Money can make people do crazy things. Add desperation into the mix and you've got yourself the groundwork for an insane story. Here are the weirdest things people have done for money:
#1 Five Dollar Dare
When I was in sixth grade, some eighth graders came up to me and offered me $5 to inhale crushed tic-tacs. As I was inhaling them, one of them got a teacher and told her I was doing something illegal. I started crying and explained everything, and after the principal confirmed that they were just tic-tacs, the eighth graders all got a week of detention. And I still got my $5.
#2 Cloning Pokemon
I used to clone rare Pokemon like Mew on the GameBoy game and sell them to other people. I'd just rip the transfer cable out while transferring the Pokemon at the right time and we both could keep it. They always said it was a risk since you could corrupt your game, but then I'm pretty sure it never happened to me. So many memories of those games. Good times.
#3 A Live Scarecrow
When I was a kid, a neighbor paid me to be "a live scarecrow" in his garden. My job was to chase the birds and other animals away that might otherwise destroy his garden when he wasn't home to guard it. Just a note: Netting helps keep birds away, but it doesn't keep animals like deer, rabbits, woodchucks, etc. from invading the garden.
#4 Top-Secret PowerPoint
As an adult: a client asked me to create a PowerPoint for him for a major presentation he was doing for a top-secret organization. I owned a web consulting company at the time, but he had been a top client, so I acquiesced. After a while, the modifications and wording become more and more bizarre. He would contact me weekly with new changes and additions, and I soon realized there was something mentally amiss with the gent. I had a connection with his family and wanted to alert them that he was paying me good money for this odd project. I didn't want to charge for something that was clearly coming from a delusional state.
His wife contacted me and asked if I would please continue working with him, and she would pay my full rate for the service (they were incredibly wealthy, and this was not going to make any dent in their massive fortune). She said the project was making him happier than he'd been in months, and he was focused and staying in one place to work on it, and it gave her a rest from his dementia and Alzheimers.
I figured out a way to keep working with him, still didn't charge my full rate, but learned a lot about maintaining a positive relationship with an older person who is losing their cognitive functions... which prepared me well for now as my father is heading in that direction.
#5 Get Him To The Greek
I babysat a rock star before a gig so that he would stay put and not go off into the local area (which he didn't know) looking for bad things to do. We talked about TV and films. It was more than 20 years ago and everyone involved is British. The movie Get Him To The Greek was made, but that was 10+ years later. I wouldn't be surprised if the stories Russell Brand can tell got put straight into the movie (if he could remember any of them).
#6 For The Research
I signed up for some weird test conducted by NYU (I think). They were testing to see if bilingual or homeschooled kids were better at certain tasks than other kids. It was basic stuff—identifying patterns, some math, identifying shapes, etc. I got $50 to buy Lego both times, so it was fine. In retrospect, it was weird... what with the one-way glass, and the weird geometric shapes...
#7 Dr. Google
Google stuff for people. I used to work for a text messaging service where you could text a number, ask any question, and get an answer. This was before smartphones became super huge, so it was a bit of a helpful gimmick back then. However, for everyone that we got asking normal questions like movie times, or what restaurants were open near them, or stuff like that, we got A LOT more people asking very stupid things that I would have to Google. It was an interesting job that helped cover some things when I was in college, but it had me using Google for a lot of weird stuff.
#8 Fanfic To Order
I wrote fanfic to order. They'd give mee characters and a plot (or a scenario), $15 per thousand words. It was fun, and occasionally hilarious, even if I'd never admitted publicly to some of the stories I wrote... It was that, or work a second retail job. Writing commissions won. Also, I got to work from home, which was the absolute best considering I'm an introvert.
#9 Good Advice
Never ever work for free. Payment can be experienced in very, very special circumstances. A friend asked me to automate some processes for his company. I got the impression I was going to get paid and put in 100+ hours, plus I did meetings with his staff. Keep in mind, I can see how much money, time, and manpower his company would save from this automation. One day, he mentioned something which basically meant: "I won't pay you and will try to sell your automation to other companies." (i.e. I would get paid "if" these other companies bought the service). I quietly stopped working on it.
