Everyone has had at least one shitty job in their life. I’ve had a few:
- Worked as a telemarketer at a company that sold septic tank cleaning enzymes that a person would dump down the toilet to melt all the human-waste-sludge hidden underneath the yard. The people would usually get pretty pissed off when I called and yell things at me like, “WE’RE EATING DINNER!”
- Had to unload an enclosed tractor trailer truck one time full of Yucca Trees from the mountains of Northern Mexico. I was making $8 an hour and my boss told us to be careful because ‘these trucks are typically infested with Brown Recluse spiders.” I was seventeen and he let me borrow a long sleeve shirt.
- Chipped gunite (a super strong concrete-type material) with a jackhammer for a month straight in a metal drum as big as a house. It was pretty brutal work and my fingers swelled up. I couldn’t get my wedding ring on my hand for three months unless I iced my hand down. But it fits now. So that’s cool.
Here’s a list of what the other editors at Entropy have had to endure. It’s not pretty, but work seldom is.
David S. Atkinson:
I was a Salvation Army bellringer once. I hate those bells. I took the clapper out of my bell so it was only the wire banging around in there. That was better, but not enough given the boredom. I managed to bang out Black Sabbath tunes (at least they sounded like that to me) with the bell, but even that only helped so much. Particularly given standing outside in 20 degree weather all day. I didn’t go back the second day.
I worked at Forever 21 in high school. I worked after school until closing, got home after midnight, did my homework, and basically didn’t sleep. It’s when my coffee addiction started. I also worked at Mervyn’s.
2002: I once answered a Craigslist ad in LA for an odd job, and an hour later I was crawling around a rooftop in Hollywood Hills, cleaning out gutters, while the owner played show tunes on a grand piano.
Days later, I answered another Craigslist ad for an odd job, and met the person in an underground parking garage in Beverly Hills. Turned out they were a foxy weather-caster looking lady, dripping in costume jewelry, in a Jaguar. My first task was to follow her to the mechanics, where she dropped her car off; then, she got into my dilapidated 1990 Plymouth Colt, bringing with her an extraordinary BO that could rival many of my former Evergreen State College classmates, and we drove to an empty strip mall in Malibu, where I shredded legal documents about a trailer park, and drank Dr. Pepper. It was kind of awesome. $80, cold hard cash.
I worked as an editor for a New Age magazine. Writers channelled otherworldly beings, including Merlin and the Arcturians. We had to contact authors before we printed any changes to their divinely inspired words: queries involved the correct spelling of aliens’ names and home worlds. Actually maybe it was the best job?
In high school, I was a character/escort at a local theme park. I’ve played them all: Angelica Pickles, Spongebob Squarepants, Chuckie Finster, Dora the Explorer, the Fairly Oddparents, Eliza Thornberry from the Nickelodeon family and my favorite from the Hanna-Barbera era because of its air circulation: Astro the Jetsons’ dog. Do I need to say how horrible it was? It was hot. And sweaty. And when you’re a character, everyone is needy and the worst: parents, children, teenagers, my own co-workers who were also hot and sweaty. I did it for two summers as I was convinced that making .75 cents more than minimum wage made me richer and more special. And sometimes I had an escort who cared about my well-being as a person in a costume and sometimes I was partnered with a fool who would sneak peeks at his cell phone (pre-smart phones). But I will never forget how I had to pull furry Tommy Pickles leggings off of a boy who didn’t wear socks to work that day and didn’t trim his dark, long, and dirty toenails.
Oh, where to start. I’ll limit it to three. 1. I worked in an Apple call center as a customer service rep for the rollout of the original iPhone. Which had many, many issues, which I had exactly two weeks of training to try and resolve. I was screamed at by a broad cross section of American society that summer, and called a grand variety of names for my trouble. 2) I worked as a nanny for a couple of college professors who didn’t believe being in charge of a 3, 5, and 7 year old all day was enough to occupy my time, so they always had some awful side work for me. I was once asked to stain a wood dresser using the family’s worn-out underwear as work rags, because they recycled EVERYTHING. The underwear was clean, they insisted, even though some of it had holes. I declined that task and it didn’t sit well. 3) I left an okay job I’d had for awhile to take a better-paying gig as the grant writer for a small school district, and by the second day I called my husband and said I’VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE. The whole thing was very Arrested Development, actually. I found out my new boss had scammed the funds to hire me by telling the Department of Education I was an accountant (so she could justify paying me out of grant funds designated for a school project), and it was downhill from there. One long surreal parade of Bluth-like characters and soap opera drama, and ethical misdeeds involving money and egos and everyone dipping their hand in the pot. I naively thought if I could show them the err of their ways I could change the culture and save the day, but they just froze me out instead. Two months in I gave up and blew that banana stand for good. …
… I used to do singing telegrams, and although that was not a terrible job, there was a long, soul-sucking period in there where I had to be a California Raisin several times a day, almost every freaking day. The giant Mahatma Rice Genie head was no picnic either.
