Shit jobs Mitt Romney never had

If you, like me, lacked the foresight to choose multimillionaire parents, you’ve probably experienced a series of shit jobs at some point in your life – low-paying, unpleasant employment for which you were nonetheless at least grudgingly grateful because, you know, food.

Mitt Romney chose his parents so wisely that he never had to worry about that sort of thing. The twaddle about fretting over a pink slip? A big fat lie: Romney had a no-risk deal at Bain. Probably the hardest thing Romney ever had to do was bicycle through Provence to pester the French about the Angel Moroni. Quelle horreur!

But Romney may be right about the envy thing. I for one would love to float through a privileged, risk-free existence where the skids are always greased and the only real worry is the possibility of exposing myself to jeers at the country club for using an oyster fork to attack a fruit salad.

Still, I don’t think it’s necessarily envy, but rather a desire to share my more plebeian experiences with the one-percent. So here, forthwith, are the three crappiest jobs I ever personally had (in descending order) with Mitt enjoying the character-building aspects of each:

Pizza Hut Server

This was back in the days when wait staff were required to sling pizza in scratchy, odor-absorbing brown polyester uniforms (images unavailable on the internet). My particular Pizza Hut was located next to an interstate highway and subject to mass invasions of retirees on their way to cruise ports.

The sight of those cheap bastards disembarking from the charter bus and shuffling toward the restaurant occasionally caused less hardy waitresses to chuck their brown visors into the trash and leave for more profitable ventures, like plasma donation. Enjoy your dollar tip on that ten-top, Willard!

Cucumber Picker

To this day I can’t stand fucking cucumbers! Did you know the phallic bastards grow on extremely prickly vines? And that they do it so close to the earth that it will make even a young woman’s back ache long before 10 AM?

Willard, the hard choice is whether to wear hot, sweaty gloves in the 100-degree heat or subject your exquisitely manicured, alabaster hands to merciless gouging by the vines. I recommend the latter. Oh, and screw you, Mount Olive Pickle Company.

Crab Sorter

Yes, this is an actual job that I performed for a couple of days, and despite the fact that it involved the crustaceans rather than the pubic lice, it sucked. The crabs I sorted were destined for a happier fate than Old Bay and boiling water; they were to become aquarium pets.

To perform the sorting ritual, you had to plunge your hands into a crab-infested tank, pull out a specimen and determine its size by fitting it into a little wooden frame, then sort it into the appropriate bucket. The thing to remember here, Willard, is that the crabs don’t enjoy this process. At all. They express their displeasure by pinching the ever-loving shit out of your fingers. And don’t even think about trying to wear gloves because the smaller ones will find their way inside. I still have nightmares.

So, what horrid job from your past would you assign to Willard?

[X-POSTED at Rumproast]

312 replies
  1. 1
    Tone In DC says:

    I did inventory on an office (read half of the damn floor in a decent sized building) full of hard copy file cabinets. We had to check down to the individual file folder. Not back breaking work in the hot sun, I admit, but stultifying nonetheless.
    Took about two months; I was almost glad when they laid us off.

  2. 2
    EconWatcher says:

    I was, for three years, a busboy at an IHOP. Job duties included not only busing tables and doing dishes, but cleaning up unspeakable things in the bathroom (particularly bad on late-night shifts, when drunks came in the middle of the night, ate waffles, and then thought better of it). It built chararacter. It would do Mitt some good.

  3. 3
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Being a vegetarian at the time I would say working in a Butcher’s Shop. Being surrounded by blood and guts was almost too much for my 14 year old animal loving heart to bear, but hey, we were poor, and we needed the money.

  4. 4
    rlrr says:


    But think of the international experience you gained. Always a plus on a resume…

  5. 5
    MariedeGournay says:

    Porter in a grocery store’s meat backroom. Try cleaning out gristle from the floor drain when it clogs. Don’t know what’s worse: the smell or the freezing cold.

  6. 6
    donnah says:

    Hi Betty! Lovely to see you here!

    I also bore the tacky stigma of the polyester uniform, but at McDonald’s. I sure wish Willard could experience rush hour at a burger joint located across from the biggest factory in town, where cranky, rude assembly line workers would line up twenty deep at the counter demanding to be fed.

    And after that shift, mopping up the spilled milkshakes, squished ketchup packets, and discarded burger wrappers while wearing ” eau de tallow”: it doesn’t get more glamorous than that. Factor in minimum wage, and no benefits for part timers, and you’ve got a dream job.

  7. 7
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Assembly line worker; mind numbing tedium, constant pressure to work faster and moral degenerates for bosses. It teaches you what a bunch of useless, petty tyrants the “elite” are and what decent people Mexicans are. High point; being the fastest worker on the line and a VP trying to fire you, because that’s not good enough.

  8. 8
    NobodySpecial says:

    I worked for a brief time in a telemarketing op, selling life insurance to older JCPenney customers. If Willard had a soul, he’d lose it about two weeks in, because it seems one out of every three customers I talked to were already off insurance because of preexisting conditions, and several times I was informed that the person involved on the other end was dying of said condition.

    I’ll never pick up a phone again to bother someone for money like that. Ever.

  9. 9

    I can really sympathize with the cucumber thing. I was raised on a little ranch where we raised food for the animals and for us. If we couldn’t grow it, we didn’t have it. LOTS of work.

  10. 10
    van says:

    Cleaning the cat and dog cages at a Vet that boarded nearly 100 dogs. 6 am start time and all you could smell was the poo you had to clean that day. Still cannot use pine sol….

  11. 11
    Trinity says:

    I worked in the dormitory cafeteria my freshman year at a large Big 10 University…washing and loading dishes into a gigantic dishwasher.

    It was the worst.

  12. 12
    mellowjohn says:

    detassling corn.

  13. 13
    Ol Froth says:

    I worked as a reporter for a local cable news station. 16+ hour days, six days a week (I was the ONLY reporter, responsible for gathering, writing, and presenting). The business was located in an old ranch-style home designed for a family of 5, not a business with 15 employees, and it was served by a septic system. Raw sewage continually backed into the basement from the overburdened septic field. Guess where my office was? You haven’t lived until you’ve worked for $7 an hour while dodging turds floating through your work space.

  14. 14
    El Tiburon says:

    Look, if you pick the wrong cucumber you gonna get crabs.

    Thank you and don’t forget to tip Mitt Romney. Will be here all primary season.

  15. 15
    Raven says:

    Ammo jumper, 1/79th arty, korea 1967-68.

  16. 16
    djork says:

    I can only claim multiple restaurant/ kitchen jobs before my current one. Some sucked, some didn’t.

    Oh, I did telemarketing for AOL, well after AOL’s heyday. Imagine trying to sell AOL in 2004ish. Brutal for the poor schmucks I’m calling and brutal for me to try and explain why anyonme would want to renew that crap.

  17. 17
    dr.hypercube says:

    I worked in a shoe shop (New England usage – we made ’em) – there was a station where 2 people applied glue to the insoles and outsoles of a particular line of boots. The glue was, in large part, acetone and ventilation was poor. Have at it, Mittens.

  18. 18
    El Tiburon says:

    Also: roughneck on drilling rig, hauling hay, driving a tractor, cutting nuts off of bull calves, and scraping gum off of grocery store floor.

  19. 19
    Spirula says:

    Sewage treatment plant worker. Constant smell of Santorum that went home with you on your clothes.

  20. 20
    Silver Wolf says:

    Insulation manufacturing plant.

    Do you know what goes in that crap? Formaldehyde and urea for starters. The boards come rolling down off the machine freshly baked and still warm and you have to stack them, wrap them and send them on their way. Occasionally a board doesn’t cook right and there are hard sections in them. Then you have to pull it out of the pile. The fumes come out from between the boards and into your face. At that point all you can do is close your eyes and wait for the burning in you nose to go away. They had bunny suits and rubber gloves that you could wear but it was already uncomfortably warm in the un-air-conditioned factory that summer even if you wore shorts and a t-shirt.

  21. 21
    Steve says:

    Cashier/shelf stocker at Staples during back-to-school.

    Sanding decorative bases for lampposts to get them ready for painting, then installing them downwind from a huge oil refinery.

    Testing stormwater drains to locate sewer pipe breaks.

    Breaking up old concrete patios with a jackhammer.

    Luckily most of those were very short-term things, but I’d get a kick out of watching Mittens do any of them for even one day.

  22. 22
    xenos says:

    It was hardly a shit job, even the pay was quite poor – medicaid caseworker. I had to learn the public assistance system backwards and forwards, and then try to fit some very unfortunate people into programs that might help them out. There is a lot of mental illness and disability out there, out of sight, and people do not get nearly the help they need. I quickly learned that I had no right to be judging people, and that hope is damned powerful stuff.

    Also, that for-profit hospitals are fucking evil, full stop.

  23. 23
    Yevgraf says:

    Beer distributorship warehouseman. Hot second shift work with lots of broken bottles and shredded cans reeking. The smell of forklift exhaust, lifts that failed, and poorly placed boxcars were special, too.

  24. 24
    Montysano says:

    I think that Mitt would benefit from a stint at a Midwestern grain elevator. I worked the graveyard shift, minding the grain dryers. When things got gummed up, you grabbed a scoop shovel and went to work. Sometimes I had to clean out places that hadn’t been touched in months/years; this was extra stanky, and rats also, too.

    But it was lovely to climb to the top of an elevator at sunrise and watch the lights flicker on in distant farmhouses. Mitt probably wouldn’t get that.

  25. 25
    Olivia says:

    Bean walking, rock picking. Pulling weeds and picking rocks out of soybean fields by hand.
    Sugar beet counter. Assembly line crap counting sugar beets going up a conveyor belt. Only time I ever fell asleep standing up. I agree that you learn what decent hardworking people undocumented Mexicans are. Loved those people, learned a lot from them.
    Counting screws and nuts in bins at Sears for inventory. Not hard, just boring and seemingly pointless.
    My most hated job was cold calling people to sell musical instruments. I was hired after being told there was no selling involved. I lasted 6 hours. Somehow, I think old Mittens would be fine with the cold calling.

