My Worst Job: 8 True Stories

  • “My Worst Job”

    My worst job was my first job, a full-time summer gig cleaning up after people at a crowded municipal pool. But it wasn’t the physical labor or the awful messes made that irked me. It was the fact that the hourly employees in other positions seemed to think my willingness to do good, honest work somehow meant that I was beneath them. The lifeguards refused to acknowledge I even existed, while the concession stand workers simply ditched my name, referring to me as “dirt person.” Of course, my story pales in comparison to the ones of the following folks. Keep reading to see how their stories stack up to your own. Photo Credit: TenSafeFrogs
    Down and Out Down Under
  • Down and Out Down Under

    Tara Haelle was in Australia on a student work visa, when the difficulty of finding full-time work led her to take a temp job with a company that tracked through-traffic to Toowoomba, Queensland. “The job required me to sit in a car … leading into the town and write down the first four characters of every third car’s license plate,” Haelle recalls. Her shift also lasted 12 hours, which required her to write down a lot of license numbers. “The constant back-and-forth rapid head movements and my constant squinting ended up giving me a migraine that lasted the rest of the night, and my cold hands felt cramped after rapidly jotting down plate numbers and letters for 12 hours,” she says. “I don’t even remember what I was paid, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth it.” Photo Credit: Matt Valentine 
    Type cast
  • Type cast

    Jo Murray was only a few days into a job, where her sole responsibility was typing addresses onto envelopes, when her employer asked if she wanted to do something different. “Of course, I said yes,” she says, but “my new task was typing addresses on postcards.” Murray and the other typists were permitted a short morning coffee break, which was announced by the sound of bell. “I finished typing my particular envelope and realized that everyone was staring at me,” she recalls. “I was the only who had made another keystroke after the bell rang.”
    The Complaint Department
  • The Complaint Department

    Jim Dailakis cites working in a windowless office in the registry department of the British Consulate as his worst job ever—partially because his main duty was to sit at a typewriter and fill out forms all day, but also because he was (unknowingly) tasked with listening to one of the receptionists complain about everything and everyone. “She even called up television stations telling them that they had too many commercials the night before,” Dailakis recalls. “I used to stare at the clock and wonder how people did this. I would pray for five o'clock to roll around as fast as possible. Seriously, I would count the seconds. People jokingly talk about dying of boredom. I most definitely nearly did.”
    The Dark Side of Chocolate
  • The Dark Side of Chocolate

    Ordered to take a three month break from her government job so she could get a promotion, Patricia Vaccarino took a temporary gig at a local chocolate factory to pass the time. “While I was at the chocolate factory, I sampled everything, and I mean everything,” she says. “I was working in the back room and below the desk there was a huge box of misshapen ‘reject’ chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Well, someone had to eat them! I knew something was wrong when a good friend took me to dinner and said, ‘I will still love you no matter what you look like.’” Vaccarino says that by six weeks, she had ballooned three dress sizes and put on 25 pounds, but thankfully, her foray into the chocolate world didn’t last much longer. “Fortunately, the Attorney General’s office was able to call me back the next week,” she says. “As soon as I was out of there, I quickly rebounded to my normal weight, but it was scary to see how quickly out of control I could get with chocolate.”
    Berried Alive
  • Berried Alive

    Glenda Standeven was in such a rush to enter the workforce that she lied about her age to get hired at a local food processing plant in Canada. “In the summer, it buzzed with activity as flats of seasonal fruits arrived to be canned or jammed,” she tells MainStreet. “My first day on the 'belt' meant I was standing in one place picking out bugs, leaves, dirt and debris from the fruit on the conveyor. I was the last one in the line, and was supposed to pick out anything that the other 'cleaners' missed. But one girl wouldn't pick out the slugs, one wouldn' touch a spider or an earwig, and another hated mold.” Standeven was theoretically responsible for getting anything previous workers on the belt had missed, but she too hated slugs, bugs and mold. “So it all rolled merrily into the jam barrels,” she admits. “They fired me when they found out I was only 14 – bless my sister for ratting on me – but I can't eat raspberry jam to this day.”
    Potato Chipped
  • Potato Chipped

    “My worst job was potato chip picker,” Julie Austin tells MainStreet. “I worked in a potato chip factory, and my job was picking out the burnt potato chips as they went down the conveyer belt. Every few hours I would hear something that sounded like the whistle from ‘The Flintstones’ and everyone would take their ‘smoke’ break. Of course, Austin says, “I only lasted a day in that job.”
    Reader Discretion Advised
  • Reader Discretion Advised

    Ronald Kaufman, a motivational speaker, cities his time in a hospital morgue, assisting with autopsies, as the worst job he ever had. “I had never seen a dead person before, and the odors were almost overwhelming,” Kaufman says. “My job was to take samples of various tissues, including sawing into the spine for bone marrow, and then putting all the internal organs back into the body cavity after their examination. I then had to sew the body back together, which could include the scalp after the brain was removed, clean it up, and move it into a storage compartment.”
  • Housed

    “My worst job was also my shortest,” Jeannel King tells MainStreet. “In the 90s, I processed home foreclosures for a legal firm.  All day, every day, we got file after file of people’s lives, usually older folks living in Florida. I felt just sick processing all these retirees out of their homes.” King explains these files contained stories about how these folks defaulted and were evicted. And they also contained details, such as evictions that took place on Christmas Eve, that were hard to stomach. King ultimately quit after her boss intimated that these people’s woes were turning him a huge profit and never looked back.
    The Worst Jobs of 2011
  • The Worst Jobs of 2011

    CareerCast, a job search engine and research tool, recently surveyed and ranked 200 different professions to find the best and worst jobs of 2011. Find out if your current job made the list. Photo Credit: John Picken
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