'I spend a lot of time picking up dead things'

Published date: 10 April 2014 |
Published by: Rhian Waller 
Read more articles by Rhian Waller  Email reporter


A CAR parking company made it into the national news yesterday when an attendant fined a motorist for parking eight inches over a line in an empty car park.

The move raised eyebrows after motorist, Peter Barr, 61, sent a picture of the Cornwall parking incident to the Sun newspaper.

It is a testament to our collective dislike of traffic wardens, parking attendants and jobsworths in general that the story saw the light of day.

As over-enthusiastic as the attendant may have been, one has to feel for the traffic warden who announces his or her job while on a first date or at a party. This got the Leader thinking about other jobs that make people pause – whether because they were unpopular, unusual or simply unpleasant – and it turns out there are plenty out there.

“There are jobs are out there, and someone has to do them,” said John ‘JJ’ Jones, who runs Jays Pest Solution, based in Flint.

“It isn’t always nice. I spend a lot of my time picking up dead things. Then there’s a stench, sometimes.

“You get used to it. I’ve had to deal with some quite ‘icky’ situations.”

Mr Jones, 46, is a veteran of the trade, having started by digging out wasps’ nests as a youngster.

He said: “Sometimes you’ll go into a place and there’ll be a smell of death.

“One of the worst was when someone had taken matters into their own hands and poisoned some rodents. They’d all died in the ceiling and walls, so they had to call me in and we basically stripped the place down.”

Similarly, Mr Jones has seen a bed bug infestation so bad that a female tenant’s face had been “almost bitten to bits”.

Despite the unpleasant nature of pest control, Mr Jones enjoys his job.

He said: “Sometimes you cringe at some of the stuff you see, but there’s pride in doing a good day’s work.

“There’s plenty worse out there. I wouldn’t want to work on the pylons. I don’t like heights!

“And I’d rather be a pest controller than a politician. They aren’t very popular.”

Martin Gaskell, of Drain Busters in Halkyn, sometimes finds himself up to his neck in it at work.

He said: “We do a bit of all sorts, mostly jetting drains clean, doing camera probes to find blockages, dealing with septic tanks and water treatment facilities.

“Sometimes, on big jobs, you have to climb into treatment tanks to clear them out. Then you get yourself completely kitted up, with masks and you’ll tape your gloves on to your waterproofs and try as hard as you can not to get anything on you.

“When you’re probing, you do come across rats sometimes, and quite a few frogs.”

Like Mr Jones, Mr Gaskell is quite happy in his line of work.

He said: “I’ve never thought much about it, really. Every day is different. And when you solve a problem, especially one where other people have tried and been baffled, that’s a good day.”

Of course, we would be overrun with cockroaches if it wasn’t for people like Mr Jones, up to our ankles in sewage if not for Mr Gaskell, and our streets would be clogged with badly-parked cars if not for the much maligned traffic warden.

Other jobs aren’t quite so easy to justify.

Kate Harding, 38, of Chester, admitted: “I’ve worked in call centres since 1998, and I used to do cold calling.

“When you’re cold-calling, it’s one of those jobs where you leave your morals at the door. It’s very high pressure and not always very pleasant, especially if you are debt collecting or trying to sell a product.

“It can be really difficult. When I started, people were generally polite as long as you were polite with them. Now, I think people are deluged with charity calls, PPI repayment calls, hard-sell calls.

“In the past, I’ve had people slam the phone down on me, but what’s worse is when you carry a burden of guilt home with you.” Mrs Harding has since left the industry and she does not miss it much.

“It’s a cycle,” she said. “You’re chasing people, trying to get money, and you’re only doing it so you can pay your own bills.

“I’d advise anyone getting constant calls to be polite but firm. Get the caller’s name and think about installing a block app on your phone.”

One man has no problem when people are taken aback when he tells them his line of work.

“I run the The Fantasy House adult shop in Wrexham,” said David Brown, 53. “It does take the wind out of people’s sails when you tell them that.

“I went into it when I saw redundancy looming after 30 years.

“People are surprised when you tell them, and then there’s a pause, and then the questions come.”

Mr Brown runs the shop with his wife, which adds an extra element.

He said: “We have a good sense of humour. People think you’re going to be some guy in a camel hair jacket with a big cigar and medallion, but most of the people running adult shops are actually women.

“You do get some odd people coming in, but I think that’s mostly down to nervousness.

“As we’re in our 50s, people know we aren’t going to giggle if they ask for something unusual.”

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