Worst. Job. Ever.

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I’m not sure why, but this past weekend I got to thinking about the worst job that I’ve ever had. I’m going to write a bit about it below, but first I’d like to invite you to join the fun… If you have your own website, feel free to write up your worst job ever and send me the link so I can compile a list below (a link back to this post would also be greatly appreciated). Otherwise, please chime in by leaving a comment. Okay, with that said, let’s get to it…

I haven’t had an truly horrendous jobs, but I’ve had my fair share of below average employment opportunities. Perhaps the worst one was a janitorial gig that I had (for a very brief time) one summer during college. I happened upon this job while looking for a second job to make a few extra bucks in the evenings after I got off work at my ‘regular’ job. I was supposed to be running a vacuum through some offices for a few hours each night, during which time I had planned on throwing on some headphones and listening to baseball on the radio.

As it turns out, however, my supervisor (a vertically challenged elderly gentleman) was so impressed by my height that he promptly changed my assignment… I’m willing to bet that you didn’t know this, but tall people make great bathroom cleaners (or at least that’s what he said). I’m still not sure why this is the case, but I think it has something to do with my ability to clean way the heck up the walls (which really don’t need to be cleaned all that often in the first place, but apparently that’s beside the point).

Anyway, I’m sure that you can imagine my pleasure when he took me through the bathrooms for the first time and peppered me with helpful little tips, such as reminding me to wipe down the bottom of the trap under the urinal, as that’s where drips tend to collect. And crystallize. Nice. Thanks for the tip. And hey, wouldn’t a short guy be better for that sort of work? Apparently not.

As it turns out, I didn’t need the money that badly, so I soon reclassified myself as a former lavatory hygiene technician. That’s the one job in my life where I didn’t give two weeks (or more) notice before quitting. But hey, if they had handed me the vacuum that they had promised, I’m confident that things would’ve turned out differently.

So, what’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I’m sure that there are some whoppers out there.

Contributions:

— Amanda tells a tale of survival in the cutthroat world of retail sales.
— JLP used to sling burgers (until his bosses torched the place).
— Nick spent five weeks as a corn detasseler.
— Penny Nickel (no relation) did newspaper assembly and temped at a BMW plant.
— IRA worked at a movie theater concession stand.
— LA Money Guy used to be an insurance salesman.
— Jose worked as an online HTML tutor.
— Frank spent a summer typing in physics questions from a textbook.
— MakingOurWay used to do mind-numbing work in a library.
— Dawn was a smut peddler!

But my lovely and talented wife thinks that we’re all a bunch of whiners… She’s done it all, and it all adds up to being the best job ever.

32 Responses to “Worst. Job. Ever.”

  1. Anonymous

    I would like to add a comment about Brewers Distributors in Winnipeg, MB. I too used to work for this company and it is even much worse then you describe. I lasted about 4 months before I was forced to quite. Very abusive supervisors who would harass me on a daily bases. Several complaints regarding sexual harassment have been circulating around this company for years. The people that manage this company are despicable low lives who should all be arrested. Reg the Day supervisor would even insult your own mother. Take my advise and never work for these scum bags.

  2. Anonymous

    I’d like to share a job tip for all. The absolute worst job in Winnipeg, Manitoba is a warehouse position with a company called Brewers Distributors. Even with the Canadian labour shortage they treat new and existing employee’s so poorly it’s amazing their still in business. Let’s start with the fact that they pay well below the national average for warehouse employment and I mean well below. Considering how demanding and physical the work required is they need to greatly increase the rate of pay. Also any new staff are forced to work over time on a daily bases. Last I checked that was against the law but some how they continue to force hard back breaking labour on their employee’s. All new staff get no vacation time or any sick days and will be punished for missing any work with out a doctors note. Brewers Distributors also has a forced rotating shift so that a person will work days one week and then the very next week be forced to work nights never alloying the person get a routine and severely disrupting the persons sleep patterns and eating patterns. This has been proven to cause illness in people. No increase in pay ever and no Benefits or bonuses have ever been paid with this company even though they are getting rich. With all the warehouse jobs in Winnipeg, I suggest you never work for Brewers Distributors

  3. Anonymous

    At 18, my first and worst was a midwest night
    mare in the printing industry – embosser.
    MN was in the middle of the printing
    unions trying to get in, and dysfunctional
    factory workers trying to make a living. The
    scabs drove an employee (biker) off the road
    on his motorcycle, he died. The same week, I
    offered up my paper stack products to the
    paper cutter operator, who accidently cut off
    the top tips of his three fingers while I watched
    him ruin three stacks of white paper with blood. Never bleed on the product- Never care
    about the other guy. Tough strut. Apply for
    the job, get night shift differential.
    His reaction was affected by his pot smoking.
    I wanted to walk off the job, but I needed the money. My thumbnail is misshaped by the
    machine. It’s the operator not the machine. 30 years later, I don’t need the money
    but apparently I have to blog as
    some sort of sick catharsis for whoever wants
    to compare notes on “worst job ever. Misery
    loves company. My best job -engineering.
    I also was a postal carrier, SBA owner, and finally, a mom. Just Do it.

