitoes would bite the subject. Statistics would be recorded, and
then we would be off to the next site, where the observer and the subject would
exchange roles. Usually from four to six sites would be hit in a two-hour period. Bite
counts could range from just a couple to...dozens....
Over time a map of the most mosquito-ridden areas in the county was built up, and the
data on frequency of mosquito bites could be correlated to terrain, elevation, vegetation,
weather data, and other environmental factors. I'm sure this contributed to the scientific
body of knowledge in some small way, but nowadays I spend the entire summer coated
Nanny for 4-year old daughter of
at a palace in
Banking intern, Bank Duta, Jakarta, Indonesia
Night-shift Memorex VHS tape winder in Maine factory and day-shift Clam Shack cashier
Before coming to NSA I...
Worked at the Great Adventure Safari Park in New Jersey where, for a time, I was the
girl with the big stick standing at the exit of the baboon enclosure. Baboons are
mischievous and as cars exited the enclosure, they would play tricks to distract the
gatekeeper so one of their cohort could sneak out with the exiting cars. I was the girl
who stood by the gate waving a big stick to chase them back. In truth, they often
escaped, but were always waiting to get back in for the morning feed.
Be warned. Rhinoceroses have been known to charge the passing cars. Tigers sometimes
amuse themselves by ripping tires off passing cars. Don't feed the ostriches or the
monkeys; the warnings are real. Never trust a kangaroo or elephant that you haven't
In college, I worked in a Neurophsychopharmacology lab where we performed behavior
studies on rats to monitor their reaction when their normal sugar water treat was
swapped with sugar substitutes. Typically, they refused to drink the water with
saccharine and objected violently to water with Nutrasweet.
Prior to coming to work at NSA in 1982, I worked as (not necessarily in order):
a convenience store clerk
a shipyard welder
an offshore oilfield roustabout for Texaco
sales manager for Warner Publishing
an "instrument man" for a surveyor
construction superintendent for U.S. Home
The odd part is that all these jobs taught me something relevant to various aspects of my career
As a 17 year old, I drove a rusted-out Ford Pinto Station Wagon for a drug store
delivering prescriptions and large heavy oxygen tanks to a senior citizen home.
One can only imagine rounding corners at a higher than recommend speed in this car
with large oxygen tanks rolling around!
My last job before coming to the agency was directing the recruiting advertising
campaign for the Army Reserve. Just a month before joining the Agency, I was at Fort
Drum, New York with a film crew and Army Reserve river crossing and medical units on
their two week annual training. The spots aired after I was already at work here and now
have been replaced by the "Army of One." My ads were part of the old "Be All You Can
I spent a summer working third shift at a slaughter house where I had the opportunity to
"box hog heads" and "push hogs." The first job is pretty clear, but pushing hogs
entailed pushing carcasses hanging from a track in a storage area to the cutting floor,
where they were obviously cut and packaged before being shipped. Considering each
carcass was about 100 lbs., and we pushed close to 1000 hogs a night, the job was
Craps dealer in Las Vegas for 4 months. Before that I was a Shift Supervisor for 8
casino parking lots.
(U) As a teenager I worked as a summer camp counselor in Prince William Forest Park
near Quantico, Virginia. It wasn't until recently that I found out that the U.S. Army's
Office of Strategic Services, (OSS) used the park land exclusively for training spies and
radio operators between 1942 and 1945. I find it ironic that the cabins, craft halls, and
dining areas that I had I spent my childhood and teenage summers in were used by OSS
recruits as they learned how to use weapons, radios and codes, to make and disarm
booby traps, as well as learning Morse code and ciphers, covert radio practices, and the
I worked as a volunteer Search & Rescue (SAR) dog handler , searching for children
and hikers lost in the wilderness and for survivors trapped in the rubble of collapsed
buildings. My "sniffer" dog and I trained on most weekends, were on call 24/7, and
dispatched to all corners of Virginia and adjacent states, generally at night, and often on
multi-day searches (catching a few winks in my truck between search tasks). We also
deployed on 10-day missions with a USAID-sponsored SAR task force to the embassy
bombing in Nairobi, two earthquakes in Turkey, and an earthquake in Taiwan.
Among the more satisfying moments was finding a group of children lost in the Great
Dismal Swamp near Norfolk. Among the most gut wrenching moments was hearing the
bulldozer begin its removal of an earthquaked house's debris immediately after I reported
that my dog indicated no one was still alive in the house's rubble. I fervently prayed that
my dog and I had called it right.
Previous to my time at NSA, I...
struggled as a part-time standup comedian and actor, including running an improv
comedy troupe (but there's nothing funny about NSA);
spent a summer reorganizing the expansive archives of "Strange" magazine; nothing like
eight hours in a basement, swimming in clippings about Loch Ness and spontaneous
turned down a job offer as Resident Archaeologist for the Government of the
Gambia (the annual salary they offered me, when I converted it to dollars, would not
have covered my airfare to Africa in the first place).
Taught belly dance and robotics at a summer camp for underprivileged girls.
Prior to NSA, I worked as a waitress at Joe's Crab Shack the summer after my first year
at college. Waitressing is obviously by no means an "odd job," but the fact that I had to
go through more hours of training to learn choreographed dances than to learn about the
food itself made the job "odd" and interesting. In fact, the other waiters, waitresses, and
I had to learn several choreographed dances in order to entertain the customers
during the busiest time of the day -- dinner. In order to help out the extremely backedup kitchen, my coworkers and I had to break out on the dance floor and dance whatseemed-like-an-eternity-2-minute routines to distract the customers from the fact that
the kitchen was backed up and that their food was not coming out any time soon. Oh,
how little did they know. Needless to say, we never got tipped extra for our moves.
Have a good Labor Day!
"(U//FOUO) SIDtoday articles may not be republished or reposted outside NSANet
without the consent of S0121 (DL sid_comms)."
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