25 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread

  1. I once was a member of a grounds crew at the lakefront festivals in Milwaukee. My job was to clean an area (Miller Stage; Pabst Stage etc.) with about a dozen other people. Between the rancid food left out in the 90 degree heat, the trash and the tons of liquor bottles that managed to be snuck through security (we once collected them for a full festival and if they were all full, we could have rivaled any bar in the country), it was a disaster. People are pigs.
    However, the worst was when I had to work the rides area. Every day, some twit would get loaded on cheap liquor, go on about a dozen rides in the heat and then hurl. And we had to clean it up. They sent you over there with a hand broom, a lobby pan and a bottle of bleach. Ech.

  2. My very first: For one “glorious” night, I was in charge of cleaning the butcher shop inside an A&P supermarket. All the meat-cutting machines, covered with blood and bits after a full day of, well, meat-cutting. They basically stuck me in there with a hose. I had no idea what to do. When the morning manager came in, I was a sobbing wreck. I’m surprised I didn’t become a vegetarian from that day forward, thinking back on it.

  3. I’ve had a few bad ones, but the one that stands out is my penance as a shift manager for a CD outlet called Sound Warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee. Because I had a pittance of a salary (not an hourly wage) they could make me work overtime, and boy did they. I once went a stretch of 50 some-odd days without a day off, often 12-14 hour days. One of the things I was tasked to do, because everybody else was more interested in Motorhead, was taking inventory and placing orders for the classical section. I had badgered my managers to allow me some time to do it for weeks, but they always had another task that was more important. After my one day off (after the 50 days), I was scheduled for at least another 17-day stretch. They called me in on my day off when they realized that the classical inventory hadn’t been catalogued. I tendered my resignation soon after.

  4. i went from making tiffany reproductions(good enough to fool experts, so not crap), to working for a RABID republican making glue chip schlock stained glass shop. painfull.

  5. Wow, where to start…
    Let’s not count the infantry, the worst job in the world.
    When I was right out of high school I worked in a grocery chain central warehouse from 11 pm to 7 am. For 8 hours straight I swung groceries into semi trailers, inhaling the dust and dirt. On the rare times we didn’t have a truck to load, we went to other side of the warehouse and unloaded RR cars. I still remember unloading an entire car of 100 lb. bags of sugar.
    A close second was managing minimum wage janitors on the night shift in a large office building. Awful for everyone involved.

  6. Receptionist at the home office of an air conditioning manufacturer whose a/c units were mostly installed in homes in Texas, during a summer when the hottest temperatures ever were recorded in Texas, and the a/c units manufactured by my employer routinely failed; the main office telephone number was etched on the side of each a/c unit.

  7. Desk clerk at the YMCA. Didn’t sound bad – give locker keys take them back, sign up people for raquetball – then they added the best part – doing other people’s nasty gym laundry and towels with enough industrial bleach to make the skin come off your hands. Glad it was a temporary thing!

  8. Summer I was 15. Nanny to four of the most spoiled, horrible children ever. I had done babysitting, and I liked kids, but this was hell, and it didn’t pay well. At all.
    Second worst? Late night cashier at a hotel coffee shos. Dealing with the drunks was no fun. Lasted about 5 weeks, until I found myself a day job doing accounting work.
    Can’t even come CLOSE to competing with what you guys are describing though. Guess I’ve been lucky.

  9. There’s the Schlotzky’s sandwich shop job in the early 80’s where my girlfriend said I smelled like ham and cheese when I got home. Bad.
    I was cashier at a gas/convenience store for about a month, also during Reagan’s early 80’s. It was awful work with demanding customers, but I quit the day after the smelly manager showed up and bitched me out for not checking “every goddamn credit card” in the little paper books of bad credit card numbers we used back before credit card swipers were ubiquitous. She was carrying a pistol (holstered) at the time. Worse.
    Then there was the small law firm I clerked for during/after my 2L year of law school. I was excited because I was working for a GLBT friendly firm… 2 lawyers, a gay man and a lesbian. He owned the firm and did med mal/personal injury, she did family law. Within 2-3 months, she had an obvious crush on me and it seemed like she wasn’t getting much work done, yet was billing the owner. The personal injury guy buried me in medical charts for review ( I am a nurse, after all) instead of balancing it with lawyer stuff as promised. He soon discovered the other lawyer was incompetent and got mad at me because I didn’t come to him about the other lawyer’s poor performance, so I quit on minimal notice. Worst.
    These go below even selling cars, working for the IRS, and low-level health care jobs where I cleaned shit practically nonstop.

