There are plenty of jobs that require a person to enter another's home in order to conduct their work. With thousands of daily house visits from these professions, there is a fairly high chance that some people choose to live their lives outside of societal norms.
From plumbers to contractors to cleaners, workers share their most surprising house visits spanning from a serial smoke detector thief to things much more sinister.
A Critter Crisis
“A buddy is an exterminator. Usually they get called to offices or other large businesses, rarely homes. He went to a home for a ‘small roach problem.’
Way more roaches than what would be considered small, but not the worst he had seen and he said he would’ve been able to handle it, but he also saw bed bugs on the kitchen floor. Bed bugs don’t like to be in the open like that, which was a red flag. He asked to take a look around, their couch and bed were LOADED with the things. Tells them the only way to rid them at this point is to throw out the bed and couch, take every bit of clothing and anything made of fabric to a laundromat and blast them in a dryer on highest setting, and have their house bug-bombed. They get upset at this suggestion and he ends up not doing anything about the roaches or bed bugs.
He keeps an extra set of clothes in his truck, and being paranoid about bringing the little critters in to his truck or worse in to his home, he strips down in front of their house, throws his work clothes in the bed of the truck, puts on his extra set, and threw his work clothes in a burn barrel when he got home at the end of the day. Said it was the worst case of bed bugs he had ever seen.”
“Back in the 70’s, my dad was testing fire alarms in a high rise outside Washington, DC. Residents had been given ample notice, and as my dad approached the next unit, he saw the door ajar. After a few knocks on the open door, my dad walked in and asked if anyone was home. This woman – dressed apparently in lingerie – walked into the living room, saw my dad, and ran and jumped off her balcony. She died upon impact.
In the news article, it’s said that investigators found arsenic in her coffee, a homemade bomb that failed to detonate under her car, and several odd traps set to kill her. She knew someone was out to get her from previous incidents and was tired of looking over her shoulder. She thought my dad was the hitman. It was the perfect (unintentional) setup, I guess. Since my dad was there, he was arrested. It took 10 days to clear his name, and for investigators to find her ex husband guilty (yes, her husband was also trying to kill her at the time).
My dad had JUST started seeing my mom at the time. Talk about a leap of faith.
After that, my dad’s friends referred to him as ‘hitman.’ My dad’s email address and license plate all said ‘hitman.’ When I was in high school, my car broke and I had to drive his blacked out SUV to school for a few days. People stopped picking on me when they saw the tag.
Both of my parents are deceased now, but I have the newspaper article somewhere, and the memory of my dad telling the story.”
Pet Sitter Finds A Dog That Bit Off More Than It Could Chew
“When I was in high school, I worked as a pet-sitter. I had clients around my neighborhood, and there was a skyscraper apartment building a couple miles from my house where a lot of the residents hired me to walk their dogs daily. These people were mostly elderly or disabled.
There was one lady who lived on the top floor, probably in her nineties, and she had a lot of difficulty hearing and speaking. She had a pekingese and a miniature poodle as well as a little calico cat. She frequently napped during the time when I was scheduled to walk her dogs, and she was a SUPER heavy sleeper, so sometimes I’d have to check to make sure she was still breathing when I came in because she was obviously old enough where it was kind of expected that she’d pass soon.
Her poodle was a really mischievous little guy. He had a habit of intentionally peeing on people’s shoes during walks, so I always had to be watching him closely when people stopped to pet him. He also sometimes got into his owner’s trash. But those things don’t even compare to what I found one day.
I walked up to her apartment, knocked softly, and when there was no response I figured she was napping as usual so I entered, intending to suit up the dogs in their harnesses for their walk. She was indeed napping on her couch, sound asleep. All over the floor were poop-filled adult diapers, shredded, and the poodle was staring at me with little bits of diaper fluff hanging out of his mouth with this absolute look of ‘yeah look what I did’ in his eyes.
I couldn’t help but stand and stare for a couple seconds, completely speechless. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was certainly grossed out, but more than that I felt so sad for the woman because I knew that she would have been absolutely mortified to find out I had witnessed that. As quietly as I could, I cleaned all the half-eaten diapers off of the floor, put them back in her bathroom diaper trashcan, and then took the dogs out.
She was still napping soundly when I got back, with her cat curled up on her chest. I never told her about that fiasco.”
“The Trash Queen”
“I used to work for an eviction company with a bunch of friends (the only tolerable part of that job). The stuff we’ve seen will stay seared into our memories long after we’ve all gone senile and gray. Opinions will vary among us as to which experience was the worst, but one that immediately comes to mind would be a town house that was rented by a woman in her later 40’s/early 50’s, aptly crowed the Trash Queen by our crew.