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#10 Stir The Outhouse
I was like eight and wanted money at the cottage. My aunt told me I could "stir the outhouse" if I was that desperate. So I found the longest downed tree branch I could, took off all the twigs, then used that eight-foot stick to stir it up. Then I went to collect my money. She laughed at me and said she couldn't believe it. So I fished the branch out of the forest and left it on the hood of her car.
#11 Trash v. Treasure
In college, I used to stow flip flops in my bag when I went out to the bars so I could switch out my heels for the walk home. One night, I sold those dirty flip flops to a creepy old dude at the bar for $200. Easiest, yet most upsetting money I’ve ever made. I guess the old adage rings true: someone's trash is another person's treasure.
#12 Hereditary Secrets
I’m an artist. I have worked on a lot of films in my career as well as ad campaigns and branding assignments. The weirdest or funniest film we ever worked on was Hereditary. When it first came in, it looked like a straight-to-DVD piece of nothing that nobody would ever watch. How they got Toni Collete to do it was a mystery to us because those shots looked like they were done in the '70s with how rudimentary it was.
Anyway, the original SFX company that did the work was based in Utah (where they shot it) and did as bad a job as one possibly could, meaning the firm I work for in NY had to redo everything. My favorite shot, in particular, was the scene where the daughter is in class and awakened by a bird hitting the window of her classroom.
Originally, they basically built a potato cannon on set and fired a stuffed bird at the window. Literally a stuffed bird that you’d get from the dollar store. So we had to remove the cannon, the dollar store pigeon, and make it not look terrible, but the whole time we were in disbelief that the movie was even being made.
#13 All For Dole Whips
I stood in line for Dole Whips at Disney. Some guy paid me $50 to wait in the line while his family rode a ride. I should also add: I was pregnant at the time and my family was in line for a ride I couldn't go on. I overheard a family trying to figure out how they would use their FastPass, make it to lunch AND manage to try a Dole Whip. I offered to stand in the line for him for $20. He gave me $50.
#14 The Hugging Gig
I was a psychologist for the British Army for a few years before I changed careers. Usually pretty pedestrian stuff in terms of the kind of psychology assistance you need to give to service people. Usually people with PTSD or other trauma, family problems, etc. Usually, you would just talk for 40 minutes at a time, check up on their wellbeing, offer advice, put them in touch with other support programs if needs be. Pretty standard. There was one guy who, for three weeks straight, just came in to have a good cry and hug for a bit without really talking much. After that, he opened up and talked to me (although I already had his referral notes, I knew what had happened to him).
I mean, my job was to talk, but if he wasn't ready and just wanted to hug and cry until he was ready, I wasn't going to refuse. The dude was in a seriously bad place. In the end, he retired and went on to a new career. I wasn't given details of where service people went if they retired on mental health grounds, but I was told he had a positive outcome.
#15 A Stupid Dare
I licked a slug for $20 bucks as a kid... After doing it, my mom didn’t believe me and refused to pay up. What's worse is, a young man recently died after years of being severely mentally disabled after eating a slug for a dare as a teen. The poison from the slug, which had crawled over rat droppings, caused toxic shock. It was so heartbreaking for him, his family and his friends.
#16 Hand Tricks
In 7th grade, a kid told me that if I could learn to move my fingers in a certain way he would pay me $20. It took me two days of practicing in my closet and I did it, but I never got the money. Now, I show people this weird thing I can do. Basically, you move your pointer fingers, pointing at each other, around each other in a circle. But instead of both moving forward, one moves towards you, and the other moves away from you. 95% of people I've shown this to can't do it.
#17 The Typing Gig
To preface this, I'm moderately good at typing on a keyboard, up to 85+ WPM if I get a good flow going. Back in college, I used to laze about. I took care of my classes then went to a particular building on my campus and chill with my friends. Someone saw me typing one day on my laptop, trying to finish an essay last minute and this guy, we will call him Charles.
Charles came up to me and asked me whether or not I could finish up a paper for him once I was done. I did his 5-page paper for him pro bono in about two and a half hours, properly formatted and all.
Charles was thankful and ended up getting a decent grade on his thing, he wrote the general layout on paper so I got the gist of what he was trying to write. It kinda just clicked one day and I decided to put out an anonymous poster with a burner email I made just for this exact purpose.