  10. One summer job when in college I worked for a jet engine manufacturer (now deceased), and all I did for 3 months was sit by myself at a light table, using a magnifying glass, reading the level of mercury in manometers measuring pressures inside inlet ducts of a test engine – about 50 readings per film image – hundreds per roll of film. Needless to say this was before the days of data recording machines or computers. In fact it was in 1956.
    I once threatened to quit if that was all I would be doing all summer, so I got to use a keyboard calculator to multiply two numbers in columns on the data sheets I had filled in, all day, sheet after sheet, for a week, then back to the magnifying glass. Good pay though!
    The killer was that as my 3 month job was ending I discovered that the entire set of data I had slaved over was un-usable, and was to be tossed out.

  11. I had a job for planting trees to reclaim mining property. It was a camping and travelling job, you were supposed to move from one location to another cross country. I quit after one day. It wasn’t the work which was hard but semi-enjoyable, it was being a total fish out of water.

  12. Post 9/11, the Theatre at which I was Production Designer went tits-up, and there were NO jobs to be found in Saginaw, Michigan. I was still paying my dues as a Union Stagehand (still do), bu all of the BIG touring concerts and musicals were taken off the road, and all of the Senior Union Stagehands came home, and took all the work from us Juniors.
    I went so far as to apply for a Manager job at McDonald’s, but with my Degrees, I was “over-qualified.” I was desperate.
    Just before taking the GOOD job that I currently have, for four months, I washed windows in the middle of Michigan winter for minimum wage and no health care.
    The temperature might be -15F, and we had to add ethanol to the water to keep it from freezing, and we wore SCUBA gloves, which did nothing to keep our hands from freezing, but those windows HAD to be cleaned.
    I received the call to take this job in West Tennessee the day that I was forced to sink an extension ladder into two feet of snow, without knowing what was under it (shrubs, it turned out), and wash third-story windows when the temperature was -5F, and the wind was howling off of Lake Huron. I remember the date– January 21st, 2003.
    Of COURSE the ladder slipped away, and I was only lucky to grab the window ledge by my frozen fingertips and hold on, until my co-workers heard me screaming from around the corner, and could get the ladder back up to me. I refused to go back up, and we had to call the day off short.
    I was reprimanded by my crazy, Republican boss, with his autographed picture of George and Pickles on his desk, for refusing to go back up the ladder when we got back to the office. My job-site supervisor was the boss’s wife, the other crew-worker was their young son. Lucky me.
    I took this job, and quit washing windows immediately, with no two-week notice.
    –mf

  13. Measuring cocaine in to bags for the sales men.
    (they told me it was baking soda!)
    Being dangled upside down into a sum pump chamber to clean it. “Hey’ you’re skinny, you do it.”

  14. You know I’m reading these threads and I think about what happens when the economy goes south. More people take crappier jobs, do leave their crappy jobs or their good job is shipped over seas because someone will do it cheaper.
    Frankly I’m fraking sick of the ‘free market’ rules the world types and all their supporters. And I’m stick of people like the Unions getting blamed for the high prices.
    The rise of the conservative media that supports all thing terrible about free trade never have to deal with losing their jobs.

  15. I had a job one summer delivering acid; hydrochloric, nitric, and sulfuric. Had to fill up the barrels from big tanks, load them on a flatbed and them drive them to plating shops and other similar sites. The sulfuric barrels weighed about 225 pounds, and I sometimes had to load 30 or 40 on one truck.
    I ruined a lot of clothes that summer, but the guys I worked with were really great. The owner asked me to come back the next summer, but I had gotten my degree and worked at a job that didn’t require hard labor and was indoors.
    Good people do some very hard and dangerous work in this country and I learned a lot that summer from a few of them.

  16. It’s a draw between selling encyclopedias door to door in L.A.
    during the Charlie Manson summer of blood and a customer service
    representative at the cable company

  17. Summer of ’80 I worked as a Nurses Aide at an retirement home for elderly nuns. Too many psychoses to eventry to get into.
    Couple years ago I worked for a very well known liberal website run by two of the BIGGEST dicks ever. Throw out what you’re supposed to do, not tell you how to do it and when you ask how to do it, you’re treated like the mentally challenged cousin they keep in the basement.

