NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- No job is permanent, especially in today's world. Unfortunately, many of us have felt the pain of getting laid off unexpectedly or struggled to find a job in a shrinking industry.
But what about the jobs that have completely and totally disappeared? Technology has rendered some jobs obsolete, while others have vanished because of cultural or societal changes. Jobs that were once quite common are now nothing more than a historical footnote.
The following are 10 jobs that have disappeared or, at the very least, are on the endangered species list. If you have one of these careers, then you might want to consider a different line of work...
10. Elevator Operator
In their early days, elevators functioned with levers that required manual operation in order to keep the elevators moving smoothly, efficiently, and at the correct speed and to ensure they stopped on the correct floor. To that end, elevator operators performed this job.
Department stores and other establishments eventually had their elevator operators function as greeters and tour guides who would announce the products on each floor and inform customers of special deals.
The widespread introduction of user-operated elevators with push buttons rendered elevator operators almost completely unnecessary. Today, they exist sparingly and mostly provide an old-world charm in monuments such as the Space Needle in Seattle.
Jesters were common in the medieval and Tudor periods as entertainers for rulers or other people of noble station. They also performed for the common people at fairs and markets.
But jesters were more than just goofballs in colorful clothing. They typically possessed a variety of skills, including singing, music, storytelling, magic, juggling, and acrobatic feats.
The jester more or less disappeared when Oliver Cromwell overthrew Charles I and took over England in the aftermath of the British Civil War from 1642 to 1651. Cromwell turned England into a Puritan Christian republic, which basically meant fun people like jesters had no place in society.
Most offices today have that one man or woman who is the life of the party, the funny one who always brings a smile to people's faces with a silly outfit or a new joke. Let's think of them as the spiritual successor to the jesters of yesteryear.
8. Cup Bearer
This may sound like a horrible job on the surface, as the entire function was to literally serve drinks to royalty. But the position actually carried with it a tremendous amount of trust, as kings and other nobility lived in constant fear of poisoning at the hands of their enemies.
Cup bearers would often swallow some of the drink before presenting it to the royalty to ensure its safety. As a result of this trust, the cup bearer actually held significant influence, and only a choice few people throughout history earned the honor.
Cup bearers appear in several historical cultures. They are mentioned in the Bible and Greek mythology, as well as in the Holy Roman Empire, Visigothic Spain and in Shakespeare's works.
7. Military Drummer Boys
Have you ever imagined walking into your office to your own theme music? Or walking down the street with a theme song blaring behind you? Well, if you had been part of an army prior to the 19th century, a military drummer boy would have provided that service for you.
Western armies would enlist these children to play the instrument during battle, but it wasn't all for show. The drums were actually crucial to communications within the army on the battlefield, as different drum beats signaled different orders from officers to soldiers.
The use of drummer boys on the battlefield started to wane in the 19th century, as bugles began to replace drums as the instrument of choice for issuing commands. Multiple gruesome incidents involving drummer boys also facilitated their decline, as enemy troops occasionally massacred the children.
6. Rover (Ice Hockey Position)
Ice hockey remains one of the four major professional sports in the U.S. and is wildly popular in Canada, but the sport actually dropped one of the positions it had from its inception in the late 19th century.
Hockey initially had seven positions: the goalie, two defenders, three forwards and a rover, who had no fixed position on the ice and skated wherever the flow of the game deemed necessary. But as hockey players increased their skills and abilities, the rover became more and more obsolete.
The National Hockey Association officially removed the position shortly after it formed in 1910, and the NHL, the NHA's successor, followed suit in 1917.
Today, some refer to speedy defenders as rovers because they often attack on offense and create pressure rather than just sitting back by the blue line. The extra attacker on a delayed penalty or after the goalie is pulled is also sometimes called a rover because he skates all over the ice instead of staying in a fixed position.
Samurai were the military nobility in Japan and are widely perceived today as devout, deadly warriors; however, Buddhism and Zen heavily influenced samurai culture, and some even abandoned violence entirely to become monks. Despite this, samurai were skilled fighters who were not to be trifled with.
Samurai followed the code of Bushido, the belief that the warrior's duty was one of honor and loyalty until death.
As Japan started to open relations with the west in the 19th century, the samurai started to wane in favor or a more modern, Western-style army. Emperor Meiji ended the samurais' role as the only armed force in the country in 1873. The right to wear a katana in public went away shortly after that, and samurai soon faded into the history books.
4. Switchboard Operator
Switchboard operators were popular, and quite necessary, from the telephone's first days until the 1960s. The operators would connect calls by manually inserting a set of plugs into the appropriate phone jacks.
The advent of automated telephone exchanges rendered the switchboard operator less necessary. The increasing technological advances in communications have largely phased out these operators or, at the very least, limited the roles significantly. They still exist, but their numbers have greatly dwindled.
Pinsetters used to be a common sight at bowling alleys. After you'd do your best Fred Flintstone impression and knock the pins down, a teenager or young boy or girl would set them back up so that you could continue your game.
But technology has removed all need for these pinsetters, as automatic machines now collect the pins and reset them. On occasion, a manager or employee will need to go behind the lane and fix a problem, but 99% of this job is now automated.
Lamplighters did precisely what their names state. Each night, these town or city employees would go into the streets and light the lamps to allow people to travel in the darkness.
Lamplighters would use wicks or long poles to ignite the flames and, in the morning, would use hooks on those poles to extinguish them. Early street lights were made of candles, oils, or other liquids suitable to hold a wick and a flame.
The widespread institution of electric lights in the majority of towns and cities around the world made lamplighters all but useless. Today, they exist in minuscule numbers as tourist attractions in certain pockets of the world.
The milkman has become the poster boy for a bygone era. The mention of the word calls to mind images of a man in a white costume in the 1950s happily delivering the dairy product to housewives during the day. Many houses in the U.S. used to contain milk chutes, special compartments in which the milkman would place the bottles and residents would retrieve them.
The era of the milkman has largely passed, but milk deliveries do still exist in the U.S. As of 2005, approximately 0.4% of consumers had their milk delivered. The rise in desire for organic and fresh products has also provided a bit of a boost to this industry as people stray from buying refrigerated products from the supermarket.
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