  26. 26
    Raven says:

    Burning shit in 1/2 55 gallon drums on Xmas day. Stir it asshole or it crusts on top!

  27. 27
    Raven says:

    US postal service mail handler.

  28. 28
    Dave says:

    Washing dishes at Friendly’s. The smell of egg and industrial dishsoap is something I will never forget. I still get chills when I walk in to order a Fribble.

  29. 29
    EconWatcher says:


    Really? From the outside, I always thought that job looked kinda nice. Was it the dogs?

    Also, somewhat on topic, anyone who has ever had bathroom detail in a cheap restaurant knows what I’m talking about: What kind of a sick excuse for a human being does his full business in a public toilet and then doesn’t flush? You wouldn’t believe how common that is. It’s been almsot thirty years, but I’m still indignant about that.

  30. 30
    Barry says:

    I haven’t had long stretches at a really bad job, so I’ll just assign him to cleaning out restaurant kitchens. Scraping the crud from the inch-deep crevice between tiles, while breathing strictly through the mouth (nose breathing would mean cleaning up my dinner, if you know what I mean).

  31. 31
    Barry says:

    @EconWatcher: “What kind of a sick excuse for a human being does his full business in a public toilet and then doesn’t flush? You wouldn’t believe how common that is. It’s been almsot thirty years, but I’m still indignant about that.”

    And as many people will tell you, that’s not the worst.

  32. 32
    BudP says:

    Bartend at Dancehall reggae club. All the Jamaicans thought I was police, imagine what they’d make of Mittens. BTW, I loved it.

  33. 33
    Aimai says:

    Hi Betty! Thrilling to see you here. I’ve had to do lonely, scary, frightening things while doing fieldwork. But I’ve never had such physically demanding work as when I briefly ran a two person restaurant working five am until nine pm with no breaks shopping, cooking, selling. what I’d wish for mitt is to have ms like his wife and endure five unmedicated labors to produce five loutish sons. But he shouldn’t get to keep the babies. Some mitt like guy should pressure him to give them up for adoption on pain of excommunication.

  34. 34
    EconWatcher says:


    Oh, believe me, I know. See comment no. 2.

  35. 35
    Raven says:

    @EconWatcher: It sucked, semi trucks loaded wit god knows what. Our facility was located at thee Columbia record club return site.

  36. 36
    WyldPirate says:

    Hauling hay in 100+ degree heat and stacking it in a stifling, dusty hayloft. Sticking 7 ft tall wet, dark-fired tobacco in the field and hanging the roughly 100 lb sticks on tier-poles in a hot, dark tobacco barn while straddling the poles 20-30 ft off the ground. It’s a wonder I didn’t break my neck. It was sheer misery that yielded a sore aching body and mere pittance for the effort.

  37. 37
    Bob says:

    Honest to god, I dusted the machines in a flour mill. Four stories of really big machines that sifted flower. Any cook, like Betty, knows how easily flour gets all over everything. Any way, start on the fourth floor, dust. Move down to floor three, repeat. When finished with the first floor back to four and repeat hour after hour. I lasted about two weeks. I was fired and glad of it.

  38. 38
    Raven says:

    Mail handlers are not mailmen.

  39. 39
    Paul in KY says:

    General clean-up at the local dog pound. If you like shit, this is your job!

    I had this one for a Summer when I was 15. Really motivated me for college.

  40. 40
    EEH says:

    Weekend maid at the Branding Iron Motel in Flagstaff, AZ during my college years. It was a third-rate dump with horrific decor and fortunately, I was too young and naive at the time to realize what was probably on the sheets. I’d love for Mitt to clean those rooms on Sundays after the visiting sports teams had left after totally trashing them.

  41. 41

    @Spirula: Hail, comrade! Sewer connections, house-to-main. One year I was writing answers in a bluebook in a Greek class on Plato one morning, and 24 hours later was hand-trenching through an old cesspool. And in and out of manholes with street rods, clearing blockages.

    Still can’t give blood. Though I’m asymptomatic, there are hepatitis antibodies enough to trigger my being bounced from the donor pool.

  42. 42
    mistermix says:

    Welcome, Betty. Sounds like I had it better than you – I mowed lawns and flipped burgers. I really hate mowing the lawn as a result, but I still like cooking.

  43. 43
    Lavandual says:

    @Econ Watcher — you know it. I had a minimum wage job (no tips) as a restaurant hostess. The job’s tone was set before my first shift when I was handed my white gauzy uniform. I said “It’s see through, so I’ll need to wear a slip with that” and the manager said “That won’t be necessary.” I was supposed to greet customers in rhymed couplets that I could barely force out between clenched teeth, and I was kind of the back-up bouncers since I stood right by the door that drunk patrons were being escorted out of, but the absolute worst part of the job was restroom duty on “Ladies Drink Free Nite” featuring flavored 20-ounce margaritas.

  44. 44
    jrg says:

    Phone tech support. What a shitty, stressful job.

    Of course, it’s still a lot better than some of the ones listed here. At least I wasn’t getting shot at.

  45. 45
    Paul in KY says:

    @NobodySpecial: Glad you got out of that job. One of the worst, IMO.

  46. 46
    Lawnguylander says:

    I worked at an environmental and concrete testing lab one summer. In the concrete lab my job was to strip the cardboard containers off the concrete cores the field guys delivered from work sites. Then take them into the curing room and take yesterday’s cores backout. Next, ladle some noxious molten fluid into a base stand and dip each end of the cores into it. Once each core’s base was set, move them into the hydraulic press for stress testing. The trick was to stop the press just as the core was finna shatter, but before it actually did. Because, while it was cool to shatter a concrete cylinder the first couple of times, cleaning it all up was a nightmare. I went home stinking of sulphur and whatever chemicals are in concrete. I did get muscles out of the deal, though.

  47. 47
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ol Froth: I see now how you got your online moniker ;-)

  48. 48
    cmorenc says:

    Three low-level plebe jobs I’ve had are:
    1) DITCH DIGGER: Summer of 1967 between high school and college in southeastern NC, I was on a crew laying municipal sewer pipe. Although a backhoe did the main initial digging, leveling/sloping the ditch properly for the pipe and filling it back in were pure shovelful-by-shovelful manual labor. I was the only white kid on a crew of all-black high-school dropouts for whom this was their lifetime career, and though de jure segregation had ended, de facto segregation was still fully embedded in this part of the south. I got a first-hand up-close look at what life as part of the black underclass in the segregated south was like.
    2) DISH WASHER: Provided you work in a restaurant with good food, this actually isn’t as bad a gig as it sounds, because most decent restaurants have an extremely efficient dishwasher and your job is mainly scraping excess food off and constantly loading the machine rather than washing an endless stream of dishes manually. ALSO, any time you’re hungry, the cooks will fix you anything you want except of course for the most expensive stuff like higher-end steaks, and so the effective wage for the job was actually much better than the nominal near-minimum wage it paid. Also, this was back in the days before this job became the near-exclusive province of immigrants who may or may not have a legitimate green card.
    3) TREE PLANTER IN SOUTHERN WASHINGTON STATE: Extremely hard low-wage work, but it was one of the most fun summers of my entire life and I came out if it in terrific physical shape. Bunch of hippies staying stoned and camping out in the woods getting naked every afternoon after work in a home-made sweat lodge by a glacier-fed river we dove into after getting so hot we couldn’t stand it any more. WHOOO! OTOH, walking around on steep slopes with a 50-lb waist-sack of seedling trees strapped to me, slinging a hodad (a pick/shovel combo tool) to plant 700 to 1000 trees from 5am to 1pm every day was indeed very hard work. It helped that my fellow crew-members were also over-educated college students on a lark.

  49. 49
    General Stuck says:

    Raffled a mentally ill goose one winter outside a gas station in high school. To raise cash for summer American Legion Baseball team. Haven’t been right since.

  50. 50
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    My first job, cleaning toilets in a holiday camp. It taught me two things:

    i, Women can be as big as pigs as men in the bathroom.

    ii, Any job which involves sitting down in front of a computer is better.

  51. 51
    TooManyJens says:

    I had a very brief stint as the person who collected urine samples from racehorses for drug testing. I bet Mitt doesn’t know how to persuade a horse to pee.

  52. 52
    Hawes says:

    Skee Ball attendant at Six Flags Over Georgia. Lemon yellow shirt with Candy Apple red disco lapels and pants. 100 degrees and 90% humidity and the inbred effluvia of Appalachia descending upon me to complain about the cheap plastic crap they had won. Working at Six Flags made me a racist. Against white people.

  53. 53

    @General Stuck:So ‘raffling the goose’ is what you kids are calling it now?

  54. 54
    beergoggles says:

    1. busboy/dish washer. I never realized the smell of food could gag me so badly. Thankfully I discovered that if I sniffed the vinegar, it would deaden my sense of smell enough to get through it. Thankfully it prepared me for:

    2. Lab tech – where I learned to carve up live animals and dead humans for experiments and for classes. The formaldehyde smell would permeate my clothing and whatever mask I wore. My throat would be raw by the end of the day and I started getting strep throat almost monthly.

    Thankfully the worst I have to deal with at my current job is a dust bunny.

  55. 55
    Breezeblock says:

    Summer groundscrew on a state-run golf course. Mostly, it was the being at work at 6am that blew, while we had a NJ shore house rented for the summer, and the pay at $3,25/hour, even for OT. We made our own fun though, which included aggravating the golfers!

  56. 56
    Yevgraf says:

    I did just remember one great upside to the beer warehouseman job – even though the conditions sucked, you could drink beer, as long as you mostly sorta did your job OK.

