If you've ever watched reality shows like Hoarders or My Strange Addiction, you know what oddities often lie behind people's front doors. However, people who work in trades from plumbing to cable installation definitely see more weirdness than your average A&E viewer. Any job that requires you to enter a private residence to do your work can open the door to a whole host of unexpected sights and smells.
A recent AskReddit thread invited people to share the weirdest encounter they had when entering a customer's residence. These 13 anecdotes prove humans really are the strangest species in the animal kingdom.
Working children's birthday parties seems like it would be a blast, although there are bad customers in any service job, even one as creative and fun as being a face painter. Thankfully, toxik0n has had a mostly positive experience in that line of work. However, they did have one customer whose home stood out from the rest.
"I went to one house, kinda messy and smelly, but no big deal. I started setting up my supplies and I heard a weird 'peep' sound above me. I look up to see a guinea pig running through a clear plastic tube attached to the ceiling. Then I take a good look around the house and notice the whole place is covered with a network of guinea pig tubes." Apparently, this family kept 10 guinea pigs as pets and had constructed a giant habitrail for them."
I'm sorry to report not all the accounts we read were this wholesome.
DirtyMartiniMan delivered for a food bank serving homebound elderly and disabled folks. Each week, he would drop off two cardboard banana boxes full of groceries to an older gentleman. After three years with this man on his route, he had to enter the home to unload the delivery because the man had injured his foot. And there he found three years worth of boxes.
"They lined every wall and entrance. He built a castle around his bed, and a series of paths through his house. It was like those pillow forts you would make as a kid but with boxes." Concerned, he asked if the man wanted his help breaking down and carting out the boxes, but he declined, saying all that fort-building was good for managing his dementia — plus it was a lot of fun.
Good_Looking_Karl once delivered medical oxygen to people's homes, which required home safety assessments to lower risks since oxygen is highly combustible. While he encountered tons of hoarders and other unsanitary conditions, "one took the cake." The man was reluctant to let Karl inside, saying the house was "messy." This was a major understatement, because the man had 200 chickens as his roommates. They were apparently "show chickens and he didn't want to relegate them to living in a coop or barn so he kept them inside his house. "The smell was unbearable," he said, and having grown up near an egg farm I can imagine. "Other than that, he was a super nice guy."
This next chicken house wasn't quite as pleasant. A former dispatcher for an internet service provider, therenaarena, recounted a call from a tech in the field that she'll never forget. The tech, who normally was casual and friendly, said in a very formal tone, "Hey. I wanted to call to formally let dispatch know that I will be leaving a job early and unfinished." She pulled up the account and asked what happened to make him leave without finishing the work, and he replied that there were chickens — and chicken droppings — everywhere, which is why the customer's equipment wasn't working. It was covered in chicken poop. And when he tried to explain that, and that the customer would be charged for the call, they responded by siccing the chickens onto this poor tech! Attack chickens, can you imagine?
Apparently this had happened before but nobody had ever put a note on the account about the chicken people, who called for weeks after to complain about the unprofessional and rude service they received.
Working in people's homes can also open you up to finding forensic evidence, as would seem to be the case for one flooring contractor. While replacing flooring in a residence, Rzr117 had to pull up some of the subfloor due to water damage and found an unexpected surprise.
"Underneath it there was a black garbage bag. When I opened said bag it had a bunch of women’s clothes in it. Didn’t think anything about it until we dumped it out and found bloody ripped underwear and torn dresses." He says the homeowner tried to act like he knew nothing about it but seemed nervous. What do you even do in a situation like that? He made an excuse for why they had to leave and come back the next day to finish the work, then called the cops and never returned. "The house was soon up for sale a month or so later," he says, but as for what that bag of clothes could have meant, he'll never know.
HardShellFlamboyancy works as an IT professional and found some crime evidence on a client's computer that prompted him to contact the police as well as child protective services. He was doubly concerned because there were young children living in the house. Let's just say it's the sort of files an IT pro probably hopes never to find on a client's hard drive.
Several people on the thread congratulated him for taking action, but he modestly said the police workers who have to view and catalogue that kind of evidence are the true heroes, which is something I had not thought about before. What a rough job.
WhilstTakingADump used to be a firefighter, which surely exposes one to some unpleasant sights from time to time, and thankfully that's not what he shared. Instead he talked about the time he responded to a late-night call and found what he at first thought was very strange wallpaper.
