Friday, May 11, 2007

No thanks to the treadmill, no thanks to the grindstone

First of all, run over and read this. Then, we'll talk.

Litelysalted inspired me - let's talk about all the shit jobs we've worked. No one out there has made it through their lives without working a couple of absolutely awful jobs. So I'm issuing a challenge. Write a post about your worst jobs, and link it in either of our comments sections for all to see. And we can see who's had it the worst (though LS will be tough to beat - cleaning gas station bathrooms using toilet water? Using rotten chicken for chicken salad? I mean... seriously?).

So here we go:

1. When I was 16 I worked at a coffee shop. A really ritzy, fancy coffee shop in a really ritzy, fancy shopping mall. It was the ideal job for a bitter, constantly-high kid with purple hair and a disaffected attitude who wanted nothing more than to just go home, eat a pile of mescalin and listen to The Clash's Combat Rock on repeat. Constant abuse from the snobby rich, as well as constant criticism about my appearance from my boss. The highlight was this exchange with a customer.
TK: Welcome to Beans. Can I help you?
Dickhead: COD?
TK:? What?
DH: C - O - D! (in a "god, you're stupid" voice)
TK: Cod? Fish? What?
DH: C.O.D.!! Coffee Of the Day! You do work here, don't you? Guess you don't need to be smart, huh?
(Let's pause for a moment. If there was ever a way to guarantee that the staff will spit in your coffee, this is absolutely it. Just a word of advice.)
TK: Sorry, sir.
**makes coffee, spits in it**
TK: Have a nice day.

Yeah, I got fired eventually.

2. In college, I worked at a small machine parts assembly line. Basically, imagine a small piece of metal with a tiny hole in it. And imagine there is a tiny wooden peg, that kind of fits in that hole. Now imagine 200,000 pieces of metal, and 200,000 wooden pegs. Imagine sitting in a poorly lit room with a DEAFENINGLY LOUD air conditioner that neither cooled, nor conditioned, the air. And putting the peg in the hole. TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND FUCKING TIMES. I lasted five weeks, and I'm positive it did more damage to my brain than all the alcohol, marijuana and hallucinogens I've ever done, combined.

3. Ah, the oft-mentioned college construction job. Every summer during college I worked for the Department of Public Works. This should actually be it's own post some day, because there are waaaaaay too many stories. This is also where the bulk of my scary work stories come from. But here are the highlights:

*I worked on a garbage truck. You wanna talk about smelly? Well, that's not the worst one.

*Because I also spent two weeks working on the sewer truck, aka "the shit truck". This is the truck that drives around fixing busted septic tanks and sewer pipes. It's... well, it's hell. It's a true, unblemished hell. My first day, we're driving around, we get a call. Mikey, the driver, looks at George, the other guy and says:
We got a call. Get the kid the glove.

The glove? Well, I already have gloves.

No. Not "a glove". "THE glove".

"The glove" is a thick rubber glove that goes up to your shoulder. In the interest of not driving you away screaming, I'll spare you further details. But I spent an afternoon in hip-waders and "the glove", swallowing my vomit back repeatedly. Use your imagination for the rest. And trust me when I tell you, whatever you're imagining? It was far, far worse than that.

*I also worked an asphalt paving crew. Because nothing is more fun that shoveling burning hot asphalt on a 90 degree day when you're hungover (what? I was 19. I was always hungover). Nothing beats blowing your nose and having it come out black. Nothing beats not caring about what you eat for lunch, because it all tastes like blacktop anyway.

*Oh, and - jackhammering? It's exactly as fun as it looks. Which is to say, you feel like a badass for the first 30 minutes. Then you feel like you're having a seizure. Then you feel numb. And deaf. And angry at your father.

4. And, of course, there was one professional job that sucked. It was a few years ago, when I lived in Philly. It had it's ups and downs. More downs, though. A few highlights:
*Arriving on my first day, asking for Miranda, my supervisor, and having the gum-cracking attitude beotch at the desk simply say: "she quit". Yes, my boss quit the week before. I asked what should I do? The answer? "I dunno. How should I know", and then she want back to reading the paper. Great way to start your first day in a new city.
*After being transferred to a new office in a less... desirable... part of town, I showed up for work one day to see a van come screeching to the curb and a full-blown S.W.A.T. team explode out the back door, spread out, and storm the house across the street. I mean, flak jackets, MP-5's, goggles, the whole bit.
*Finding yourself saying, on more than one occasion in the same week: "man, these motherfucking crackheads are really starting to piss me off", and having every. single. word be true.
*Having a supervisor who can't talk coherently or spell. Seriously. One time she sent me an email. It was one paragraph. I read it, then re-read it slowly. Then I printed it out and re-read it again. I had no idea what she was trying to say. I can't even tell you if she was asking me a question, or giving me a directive. It could have been a recipe for barbecued platypus, I have no idea.