    What would happen would be that the drivers would bring back kegs from bars and restaurants with a few gallons left, and we had a tap system rigged next to the big chillers. By the end of the night (midnight to about 1:30 AM) you’d be hammered, and guys who were off work would frequently drop in for free beer.

    Nobody wore helmets, and we had a lot of drunken wastage from spearing pallets with our forks. The owner was a former NFL player who managed to topple three pallets of beer by trying to stack a fourth the first day I worked – it took 8 hours to clean up.

  57. 57
    p.a. says:

    Now, maybe summer jobs shouldn’t count since it’s not like I needed them to keep a roof over my head, and not to turn this int a Python skit “…you had a box?!!”, but here’s mine: 2 summers working in a hospital laundry (for the most part) sorting the dirty linen. Ugh. This was pre-AIDS, but both years I got nicked several times by scalpels/syringes that came down in the OR laundry (along with the occasional bloody glob of internal whatever). The maternity/pediatrics laundry came down in distinctive white and blue laundry bags. Fuck that- I left those for the full-timers. But there was overtime and weekends, wherin I could smuggle out scrubs for my and my friends, and hemostats enough to supply the neighborhood with roachclips.

    Also had a summer job working in the molding room of American Tourister; where they make the hard luggage. They removed the thermometer in April/May. By June we had to take salt pills at the start of the shift, and on bad days they would bring the thermometer back in to test. If it got to 130deg.(f) they would close down the room- and send us to load the 18 wheelers which were probably 150deg inside! Luckily there was a packie up the street; surprising how much one can drink in a half hour lunch.

  58. 58
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Any fast food job: I’ve worked at both McDonalds and Pizza Hut before.

    Working in a fast food joint should be required of every American before heading out to college, trade school or profession of choice. It teaches humility, responsibility and that people suck.

  59. 59


    I for one would love to float through a privileged, risk-free existence where the skids are always greased and the only real worry is the possibility of exposing myself to jeers at the country club for using an oyster fork to attack a fruit salad.

    The snark, she is tasty! Keep it coming.

    I had a succession of truly shitty jobs in my late teens and early 20s. Probably the most horrid was the summer I spent cleaning a factory that made enclosures for large kitchen appliances, work for which the company closed the factory and hired temp workers. These were mostly people like me, too young and dumb to protest when we were told to do something insanely dangerous. (“See that beam up there, where the cable hoist runs?” [points to 12″x8″ I-beam, 200 feet long and 50 above the factory floor] “It’s covered with grease and dirt and flaking fatigued metal. We need you to climb up there with this wire brush and scrub the thing from end-to-end. No, there’s no safety lines or anything, what are you, some kind of commie?”).

    As I said, I was young and dumb and thought the regular workers were probably enjoying their summer off. I didn’t reckon with questions like, how were they keeping up the mortgage with no paycheck.

  60. 60
    Yevgraf says:


    Ammo jumper, 1/79th arty, korea 1967-68.

    I think Mittens was ordering croissants and looking out over the Seine in a manly way when you were doing that.

  61. 61
    LGRooney says:

    – Busboy at a TGI Fridays; the smell of dishwater still makes me ill

    – Delivery driver for Pizza Hut in my college summers; took a few months before the smell of the grease and cheap dough left my car after returning to school

    – Food prep in my dorm cafeteria; one night the Latinas decided it would be my job to cut the 20-30 pounds of onions needed; I spent a week showering with soap and cut lemons before I finally got rid of the smell from my hair and hands

    – Building a new Hechinger’s store (like a Home Depot for you young ‘uns); spent a summer in DC-area heat w/o AC working with high rednecks behind the wheel of a forklift and holding girders on my back while they were bolted in by the same rednecks who always thought the weight of the girder probably wasn’t enough for my 5’7″ frame

    I’m so full of character, I could cry.

    – Retail (various establishments); touching people’s feet to fit them into shoes? Nasty business that means I have to dream of elsewhere when my wife needs a foot massage. Cleaning cum out of dressing rooms because people are so unlike animals. Conversations with fellow workers who could tell a dress’ designer by the shape of the seam but couldn’t tell you who the president was or find Canada on a map if you told them it was the only country north of the US. The mindless droning still gives me nightmares.

  62. 62
    merrinc says:

    By the time I saw your intro post yesterday, it was way down the page and had a kabillion comments so merri-come-lately didn’t bother. But OMG, a heartfelt welcome to you, Betty Cracker! It’s always a good start to the day when the first blog post I read makes me laugh. I look forward to reading many more.

    My first job was as a waitress at Sweet William’s restaurant in our local mall when I was 16. I made $1.05 per hour plus tips and had to wear a starched white button up dress that hit below the knee and made me look like Nurse Ratchet with a red apron.

    Sweet Williams specialized in all sorts of ice cream delights. Once I was carrying two hot fudge sundaes to a table and one of the sundaes slid off the tray and to my horror, propelled itself with amazing speed toward the well dressed woman sitting in the booth. It landed about half an inch from her shoulder and splattered all over the place. She began shrieking: YOU STUPID LITTLE BITCH! LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO MY CLOTHES! THIS RESTAURANT IS GOING TO PAY MY DRY CLEANING BILL!

    I was, of course, mortified and in tears. The manager came over and made nice to Miss 1% Wannabe and obviously, I survived the experience and went on to become a productive member of society though it must be noted that I never even considered restaurant management as a major when I entered college two years later.

  63. 63
    RossInDetroit says:

    I’ve had many shit jobs and I have one now but I have little to add to the horrifying examples already cited.

    But if Mitt’s never had a job where a band saw could throw the blade at his head without warning, he should have. After the second near-decapitation in a week I forklifted my tools into the truck and just didn’t go back.

  64. 64
    PeakVT says:

    Pushing 200 lbs of onions through a Hobart.

  65. 65
    Waynski says:

    @Dave: Ha! Washing dishes at Friendly’s was in my top three, but the worst was stuffing foot long thin Titanium rods into thin plastic bags for 17 cents per bag after high school. Total pay following three hours of unbelievable frustration? $1.34. I guess because it was piece work they got around the minimum wage laws somehow. Didn’t cover the bus fare, so I didn’t go back. I made much more money mowing the neighbor’s lawn and no bus fare.

  66. 66
    Halteclere says:

    One year in college, to help get food money, I spent every Sunday afternoon cleaning the offices and bathrooms of a concrete plant. For $40. For food for the whole week. (this was the early ’90’s). One week I had to study for a test instead of clean, and had only 5 packs of instant oatmeal to live off of for that week.

  67. 67
    dexwood says:

    Spent two weeks installing that damn pink insulation, you know, the stuff that makes you all prickly and itchy, the stuff that forces you to cover up as much as possible to no real effect during the summer when it’s 95 degrees in humid Baltimore. One morning, when the alarm went off at 5:30, I simply said “fuck it”, rolled over, and went back to sleep. Enough was enough…

  68. 68
    drew42 says:

    First Job:
    Seafood department at a grocery store during my last two years in high school. Fish/meat workers actually got paid more than stock and checkout (about $0.70/hour more) because it was so gross and somewhat dangerous — about once a week someone would slice a thumb or burn a hand. Fresh deliveries only came twice a week, and 3-day old fish is nasty, nasty stuff.

    I got an old beater car my senior year, which eventually stunk of rotten fish. My friends would immediately light cigarettes as soon as they got in, to cover the smell.

  69. 69
    DanielX says:

    Mercy. Shit jobs? Let’s see – construction cleanup, waiting tables, demolition as part of tile work, laying tile, nightclub doorman/bouncer (good music, too many drunken assholes), food processing plant. That latter was a real treat – you wouldn’t believe how loud a hard shell nut bagging line is, plus being cold in winter and roasting in summer. Oh yeah, it can be seriously hazardous to your health working in a manufacturing environment if some of your coworkers would be hard pressed to fog a mirror. Working on a loading dock for a trucking company – the work sucked, but the pay was okay and those few short months as a Teamster taught me things about blue collar union life I never would have learned any other way.

    Any or all of these I would recommend for Mittens, or, for that matter, to Biff, Cliff, Zip and Chip or whatever his robotic sons are named.

  70. 70
    chopper says:

    sorting recycling in an unheated barn during midwestern winter. at college, so every day we’d get loads of half-filled bottles of keystone from frat parties.

    got so cold none of the equipment would work, the truck wouldn’t start, the glass chipper wouldn’t work. we were still expected to work tho. boss kept promising warm work uniforms which never showed up.

  71. 71
    RossInDetroit says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    Working in a fast food joint should be required of every American before heading out to college, trade school or profession of choice. It teaches humility, responsibility and that people suck.

    Totally agree. I worked in one restaurant from age 15 to age 25. From dishwasher to head waiter. It grows you up fast and you learn innumerable life skills. What gets grease out of polyester. How to wrangle a drunk until his wife arrives. When the bride should dance with her dad. How to tell friendly chat from a come-on. Who to flatter and who to leave alone. First-aid for cuts and burns. And hangovers. I wouldn’t go back but I’m glad I went through it.

  72. 72
    The Moar You Know says:

    Absolute worst: office manager for a slumlord property agency. That job got me to hate both rich rentiers and poor people simultaneously, an impressive feat by any standards.

    Second worst: coffee slave at Starbucks. The attitude of the public was unreal.

  73. 73
    drew42 says:

    Second Job:
    Cleaning dishes at the cafeteria my freshman/sophomore years at college, usually breakfast. Pancake syrup and egg yolk transforms into a rubber cement-like substance if left to sit for 1/2 hour.

    It got over 120 degrees in there, steamy, slippery floors. And you wouldn’t believe what hungover college students do to their breakfast.

  74. 74
    RSA says:

    In high school, I worked part-time as a dishwasher. Because we were responsible for handling clean-up at closing time, I’d often come home soaking wet from chest to knees and smelling of garbage.

