On The Bench

Worst. Job. Ever.

Worst Job Ever image

At some point, almost every writer has held a job outside the publishing industry…some fulfilling, and others not so much. What’s the worst non-writing job you’ve ever had?
  • Terry Ambrose:

    Hmmm…define worst. Was it being an orderly in a hospital where I had to clean surgical tables and take body parts to pathology? Or maybe it was selling stereos and sewing machines (don’t even ask how those fit together!). Near the top was collecting bills from people who didn’t want to pay. And shutting off people’s utilities in winter? Oh yeah, a real winner. The thing about these jobs is that they’re all a part of my past and my frame of reference. They weren’t fun at the time, but they all helped me become who I am.

  • Nancy J. Cohen:

    My first job after college was in Boston as a registered nurse. Being a real nurse rather than a student led to reality shock. No longer was there time to linger with each patient and listen to their concerns. We had tasks to complete and were called out if we didn’t get them done on time. My floor supervisor was particularly mean-spirited. I held that job for a year and then moved to Florida into the sunshine and into a much kinder work environment.

  • Debra H. Goldstein:

    I worked in the office of a large retailing company that had just converted its data/quality control system to computer; however, because there was a fear of this newfangled system, they had every store continue sending the home office the half of a sales ticket that the salesperson would tear (1/2 left with the merchandise). In our clerical role, we would open the bag from a given department, read the tag, and then go to the unit control book that matched the department (ex. if the store bought 21 shirts and distributed them to the various branches, the unit control book would have 21 slash marks in green next to that unit number). Once I found the correct unit number, I would use a red pen to cross the slash mark into an X. That way, the unit control would show only the remaining merchandise still as slash marks. I did that mindless, but restful, job for an entire summer until management decided the new computer system worked.

  • Cheryl Hollon:

    When I was first married, my husband was stationed at Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, La. The only job I could find was as a counter clerk at a dry cleaner’s. It was dreary, tedious, and with an impatient line of customers who wanted their clothes back immediately. I quickly found another job as a bookkeeper’s assistant for a plumbing supply company. I was so happy to be working with numbers.

  • Diane A.S. Stuckart:

    My worst job was selling coffee services, which entailed cold calling companies to convince them to rent our countertop coffee machines and buy the coffee and other supplies to go along with them. That was my first ever sales job outside of retail, and the sales manager didn’t do any training with me. Worse, she and her favorite saleswoman took all the leads for themselves. My first and only sale was to my husband’s company (bless his heart!). I lasted two weeks and then got kicked to the curb. I did have my revenge, however, when I moved into a purchasing position and discovered my new company just happened to have my former employer as a vendor. One of my first acts after I was hired was to replace them with a different coffee service.

  • Maggie Toussaint:

    For many years, I worked at an aquaculture facility where fish and frogs were used to test the safety of drinking water. I had no problem with the fish as I’d handled fish all my life. But frogs… I had never touched one before. Thank goodness for my gloves of invincibility. They helped me get over my frog phobia and to keep my job.

  • Lois Winston

    One summer I sold Fuller Brush door-to-door. It was my first encounter with direct sales franchises that base their business model on a pyramid scheme. I quit after several weeks, having made less money each week than I’d make babysitting on a Saturday night.

Have you got a story about a bad job? We'd love to hear it!

Posted in On The Bench • |  13 Comments


13 thoughts on “Worst. Job. Ever.

  1. Sounds like everyone in the group has had at least one ‘bad job.’ Whatever happened to the old saying of ‘love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life?’ I guess we all learned that lesson way too late.

  2. Very briefly I worked at a mail order plant company. I signed on to count and wrap bare roots for sale. They had a time clock, specific times for lunch and bathroom breaks, discouraged conversation, didn’t allow music, and we had to stand at our stations. And it was chilly in there. That job was the pits! Much later I met a lady whose husband was in management there and she complained about job turnover. I’ll bet if she’d ever worked there she would understand why.

      1. Oh, Pat. There’s nothing I hate worse than being stuck in a place, being cold, and having lots of rules to follow. Sounds like you hung in there much longer than I would have.

  3. A summer job involved purging insurance files –
    multiple paper cuts and itchy skin from old files.
    On arriving home, clothes into the hamper and an immediate shower.

      1. It’s so much easier to purge files now, and sometimes to do it accidentally. Not any paper cuts from the digital files, but a heck of a lot more anxiety over nixing the wrong one! Way to hang in there!

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