Daily Dirt: So … you wanna be a gong farmer, French beggar or tanner? No thanks.

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Daily Dirt for Dec. 10, 2021

Today, I truly appreciate working for the likes of one J. Robert Gough. I think you’ll realize why in a few paragraphs … welcome to the three thoughts that make up Vol. 153 of the Daily Dirt.

1. It’s time for another chapter of the worst jobs in history. Next time you have to work an extra 15 minutes at the office, think about these guys:

Gold medal: Whenever there are humans living together, human waste eventually becomes a problem. No Rhodes scholar is needed to realize that will eventually become a problem. Prior to the days of such luxuries as plumbing, there was the “gong farmer,” whose job was to clean out outhouses and other places humans did their business. The name “gong farmer” emerged in the late 1400s, and their lot was a bad one. They were often exiled to the edges of cities, had backbreaking labor (think digging out a cesspit would be much fun?) and would sometimes die from the fumes.

Silver medal: Brainz.org tells us us that in pre-revolutionary France, conditions were horrible and a huge percentage of the population was reduced to begging in an effort to survive. Sometimes things were so bad the “beggars” would self-mutilate, making themselves hideous and pathetic to attract more sympathy. The worst of these found some beggars slitting their mouths from ear to ear, leaving a sort of “joker’s grin”. The gums were removed, but the teeth left in place. Finally, the nose was hacked off — a living, breathing skull begging in the streets of Paris.


Bronze medal: According to published reports, for centuries “tanners” were reviled around the world, even for doing incredibly important work. For example, all through Europe they were forced outside of the cities due to the horrible, horrible stench they produced. Why was it so vile? Excrement. Lots and lots of excrement. The hunters would give the tanners their skins, still bloody with chunks of meat and fat attached. They would then be soaked in water to remove all that stuff, leading to a pool of rotting meat. Then, the hair had to be removed, either by soaking the skin in urine, or letting it hang to rot, and then cutting it off with a knife. After that came the soaking in a semi-liquid mixture of feces and water to soften the skin, often for hours at a time. Tanners continually dealt with the combined stink of rotting flesh, urine and feces. Ahh, the the life of a tanner.

2. Here are some names of rock bands you may have missed in recent years:

  • The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash
  • The Gaza Strippers
  • Cindy Brady’s Lisp
  • Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
  • Betty’s Not A Vitamin


3. Being an Ohio State football fan, it hurts to pay tribute to Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, but the man deserves credit for a gesture he made earlier this week.

Harbaugh received a $1 million bonus for his team’s accomplishments and instead of pocketing the money (which I’m sure he doesn’t need), he donated it to University of Michigan workers who have been impacted economically by the ongoing pandemic. Nice gesture, Jim.

Steve Fact O’ The Day
Steve still doesn’t like Michigan.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. His birthday week extravaganza is nearly over.

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