    For a few summers in college I worked for the county on a sewage station maintenance crew. I mowed the grass and held tools for the guys who worked on the machinery, and I’d often come home a bit damp and smelling of sewage.

    I suppose these jobs would be better preparation for a political journalist than a politician, though.

  75. 75
    Birthmarker says:

    I worked on the filler line at a perfume plant. The bottles break. I couldn’t stay in the room with my shoes at the end of the day. I still can’t wear perfume.

    I also did telephone soliciting. And retail.

    The crappy jobs you do while young motivate you to train for a better job.

    I knew someone who cleared underbrush at the power lines in the summer. He said that will make you get your butt in gear.

  76. 76
    PeakVT says:

    @drew42: The bit about the car is hilarious.

  77. 77
    eemom says:

    Splendiforous post! Glad you are here, Mrs. Cracker.

    It’s nothing compared to these others, but when I was in college I briefly worked for a fundraising company that was handling a “campaign” for a local private school. It paid better than anything else available so a bunch of us did it. But I hate calling strangers on the phone, I hate asking people for money, and I hate trying to “sell” anything. So I hated, hated, hated that job.

  78. 78
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I guess I have been lucky. My worst job was taking freshly painted wooden window parts off of a dryer belt for a summer. 140 degrees, bending and twisting. Upsides: everyone knew I was related to the owner so no one messed with me and, by the end of the summer, I was in fantastic shape. OTOH being part of the legal defense team of a power company for a Clean Air Act suit was pretty bad in its own way.

  79. 79
    jibeaux says:

    Teaching middle school.

  80. 80
    Yevgraf says:


    Pushing 200 lbs of onions through a Hobart.

    My brother in onion slicing! I used to do that prep job for years. The smell of the onions, the tears that come with it, the onion-pickled hands.

    The only thing that topped it was my other favorite – peeling, cleaning and butterflying 25 pounds of shrimp that were still pretty frozen. The cuts on the hand from the shells were a joy.

  81. 81
    DanielX says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    Also, too – any job waiting tables will do that also, that is, that people mostly suck. I learned right away that there are – seriously – people who save up their frustrations all week so they can take them out on some poor server on Friday or Saturday night, and there are more than you’d think. Always tip your server 20 percent – they’re working their asses off, they need the money and it kind of makes you stand out because you’re not a schmuck.

  82. 82
    g says:

    Shitty jobs – working in a deli slicing lunch meats; assembling circuit boards soldering capacitors in place.

    For over 20 years I worked as a professional stagehand, and although I loved my work, I’d have loved to see Willard as a newbie on his first call, sent up to the loading bridge to load counterweights. Or pull 4-ought power cable off a puke and beer slick arena floor after a rock concert.

  83. 83
    Maude says:

    At one restaurant, there was a entree called duck flambe.
    A waitress set the curtains on fire. It was great.
    Waitress: sizzle plates that are made of metal and used to keep steaks hot.
    French Onion Soup. Burns.
    Mother’s Day.
    A tray that carries 8 plates and side dishes.
    Would anyone like a beverage? A few steps away, oh, miss…
    Dry cleaners/laundry in summer. Does get over 120 degrees.
    Making down quilts.
    There are others, but I don’t remember them.

  84. 84
    drew42 says:

    Third Job:
    Delivering heavy appliances – refrigerators, ovens, washers and dryers. Had to be at the store by 5:30am to get our day’s delivery list.

    Customers often lived in walk-up apartments, so we had to lift refrigerators up three flights of stairs. And it was a huge deal every time we nicked a doorway or wall.

  85. 85
    fortygeek says:

    Worse Job? Certified Nursing Assistant. Want to know the difference between a babysitter and a CNA? Bigger diapers…

  86. 86
    The Moar You Know says:

    My most hated job was cold calling people to sell musical instruments.

    @Olivia: I’m pretty sure I know where you worked. Name of Richard ring a bell?

  87. 87
    Mudge says:

    Cab driver on night shift in Camden, NJ. Drug addicts, drunks, prostitutes, fare skippers (company policy was don’t argue, but of course the financial hit was on me).

    I quit the day after one of the other cabs had a rock thrown through his windshield off an overpass.

  88. 88
    Lawnguylander says:

    Also, I did not know about Romney’s bycycling tour of Provence. The atomic theory tells us that the interchange of mollycules between Romney and the bike caused by his riding it over rough country roads means he must be nearly half bicycle from the experience. This explains much about his stiff presentation. It would also finally explain to some long puzzled French folks why this ancient bicycle they’ve got in their town is so fucking creepy.

  89. 89
    KXB says:

    Paralegal assistant at a big-ass Chicago law firm. The legal profession has a caste system so strict, it makes Hindus lower their heads in shame. As a PA, you are below a paralegal, and all the shit they are thrown by their associate lawyers was thrown at the associates by senior counsel, who in turn had to deal with shit thrown by partners, who had shit served to them by clients. All that shit just piles up by the time it gets to a PA. It seemed half my job was labeling documents. This was the 1990’s, before Microsoft Word had an “insert number” function. So, we were given labels to label on each damn page of a document. Or, highlighting every instance of a certain parties name appearing in a document. That was joy at 10:30 PM on a Friday night.

    What made this even more unbearable was that everyone seemed to be fucking around. Senior partners in their fifties and sixties would hover around the desks of young, very damn good looking female associates and secretaries. And while some women dealt with it, others took advantage of the attention. So – lousy pay, long hours, and watching ugly dudes get with hot women. There was no reason to stay, except for food & rent. As soon as I got a better job, I was gone. I did not even take time off, I was just eager to put it behind me.

  90. 90
    RossInDetroit says:

    One horrible job I intermittently have now: stripping tile floors.
    Slop down boiling hot water and caustic chemicals all over a waxed tile floor. It will immediately become slick as egg whites and you will slide all over in spite of your Stripper Booties*. Laugh when someone falls hard on their ass. Wait 20 minutes, then scour the floor with an abrasive pad on a 100 lb machine like a colossal sander. Your turn to fall & be jeered. Suck up the slop with a wetvac. Scrub corners, edges and baseboards by hand, avoiding burns from the chemical. Takes about 2 hours to clean one 30′ X 20′ room, after which you’re exhausted. Only 39 more rooms to go!

    *traction footwear

  91. 91
    Butch says:

    Painting barns. Heights and me don’t go together; I can barely stand on a chair, and being 50 feet up on a ladder didn’t work at all.

  92. 92
    drew42 says:

    Fourth Job:
    Spent a month, via a temp agency, working at a metal parts warehouse. All day, every day, taking metal rods out of a box, wiping them with oil, putting them in another box.

  93. 93

    @Silver Wolf

    Any kind of industrial work where there’s no union. I later spent a couple of thousand hours studying chemistry, to learn that some of the things my employers soaked me with are probably gonna kill me one of these days. Toluene, xylenes, low-MW halocarbons, check check check.

    The guys who’ve mentioned agricultural labor probably had it worse though.

  94. 94
    ChrisB says:

    Great thread but one serious error:

    People don’t jeer at country clubs.

    The silence, however, can be deafening.

  95. 95
    cmorenc says:


    Worse Job? Certified Nursing Assistant. Want to know the difference between a babysitter and a CNA? Bigger diapers…

    BTW: Anyone who wants to apply to get into an RN program probably has to first get certified as a CNA, as many (perhaps most) nursing programs now require this as one of the prerequisites. However, it varies to what extent you actually need a stint actually working as one to bolster your application. Although certainly R.N. programs are nowhere remotely near as selectively difficult to get into as medical school, nevertheless they are substantially more selective and difficult to get into than they used to be.

  96. 96
    Biscuits says:

    -cocktail waitress while having to wear spandex, sleeveless minidress at a dance club, while I was in college. Men could be predatory, women could be mean. But there were also gentlemen and ladies. Money was good. Paid for school and a car. But the nights were very late and physically exhausting, plus I’m convinced my hearing has suffered from all the loud music.

  97. 97
    Shinobi says:

    1. Selling beanie babies to obnoxious rich housewives. “Can I look at some of them I want to make sure I get the BEST ONE.” At one point they were buying the new ones for upwards of $500 bucks. I comfort myself with the knowledge that those dolls are now worthless.

    2. FILING. I was a temp and I had to move all the files from one floor and combine them with another set of files on another floor. I had to take the contents out of the file folder and slide it into the file, which meant that I got about a billion papercuts. I also forgot my own name. Thank FSM for books on tape.

    These actually aren’t very bad jobs, but I am sure they are worse than any job Romney has had.

  98. 98
    Joey Maloney says:

    I’d like to offer Mitt a job planting tulips.

  99. 99
    drew42 says:

    Fifth Job:
    Same temp agency, spent three weeks moving all of a company’s inventory from a 10,000 sqft warehouse (which was fairly full) to a 6,000 sqft warehouse. Nobody from the company itself oversaw us, so it was up to me to manage an ever-rotating crew of temp workers and organize everything. And I did it — with over 1000 sqft to spare!

  100. 100
    estamm says:

    Short order cook at a small upstate NY airport restaurant in high school. Did breakfast on the weekends. Had to be there around 5:30 or earlier, even when it snowed. I remember driving through bad snow on perilous roads while barely being able to see 10 feet ahead of me. When I was 17/18. What were my parents thinking letting me do that??? It was a great job in other ways, but I am amazed that I’m still alive. (Some of the hot waitresses there made it ALLLL worthwhile, though. Not the one mildly mentally challenged waitress who once threw up all over the horseshoe-shaped dining area. Cleared ALL the customers out! She didn’t last much after that.)

  101. 101
    Stuck In 60s says:

    Booth cleaner at porn shop.

    Of course Mitt, being a robot, might not understand concept of bodily fluids.