Michael J Seidlinger:
Driving around the suburbs at 2am with a bunch of desperate musicians attempting to find a house to rob. I’ll never forget how low it felt, seeing myself go through all of it while knowing that I was seriously considering going through with the robbery. We never got anywhere close though; typically, we ended up awake at dawn, drinking coffee at a Denny’s or something, plotting new money-making schemes. Not quite a job so I’ll attach it to the source of the desperation: failed musician. There’s my worst job.
I had to wear a bikini made out of coconut shells and a grass skirt and do beer tastings at liquor stores. I was a bagel deliverer and accidentally short-changed an office worker who pulled a gun out of her purse and chased me into the parking lot. I was a teenage fry cook for a swap meet carny who liked to get me and the other girl into a huddle and show us the filthiest pictures I’d ever seen. I can still see them now. I went for an interview at Phillip Morris and everyone was smoking. The receptionist, every single office worker—smoke billowing in pale clouds over the cubicles. It was a panel interview. Needless to say, everyone on the panel was puffing like a chimney. When they asked me if I smoked, I said, no but I could learn. I didn’t get the job.
J David Osborne:
Working at Hibdon Tires. Changing tires in 100 plus degree heat. The worst part was that the salesmen would venture out of their air conditioned offices to tell you to hurry up. I hated that. Other one was tree trimming. We took down a big river birch in a backyard that was made out of bricks. No grass, just bricks. We were told not to harm the bricks. So my boss goes up and cuts off the top part of the tree. We thought it was dead. Dead = no water weight = relatively light. It was not all the way dead. So when he cut it, the rope was tied around this nearly 700-pound chunk of river birch, and it fell, and I held on, intent on keeping the brick backyard safe. The rope was tied to another rope we’d strung perpendicular. The part of the tree falls, I hold on, I am lifted off my feet, and I nearly get my head taken off by a swinging piece of river birch. Good times.
During high school, I was the guy who emptied the porta-potties at a cross-country ski resort.
When I was a teenager and making Scandinavian waffles (that were extremely high in sugar content which half the office seemed addicted to) in a small office cafeteria as summer job and feeling tempted to dunk my head in the batter every day, the radio announced a competition for the worst summer job. I wasn’t going to call in but the guy who won worked as a sewage diver at the water treatment plant. After that I never complained about my summer job.
When I was 17, I worked at Crossman Air Guns, a factory job, for three days. First day I was in shipping, and apparently not quick enough. So they switched me to labels, the second day. Nope. Never quite got the hang of it. Then, by the third day when I was on a line putting safety rubber parts on actual guns, I’d had my fill. I couldn’t take it. I punched the time clock out for lunch and fortunately never had to look back. Thanks Dad, for lining that summer job up.
I worked at a bakery, it was my first job ever and everybody hated me.
I worked at a bagel store with a coke head boss and an assorted cast of south Philly creeps for coworkers. One lady I worked with once picked up a serrated knife and pointed it at me and said ‘I’ll cut you’ with no hint of irony. I was also a phone sex operator for like two weeks. Google phone sex notes alexandra metazen.
Sheldon Lee Compton:
I was an underground coal minor for a year while in college. Absolute terror at all times. Everything could kill you. I ran a scoop. I was nineteen and basically just shit myself the entire time I was “under the mountain”.
This doesn’t compete with some of the stranger ones on here: But when I was in college, I worked part-time at a nursing school where nursing students would practice awkwardly on plastic manikins of all sorts. All the manikins had human names to make it more real. And for the Suppositories unit, at the end of every day I had to snap on a pair of latex gloves and clean out the manikins and it was oddly intimate because I knew all their names and diagnoses and I never felt comfortable about it—me in an empty pretend hospital room, with beds and beds of dying manikins like Steve and dear Alberta, and having to scoop out the loads and loads of suppositories that’d been slipped inside them.
I was a gravedigger for a summer. I spent 3/4 of my day weed whacking. When I would put my whacker down, my co-worker would usually put a dead snake in/on it. I fear snakes. Also, I buried my neighbor and because the grave was a double depth (two caskets stacked on one another) I walked on her husband to clear the hole out.