We worked with cops from whichever counties we were working in, their job is to do the knock, explain to the tenant what’s happening, and make sure the place is clear for us to safely do our job. Cop goes up, knocks, lady answers and he enters the house. We don’t see him again for several minutes. This was worrying for us as it usually meant there was a lot of stuff that had to be checked around, which we would then have to carry.
He comes out and looks very disturbed as he is kicking some trash that had gotten stuck to his boots. He tells us it’s time to go in with a wry smile on his face, and we head on in. From the first step into the house, trash. At least 2 1/2 ft in every single square inch of the place. We can see the trail through the place trudged by the cop and tenant previously, but nothing else, save for a few lamps sticking out from the disgusting mess. The smell was vile. A sickly sweet and fecal aroma since much of the trash were used baby diapers (we never saw a baby). We retched several times before leaving the place carrying the few lamps. We told the cop that was all we saw and that, as a policy, we don’t remove trash. That’s when he informed us there was plenty of furniture in the place and we needed to go back in.
We dug under buckets of rancid KFC, bags of animal feces, used diapers, unwashed clothes, and other great, roach infested things to dissolve your senses, all to get to this woman’s furniture which had long been absorbed into the pit of horrors. Whole thing took us about an hour and a half to get ‘enough’ of the stuff we couldn’t write off as just trash. We did not finish out the day, if I recall.
This was not our first, or last, time dealing with trash hoarders at that job, but it was one for the books, and our books were full of this stuff.
Mental illness is the main culprit behind this kind of behavior, though it mattered little to us at the time, as we were the ones dealing with the fallout. The tenants’ attachment to items ( even basic trash) made it difficult for cops to make a judgement call, again, because they aren’t equipped to deal with mental illness.
I think we all understood that, but we were relatively young, early 20’s when we worked there. Having to deal with the grimy parts of the job, the poor conditions, the terrible pay, the lack of respect from all angles, took a toll on your soul. We all say that it killed our humanity, but I think years removed from the job have allowed us to see many situations for what they really were; health and income disparity on a systemic level.
Many, I’m talking 80%, of the places we evicted were rented by black or hispanic tenants. They lived in poor conditions which often revealed signs of depression or compulsive behaviors. Many times, the cops would immediately treat them with malice or disdain from the start, which would usually escalate them into behaving poorly enough for cops to justify taking them into custody. I guess the thought was ‘if they’re in cuffs, they can’t cause problems for us.’
The whole thing was a delayed lesson in class disparity and placed us right in the middle of it, seen as little more than tools for the job, barely above the people we were evicting. Sadly, we did so many of these a day, and over the 4 years I worked there, we never had time or interest to follow up. Maybe once or twice we would hear through the grapevine that someone had committed suicide or moved in with another person we were about to evict, which we hated. Again, the frustrations of the job killed our empathy for these people, honestly… we were struggling too hard with our own lives to find a way to care.
At the end of the day, a cleared unit was money in the bank for our boss, who was much more interested in filling his pockets than maintaining any shred of our dignity.
Very glad that time in my life is over.”
Snake Catcher Discovers Much More Than Just A Snake
“So when I lived in Arkansas, I had a part time gig removing snakes from people’s homes.
One night, as I was heading home (around 11pm), I got a call asking if I could check out a snake that had been seen in a house. The address was close, so I said sure.
When I pulled up, the first thing I noticed was the lack of a front door. Seriously. No front door. Ok, well, at least I know how it got in. I come up to the doorway and peek my head in to say hello, and I’m immediately hit with a smell. It was… a combination of wet dog, rotten food, cat food, and mildew. I almost gagged.
I was greeted by an older woman. To describe her… she was maybe in her 40’s or 50’s. Hard to tell. She had maybe three teeth left, and a wild mop of grey hair.
She tells me she saw the snake come in through the hole where the satellite cable comes into the house. A gaping three inch hole for a tiny coax cable. I mean, forget the missing front door, but ok. She tells me it went under the couch. I crouch down on the plywood floor and shine my flashlight underneath. There are some beady eyes peering back, but no snake. Just a lot of very fat mice. Gross. Ok.
She tells me then that maybe it went across the small room under the other couch. So, back on the floor, looking under. There, I see two eyes reflecting back. Large eyes. ‘Oh, that’s where the dog sleeps.’ WHAT? Sure enough, this mangy mutt wanders out. The underside of the couch has had most of the stuffing ripped out of it into a bed for the dog. Well, the snake isn’t there. She asks me to check the rest of the house.
I’m too nice to say no.
She shows me the kitchen. The sink is full of dishes caked with semi-rotting food. The island in the center has a 40 lb. bag of cat food spilled out on it. It’s been there a while. There are mice leaping about on the pile. Frolicking, like you do. No snakes, though.