  102. 102
    TheF79 says:

    Working in a glass factory while in college was definitely the worst. 12 hour shifts with two 20 minute breaks, physically lifting about 30 tons of glass per day, no air conditioning while working next to a tempering furnace wearing kevlar body armor, fun stories about people getting sliced open by exploding or breaking glass lites, crystalline boogers from all the glass dust, dozens of tiny scalp lacerations, all for about $8.30 an hour (late 90’s). Helluva good lesson in the value of a dollar – every time I gripe about having a bad day in the ivory tower, I remember that my worst day at my current job is better than the best day at that factory…

  103. 103
    canuckistani says:

    Tough choice – either working on the assembly line for GM, sticking putty in the left rear wheel wells of Pontiac 6000’s, or cold calling victims for a skeevy bunch of stockbrokers to push their fishy gold stocks upon.

  104. 104
    Jewish Steel says:

    Baling hay. And then putting that hay away in the 100+ degree heat. It was one of my first jobs and it has made every subsequent job not seem like work at all.

  105. 105
    gelfling545 says:

    I only had to stand by when this job was done (and that was bad enough) but it is the most awful I have ever seen: cleaning grease traps in a restaurant.

  106. 106
    RossInDetroit says:

    At the moment I have to train and supervise people who do shit jobs. I try to make it as humane as possible, but 22 public johns and a football locker room is still nobody’s idea of fun.

  107. 107
    Lojasmo says:

    Dishwasher at a chinese joint. Actually had NO fingerprints, literally. Hands cracked and bled all the time.

    Cold calling telemarketer for tanning products. Ugh.

    Army reservist. 42b

    Waiter at Embers on university avenue in Minneapolis by the U of M. The only perk was the nitrous from the spent whipped cream bottles.

  108. 108
    geg6 says:

    My first job was awesome (lifeguard at the private neighborhood pool) and left me completely ignorant as what life in other jobs would be like.

    Second job taught me much. I was looking to get into the hospitality industry (waitress, with ultimate goal of bartender when I turned 18) and my sister got me a job at the local Serbian Club, which had lots of large banquets and weddings and such. It was to, basically, clean and prep for cooking all the seafood. Icky, smelly business, that. Thankfully, that only lasted about six months before I was allowed to get out on the floor as a waitress. Worked for many years at many places after that (often supplementing my “real” job or jobs), usually as a bartender, and always liked my jobs. They were hell on my feet (I insisted on wearing heels because I found I got better tips), but bartending is always entertaining. I’d do it again if I had to.

    Just out of undergrad, I sold advertising for a country radio station in Pittsburgh. Lots of cold calling and begging, lots of miles on my car, ridiculously expensive parking in the city, and very, very low pay. Ran screaming from that one.

    First job in academia (well, actually first three jobs because I worked them all at once) was teaching social studies for GED students, arranging and providing services to disabled students, and tutoring in history and political science. I loved the GED gig, but did the others in the hope of eventually getting a full-time gig. Did all this for 9 years and the most I made annually was $15,000. This is how I spent the boom years of the Clinton administration. Yeah, the boom years.

  109. 109
    drew42 says:

    Ooh, I forgot! Once I got from the temp agency a single 12-hour job, where a construction crew spent the morning rebuilding patches of a sidewalk. My job was to spend the day patrolling it to make sure nobody stepped in it, carved their initials, etc.

    Thing was, they didn’t give me an orange vest or anything to indicate I had that kind of authority. And the patched areas spanned a length of over 500 feet with a lot of pedestrians. So I was just some 19-old kid in a t-shirt and jeans, running around yelling at people to stop messing with the wet cement (and EVERYBODY messes with wet cement!)

    Several people told me to go fuck myself, threatened me with violence. One guy about twice my size actually grabbed me by the shirt, but his girlfriend screamed at him and pulled us apart.

  110. 110
    Original Lee says:

    1. Grape combing. This is similar to corn detasseling except you’re on foot and you spend the entire day with your hands and arms at or above shoulder height. It has to be done when not raining and after the dew has dried. Nowadays you are not likely to be sprayed with chemicals while in the field.

    2. Cleaner for vacation home rentals. Pretty much what you might imagine – sand everywhere, for one, but we had to make the place Dutch clean after a bunch of people spent a week being pigs because it was just a rental. Most of the units were two bedrooms with 1.5 bathrooms, a living room, a balcony/patio, and a kitchenette. We usually had two hours to work the miracle and got yelled at if the next renters showed up before we were finished. We had to turn in everything that wasn’t obviously garbage for Lost-and-Found and got yelled at if “lost” items weren’t there when the clients called up. We lived in fear of being made to pay for items the client swore had been left behind – we knew the owners would do this sometimes if they didn’t like you better than the client. I also found a 2-day-old corpse once.

    3. Emergency babysitter. Not for the faint of heart! Usually the kid was too sick to be anywhere but home and the parents couldn’t/wouldn’t take time off from work to stay with him/her. Lots of snot and other body fluids to clean up, lots of spoiled and bratty behavior amplified by being sick, lots of amazingly rude parents. Some of them I could tell were doing the best they could despite lacking insurance, but others were amazingly stupidly cheap. Sadly, some of them I had to report to CPS. I was fired from this job because I reported too many clients to CPS.

  111. 111
    Lojasmo says:


    I have also worked as a CNA (while in nursing school) and it is, indeed, a terrible job. I can also attest that any current nursing students (in minnesota, at least) need CNA cert to get into the program.

  112. 112
    blondie says:

    Skid hustler. Skids are like creosote-soaked, wooden railroad ties, just a little smaller, that are piled together to prop up pieces of a pipeline for the welders to join them together. The skid hustler sprints 50-100 yards between skatterings of skids to pile them up before the crane that hoists the pipeline pieces gets there. My husband did this as a young, very in-shape man, and by mid-afternoon, he was hallucinating the smell of bacon and eggs. Nevermind the splinters we pulled out of his hands at night.

  113. 113
    Raven says:


    My dissertation was a qual study of GED grads.

  114. 114
    SBJules says:

    I was a maid in a motel the summer before my senior year in high school. People are pigs, by the way. Thanks to the reports social security sent me, I know that I earned $90. that summer.

  115. 115
    Mary says:

    My worst job was at Pizza Hut, too. That was the first non-babysitting job I ever had, and boy was I terrible at it. My next high school job was working at a veterinarian’s office. Cleaning up animal crap was such a step up for me. I loved that job!

  116. 116
    Amanda says:

    Worst job was waitressing at a family-style restaurant — this was when I was in college, during the summer. The stench of thousand island dressing cannot be scrubbed out from under your finger nails, no matter how hard you try. Oh and the familie of 12 who would arrive 15 minutes before closing and devour a fried chicken dinner and leave the table positively covered in chicken carcass shrapnel. And the tyrant boss who made us work 10 days straight without a day off, which is technically legal but is evil and heartless. But I was thankful to not be trying to raise a family on those wages, ugh. Hence we all colluded on under-reporting tips bc it was the only way the job could be even remotely decent paying for folks with kids. Good times.

    One of my best lessons in life was offered up by the chief of staff in the US Congressional office I interned in during college. Unlike the vast majority of his colleagues on the Hill, our chief of staff insisted that anyone who got an internship (or full time paid job) in the office had to meet 3 requirements or the application went into the garbage, even if daddy was a gazillionaire contributor: (1) kid had to have done at least one menial job like waitressing, bike messangering, etc. (2) kid had to have travelled outside the US at least once, even if it was just Canada or Mexico. (3) kid had to have taken at least one foreign language class. In my experience, requirement #1 was by far the most important and it was strictly enforced. I witnessed connected kids’ applications being denied bc they’d never held a menial job with my own eyes, which was a thing of beauty let me tell you — bc most of those offices are positively rife with silver spooned trust fund snobs who think they’re god’s gift. In contrast, our office was filled with actual humans who were wicked smart and a pleasure to work with. When I learned how rare such behavior was on the Hill, it impressed me even more.

  117. 117
    Donut says:

    Flipped burgers at Wendy’s and McDonald’s. Got fired from both.

    Did the early AM shit shift delivery for a bakery, made pizzas and salads, got moved up to a line cook position at a pretty decent place, eventually actually learned some real cooking skills – how to make soups, sauces. work a grill, did a lot of catering events, some really shitty ones standing in the back of a refrigerated semi-trailer making dainty chocolate mousse desserts for rich fuckers. Felt like I had moved up in the world when I managed to land a job at a marketing research firm, doing satisfaction surveys for Ameritech. Parlayed that into an assistant job at a TDD/TTY relay center for the deaf and hard of hearing. This was way before texting or even email were widely available, and my job was to relay what the deaf/hard of hearing person typed on their phone, and then then type back the replies of the person they were calling. It was great when you were dealing with family or friends who wanted to talk to the person, but when calling someone who had never used relay, or when you had to relay something painful/personal, it was pretty rough and very uncomfortable. If you have never had to relay to a deaf person that their mom just said, “I think you are a piece of shit and I hate it when you call me,” you just haven’t lived…After that I finished college and worked at a student loan servicing call center. That was also a joy. Finally got into some stuff after that that I wanted to do, though when I was a touring professional musician I had to take a lot of pretty shitty temp jobs. Since I quit the music biz ten years ago, I’ve mostly been able to manage my employment affairs and only take jobs I wanted and that pay pretty well, so I can’t complain. I feel damn lucky to be where I’m at now.

  118. 118
    RossInDetroit says:

    The world is full of shit jobs that Mitt knows nothing about. Has he ever mucked out a grease trap in a seafood restaurant kitchen? Dumpster dived for a dental appliance discarded at lunch? Plowed snow on an open tractor for 6 hours in 10 degree weather? Emptied garbage cans in July where dog walkers dump their pooches’ poop? Scoured grease film off of a ceiling all day. Shingled a roof? Run crowd control on rowdy, violent drunks?

