Is Southern Florida a Worker's Paradise?
By Steve Gillman - August 26, 2014
People, or at least real estate agents, call southern Florida
paradise. And it does have its charm for those who like a mix
of humidity, unbearable heat, mosquitoes, ditches full of alligators,
and occasional hurricanes. Of course it helps if you retire to
God's Waiting Room with enough money to enjoy the palm
trees and ocean views without leaving your air-conditioned high-rise
condo or climate-controlled Mercedes. But what is life like here
if you work for a living?
photo by Maurice
Well, now that Florida's real estate market is booming again,
you could enjoy 110-degree sunshine on new roofs, installing
shingles. Servicing the portable toilets used by all those construction
workers is another possibility. But the jobs here aren't all
this good. Here are six that you probably won't want to apply
1. Livestock Masturbator
There are more than a million cows in Florida, and along with
other farm animals they are commonly inseminated artificially.
The thing about artificial insemination is that, well, it's artificial,
not natural. The parents of the offspring never see each other.
So how does the sperm get to the egg? That's where you come in,
if you're lucky enough to have the job of livestock masturbator.
Of course, you won't be called that. You get the title "AI
Technician," or, as you'll have to explain to that girl
at the bar who asks what it stands for, "Uh, that would
be Artificial Insemination Technician."
Then you'll have to explain the work, which my more descriptive
job title does pretty well.
Sometimes you'll get to use an artificial vagina or electro-ejaculation device
for collecting semen, which is nice for those days when your
hand cramps up as you sweat and slap away the flies with the
other hand while you massage that bull to a happy ending.
2. Farm Slave
Okay, slave labor is a thing of the past according to Florida
tomato growers. Well, not exactly the far away past. It's estimated
that there have been over 1,200 people freed from agricultural slavery
rings in Florida since 1996.
Even if you're not enslaved, bending over in the hot sun all
day to pick tomatoes is not a pleasant job. But if you pick really
fast -- you know, right up to the point where you almost pass
out from heat exhaustion -- then that 50 cents you get for each
30-pound bushel can add up. Well, at least it would if growers
didn't deduct high fees for the substandard housing and food
they provide for you. It might get better someday, like when
the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange stops threatening growers with $100,000 fines for
the crime of paying workers an extra penny-per-pound.
Then, with those extra pennies, you can leave on your days
off from the fields around Immokalee, to shop in nearby Naples,
alongside one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in
the country. Call it one of the perks of the job.
3. Airboat Operator
Now you might think this is a great job, since you get to
cruise around the everglades like Dennis Weaver in "Gentle
Ben." Of course, if you got that reference you're probably
too old to get the job. And it isn't as glamorous as it might
As a tour captain you'll be carrying a load of old people
and their whiny grandkids into the "Everglades," which
is just another name for a big swamp. Mosquitoes are an important
part of the work environment. But maybe it still seems like a
fun job, right?
Tell that to Wallace Weatherholt. He used to work as an airboat
captain for Captain Doug's Everglades Tours in Everglades City,
Florida until an alligator bit his hand off in 2012. Then
he faced criminal prosecution and possible jail time for illegally
feeding the gator. Geez, give the guy a break (or a hand). He
just wanted his passengers to have a special show. Well they
certainly got that.
4. Septic Tank Servicer
Being a septic tank cleaner has to be a pretty crappy job.
After all, you have to dodge the fecal bombs that splash out
of the tanks you scrub. But for the most part you can probably
avoid the mess if you use the tools correctly. On the other hand,
as a septic tank repair person you have to get
right inside there. Talk about being up shit creek without a
paddle! Even if the tank is beyond repair and is just being replaced
you'll have to dig it out, and then reach around and under the
leaky mess to tie straps on it.
If marriage is in your plans, consider tying the knot before
you apply for this job -- that might be the only way. And expect
your spouse to hose you down outside after work before allowing
you in the house. Also, you might want to claw your way up to
the top -- you know, become the owner of the business. That way
you can hire help and stay cleaner, because, as you know, shit
5. Sign Holder
Now here's a gem for those job seekers who like to work outside.
I did this briefly last year, so you can read about my experience as a sign holder here on this
Choose this career in south Florida and you'll have the pleasure
of standing by the side of the highway holding a sign all day
in the pleasantly unending sunshine, and the challenge of fighting
the breezes that threaten to tear a six-foot-high placard from
your hands while you try to look enthusiastic. Just try to avoid
the fate of the Naples sign holder killed by a driver while
doing his job.
The good news is that on January 1, 2014, the Florida minimum wage was raised to $7.93
per hour. That's 68 cents over the federal minimum wage, a premium
that allows you to buy enough sunblock and bottled water to survive
eight hours holding up that sign.
6. Crime Scene Cleaner
Crime and trauma scene decontamination (CTS Decon) workers
are paid pretty well. In fact, crime scene cleaners can make $25 per hour
with a little bit of training. But you only have to think for
a moment about what the job involves -- especially here in southern
Florida -- to understand why it made this list.
Consider the following scenario: A retiree living alone in
a trailer outside Miami dies one morning before he turns the
air-conditioning on, and is found two weeks later by a neighbor
who smells something funny from a quarter-mile away. After making
their report, who do the police call to scoop up the swarms of
maggots that are finishing off the old guy, and to scrape up
the body parts that dripped on the floor? It could be you, if
you somehow chose a career in CTS Decon.
Then there are the murders you'll have to clean up after.
No, that's not cottage cheese on the wall. Did I mention that
many people lose bowel control when they are shot to death? Ah,
another day, another dollar in paradise.