Then she asks me to check the ‘bedrooms.’ I say this in quotes, because it’s really just one room in the back of the house spilt in two by plywood half nailed up. I can’t even step into her room. If there were snakes there, they were probably crushed under the weight of discarded fast food containers and People magazine subscriptions.
Then she asks me to check the last room. There is an older man sleeping on a mattress in an otherwise bare room. She tells me, ‘That’s my dumb brother.’ No snakes.
I thank her, tell her there are no snakes to be found. Get in my car, drive home as fast as I can, and take three showers before feeling clean enough to go to bed.”
A Spying Eye
“I used to do alarms. My friends know this, so a couple of years ago a friend asked for some help.
She was going through a messy divorce with lots of cash on the table. He had moved out and it was clear she was getting the house. I went over to help her with her keypad, how to change the codes. Next day she got a call from him asking why I was there. He knew my skills as well. Neither of us had mentioned to him that I was going there, which I immediately took to mean that he was monitoring cameras.
She had no knowledge of any cameras, so I told her where in the utility room to look for the networking feed and pull it. Then I came over and looked things over immediately.
Cameras everywhere, and he had the alarm panel set up for remote admin, with a cellular backup, meaning that he could add keypad codes, disarm, set remote alerts etc from his phone. Some were pinholes. Some were simply hidden on high shelves, he also replaced most smoke detectors with cameras built in. He had a wireless one outside powered by the nighttime lighting that we found by watching the DVR feedback. There was one that was dead but was programmed into the system that I don’t think we ever found. To his credit he did not do the bathrooms.
This house had amazing attics and an unfinished basement for pulling cables, and she was very non-tech so she didn’t really pay attention to all the PoE cabling, especially since he was always ‘improving’ the in-house networking, and legitimately had all the smokes added to a good fire panel as an excuse to swap them out. Either he or a buddy had decent fishing tools and skills for some of the pulls, but mostly it could have been done by a non-pro.
I’m sure he got notifications that day, but he was in meetings he could not interrupt, so I took his system down and documented everything for her attorneys. Technically he still co-owned the house, so without a court order it was still legal for him to monitor.
I did hear from him, and my response to his threats was to forward them to his HR department because he used company email to send them.
We found DVRs, cameras, mics, wireless feeds, internet proxies and all other manner of surveillance in that house and rooted it so that she now controls it all.”
An Eccentric Hotel Guest
“I’m a fire alarm technician, which means that I sometimes have to go into people’s hotel rooms to do the hotels yearly inspection to ensue they meet up with the city’s safety code.
I know it’s not the same as someone’s home but I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff in my time of doing these inspections. Some of them in places you’d expect, like a seedy motel that no one in their right mind would actually stay in. But my favorites are the ones in the swankier, more upscale hotels. Cause you’d never expect to see a blowup doll strapped to the bed of some business guy’s 5 star hotel room. The resident was actually in the room with us when we saw it, which lead to little awkward moment where we just stood there starring at it before we just left the room. We came back about an hour later to finish it and neither the doll nor the resident were there.
Often, we would try and do our inspections at a time when most guests would be out so we wouldn’t disturb them. But one time I would never forget was during a last minute inspection for a client of ours who owned a hotel. However, he neglected to inform the manager that we were doing the inspection that day.
We get there and start preparing for the inspection, thinking that the manager already knows. She comes out of her office panicking cause she had no idea that it was supposed to happen today and she complains that she didn’t have enough time to inform the guests that we would be making the alarms go off.
We let her know that we still have to go room by room and verify that all smoke detectors go off correctly and that all sirens are able to sound off according to code.
She relents but has one of the maintenance guys go with us to help us explain to any guests what is going on.
My coworker is back on the first floor of the hotel where the fire alarm panel is located and I’m on the 3rd floor going room by room doing my job with the maintenance guys walking along with me to open the doors and talk to the guests.
We get a particular room that the maintenance guy just sighs at.
I ask him what’s wrong and he says that he really doesn’t want to go into this particular room as it has one of their more ‘Eccentric’ guests. I tell him that it doesn’t matter and that we still have to see EVERY room in order to complete our inspection. He relents but is not enjoying opening this guys door.
We enter and he shouts his typical call ‘Maintenance Here For Fire Inspection!’ call that we do for every room. No one answers so we go ahead inside.
I enter and see that the smoke head has been taken off. This is a common thing to see when people want to smoke in their rooms but don’t want to set off the smoke sensor, we also have had a few rooms earlier with the heads removed.
The maintenance guy then starts looking through the room searching for the smoke head. It’s considered the hotel’s property and taking it off can also be seen as destruction of their property, they are allowed to go through your room as it is seen as creating a hazard for other guests.