  119. 119
    gaz says:

    I’ve been fairly fortunate in that most of my jobs were indoors and the only time I had to deal with crustaceans was over a business lunch. That said I’ve had a few crap jobs.

    1. Cook at a local Drive-in – my first more or less “real” job. I lasted about 7months.

    2. Cashier at a gas station – I needed a break from IT – this station was actually half decent to their employees, until they were bought out – I left after about 2 years – This was the first time in my working life that I had an actual paid vacation – with actual TIME OFF. (even though I had worked at Microsoft, etc). To do this day, I have no idea why Canadians can’t operate gas pumps. But they can’t.

    3. Porn star – (sort of) heh. I quit an IT job after 3 years because I needed time off, and my ex and I contracted with some schleb pr0n producer who was in town from LA… hey, rent is rent. heh. This gig sounds a lot more fun than it actually is.

    4. I’m not sure if this counts – I drove a taxi on and off for awhile, but it was a favor to the guy that owned the cab service. I got paid, but I wasn’t doing it for the money – it was to help out a friend when he was short on drivers. This job sucks, BTW – as another poster said.

    The rest was all IT. I’ve been lucky.

  120. 120
    John PM says:

    Graveyard shift garbage clean up at Taste of Chicago for three summers. Although the crackheads who worked the crew to get money for their next hit did provide some entertainment.

    Laborer for a roofer – We had a fun game called “Dodge the old roofing tiles and rusty nails.”

    Accounting clerk for concessions at a racetrack – This one wasn’t actually that bad, except when the beer vendors would spill beer all over their money; nothing better than trying to count soaking wet money. I think this would be a good job for Mitt so that he could know what it is like to be surrounded by a lot of money and know that none of it is his.

  121. 121
    elmo says:

    Hail, my fellow collegiate dishwashers! Although I have to say, that wasn’t a bad job. THIS was a bad job, the summer of my freshman year in college:

    Burger King across the street from a movie theater. Open till midnight. My shift was 4 pm to close.

    For whatever reason, the manager always required the cook-side people to close down the restaurant side, and the restaurant side people to close down teh cook side. So there was no way to get any of the cleaning or closing down started before the restaurant actually closed its doors. People would stream in from the movies at 11:59, and we were not allowed to even start closing up until every single one of them had eaten and left. So on a typical night, we’d start cleaning and so forth between 12:30 and 1 am. But since nothing had been done ahead of time, it usually took at least two or three hours to get everything done.

    And she required me to clock out promptly at midnight, when teh restaurant officially “closed.” Totally illegal of course, but I didn’t know any better.

    The awfulness of the job wasn’t the job itself, really, but the incredible frustration of having an empty restaurant at 10 or 11 pm and being forbidden to even get started on cleanup. I lasted three weeks, working 4 pm to 3 am, six days a week. In that time, I lost almost twenty pounds. My brother came upon me one afternoon as I was looking in the want ads, and commented “I thought you already had a job,” and I burst into tears. My mother made me quit that day.

    I’ve done cold calling, dog walking in the dead of a New England winter, and all kinds of restaurant work. I once spent a summer cataloging books in a windowless trailer, in the desert east of San Diego – I brought in a thermometer one day and it pegged out at 120. But that three weeks at Burger King was absolutely the worst job I’ve ever had.

  122. 122
    Xenos says:


    Dumpster dived for a dental appliance discarded at lunch?

    Wow, that brings back a painful memory. Done that.

  123. 123
    jacy says:

    I’ve mucked stables and cleaned kennels. I’ve worked cleaning fire damage for my dad’s construction and painting company. Worked as a food runner at a tourist trap seafood restaurant where we had to stuff snails and garlic butter into little shells (and you could not get the smell off.) Worst was working a day job as a vet tech and a night job at Wendy’s, which meant I worked about 15 hours a day while having two children under five, whom I was lucky enough to have my mother babysit. But the ends, they must be met. After that, I decided to only work for myself.

    In the summer between high school and college, my two oldest worked at a shrimp processing plant. It was lucky it was within a distance they could walk home, because they reeked so bad I wouldn’t pick them up in the car and I made them strip off their clothes on the porch. If that’s not an incentive to study your ass off in college, having your mom make you strip on the front porch regardless of the weather, I don’t know what is.

    Mitt can DIAF.

  124. 124
    chris says:

    Spent many summers doing that myself. I’ve fallen out of a barn or two. Evidently young people are practically indestructible. (I actually liked the barn work) Picked up leaves as a 8+ y.o. Cropped (picked/harvested/removed leaves from stalk) on foot by hand. To be honest I liked “putting in” tobacco. But then again social outlets were few for a 12 y.o. in rural Robeson County in 1975. I was glad to get out of the house. Not to mention a “RC cola and a 4 corner square nab”. Man you are bringing back memories.

  125. 125
    Waynski says:

    I’ve already posted my worst jobs so I just want to say this about the Mittster. I honestly think he would do any of the jobs we mentioned with a smile on his face and if you weren’t smiling or working as hard as he was, he’d complain to the boss and try to have you fired. I think he worked REALLY hard at Bain Capital screwing people and he wants to work just as hard as preznit to do for the rest of America what he did for parts of it at Bain. He thinks American exceptionalism is being an exceptional prick. The man has no empathy. None. That’s what’s wrong him.

  126. 126

    Infantryman, US Army. It isn’t nearly as much fun as the movies make it look.

    ETA: Welcome aboard, Betty. Nice to see you here.

  127. 127
    Tim F. says:

    Heh. This thread brings me back to high school, when I spent summers doing various jobs in a floor covering warehouse. My favorite part was when a truck full of carpet padding would roll up after a long day driving from the plant in Georgia and the smallest guy, me, would have to crawl in the back of that steaming trailer and unload 50-pound rolls of padding that were as big as I was, piled almost to the roof with just a little space on top to get around. Then it was up to me to carry each roll off the forklift to the back of a stifling rack and wrestle it up to a place on top and in the back with a years’ worth of pissed off dust in my face. My dad got me that job.

  128. 128
    The Other Chuck says:

    Document prep for bulk scanning. Pulling out old papers from many thousands of folders, cutting off ragged edges, pulling out staples, taping together torn parts. Pretty leisurely, right? Except for one thing: the paper dust. All that chopping and shuffling of ancient docs really kicks up a ton of it. This was a six week contract, I quit after week two because I couldn’t fucking BREATHE.

  129. 129
    RossInDetroit says:

    I worked 10:30 pm – 7:00 am as a school cleaner once. The work wasn’t too bad. Sweep, mop, vacuum, haul trash, scrub desks. But trying to sleep during the day when the whole world is awake and making racket was impossible. After a week I ended up sleeping on the basement floor next to the furnace, with the phone and doorbell disconnected, dog barricaded. Big GO AWAY sign on the front door. I was desperate for some rest and afraid I would go mad from lack of sleep. I still don’t know how midnight crews do it week after week.

  130. 130
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:


    Always tip your server 20 percent – they’re working their asses off, they need the money and it kind of makes you stand out because you’re not a schmuck.

    A server has to be all kinds of bad before I tip less than 20% for exactly the reasons you mention.

    I can afford it now. I’m amazed being here in Misery at how miserly these red-state bastards are when they’re out. They also can afford it and they also never worked that kind of job in their life. Shitty tippers. I hope there’s some kind of karmic payback in this life for such assholes.

  131. 131
    Linnaeus says:

    I don’t know if I can remember all of the jobs I’ve had; I worked for a couple of temp agencies and could get assigned to do just about anything. Cleaning up used motor oil (without proper equipment) and breaking apart wooden pallets was probably the worst.

    One summer I painted houses and while that job wasn’t so bad, some of the customers would try and find ways to not pay us, which sucked. Then there was the summer I worked at OfficeMax; the conditions were decent except for when I had to carry around heavy boxes of RTA furniture and deal with customers who thought I could cut special deals with them and who then got mad at me when I told them I couldn’t.

    Now I’m working three jobs, but they’re better jobs than a lot of other part-time work, so I’ve got that going for me.

  132. 132
    Powdermonkey says:

    I have to second Detaseling, also walking beans and roguing corn (put a crew of teenage boys in a corn field with machetes and minimal supervision, you will learn about first aid, guaranteed) I also worked in a restaurant for 6 years, I worked every job in that place from dishwasher to assistant chef, bartender and waiter. That blew.

    But by far the worst were both oddly one day jobs.
    I once helped hand loading a semi truck with corn seed. That doesn’t sound so bad in itself, but the boss was to cheep to get a forklift so we had to form a “fire brigade line” and toss the 50lb bags to each other. Also for some reason all the seed we needed was stuck in the back corner of the warehouse so we had to throw it up over a few rows of full head high pallets of seed bags. In 100+ degree heat and 90% humidity all with a guy screaming at us to remind us that each bag was worth more than a day’s pay and we would be docked if they were dropped and broken. Fun

    The worst was a job my dad got me. Taking urine and feces samples from a herd of pigs. Spent the first day cleaning up a pig pen that hadn’t been cleaned since the 30’s (can’t contaminate the results son) wake up at 4:30 get a dixie cup attached to a broom handle and spend the morning waiting for the pigs to do their biz.

    I still can’t remember if i ever got paid for that one.

  133. 133
    RossInDetroit says:


    Dumpster dived for a dental appliance discarded at lunch?
    Wow, that brings back a painful memory. Done that.

    And why can’t they notice that their retainer’s no longer in their mouth BEFORE the trash is collected in 50 lb bags and heaved into a fetid steel box out in the sun?

  134. 134
    rea says:

    Working construction one hot summer in Oklahoma. The high point of the summer was getting accidently shot in the back with a nail gun.