  18. Hard to choose between:
    1. Washing pots and pans at a college cafeteria (I remember getting off work, going to a dorm courtyard to let the sun dry me off a bit when a friend noticed me, came over, and told me about the space shuttle Challenger explosion.) Lasted about a month there.
    2. Telephone operator for AT&T. Ugh. Good money, but absolutely soul crushing. Also killed my wrists and shoulders, and significantly lowered my attention span. By the time I quit, just going to work required some, um, chemical stimulation of a recreational type. I felt personally responsible for keeping the Visine company in business. Managed five years at it, until I quit to drive a cab at about a third of the salary…
    3. Being the person who monitored calls i.e., when you hear the recording “your call may be monitored, etc.”–another soul crusher. What an awful place. Basically I was supposed to listen for the smallest deviations from the appalling scrips people were required to read, and distribute disciplinary write-ups. In particular, they wanted me to clamp down on people approaching the end of their six-month probationary period, which limited their ability to file a grievance. Put in about a month before thankfully I got an interview for a government job.
    But, as they say, the rent’s due on the first of the month, and it always got paid…

  19. Most of my radio jobs have been horrible — something about radio just attracts managers and owners who know nothing about business or ethics, but do have a deep and abiding love for obscene wads of cash.
    The worst was working for a little country station in Liberal, Kansas, where I had to work seven days a week, about nine hours a day, or more. I had to tell them that I’d quit, immediately, before they’d give me a single day off to attend a relative’s funeral.
    I had a 10-3 on-air shift, so, of course, I’d go eat lunch at 3. And the boss would always gripe at me that he sure wished he had such an easy schedule that he could go eat lunch at 3 p.m. (And of course, his lunch hours generally lasted from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
    At one point, the bathroom fatally broke, and they told us they wouldn’t be fixing it, until someone warned them they’d call OSHA unless it got fixed pronto. And the building was crammed with bugs. In the four months I was there, we had an infestation of flying ants, and if you worked there past dark, about a hundred thousand moths suddenly appeared.
    I gave ’em my two-weeks’ notice, and they actually said, “Dang, this is an awesome job, how come we can’t keep anyone in here?”

  20. Gotta ask you the obvious question Scooter:
    Liberal Kansas? Where is that?
    Google says its on the OK border – which I’ve got ask about Liberal Oklahoma.

  21. Just putting in my request for next week’s weekend question–best job ever. I’d like to be upbeat going into MLK Day and the glorious day to follow…

  22. At the end of high school, I was a dishwasher at a convalescent hospital. The “head” dishwasher was an officious twat. I lasted 2 weeks. Yuck.

  23. I was a telemarketer for seven weeks one horrible summer, because I was desperately broke and nobody can get out of their 20s in this town without working phones somehow or other. *shudder* To this day, I hate making business phone calls, especially cold-calling.
    Which leads me to my second-worst job, where I’d been hired to do writing work, and then when that wrapped up, they were “nice” to me and kept me on to do what the company mainly did, which was source Material Safety Data Sheets from suppliers to a Really, Really Big Corporation. I spent a lot of time trying to talk people into sending MSDSs to us, which was not as easy as it sounds, because a lot of places consider their safety data to be “trade secret” and won’t release it to third parties. Lowlights included:
    One place that I called (Mitsubishi Rayon in New Jersey) where the phone answered and the robot voice said, “Welcome to Mitsubishi Rayon…” and continuedin Japanese. At the time, I remembered about enough of my university Japanese to send a thank-you note in it to the fellow I’d talked to, who was very reluctant to send me the MSDS. (He said, “I didn’t know you spoke Japanese,” and a PDF was attached to his e-mail! Ha!)
    Another place I called would not believe me when I said that I wanted the OSHA format MSDS, and sent three copies of the Canadian one, which was useless to us…
    Another place I called (the Hyman Paper Company in Muscle Shoals, AL), I couldn’t understand the person who answered the phone, and they couldn’t understand me either.
    Then I had to deal with the bitchy representatives of the Really Big Corporation who would send incomplete or badly incorrect product lists, and then complain when we weren’t able to find the requested MSDS because “We went down to the supply closet, and my guy was able to find it in ten minutes.” (Yeah, and if I could look at the label, I could find it for you in two, asshole.) Not only that, but that guy was verbally abusive too. So I was getting it from all sides.
    All this for twelve measly bucks an hour. Jeesh.

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