It read: "If you need help with a paper, I'll write it for you, just give me a general outline of what you want and how you need it formatted $12/hr." I started getting hits left and right. I made a nice little sum for myself, I got inundated with requests and cut the service off after about four and a half months. Couldn't keep up with demand.
#18 A Swim For Pocket Change
I jumped butt-naked into Pearl Harbor in the middle of the night for pocket change. I also swam across a small lagoon attached to Pearl Harbor in broad daylight in my underwear for $20 because I told everyone I could swim across faster than it would take for my group of friends to walk around. Worth it. A deal was a deal and they paid up.
#19 Metal Slides
You know how in elementary school playgrounds or parks there are slides that are made of metal, and they get extremely hot in the sun? I once was bet to keep my hand on it for 20 seconds, and a kid would give me $5. I won the $5, but my hand was slightly burned for a couple of days. I was not a smart third grader.
#20 Caffeine Cravings
I was addicted to caffeine. Like, I'd have a Monster or Red Bull right before bed and I'd sleep as a baby addicted. My health-nut friend bet me $1 that I couldn't go for two weeks without any kind of caffeine. I won the bet and had the worst headache for four days. No longer addicted though. In the end, his bet actually changed my life for the better.
#21 Dumpster Diving
My dad accidentally threw away a box of important papers into a large dumpster. He paid me to go get it... Easiest 100 bucks I ever made. Don’t get me wrong—I love my dad and I would’ve done it for free, but I had asked him several times if he was sure he wanted to throw all of that stuff out. I even told him to check the box before he did because he might need something from it. After tossing the box, he realized he needed stuff that was in it.
#22 An Acquired Taste
Not me, but when the iPhone 4 just came out, I upgraded my 3GS and got the 4. At the time, my little brother still had one of those many different slide phones. He also hated sushi. I got the weirdest looking roll I could find with raw fish and squid tentacles. I told him if he ate it I’d give him my old iPhone. He was hesitant, but he did it. Now he loves sushi and poke bowls, and he got a new phone too.
#23 Science Experiment
I once participated in a scientific experiment where they administered a synthesized medicine to me intravenously. Let's just say, when you're sitting in a tiny room with one of those electrode scalp things on, hooked up to a computer, surrounded by scientists with some unknown synthetic coursing through your veins... Yeah, that's an experience.
#24 Shrek Is Love
I was in middle school when that "Shrek is love, Shrek is life" video first came out, and it was a sensation. This one kid who didn't have a phone or iPod had been asking around to see the video, and everyone refused because they didn't want their parents to find out. He gave me $8 just to watch it on my phone.
#25 The Pepsi Raffle
At about the age of nine, I decided I wanted a Pepsi. I had no money, so I decided to raise enough money to buy two Pepsis by raffling off one. I sold raffle tickets door to door for 1 cent each (this would have been about 1961) until I had enough to buy two Pepsis. I had mine and gave one to the lucky winner. Things were different back then.
#26 The Acting Gig
In October of 2013 and 2014, I worked as a performer in a "haunted" forest attraction. Basically, customers would ride on a school bus that had its roof cut off through a "haunted" forest. It's still running each fall. They have haunted houses, putt-putt golf, and some other stuff there too. The first year, I was a witch at the end of the bus ride. The second year, I was a grieving widow in a funeral parlor scene near the beginning of the ride.
#27 Lab Rat
I used to participate in research groups for student's studies. $5 to $12 per study. It helped me eat before I found a steady job. The best one was working on a video game. The researchers were examining people's abilities to work together to build a puzzle piece, in another room, while matching it with another in a different e-room.
#28 Public Embarrassment
I went to college for music and for one of the girl's exams, she was singing "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence, but she needed a 'rapper' because... well, you know how it goes. My instrument's a guitar so I wasn't the first choice, but a couple of guys who were singers bribed me to do it so that they weren't asked. I agreed and performed the rap part quite badly but was $20 richer. I'm still conflicted as to whether that's a victory or not.
#29 Authentic British Accent
I did voiceover work for a coworker's kid. She made a YouTube video involving a guy spending a day out with a cup of tea and they needed someone with an English accent to do the narration. Since I am an English person with a genuine English accent, they asked if I would mind doing it. They took me out to dinner to thank me. (I looked for the video but it's apparently been deleted. She did it for a scholarship thing if I recall).