  135. 135
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Lots of shit jobs. Picking strawberries in the Willamette Valley. Busboy at the local country club. Adjutant of a fixed station Signal Battalion that featured, as its commander, the only martinet I ever served under during my entire time in the Army. The guy loathed me in part because up to that time I had spent my entire career in tactical units. Which kinda scared him. He was fixed station through and through, and didn’t have combat arms friends.

  136. 136
    RossInDetroit says:

    A server has to be all kinds of bad before I tip less than 20% for exactly the reasons you mention.

    I tip 10% on the credit card and 10% – 15% cash. This drives down their average documented tip and they can claim less. Spread the word.

  137. 137
    gelfling545 says:

    @jibeaux: Oh yes. I would love to see all these soi-disant experts in education spend just one day teaching middle school. It is a fast cure for pomposity.

  138. 138
    jeff says:

    tons of different waiting/busing/cleaning jobs. . .

    taught high school. . .

    unloaded 18 wheelers for a food wholesaler . . .

    marketing department assistant/prayer organizer for a fundamentalist baptist telecommunications company

    assistant to some idiotic television executives from hollywood

  139. 139
    Donut says:


    I once spent a summer cataloging books in a windowless trailer, in the desert east of San Diego

    I worked a temp job in the Monadnock Building in Chicago, which, when it was built in the late 19th century, was a pretty advanced skyscraper. Anyway, the relevance to that was the age of the building. I was a history major in college and had a part-time job at the university archives, so I often was able to score temp work doing filing projects around town. This particular job was organizing files for an independent investment advisory firm. They had a small storage room in this hundred year old building. The ceiling was barely five and half feet high, and I’m six feet tall – and the room was tucked away in a dark corner, on one of the top floors, no windows, no AC, and just a bare light bulb and one electrical outlet. It was me and the radio in there for almost two weeks, during the Midwest heat/humidity of August, checking the dates on their files, chucking the stuff they could legally get rid of, and putting the rest of their records in order. I brought my dugout and and one-hitter to work with me after day 1…

  140. 140
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amanda: What was the congressman’s name?

  141. 141
    handsmile says:

    No shit, this has been a humbling (and occasionally hilarious) read. Makes me reflect on how lucky I’ve been and offers me insight and respect on a number of commenters regularly encountered on these threads.

    While I’ve endured none of the physical rigors recounted by many above, a lengthy stretch as an office temp in my 20s instructed me in the nuances of ritual humiliation.

    Counseling sex workers (a past volunteer endeavor) taught me far more than I ever wanted to know about human depravity.

  142. 142
    cmorenc says:

    @Original Lee:

    Cleaner for vacation home rentals. Pretty much what you might imagine – sand everywhere, for one, but we had to make the place Dutch clean after a bunch of people spent a week being pigs because it was just a rental.

    THIS is why now that I’m long past my shit-job days (dishwasher, ditch-digger etc) and have actually managed to acquire a second house at the beach in North Carolina, I’m SO GLAD I managed to pull off buying and owning it without having to rent it out to pay for it. After 15 years, the house, furnishings etc are still as nice as they were in year #1, and our strict no-shoes rule + mandatory foot-wash by the entry stairs has kept the sand out. I let some friends use it gratis every year, but the rule is always: leave it so I couldn’t tell you’d ever been there except for the fact that I loaned you the key. I’ve only had to dis-invite one friend over fifteen years for disappointingly violating this expectation; everyone else has done ok enough by the rule to be welcome back other visits. My two daughters OTOH have let us down a few times.

  143. 143
    Dee says:

    Worked for a summer during college at a place called The Doghouse…hotdogs,fries,and burgers. For 85 cents an hour I was a waitress,short order cook,dishwasher,garbage taker outer. You can imagine the tips I got! Also worked a summer at a VA Hospital in the snack bar. Made me appreciate the men and women who serve our country even more.

  144. 144
    Paul in KY says:

    @chris: I have stripped tobacco. Nothing like that nicotine buzz you can’t get rid of (when you want to sleep). Also you get a brown crud on your hands that is quite hard to remove.

  145. 145
    Paul in KY says:

    @cmorenc: Is your house at Emerald Isle by any chance?

  146. 146
    elmo says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    Yep. 20% is minimum for baseline service. Take the amount of the bill, move back the decimal place, double that figure, and round up. Bill for a meal is $47? Tip is $4.70 times two – $9.40 – round up – $10. So the tip is $10, unless the service is actually good, in which case t he tip is $11 or even $12. That extra dollar or two looks really big as a percentage of the tip, and makes the tip sufficiently robust that it can make a server’s day. But as a percentage of a middle-class bank account, a dollar or two is a rounding error. So it doesn’t cost me that much to make somebody happy.

  147. 147
    Judas Escargot says:

    Supermarket Cashier, with the occasional overnight shift. Once had a guy twice my size declare at 4am that he was going to ‘squeeze your fucking neck ’til your fucking dead’ for no particular reason.

    Realizing that I wasn’t cut out for customer service, I switched to temping/office work. One summer spent answering phone calls from Doctors and Pharmacists to look up patients’ Medicare eligibility (they never seemed to be eligible, it got depressing). Spent another summer deep in the basement of a hospital, as a file clerk for a little under $5/hr.

    Other than that, I’ve been pretty lucky.

  148. 148

    This post sure hit a nerve. I just keep hitting refresh and the stories keep coming…

  149. 149
    R-Jud says:


    The high point of the summer was getting accidntly shot in the back with a nail gun.

    Ow ow ow ow owwwwwwwwww ow ow ow OW.

    My worst jobs: the summer I turned 14, I worked in a bakery in the mornings and cleaned hotel rooms in the afternoons. Jerky customers at the bakery, jerk-off by-products in the hotel room.

  150. 150
    cmorenc says:


    I tip 10% on the credit card and 10% – 15% cash. This drives down their average documented tip and they can claim less. Spread the word.

    I generally tip 15-20% in restaurants, often giving servers the benefit of the doubt for far less than stellar service (been there, done that crap job too). However, about once every couple of years, I’ll come across a waiter or waitress so inexcusably, abominably inattentive and slack that I will stiff them completely. But it has to be bad enough that I feel motivated to speak to the restaurant manager on the way out about them, not out of vengeance against the waiter but because someone like on the wait staff is a return-business killer for an otherwise good restaurant.

  151. 151

    I had a job cleaning carpets. It involved a lot of chemicals which maybe were fine but probably left me sterile for all I know. Actually, that doesn’t sound so bad. Also a lot of heavy lifting and physical stress. Ya know, that wasn’t actually so bad now that I think back. I was tired at the end of the day and slept like a baby.

    My worst job was doing phone tech support. Anything where you have to deal with the public is the worst. For instance, I’d pick doing any kind of physical labor over retail any day.

  152. 152
    RossInDetroit says:

    Well this has been fun but I have to get back to my boiler room and pound another heap of busted vacuum cleaners back into shape.

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    EconWatcher says:

    I should say, I was a youngster when I had my crap jobs, with no one else depending on me, and it really wasn’t so bad. There was often decent camaraderie, and a chance to light up some combustibles that shall remain nameless with co-workers after the shift was over.

    My heart really goes out to people who are stuck with this later in life. One of the guys who helped me move house three years ago was 58 years old. He’d lost some kind of white-collar job in the downturn. Now lugging chests of drawers up and down stairs. Man. (I tipped the hell out of him and his buddies.)

  154. 154
    Shari says:

    Worked as a key-punch operator for a company that paid piece work. Remember those promotions where you could get 10 records for a penny from RCA, etc. We had to input all that information – trying to ready people’s bad handwriting – onto punch cards that were fed into the computer. Paid by the card.

    Worked in a college dorm cafeteria.

    Multiple baby-sitting jobs. Not much fun for 10-12 hours a day. Cleaned house and prepared meals.

  155. 155
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Breakfast cook at a beachfront Howard Johnson’s.

    Tourists wait in line for 45 minutes to get a table, then expect to be served in about 45 seconds. Only job I ever had that gave me nightmares.

    Also, working retail in a computer store. You computer geeks are real dicks, you know?

  156. 156
    chris says:

    @Paul in KY:
    I dont remember any buzz…but that black shit was up to my elbows. (Probably cause my old man smoked filterless camels and I was already full of nicotine already) Never been so damn cold in my life as in that tobacco field at 630am in damn August! An hr later you are roasting.

  157. 157
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    @elmo: Right on, Elmo. I’m also a believer in the power of the extra buck or two.

  158. 158
    RossInDetroit says:


    My worst job was doing phone tech support. Anything where you have to deal with the public is the worst. For instance, I’d pick doing any kind of physical labor over retail any day.

    I did 4 years in retail. Wearing a suit and going home clean was nice but the constant stress of dealing with demanding strangers ruined my outlook on life. Some salespeople shrugged it off but it really got under my skin.
    Cleaning carpets and waxing floors is pretty stiff work but at least everyone leaves you alone.

  159. 159
    Interrobang says:

    One summer I spent a lot of time mucking out a stable. There’s nothing quite like shovelling up sawdust soaked with the urine of a mare in heat which has been baking all morning in the August sun. I also spent seven weeks as a telemarketer, trying to sell magazines to people in the 705 area code. I quit after one too many instances of verbal abuse, and I still have trouble cold-calling people. I also had another job I hated where I was trying to track down Material Safety Data Sheets for products stored at a third-party facility, and that was just all kinds of fun. My project manager used to ask why I couldn’t find an MSDS based on the cryptic definition in the Excel spreadsheet list, because he had no trouble at all. He didn’t like it when I reminded him that he actually knew which products they used in that facility (which was hundreds of km away), and, if he got really stuck, could go to the supply room and read the labels…

    Dealing with idiot supplier CSRs was a joy to behold, too. I remember one particular gem asking me what state “Ontario” was in, even though I’d already said I was calling from Canada… *headdesk*

  160. 160

    In college, I had a job as an animal tender in an entomology lab. I had to feed the dung beetles AND the carrion beetles. And, I had to feed this ginormous 5″ man eating centipede that if it bit you your arm would fall off. It would lunge to get out every time I opened its box to feed it, and one time it did get out, and the way people were running around you would think it was a radiation leak.