  4. Anonymous

    At 18, my first and worst was a midwest night
    mare in the printing industry as an embosser.
    The place was in the middle of the printing
    union trying to get in, and dysfunctional
    factory workers trying to make a living. The
    scabs drove an employee (biker) off the road
    on his motorcycle, he died. The same week, I
    offered up my paper stack products to the
    paper cutter operator, who accidently cut off
    the top tips of his three fingers as I watched
    him ruin three stacks of white paper with blood. Never bleed on the product-
    His reaction was affected by his pot smoking.
    I could not walk off the job, I needed the money. 30 years later, I don’t need the money
    but apparently I have to blog about it as
    some sort of sick catharsis for whoever wants
    to compare notes on “worst job ever”

  5. Anonymous

    My two worst jobs were both in the newspaper industry. I did layout for the md independent. At 19 I had chest pains and a reoccuring nightmare of being pregnant, going into labor, and not being allowed to leave until I got the crappy paper off. I worked 10, 11, 12, hr days and every morning the adreps were waiting to yell at me because their ad, which they turned into be designed two minutes before the paper went to print had the wrong phone number which they wrote down in the first place.
    I then worked sales for Bay Weekly newspaper. Its a family owned newspaper and the owners wife, another sales person, would steal ads from my territory constently even though her territory was so dense with business and mine was more rural. If a call came in for me on a big ad she would take it. One time doing it right in front of me. Who can you complain to? Her weenie husband who lets her stomp all over him? I then started being micromanaged and surprise, my sales went down. It couldn’t have anything to do with having to meet everyday which meant stopping canvasing areas to come back to the office to have a five minute meeting and then have to sit in the office while my micromanager left early.

  6. Anonymous

    In grossness factors, I’m not really going to beat anyone, but I had two positions that I had to throw into the mix here.

    1-In grad school, I worked as a receptionist at a 24 Hour Emergency Hospital for Animals. Routinely got people screaming at all hours of the night because spot/fluffy was not doing well, or they couldn’t pay and the location charged “exorbitant” amounts. That included handling bodies, regularly working ‘over’ at a moments notice, cleaning, lifting, lending a helping hand if not enough people to hold an animal AND still answer the phones, smile, be charming, etc. Finally figured I better quit after I started having anxiety attacks before starting each shift, but the last straw was working a full shift early for a co-worker, along with my own, then being kept over to help while another person went out for food, and to help out with an autopsy. The next day I was supposed to have off for a major could-not-miss meeting with the dean of my school and they STILL called me in!

    2-Volunteer, but as a pretty easily grossed out person, I started at the local zoo by defrosting fish and stuffing them with vitamins thru the gills. The smells, excrement, and other stuff was a breeze in comparison.

    On the bright side, I can now watch all CSI and grossout shows without being the slightest bit squeamish 🙂

  7. Anonymous

    I was a little disappointed by the responses as I can think of two jobs held by friends that would be the winners in any Worst Job Ever contests!

    1) The most beautiful, glamourous woman I know really needed money when she first moved to Los Angeles, so she spent two weeks helping clean out a warehouse full of RATS! She had to actually pick them up by their tails and they would reach up and try to bite her wrists! (Needless to say, she wore heavy-duty gloves)

    2) My old boss (a VP at a prestigious bank) told me his first job was slaughtering pigs at a stockyard. It paid $20/hour in the 1970’s, so it was worth it to him.

    Can anyone beat those?? My worst jobs tended to be the ones you get in your teen years (Baskin Robbins – talk about a bad work environment! People are mean when buying ice cream!). Also, like a lot of teen girls, constant sexual harassment (and the fear of speaking up about it) marked most of my early jobs. At various waitressing jobs, I and fellow co-workers all had trouble with male bosses leaning their pelvises into us while we were working the cash register, making inappropriate comments or other gross things. At my age now, I’d embarass the creep or call the police, but as a naive teen, I was just mortified!

  8. Anonymous

    I was a microfilmer for my parents’ best friends’ company. It involved sitting in an old house sliding boring page after page into a microfilm camera and then for real excitement, changing the film. Minimum wage ($3.35/hour). This was in the 80s, before there were scanners, email, etc. One time it was mail from prisoners – stuff written on toilet paper, food stuck on mail, gag. Mostly, it was insanely boring for 8+ hours a day.

  9. Anonymous

    I’ve been pretty lucky – anything that I would consider a “worst job” would be viewed by most people as a typical job. It was bad because at some point I stopped enjoying it, but I can’t think of one that I had where I hated it from day one.

  10. Anonymous

    Try this out and tell me if you would be able to handle it. Get up at 5AM and then drive to work. Try to get 80 and 90-year-olds out of bed while they are cursing and fighting you. Clean up their bodily fluids and take all the abuse with a smile, this is just the first hour. Then try to calm down a psychotic agitated 200 pound former high school all-state wrestler. Get paid a little more than minimum wage, work long days, which physically and emotionally drain you, this was my experience working as an aid at a psychiatric hospital.