#30 Jollies For Luda
Many years ago, I drove a friend around so he could buy up all the packages of Jolly Rancher candy from several convenience stores. He opened each package and kept only the red ones. They were for Ludacris, the rapper. Luda was performing a show that my friend promoted and his contract rider included a bowl of red Jolly Ranchers in his green room. I saw the concert for free and received polite nods from some of Luda’s crew.
#31 Web Promoter
Back when the web was still relatively new, I got paid to go to forums and chat groups and promote random products. But it had to be casual. Like: "Oh yeah? Well, you know what's good at getting out bloodstains? BrandX." I got paid by the mention. They'd check to make sure I wasn't just spamming and was making it conversational. Due to internet speeds and trying to find good places to interject, I got paid way less than minimum wage. Definitely not worth it.
#32 Love You, Grandma
Every time my grandmother saw ANY kind of pop-up text on her computer screen with a warning or whatever, she’d call me. I’d come over to ‘fix’ it (which mostly meant: click the ‘OK’ button). She’d insist on giving me $20 for it, even after I refused multiple times. Needless to say, after a few hours and some obligatory sweets, I’d leave and put the money back in her coat which she kept by the front door. Her company was enough to make the trip worthwhile. Bless her.
#33 Take A Shot
I downed a shot for $10. I was working in a small village pub. We had a policy about no drinking while on shift (although it was common for customers to buy us drinks for when we finished). There was this one guy who was a few drinks in and got a round for him and his mates, forgetting that one had gone sober for the month. He gave me $10 to take the unused shot after I explained that I could get fired if my manager saw. You bet I drank it in the CCTV blind spot.
#34 Testing Cleats
Over two decades ago, I worked at a famous sneaker manufacturer because a large shoe store had returned all of one type of women's cleats, saying that the spikes did not screw in and out correctly. My job was to test as many shoes as I could for the manufacturer's counterclaim against the store. I spent two weeks putting spikes in and out of shoes before I quit from boredom.
#35 Swindling The Neighbors
We were very young and needed money to buy some nonsense, so my friend and I went around collecting money from the neighbors saying our school had organized some charity and we had to collect any amount people would like to give us. We eventually got some people to donate but never used the money later on because of guilt. We left it near a tree next to our street.
#36 Avoiding The Ex
I used to dog sit for a guy, so I had a key to his house. He texted me once and told me he’d pay me for a day of dog sitting if I just went to let his ex in. She needed to get some of her things, and the plan was she'd come in, get her stuff, and then lock the door behind her. He also sent me a list of all the things she would try to take but wasn’t hers and told me to call the cops if she tried to take or damage anything. He took his dog to the lake for the day so he could avoid the whole thing. Basically, I got $100 to oversee his break up so he didn’t have to confront his ex. She was LIVID.
#37 Bringing Out The Creeps
When I was in school, a bunch of us dressed up as girls to raise money for charity. I had long hair at the time and was kind of convincing at first glance. We'd gone all out, even borrowed some bras, and stuffed them. A lot of the guys at school made jokes, but a couple of them gave me a really creepy vibe. So yeah... that was kind of weird.
#38 Short Shorts
I'm a guy, and I work in a media company. I was explicitly paid to dress inappropriately (context needed, just short shorts and a sleeveless colorful t-shirt with no message on it) to later write an article about super conservative parts of Jerusalem. Essentially, I was paid to have kids run away from me, screaming and throwing empty can at me, while adults pretended I didn't exist.
#39 The Cookie Pact
When I was in like fifth grade, one of my friends decided all the kids at the table should form a pact. So this kid grabbed a cookie out of his lunch box and spit on it. He passed it around to everyone at the table so they could spit on it. Someone said they would give ten bucks to whoever ate the cookie. So I grabbed it and ate it. And then I gained ten bucks.
#40 Burnt Quesadilla
I work fast food. The other day, this lady came in asking for a quesadilla. That was normal, but when I asked her about modifications, she said she wanted us to burn it. I burnt it a little took it back and she said no, like burnt-burnt. I was kind of confused, but we burnt the heck out of the quesadilla until it looked like a shriveled black hockey puck. I brought it to her and she was happy; even tipped us extra. I have no idea what she wanted it for and I’m almost positive it wasn’t edible.