Now, the rest of this story could definitely play out like a horror film, but rather than feces or bugs, he realized what the walls were covered in were thousands of puzzle pieces. "She had hundreds of puzzles that she had glued when completed and then glued them to every surface of her mobile home. Walls, ceiling, living room, bedroom. Every square inch covered. Weird... But you do you. Especially in your own home."
People often keep strange collections, but this one definitely crosses the line when it comes to hobbies. Redditor turkeyintheyard is a property assessor who occasionally must do walkthroughs. They went to view a new, modern home occupied by a young family. "I was met at the door by Mrs. and 2 pre-schoolers. Very nice people." However, while conducting their room-to-room review, this assessor stumbled upon a disturbing collection in the spare bedroom: ".....boom, floor to ceiling Nazi shrine. It was very artistically done and was full of artifacts. One of the kids says 'this is dad's office.'"
I shudder to ask what dad does for a living.
OK, honestly, this one is like a scene from a horror movie. Narwheggie's boyfriend works as a locksmith in Las Vegas, which was a community hit very hard by the 2008 housing crisis. As a result, he had a lot of calls during that time to change the locks on abandoned and seized properties. Naturally the state of some of those homes were often not ideal, but one stood out from the rest for truly disturbing reasons.
It looked perfectly normal from the outside. "But inside, in every room, there were those 'time out' dolls. If you have never seen them, they are a doll that stands against the wall with its hands up to its face (and even more creepy usually they have no face) but they look like a kid hiding their face or pouting after being put in a time out."
It didn't help things feel less like a horror movie that the electricity had been shut off, and that this poor locksmith already had a doll phobia. And there wasn't just one in each room in a random corner, but "dozens, lining the walls. Not laying down, but standing up against every wall of the house." They counted 63 dolls in total, which is the exact number of nightmares I expect to have about this.
This one is positively Kafkaesque. mnpokermvp once did desktop support for a medical transcription company where most of the workers were remote, so he would occasionally have to make house visits to help with hardware issues. "One time, a woman called into the helpdesk cause her computer was making a weird noise and smelled like something was burning so I was dispatched to her house and when I walked in, the house was, to put it lightly, in disarray," he said. There was a lot of takeout containers and dirty dishes in the office, but it was far worse when he inspected her computer. "I go under her desk and unplug her desktop and go to open it and I see cockroaches scurry out from inside the desktop, I don't mean a couple, I mean HUNDREDS!!!"
He was so grossed out he stripped off his clothes, put them in his trunk, and drove directly home to shower. "I tossed my clothes into the garbage, including my shoes. I hosed myself down in the back yard, went immediately into my bathroom from there and took the hottest shower I've ever taken." Honestly, I feel like doing the same and I am just writing about it.
A contractor with the username kinkmyster had a renovation job for an older woman who wanted a wall torn down between a guest bedroom and the living room. "I thought okay and looked into the guest room, when I walked in I saw several photos of clowns above the bed, and an almost lifesize clown mannequin." To make it all the more creepy, the woman stared at him, smiling the entire week and a half he was on the job.
A lot of these speak more to the state of mental healthcare in the U.S. than to the peculiarity of humans, but none more so than the tale of KingSean910. Working as a residential maintenance guy, he's seen a lot, but the most unforgettable was a woman he looked in on after a hurricane. "When I went in I was overcome with the smell of pure sewage," he says, and he asked if her toilet was acting up. "She said she didn’t know, I was like OK, I’ll check it for you."
What he found was a toilet filled to the brim, and I will spare the details. When he asked how long her toilet hadn't been working she said she wasn't sure, "she doesn’t flush the toilet because that’s how the devil gets in her house."
Living_Kumquat used to do estimates for a restoration company dealing with fire and water damage. They entered a home that had recently sustained a small fire in the bedroom. Although it smelled smoky — to be expected, given the circumstances — the home seemed utterly normal until they got to the bedroom.
"Next to each side of the bed are 10 gallon buckets FILLED TO THE BRIM with cigarette butts, and hundreds of spilled over butts all over the floor," they wrote. When they asked, as they are required, what might have caused the fire, which mainly affected the bed and the wall behind it, they said, "No idea."