Thursday, November 06, 2014

And You Thought Your Job Was Terrible

We all like to complain about our jobs from time to time. Of course, in times like these, when we're lucky just to have jobs, it doesn't make a lot of sense to complain, but we do it anyway. Some jobs leave us with more to complain about than others ... Mike Rowe introduced us to many of them on his show "Dirty Jobs," which you may have seen on the Discovery Channel. There are not many jobs he tried on that show that I'd want to do, I can tell you.

Now I am, as you know, a history buff, and am fascinated by the ways in which we used to do things in the so-called "good old days." And if you think we have some pretty nasty jobs nowadays, you can thank your lucky stars that you weren't seeking employment in medieval times, where there were jobs that gave new meaning to the term yucky.

Not long ago, in reading an article about the lives of royalty in medieval England, I learned about one of the least attractive jobs I can imagine having: that of the "Groom of the King's Close Stool" (or just "Groom of the Stool" for short) - a position on the royal support staff created during the reign of King Henry VIII to monitor and assist with the king's bowel movements. The word stool referred to the portable commode which accompanied the royal personage at all times, along with water, towels and a wash basin. The Groom of the Stool was responsible for maintaining the stool and providing water, towels, and other supplies needed by the king for the comfortable and timely evacuation of his bowels. The Groom also monitored the king’s diet and mealtimes for maximum efficiency of his bowel movements, and his (the Groom’s) day was organized around his predictions of the royal poops.

The Royal Stool

Oddly enough from our perspective today, the job tended to be coveted because of the … um … close access it afforded the incumbent to the king, and the position often went to the young sons of noblemen or members of the landed gentry. Grooms of the Stool sometimes moved on other jobs in the royal household which afforded better pay and benefits.

The position of Groom of the Stool (later known as Groom of the Stole, perhaps because it looked better on resumes) existed until it was abolished by King Edward VII in 1901.

And you complain about your job.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.



Grand Crapaud said...

Thanks for the real poop on this job!

eViL pOp TaRt said...

That makes grooming dogs look good by comparison, even expressing their anal glands. (Ugh!) Did the Queen have a similar functionary?

Linda Kay said...

I'm also curious about the Queen. When we were traveling last summer in Europe we learned about how the ladies wore some sort of insect repellent under their huge dresses to keep the bugs away. That's a bit yucky as well. Not sure if that was someone's responsibility to maintain. Some of that royalty history is crazy!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

The Groom of the Stool was privy to important information and influence.

Mike said...

I wonder if Mitch McConnell will now demand one of those servants.

Duckbutt said...

Another kind of throne for the king!

There was a king who died on the throne.