From spitting monitors to granny police - Unusual job in China

Every country has its fair share of unusual jobs but China, the world's next superpower, certainly has some of the stranger ones. Perhaps it's due to the huge population or the lower average wages, but there seems to be a willing customer and worker for every imaginable field of occupation.

For starters let's consider the role of a 'stand-in-line' worker, the job is pretty straightforward really, you basically get paid to queue in a line for somebody else. While this may sound completely unnecessary, when you consider many people queue for 5 hours to see a doctor or register for housing, the service begins to make sense. The going rate for a stand-in-line worker is about $3 an hour which is actually quite tempting to many Chinese workers. I guess the best thing you could say about this job is that it's accessible to nearly everyone, provided you can queue and you don't have an overly weak bladder, you could make it in this industry.

Then we have gold farming, which doesn't have a great deal to do with gold or farming, rather gold farmers perform repetitive tasks in online games in order to obtain virtual assets. They can then sell these virtual assets to other players for real money. It's extremely tedious work and you also need to employ a lot of people to create any wealth but for those with access to cheap labour, its big business. The industry is reputed to be worth $3 billion Dollars a year and employs over 350,000 people around the world with 90% of them in China. Enterprising prison governors have also been known to force prisoners to work as gold farmers, you can only assume playing computer games all day is a lot better than breaking rocks with a pick axe.


spiting sign in China

Then there are other jobs which have been created to bridge the cultural divide. During the Beijing Olympics, officials were worried about offending the visiting Western athletes and tourists with the once culturally acceptable behaviour of spitting in public. They decided to take action and came up with the role of a spitting monitor. A spitting monitor would walk the streets and issue an on the spot fine of $2.50 to anyone caught spitting in public. Spitting monitors, much like traffic wardens, were not well received and many people disputed the offence and refused to pay the fines. In response, the Chinese government commissioned CCTV spitting vans that would secretly video record anyone caught spitting, armed with evidence, spitting monitors could then ensure the culprits were brought to justice.


unusual jobs in China, granny police
And finally we have the granny police, or old ladies with red armbands. They are perhaps not police in the ordinary sense of the word but are more akin to neighbourhood watch. This voluntary position was created around the same time as the uprisings in many Arab countries with the purpose of reminding the public that the government is watching them at all times. Due to the respect held for elders within society, it‘s far easier and more acceptable for a granny to question a person's behaviour than a young police officer, especially for minor offences. The granny police were also in charge of checking that couples adhere to the strict one child policy by promoting contraception and abortion. Nothing is more intimidating than a street lined with pensioners wearing matching red armbands, you have been warned, big brother is watching you.

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