Five unusual do-gooder jobs that prove it’s possible to combine pleasure with public service

Teach ballet in South Korea.
Teach ballet in South Korea.
Image: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
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Public service jobs don’t exactly have a reputation for being full of entertainment and glamor. But if you take a close look at do-gooder gigs around the world, there are some that sound downright fun. Here are five unusual jobs that prove it’s possible to devote your career to helping others and collect a cache of good stories to tell at cocktail parties.

Military ballet teacher

In South Korea, soldiers take ballet lessons to help them unwind after a stressful day guarding the zone that divides the country from North Korea. The pliés and tendus help members of the military “stay calm and find balance,” according to one soldier.

Party mayor

Cities that never sleep need mayors who are night owls, too. That’s why cities including Amsterdam, Paris, Toulouse, Zurich, and Cali, Colombia, have appointed night mayors—officials charged with ensuring that clubs, bars and other after-dark businesses maintain smooth and productive relations with city residents and the rest of the government.

Keeper of the doomsday machines

Scientists in the United States spend their days simulating tsunamis, earthquakes and landslides as part of a $280 million initiative from the National Science Foundation, all in the interest of preparing humanity for potential catastrophe.

Ice cream police

Each summer in the city of Boston, police officers swap their squad cars for ice cream trucks, handing out treats to residents as a way of building trust with the local community. The idea has been so successful that St. Louis now has an ice cream force, too.

Eagle whisperer

The bad news is that you can’t make like Daenerys and raise dragons of your own. But the next best thing may be teaching eagles to take out illegal drones. In the Netherlands, police have joined forces with a raptor training company to teach the birds of prey to win aerial fights against robot intruders.

Of course, there are plenty of public-service jobs that are less than pleasant. The most disgusting may be the role of fatberg chopper.

Fatbergs are gigantic balls of grease that accumulate in London sewers, forming blockages. Teams of “flushers”, or sewage workers, don head-to-toe protective suits, grab their shovels and head underground to hack the fat into chunks. The work is undoubtedly for a good cause—and the fat even gets used as energy to power homes. But still—what are the chances you get absorbed by the blob?