  11. Anonymous

    Wow, this post makes me feel bad. I had a job before college, in college, and then I started my own business. Neither times I was an employee were all that bad, but I certainly didn’t love them.

  12. Anonymous

    My worst job was working the “slime line” in a cannery in ALaska. I de-roed the salmon. I took out the two sacks of eggs and weighed them. Bleh! That job payed the most I ever made as a student.

  13. Anonymous

    I’ve done it all as a mom.
    Janitor who cleans up crystallized urine?…
    …try cleaning up after four little boys!
    Substitute teacher?…
    …try getting your Kindergartner to sit still for fifteen minutes to do his homework each day!
    Salesman?…
    …try getting your four year old son to eat his veggies!
    Dishwasher?…
    …don’t get me started!
    The major difference between your experiences and mine is that I think these are all parts of the BEST job in the world. Don’t forget that Sunday is Mother’s Day!!!

  14. Anonymous

    Interesting Post five cent nickel! Worst Job ever for me would have to be my first at age 15 making minimum wage at Burger King…stacking burgers in the freezer.

  15. Anonymous

    #7 above made me remember — I washed dishes too, but at a pizza place. Hot, sweaty, trashy — and all for my “big” earnings of $2.10 an hour. Yikes!!!

  16. Anonymous

    My worst job ever was the one where I took a job as the system administrator for an advertising agency. Instead of just being responsible for their servers (like they’d assured me during the interview) I ended up getting assigned all the desktop maintenance too. Which meant that, in addition to having to be in by 9am every day, I was typically working until after 4am dealing with problems that the users had on their desktops the day before. I slept under my desk most nights, and only visited my apartment once or (if I was lucky) twice a week to shower.

    One time, we went to Las Vegas for a convention. I worked 10 days straight, from 5am to 2am. Then the company stiffed me on paying the hotel bill. I was lucky enough to get a cow-orker to lend me the money, or I’d have probably been arrested (this was when I was new in town after 18 months of unemployment…$1000+ was WAY more than I could come up with in cash, especially for a room I’d been told the company would pay for, and I’d barely used anyway, because of the insane hours). Did I get paid overtime for working 210 hours in 10 days? Or even for working through two weekends? Of course not.

    I did supposedly earn extra vacation time for all those extra hours…at the rate I was working, I was eligible for almost a year off by the time the company got bought out and my position was eliminated. This was after 8 months working for them.

    I tell you, I was never so happy to be unemployed. 🙂

  17. Anonymous

    substitute as the worst? Hmmmm. . . I’m a teacher, was a sub, and have worked as a janitor. . . the janitorial stuff was easily the worst. I can see where substituting can be awful, but I found it better than the monotony of hellish jobs in retail at your typical national drugstore chains. Though I hated the custodial work, I would honestly prefer that to retail. I *hated* retail. . .

  18. Anonymous

    I’ve had two whoppers: 1) When not busy enough paving driveways, my boss put me on the septic tank pumping truck! – Hey, it needed to be done, and I needed money for college! and 2) Cleaning out the barn after feeding and milking 80 cows. Any idea how deep it can get in there? Thank God for front-end-loader tractors!

  19. Anonymous

    The worst job I ever had occurred during my 6 years as Vice President for a fairly large corporation. Acutally, being VP wasn’t the bad part, it was my evening “job” that was the bad part. You see….I was a young executive by day and a chicken peeler / dish washer by night for a family members restaurant. They had just started out and needed a hand to save a bit of money. My official job when not washing dishes was to peel the skins of chickens so they could be grilled. The worst part is the smell of chickens all over your hands and clothes and the blood that occassionally splashed everywhere….

    As I look back now I can only laugh at how my VP ego during the day contrasted with my alter ego (chicken peeler) at night. The things we do for family!

  20. Anonymous

    I heard some EA temps or employees sued because they were overworked with no overtime… EA is not known to be a happy place. Worst job I’ve had? None have been that bad. General verbal abuse by management is about all I’ve had. Nothing really crappy, if you’ll pardon the pun.

  21. Anonymous

    The worst job I ever had was working for the School District of the former town we used to live in. I worked in the Junior High and High School cafeterias as a server. Wanted a job where I could work during my children’s school hours. Very hard work for very low pay!

  22. Anonymous

    I “walked beans.”

    Up at 4:30 am (to beat the heat), I walked row after row of beans (in a farm field), pulling up weeds with a tool fashioned sometime near the discovery of iron.

    BTW, that was the same summer I was hired to haul a ton of bricks out of a guy’s basement. 😉

  23. Anonymous

    I used to work for Electronic Arts. I was working more than twice as many hours as I had at my previous job and still getting a smaller paycheck. That included my time and a half for anything over 40 hours. During crunch time, I would work 14-20 hours in a day for 6 to 7 days per week. I’d leave work around 2am, go home and nap for a few hours, and come back some time between 8am and 11am.

    That was one of the few jobs that I didn’t mind having a liquid lunch at dinner time. I found a great pub with a lot of good imports a few miles from the place. (For those interested, I was the database admin for the q/c on Madden NFL 2003 pc version)

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