He goes into the bathroom while I’m just standing by the door as I’m not a hotel employee and not allowed to touch anything.
While I’m standing in the doorway, the resident returns and just pushes right past me and sits on his bed. Doesn’t say a word, doesn’t tell me to get out, just sits there with a blank look on his face and just watches as the maintenance guy continues his search.
The guy can’t find the smoke head and we are about to leave and just write down that this room is unsafe, when the resident finally speaks.
He asks us what we were looking for so I tell him we are looking for the smoke detector head, it’s missing.
He then without a word, gets up and pulls out of his pocket the smoke head. I take it and proceed to reattach it to the smoke base. I turn around and he has three more smoke heads in his hands.
I ask him were he got those from and he says ‘From other hotels.’ He then proceeds to take out a backpack and shows that it’s full of nothing but smoke heads. Apparently this guy goes around and takes all the heads off of the smoke detectors and just hangs onto them for whatever reason. Some of them are really old, showing that he’s been at this for a long time.
It gets weirder when a girl, who is obviously a ‘working girl’ shows up. She looks at us, then to the resident and says, ‘You didn’t say three,’ and just walked out.
The maintenance guy and I just looked at each other, tell the resident to have a good day and leave.
We finished up the rest of the hotel and are packing up to leave when I see the resident and the ‘working girl’ coming back into the hotel and go into the elevator. The maintenance guy was there and also saw it. He just gave me a look and said that he had to go get the manager. We left before we found out what happened but when we went back to the hotel the next year I stayed back at the panel while my coworker now goes room by room.”
“I used to work on movies as a set dresser, and sometimes we film on location in various places including people’s houses, they usually rent out the space for a day and a film crew comes in and moves all their stuff around then puts it back.
I’ve been in abandoned hospitals, caves overnight, top of a parking garage in the rain at 2 am. And the weirdest thing I ever saw was…
A full on walk in closet with every wall stacked high with Furbys. Apparently they’re collectible now, and there are rarer ones like with beanie babies I guess. But the owner, he proudly explained to me that these ones were all in their original boxes, great condition, this one’s only sold in Japan (we were in Texas), etc. I dunno guess whatever works for him, but having all those little eyes staring at me was the most bizarre thing ever.”
“I am a plumber by trade and although most of my work is with processing plants and factories, occasionally our boss will do a favor for a project manager or other high level contact. We were asked to go and install a R.O. System (it’s a type of water purification system) at someone’s country home. Most people have no need for water that pure, a filtration system and UV treatment is way more than enough, but if they client wants to pay for it, then he gets what he wants.
So me and my coworker drive to this guy’s house in the middle of nowhere. It’s a pretty standard looking house nothing out of the ordinary. We go inside and he brings us down to the basement to this big steel door and a set of steps leading further down.
This guy had excavated and over the last few years built an underground bunker. Think of place in 10 Cloverfield Lane but this was way better built. It was still rather spartan as there was no furniture yet. But this place was massive, possibly about 5,000 Sq ft of living space. There was an air filtration system that would bring fresh air in and pump it out to several spots on his property, a series of buried reservoirs to hold fresh water pumped from his well (after it went through his newly installed R.O.). He had power from a mix of the grid and a small solar plant on the roof of his house and another in a field away from the house, as well as a backup generator. There were shelves in the walls with lights installed for growing small crops, even one room that he said will be dedicated to raising a couple of chickens.
This man was geared up to survive the end of the world, and had spent a ton of money to do so. I have seen a lot of preppers before but this was a very different level of prep.”
A Questionable Profession
“I used to clean houses– I was young and worked for cash, by myself, for less than other people charged so I would get weird people sometimes. My best customer was a kid my age named Alex who lived in this ginormous house up in the mountains by himself. I think this place had at least five bedrooms, three floors, and the only person who lived there permanently was him. I came over once every two weeks to tidy up for him and sometimes would come over if he called because his mom was coming, whatever.
I’m in the laundry room sweeping up lint and bits of leaves and decide to close the door to the house so I can sweep behind it. Oh gosh, that’s a very large uh… assault weapon (I can’t tell you what kind, not really that type of person, it was big and scary looking). I very gingerly swept around it. Later, when putting fresh sheets on his bed, I lifted up the end of the mattress to box-fold the sheets under and OH HI another weapon, a smaller one this time, silver. Sure all right great.
It wasn’t until I’d worked for him for two months and started noticing a lot of weed around the place (like a lot. More than that. Gallon jars of it.) that I realized oh, ohhhhhhhhhhh, he’s a dealer.
I worked for him for a long time, he was generally a nice guy and always tipped really well.”