Sometime ago we asked our regular contributors through e-mail, What strange habits have you picked up from your line of work? We got many interesting response. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way and most of the respondents have requested to stay anonymous, so no names will be published.

1-5 Strange Habits Picked from Your Line of Work

Mental Health Care Worker

1. I work with mentally disabled adults and sometimes I forget I can’t talk to normal people like they’re 5. I also hide my food in weird places and compulsively lock doors. It only takes one time of someone bursting into the bathroom screaming like a raptor while you’re peeing for you to remember to lock the door.

2. Locking my computer every time I get up from my desk at home even though there’s nobody else around. We have a webapp at work where you get a point if you visit from someone else’s computer and type in your name. Once we started doing that everyone got real good at locking their computers, but not before a few of us shot to the top of the leader boards.

3. Back when I used to work in retail, some dude asked me the time while I was on vacation. I looked at my watch, told him, and then when he thanked me, I thanked him for coming in and told him to have a nice day. I also find myself tidying other people’s stores quite often.

4. I am a career lifeguard. I yell “walk” at small children in public places for no reason.

5. After working in the restaurant business throughout high school and college, there was a period of time I caught myself saying “corner!” anytime I went around a corner in a crowded place. I also used to touch my coworkers’ backs and say “behind you!” I started doing this out of habit every time I was walking behind someone in a crowed area. Got a lot of awkward looks.

6-10 Strange Habits Picked from Your Line of Work

Prison Guard

6. I used to work as a prison guard almost 20 years ago. To this day my hearing focus is about 3 feet behind me when walking around. Meaning you become hyper-aware of anything going on behind your back.

7. Engineering. I must find the most efficient method of doing something. I will sometimes spend 50 minutes of free time trying to make a 3 second task take 1 second.

8. I worked in a preschool. I found myself asking others if they washed their hands after they left the bathroom.

9. I’m a paralegal, so around attorneys all day long. I’ve learned to never admit to anything! I use the phrase “It appears as though that car ran a red light,” instead of “That car ran a red light.” It leaves a little doubt in your statements and you’re not outright accusing anyone of anything or admitting to anything either.

10. Restaurant manager. I have to stop myself from greeting/thanking people walking into/leaving businesses that aren’t my restaurant. It is quite embarrassing on the rare occasions I don’t catch myself. But I guess I just look super friendly or insane.

11-15 Strange Habits Picked from Your Line of Work

Martial Arts Bow

11. I am a martial arts instructor. We bow coming into the building to symbolize leaving all negativity at the door. On the way out, we turn in the doorway, facing back into the dojang and bow to symbolize our appreciation. Occasionally, when I’m not thinking, I bow when I walk in and out of buildings and sometimes to people when I meet or thank them. I’m sure I look freaky.

12. I used to work as a guide in a zoo aviary, and I got attuned to all the birdsongs. Now I can’t turn it off. Watching a movie, I start picking out the bird noises in the background. In a rainforest scene, for instance, I’ll notice a Screaming Piha, a macaw… and a robin!? What the hell is an American Robin doing in the Amazon? It’s really jarring. Either movie sound mixers need to step up their game, or I need to calm down.

13. I’m a maintenance electrician. Anytime I go anywhere I always catch myself looking at the lighting to see how many globes have blown. I recently traveled to Costa Rica and I was appalled by their electrical boxes/lighting. I kept pointing stuff out to my wife. She didn’t care.

14. I don’t do this anymore because it was many years ago, but I used to work in the casino area of a hotel. There were cameras everywhere and every time we were handling money, we had to visibly show our empty hands so the camera would pick it up, just in case they had to check someday. For a while after I left, I would find myself occasionally doing the hand gesture after touching money.

15. I work in childcare. Obviously it’s important to know how many kids you have at any given time so at work I’m constantly head counting. It’s kind of a weird skill to have, but having done it literally thousands of times now I can do it very efficiently, even with large groups of non-stationary people. Because I do this almost unconsciously at work I constantly find myself doing it in the real world, such as when sitting having a coffee in a cafe or at a party. It’s actually come in handy more than a few times, because if you’ve ever been with a large group of friends, it’s easy not to notice if someone goes missing. Not when I’m around.

16-20 Strange Habits Picked from Your Line of Work

Vascular Forearm

16. I am a nurse. I assess people’s veins and occasionally compliment them. There’s this barista who works at the Starbucks near my apartment with hoses I could hit from across the room.

17. Fisheries biologist. I can’t eat seafood without dissecting what I’m eating. I remove ear bones from fish and check the sex of crustaceans.

18. My manufacturing job is really safety conscious. Gotta wear gloves for everything. Nitrile gloves while I’m cleaning. Cut-resistant gloves for basically anything else. Now when I’m working around the house, I don’t feel right without a pair of gloves.

19. I work at a high end wine and liquor store. I smell every beverage now before I drink it, including water. Also, when I grab an item at a store I sometimes pull the next one forward to make it look nice on the shelf.

20. TV reporter: I sometimes ask complete strangers (who I’m not interviewing – i.e., people at the grocery store or park) pointed, overly personal questions about their feelings or events that have happened in their lives. While inappropriate, I can’t think of a time when someone hasn’t given me a genuine answer.

21-25 Strange Habits Picked from Your Line of Work


21. I am a dishwasher. Contrary to my roommate, I can’t stand seeing dirty dishes left in the sink. I find it strange when people complain about doing dishes for like 30 minutes. Because that sounds like a crazy easy shift to me.

22. On my first morning as an apprentice plumber I was sent into a loft to turn off a valve. The loft was full of cobwebs and they got all in my long hair. I went and bought a cap in my lunch break. I wore a cap every day at work since. Nine years of wearing a cap later, I simply do not feel like I’m a plumber without my hat. I’ll have to put it on just to change a tap washer at home.

23. I’m a substitute teacher (have my license for middle/secondary bio) and also work nights at a liquor store. If I ask someone to help me with something or explain something, I always end it with, “Does that makes sense?” And then I apologize because outside of a learning environment, it can sound condescending. I also call everyone ‘bud’ or ‘friend.’

24. When I’m driving and someone does something stupid, I accelerate to catch up to them and reach to turn my lights and sirens on-then I realize I’m not in my cop car. My friends make fun of me at bars and public places because I’m always scanning and looking around at people. On more than one occasion I’ve opened the car door for my girlfriend, guided her into the car with my hand, and said “watch your head”. (It’s hard to get in a car with handcuffs on. I always guide the person in and make sure they don’t slam their head).

25. I was a casino dealer. I would never give or take cash directly from people’s hands. I have also said “no more bets” to several people in shops, on buses etc. I have even said it in my sleep.

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Last Update: April 25, 2016

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