20 more questions you've always wanted to ask people about their jobs

After the success of our round-up of what goes on behind the scenes in various professions, Mumsnetters are back with more burning employment questions to which we're all dying to know the answer. Ever wondered what your gynaecologist thinks of your pubic hair? Read on...

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Is it true that coffins aren't burnt in a cremation - they're actually reused?

"Not true at all. The code of practice means that the coffin MUST be cremated along with the remains. All the metal is taken out after cremation."

Police officers

Do you feel powerful because people are afraid of what you can do?

"I think powerful is the wrong word. I can't think of an appropriate word to describe it. Maybe 'confident'... Going into a dangerous situation or a totally unknown scenario and coming out the other side means that you become confident that you can deal with things."

Do you really call each other "Sir" and "Ma'am" all the time?

"A male inspector or above is addressed as Sir; a female inspector or above is Ma'am. More colloquial (and only for the decent ones) is Boss or Gaffer (these are used for both sexes)."

Can a pregnant woman *really* wee in a policeman's helmet?

"A pregnant woman is exempt from the rule that you can't just piss anywhere, and that has been extrapolated to say that if they can go anywhere, then they might be able to go in a policeman's helmet. The helmets are terribly leaky, though; I'd rather go in an alley or something."

Kitchen staff

Do you ever reuse the untouched bits of salad/garnish from plate to plate?

"Many years ago I was a waitress/kitchen assistant - I regularly reused garnishes, salads and sauces, and even plates, knives and forks if the pot wash was being slow. The manager knew; he didn't care."

On the other hand...

"I run a restaurant and can confirm that we never reuse garnish. If we've taken out a pot of sauce and it's clearly not been touched, we still don't reuse it - even though it makes me twitch to waste it. Also, any ostensibly clean cutlery left on tables is rewashed, just in case."


Do you have favourites? 

"I do: mine are usually the naughty cheeky boys that everyone else hates. I don't feel too bad about it, as they usually need a break from the trouble they're in everywhere else! I treat all my kids fairly but have a soft spot for my band of Year 11 bottom-set lads."

Postmen and women

Have you ever been chased by a dog?

"I've never been chased by a dog, but I was bitten once. I handed mail to a guy through his metal gate and his dog bit my hand. I needed stitches."


If someone is healthy, could they theoretically be kept alive forever by machines?

"No: no one could be kept alive by machines forever. You could theoretically breathe for a patient and put them on dialysis for kidneys etc, but eventually, with age, all body tissues will break down beyond repair."


Do you ever think your charges are spoilt brats?

"I always refused or quit those jobs. One child was only allowed to hear positive things, so you couldn't use the words 'no', 'stop' or 'don't'. One two-year-old was allowed to do whatever they wanted, such as refuse dinner but have ice cream at 11pm. She was also allowed to remove her nappy and poo on the floor - her mother said it was natural and she was marking her territory."

Cabin crew

Why do the window blinds have to be open for takeoff and landing?

"Dimming the cabin lights and opening the blinds means that in an emergency situation at night in which an evacuation is required, everyone's eyes will be more acclimatised to the darkness."

Is the brace position really so your neck will snap and you'll die cleanly in a crash?

"No - it reflects better on the airline if the passengers disembark alive after an incident!"

Dentists and hygienists 

Is it true that most teeth problems are genetic rather than environmental?

"No. Sugar is the key! Some people are more prone to decay, but without sugar it still wouldn't happen. Gum disease does have a strong genetic link, but good cleaning will still win the day."

Can you tell when someone doesn't floss every day?

"Yes I can! It's obvious if someone's not entirely truthful as part of my job is to spot inflammation, which happens if you don't floss."

Civil engineers

What are 'smart motorways'? 

"Smart motorways are any that have variable speed limits on overhead gantries, sometimes with the hard shoulder running. Highways England are working their way round upgrading the busiest parts of the network a few junctions at a time."


Tube drivers

Have you ever had a ghostly encounter?

"Yes - I had one at Mile End station. I was seeing out the last train and the supervisor asked me to check the end of the platform, as he could see someone on the CCTV. I walked the length of the platform and saw nobody. I phoned upstairs and said I couldn't see anyone, the supervisor said 'He's standing right next to you'. I have never moved as fast as I did back up those stairs to the office."

Ghost writers

Do you get any credit?

"Some ghost writers do get their names on the covers, but I never ask for that as I like being invisible. My name is usually there somewhere, but often the client doesn't want it to be known they've used a ghost."


Are you allowed to accept personal gifts?

"Edible or consumable gifts to be shared among colleagues are acceptable, but personal gifts or gain is against our code of conduct."

Baristas and cafe staff

What's a suspended drink?

"It's when people buy a coffee that sits on a tab for homeless people, who can then come in and claim a drink for free."

Midwives and gynaecologists

Do you judge people's body hair?

"Nobody cares about the state of your body hair when you give birth. I don't even notice, so I'd have thought the same goes for most other professions where spending time staring at vulvas is an occupational hazard."


How do you become a diplomat?

"You take the ordinary civil service exams and say you want to be considered for the Diplomatic Service - then need to be one of the top scorers. If you are, you do another day of tests and an interview, and if you get through all that, you're in. It's really not all Ferrero Rocher, champagne and canapés though."

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Last updated: over 1 year ago