Don’t let the name fool you! No one was getting paid to impregnate women. But some Brits were hired to act as human alarm clocks—literally. Back in Victorian England, a knocker-upper used a long fishing rod-like stick to tap three or four times on someone’s window to jolt a person awake for work without waking their neighbors.
Most people in the profession used long poles, while others employed alternative methods such as peashooters, soft hammers, or rattles to wake people up in the wee hours of the morning. One female knocker-upper earned 30 shillings (a little more than a pound) each week, a surprisingly high salary for a woman of her time. In just two months, her earnings added up to the equivalent of an annual salary for a housemaid. (Not getting paid enough at your current job? (Learn how to job hunt while working at your current job.) Unfortunately, the invention of the alarm clock killed the knocker-upper industry.
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