#41 Stage Dive
During lunch in high school, I was dared to sprint down the middle of the cafeteria, dive onto the stage, and slide under the curtain. He offered me 40 bucks so obviously I did it. Turns out, the drama class was practicing behind the curtain, so imagine their surprise when ahead and torso suddenly slide under the curtain, look up at them, say hello, and disappear.
#42 The Transcriber
I transcribed psychology interviews for a friend. I was in college and she was getting her masters in clinical and needed help transcribing interviews with subjects she'd done for her thesis. When I said I'd do it for free, she said, "No... you'd want to be paid for it." She obfuscated the subject information and just gave me the tape. At the end of it, I am happy she paid me. That was nice of her to insist. Man, that was some depressing stuff. Her topic had something to do with bonding between mothers and stepchildren.
#43 Down For Whatever
In college, I jumped in a fountain and got 100% soaked immediately before walking into class and taking a final. Won $5. Football camp was during freshman orientation. I stood on a table in the library by a window and flexed with my shirt off in front of a long line of kids with their parents. Got $20 for that. A guy I knew had a bike rigged with some big speakers, and I was going to ride around campus in a speedo with “It's Raining Men” blasting, but they didn’t get enough people on the football team to pitch in. My price was $100.
#44 Part Of The Entourage
When I was fresh out of grad school, I picked up a few modeling gigs while I was working part-time at a college. There were opportunities like hanging out with celebrities in public that you’d get paid for. You were basically eye candy for photos and would appear as part of their posse, I guess. Rick Ross, TI, and Rob Thomas were some of the folks. This was through a modeling and promotion agency in Atlanta.
#45 Medical Stuff
I did a bunch of clinical trials in undergrad and med school. Phase 1 vaccine trials, etc. One was a series of in-depth interviews when I had to keep a piece of cotton in my mouth so they could detect cortisol production (a stress hormone). Also, I donated plasma at like $50 per donation twice a week for a whole year the first year of med school.
#46 Pony Rider
I rode ponies. Literally. Ponies can be obnoxious beasts and are often given to children who don’t have the strength, experience, or motor control to call them out for being jerks. Thus, the ponies, who are meant to be fancy, obedient show ponies, get away with murder. Kids cry, parents despair. Enter a small adult college kid, who needs money. I had ridden at a racing barn for years before college, exercising track horses. It was also a hunting barn, so I knew the show gig. So, toss me a pony. Totally undignified, but it did keep food on the table and the rent paid.
#47 The Bat Man
An old neighbor of mine is terrified of bats and one got into her house a few years ago while I was still living at home. I went over and got it outside for her. She paid me and I told her to call me if it ever happened again. Two weeks ago, she called me at 1 in the morning because there was a bat in her room. I went over, spent ten minutes herding this freaked out bat through her front door, and she gave me $20. I had that great story to use as my reason for why I was tired at work the next day.
#48 Body Sushi
I served sushi I’d made off my naked back to a bunch of fishermen for a tip adding up to a year of college tuition. Serious boundaries were set, no one got hurt, but it was definitely the riskiest and weirdest way I’ve made money... I don’t even use my degree though, so sometimes I kick myself over that money so quickly gained and lost.
#49 Pet The Bear
This was about 15 years ago, I was on a trip with my family in Moscow. There was a person walking his pet bear. My dad thought I would be scared of it because I was little at the time, so he bet me the equivalent of about 20 USD in rubles to pet the bear. I did. I was little and it reminded me of Winnie the Pooh because it was a cub and was very cute.
#50 Brotherly Bets
I went on a fishing trip with my dad and older brother when I was about 7. My brother said he'd give me $5 to eat a live worm from the bait cup, which I did without hesitation. A look of bewilderment spread across his face for a few seconds, after which he said he didn't have to give me $5 if he ate one too. Despite my protests that that was not part of the deal, he proceeds to follow my lead and swallows a worm. And here I am now, 31 years old, still waiting for my inflation-adjusted $5 from my deadbeat older brother.