I still think Litelysalted wins. But I've got some choice ones. So bring 'em out, kids. And Matt, despite it being a shit job, you're not allowed to list "attorney". Too obvious.

Mining is the most dangerous work
In our land today
Plenty of dirty, slaving work
For very little pay
Coalminers, won't you wake up,
And open your eyes and see
What this dirty capitalist system
Has done to you and me
From "Coalminers", by Uncle Tupelo, written by Sarah Ogan Gunning

UPDATE: Here are the other tales of woe in response to the Shitty Job Challenge:
Hispanic! At The Disco
My Taste in Wine Leans Towards Vodka
Girl With Curious Hair
Que Barbara Sera


litelysalted said...

The COD Dickhead!!!

I had a similar experience working at the deli. Some lady comes up to the counter approximately 7 hours into my 10 hour shift, probably like the 8th day I worked in a row without a day off, (yes, hungover, natch!) and proceeds to rattle off a half dozen meats and cheeses in all different 1/4 lb. increments and says she'll be back in 10 minutes.

I force back obscenities and tell her she'll have to repeat herself more slowly. She gives me a hateful look as if I was the scum of the whole fucking earth, and says to me, my KID will stand here and repeat it back to you. My KID is SMART.

She clicks off in her angry-sounding heels, and the kid looks up at me, terrified, clearly not remembering anything on the list either. But I thought, "Kid, you win. You gotta deal with this bitch 'til you emancipate yourself."

Waist high in shit and seafood is bad. But getting treated like the lowest common denominator is somehow always more deameaning.

Manny said...

Geez. But it they were all just stepping stones on the way to your career as a ......what the hell do you do again?

Manny said...

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

Y'know what? I think I'm gonna get in on this "ghastly jobs" thing, myself. Just as soon as this Absinthe buzz goes away.

And T, beleive me, working on the salmon fishing boats in Alaska between college and law school (yes, I did that - does it really surprise you?) takes a close second to being a lawyer.

Manny said...

Did you say Absinthe?.....I take back everything I said about you to your face if you bring a bottle.

slouchmonkey said...

My resume is up as well.

Ranylt said...

I can't compete with TK and litelysalted--wow. I mean, I've dealt with loads of office assholes (screamers, morons, the standard full enchie), and I've even had a job where I had to work in a jail, running literacy assessments on guys who'd cleaved their girlfiends' skulls apart with the claw-ends of hammers, but...somehow those were privileged positions compared to deli-counters, asphalt sandwiches and gas station loos.

My only real shit job was my very first, at aged 15, working for the local Dunkin Donuts. The guy managing this particular franchise broke every Ontario law there was--I would typically work the counter alone for eight hours for less than minimum wage, no breaks allowed, and no popping donut holes in your mouth to keep from falling over, you're so hungry and tired (because, you know, NO BREAKS). Naturally I had to deal with all manner of COD people. But worst of all was the manager himself--Randy (shudder)--who would sit in his skanky office upstairs with his feet on his desk, watching whichever teenage girl(s) was/were behind the counter on camera (Big Brother was always watching), probably whacking off. And when my then-twelve-year-old brother stopped by once, Randy (30-something pedo) asked me to set him up with him.

I quit the next day (lasted about 6 weeks).

onthevirg said...

Here's mine.

MelodyLane said...

All of mine come from retail. Including removing clothing from dressing rooms that people had used to clean up with after having sex in the dressing room (Yes, I heard them having sex as well), getting a driver's license thrown at my head on the day after Christmas at hour 7 of a 10 hour day at which I not yet had a lunch break because I was head of the customer service desk, Wet, used bathing suit thrown at head, and of course, being threatened with death by a very large woman whose 13 year old son was running over customers with a damned Razor scooter after I told him to get off the damned thing because he was too old and too big and had ran over my foot already. This was on the day after Thanksgiving, a 12 hour shift without any breaks because I spent the whole day running to the bank and getting change for the front end.

I hate humanity. All of these stories come from the same store as well. I worked there for almost 2 insanely thankless years.

And, yeah, the COD needed his coffee thrown in his face.

TK said...

Melody - I worked at the Gap for a bit in college. I feel your pain.

Well, no one ever rode over my foot on a razor scooter. But I feel your figurative pain.