7 Jobs Your Inner Child Would Love


Growing up often means prioritizing work over fun stuff. Unless, of course, your job involves nothing but fun stuff. Take a look at these seven occupations that require a bachelor’s in arrested development.

1. Mattress Jumper

Beds are not trampolines, but that never stopped kids from treating them like one. Today’s smaller mattress companies actually employ people to jump on their mattresses to compress the cotton material and make sure there are no imperfections or bumps in the layers. Reuben Reynoso, a professional jumper out of San Francisco, tests three a day and often reaches 100 bounces per mattress—side to side, corner to corner. Sure, a machine could do the same thing, but Reynoso’s small talk at parties would be a lot less interesting.

2. Professional RC Vehicle Racer

Radio-controlled (RC) vehicles are more than just an aisle filler at Toys ‘R Us: They’re the center of an entire subculture, where “drivers” travel the world racing their customized vehicles on tiny tracks for prize money. If that sounds too good to be true, it isn’t—just make sure you’re one of the top racers in the world to attract sponsorships, which make up the majority of a driver’s income, and don’t mind traveling up to 46 weeks out of the year.

3. Professional LEGO Builder

Architecture too intimidating? Try reducing the scale. Sean Kenney is one of many “certified” LEGO building professionals—artists who use the multicolored blocks to construct an array of projects. Major companies like Google and Mazda have commissioned Kenney’s work, which can range from a Homer Simpson bust to sports stadium replicas.

LEGO has at least nine pro builders registered. Just be prepared for some initial material investment: Kenney has over a million bricks to aid in assembly.

4. Amusement Park Ride Tester

The PC term might be “forensic ride engineer,” but in the end, these theme park scouts are paid to test-drive rides, point out any faults in the experience, and check for anything that might be a potential hazard. Companies like ATA Associates can even recreate accidents to make sure the ride doesn’t repeat any engineering mistakes.

If you’re not much of a full-time puker, at least be thankful for those who are: One company tested a new ride, London’s The Swarm, and watched as the gravity-defying track ripped the limbs right off their test dummies.

5. Ice Cream Taster

Enjoy ice cream? Partial to elastic waistbands? Food companies have a job for you: a professional taster samples up to a pint of the frozen stuff a day in addition to brainstorming ideas for new flavors and taste combinations. Tasters often have a food science or dairy science degree. And if you have a particularly fine palate, you might consider what Nestle tester John Harrison did: insure his taste buds for one million dollars.

6. Treehouse Designer

While most of us have probably fantasized about a wooded refuge from parents, few ever had the resources to construct one. Artist Roderick Romero designed a treehouse in 2003 for a community garden in Seattle; he has since created dozens of elaborate forts for the likes of Val Kilmer and Sting, with an emphasis on green and sustainable materials. No two are quite alike, and each is customized for the client’s preferences—many of whom want the designs for themselves, not their children.

7. Comic Book Inspector

For decades, comic collectors often had to rely on very subjective terms: one seller’s “near mint” may be a buyer’s “not worth the price.” That changed in 2000, when the Comics Guaranty Corporation (CGC) began offering third-party grading on a numerical scale: books flirting with a vaunted 10.0 score could fetch hundreds or thousands more than an uninspected copy.

Naturally, comics selling for five or six figures need to be carefully evaluated, which is where a CGC Grader comes in. All day long, they pore over classic comics and inspect them for damage. Upon completion, the book is “slabbed” in a tamper-proof plastic case to seal the condition. Top Graders with the CGC enjoy health benefits and a 401(k), as well as bragging rights: what could be better than getting paid to rifle through priceless comics all day?


LaGuardia Airport Is Serving Up Personalized Short Stories to Passengers

In between purchasing a neck pillow and a bag full of snacks, guests flying out of the Marine Air Terminal at New York City's LaGuardia Airport can now order up an impromptu short story. As Hyperallergic reports, Landing Pages is an art project that connects writers to travelers looking for short fiction written in the time it takes to reach their destination.

The kiosk was set up as part of the ArtPort Residency, a new collaboration between the Queens Council on the Arts and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which sponsors different art projects at the Marine Air Terminal for a few months at a time.

Artists Lexie Smith and Gideon Jacobs set up the inaugural project at the terminal earlier this month. To request a story from Landing Pages, travelers can visit the kiosk and leave their flight number and contact information. While the passenger is in the air, Smith and Jacobs churn out a custom story, in the form of poetry, illustration, or prose, from their airport terminal workspace and send it out in time for it to reach the reader's phone before he or she lands.

The word count depends on the duration of the flight, and the subject matter often touches upon themes of travel and adventure. As Smith and Jacobs continue their residency through June 30, the pieces they complete will be made available at and in hard copy form at the airport kiosk.

Landing Pages isn't the first airport service to offer à la carte short stories. In 2011, a French startup debuted its short story-dispensing vending machine at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport. Those stories come in three categories—one-minute, three-minute, and five-minute reads—and are printed out immediately so travelers can read them during their flight.

[h/t Hyperallergic]

Big Questions
Why Do Cats 'Blep'?

As pet owners are well aware, cats are inscrutable creatures. They hiss at bare walls. They invite petting and then answer with scratching ingratitude. Their eyes are wandering globes of murky motivations.

Sometimes, you may catch your cat staring off into the abyss with his or her tongue lolling out of their mouth. This cartoonish expression, which is atypical of a cat’s normally regal air, has been identified as a “blep” by internet cat photo connoisseurs. An example:

Cunning as they are, cats probably don’t have the self-awareness to realize how charming this is. So why do cats really blep?

In a piece for Inverse, cat consultant Amy Shojai expressed the belief that a blep could be associated with the Flehmen response, which describes the act of a cat “smelling” their environment with their tongue. As a cat pants with his or her mouth open, pheromones are collected and passed along to the vomeronasal organ on the roof of their mouth. This typically happens when cats want to learn more about other cats or intriguing scents, like your dirty socks.

While the Flehmen response might precede a blep, it is not precisely a blep. That involves the cat’s mouth being closed while the tongue hangs out listlessly.

Ingrid Johnson, a certified cat behavior consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the owner of Fundamentally Feline, tells Mental Floss that cat bleps may have several other plausible explanations. “It’s likely they don’t feel it or even realize they’re doing it,” she says. “One reason for that might be that they’re on medication that causes relaxation. Something for anxiety or stress or a muscle relaxer would do it.”

A photo of a cat sticking its tongue out

If the cat isn’t sedated and unfurling their tongue because they’re high, then it’s possible that an anatomic cause is behind a blep: Johnson says she’s seen several cats display their tongues after having teeth extracted for health reasons. “Canine teeth help keep the tongue in place, so this would be a more common behavior for cats missing teeth, particularly on the bottom.”

A blep might even be breed-specific. Persians, which have been bred to have flat faces, might dangle their tongues because they lack the real estate to store it. “I see it a lot with Persians because there’s just no room to tuck it back in,” Johnson says. A cat may also simply have a Gene Simmons-sized tongue that gets caught on their incisors during a grooming session, leading to repeated bleps.

Whatever the origin, bleps are generally no cause for concern unless they’re doing it on a regular basis. That could be sign of an oral problem with their gums or teeth, prompting an evaluation by a veterinarian. Otherwise, a blep can either be admired—or retracted with a gentle prod of the tongue (provided your cat puts up with that kind of nonsense). “They might put up with touching their tongue, or they may bite or swipe at you,” Johnson says. “It depends on the temperament of the cat.” Considering the possible wrath involved, it may be best to let them blep in peace.

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