    It was a fast little dinkus; the only way we could catch it was by trapping it in a 50 gallon trash bucket and then pouring it into successively smaller containers.

    The centipede ate mealworms (“3 square mealworms a day”) and I felt really sorry for the mealworms.

  161. 161
    Jim says:

    Sat/Sunday work at a hospital lab doing urine analysis. In those days you pipetted using your mouth….

  162. 162
    Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E) says:

    Gosh, the list is extensive–first just the ones that I actually held on a long term basis, Mexican fast food, pizza joint, short order cook, dishwasher, line cook, cab diver (that was fun for a year, but then it really started to drag on me), photo delivery boy.

    And then the list of temp jobs: Driller’s helper, building demolition prep (it sounds fun, but the guys who ran the outfit were dangerously incompetent inbreds) packaging line at a liquid soap factory…. Man it just keeps going.

    And then I had a gig as mudlogger working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, the work was sort of technical, the pay was meaningful, if not adequate–but I really detested the oilfield.

    And then lo and behold I have had a few jobs that involved a LOT of work, but that I really quite liked, Hazardous Waste Technician, and a fuels-guy for the US Antarctic program. Sure I spent hours a day in subzero temperatures shoveling snow, climbing ladders, wrangling hoses and what-have-you, but Antarctica was worth it. Even though I din’t hate those jobs, really hard honest labor still teaches you things about life and yourself.

  163. 163
    ellenbrenna says:

    Candy and popcorn server at a movie theater. Messy, stressful, and humiliating.

    I used to love popcorn but I did not eat it for about a decade afterwards.

  164. 164
    Maxwel says:

    Picking real pubic lice off of gorillas.

  165. 165
    Terry says:

    I did hard miscellanous labor at a sewer pipe factory starting when I was 12 until 18, weekends and summers: Sweep and then re-sweep 2 miles of asphalt roads with a push broom in all weather; get lowered down into a narrow (not much wider than my shoulders) vertical tube 20′ deep that was situated between two kilns and very hot, to hand-scoop silt from the bottom into a bucket someone else lifted up and then lowered again; working with guys whose idea of fun was to capture a ground hog, put it into a 55-gallon drum, and then beat the side of the drum with 2x4s until the animal went crazy, then release it and laugh their heads off. If any of those guys are still alive, I *know* they are TPers.

    I’d put Mitt down in the tube, but I bet Gingrich and Santorum would like him in the 55-gallon drum.

  166. 166
    Lavocat says:

    Christ-on-a-popsicle-stick, but that was the funniest post that I’ve read here in months.

    I almost lost bladder control.

    Did you used to do stand-up?

    A friend of mine had THE WORST JOB OF ALL TIME: janitor at an adult book store/peep show. I really can’t type anymore without gagging. Nothing in the world compares. His stories can make truck drivers puke.

  167. 167
    Amanda says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage: Agreed — and tip in CASH, people, if at all possible. Sometimes not possible, obviously, but I always try to and encourage others to do so as well — because then the service worker doesn’t have to report it as they do with credit card tips.

  168. 168
    Lavocat says:

    Correction. Upon reading some of the comments on this post, I DID lose bladder control. You bastards!

  169. 169
    AnotherBruce says:

    @mellowjohn: Yep this needs to be stretched out a bit. I detassled corn at the age of 11, farmers being exempt from child labor laws. That meant that as a short kid, I had to reach up to pull the tassels of the tall corn, all day in the midwestern late July sun for 10 hours a day. To top it off the farm family had a teenage kid who went around and intimidated the kids into working faster. The water they provided was poured into the coffee urn without first rinsing it out, so it tasted like warm, very weak coffee. Fabulous form of slavery the agriculture sector has worked out. I don’t know how the migrant workers do it all of their lives.

  170. 170
    Steeplejack says:


    What kind of a sick excuse for a human being [. . .].

    Not quite in the same league, but my rage gland palpitates briefly whenever I see chewing gum in a urinal. The only way that can be handled is for the cleaning person to pick it out manually, so it takes a special kind of (male) asshole to deliberately drop his gum there. I think if I ever actually saw someone do it I might go ballistic on the spot.

  171. 171
    dexwood says:


    Suffered my share of shit retail jobs. Left me convinced the customer IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT! Also, it made me, to this day, more polite and less demanding when dealing with retail staff. A smile and a thank you costs nothing, but can be worth so much.

  172. 172
    RossInDetroit says:


    Agreed—and tip in CASH, people, if at all possible. Sometimes not possible, obviously, but I always try to and encourage others to do so as well—because then the service worker doesn’t have to report it as they do with credit card tips.

    Tipped workers have to declare a certain amount of cash tips as income. It’s figured as a percentage of sales or a $/hour figure. The percentage is based on documented tips on credit cards. This is why I tip 10% on the card and the rest in cash. It drives down the percentage they have to declare.

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    Amanda says:

    @Paul in KY: Congresswoman, actually — Patricia Schroeder from Colorado — one of the all time greats ;-)

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    Origuy says:

    Another onion-slicer here. My cousin’s burger joint specialized in his own version of a slider, paper-thin onions smashed into a ball of meat on the griddle. I’d peel and slice 50lbs after school, then clean the slicer and anything else that needed cleaning. It was takeout, so not a lot of bathroom cleaning problems.

    I also tried to sell Grit magazine. I had a regular route in the neighborhood, then I would take a bunch to sell in front of the IGA. Most people had never heard of Grit. It’s targeted at rural communities, but we lived in the suburbs of Bloomington, Indiana. They used to advertise in comic books for carriers. Paid for my stamp collection.

    I guess those jobs weren’t so bad after all.

  175. 175
    Amanda says:

    @RossInDetroit: Aha, fascinating. This requires more math which I generally try to avoid like the plague — but I will do it so as to really stick it to the man/help all those folks who actually work for a living — Thanks for the info! :-)

  176. 176
    elmo says:

    @Original Lee:

    Cleaner for vacation home rentals. Pretty much what you might imagine – sand everywhere, for one, but we had to make the place Dutch clean after a bunch of people spent a week being pigs because it was just a rental.

    Oh, that reminds me – I also worked for the two weeks between my last finals and graduation as part of the cleaning crew on the jock dorm. Terrific education about the fastest, most efficient way to get ancient and condensed ook out from behind the toilet.

  177. 177
    Terry says:

    “Congresswoman, actually—Patricia Schroeder from Colorado—one of the all time greats ;-)”

    I second that, and this story about her was great to hear.

    btw, I always tip 20%, too, and in cash.

  178. 178
    Gus says:

    Swamping a bar was my worst. It was temporary, and it did have its perks (like access to the taps when I was done cleaning), but cleaning a puke covered toilet seat or taking cigarette buts out of a urinal were not highlights. Plenty of shitty retail jobs, too.

  179. 179
    RossInDetroit says:


    The worst thing for me about retail was when the customer was being an abusive fucktard and I had no option but to stand there and take it with a smile. Having no control and no dignity is the most depressing thing for me.
    This is why I will never again be in a job I can’t afford to walk away from. I’ll cut any costs to keep enough $$ in the bank so I can turn my back on a job that gets intolerable.
    Most of the people I work with are paycheck to paycheck. They can’t miss a day because that means missing meals. I have a lot of sympathy for someone stuck in that corner and I cut them as much slack as I can get away with.

  180. 180
    merrinc says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    A server has to be all kinds of bad before I tip less than 20% for exactly the reasons you mention.

    Same here. Sweet William’s was only my first job as a waitress. I worked at other restaurants (and a couple of bars) through the rest of high school and then four years of college. Somewhere in between, I finally landed a part-time job in retail – at an upscale clothing store (juniors department, where no one actually needs help) which entailed standing on my feet for hours at a time, doing nothing but smiling. And that is much harder than it sounds. I went back to waiting tables.

  181. 181
    Amanda says:

    @dexwood: Agreed — people who deal with the public and do it well are working super hard to do so. Someone has to be a real jerk or provide horrific service for me to not be exceedingly polite, friendly, and always say thank you. I often try to joke with people, since so few people say anything to cashiers, etc. Just a little friendliness or a joke can really break up the tedium and make someone really feel appreciated.

  182. 182
    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    Baggage handler for a discount carrier. We were expected to “turn around” planes in 30 minutes. If the flight was late we were expected to turn it as close to the scheduled time as possible – so yes bags were chucked to save time. It was a Boeing 737, so we packed in all bags by hand.

    Shitty temp jobs included bundling 2x4x10 foot lumber (off the rail cars fresh from the lumber mill) into the plastic wrap for retailers like Home Depot, and setting up trade shows at exhibition halls (the metal poles, the fabric hanging and the laying and taping of industrial carpet). Fuck I hated that industrial carpet.

  183. 183
    hitchhiker says:

    Starbucks barista. But let me explain. I was 51 yrs old. I was doing it b/c my husband had broken his neck & become disabled & in need of care, so whatever job I did had to be very flexible and close to home. I was doing it b/c our private insurance policy cost more than our mortgage & sbux lets you buy insurance if you work more than 20 hrs per week.

    And my supervisors were 22 and 19, both full of themselves and in love w/ their own authority.

    I think ol Mitt needs not just to do a low rent, exhausting job, he needs to do it while hoping his spouse hasn’t shit herself. He needs to have a precious 19 yr old insisting that he smile at every customer and learn their drinks. He needs to face that this might be as good as it ever gets.

    Ahhh, that’s such a bad memory now! But I love this thread.

  184. 184
    ruemara says:

    @Maxwel: Man, you need to provide more details.

    I’ve worked since I was 12 after I got my ss numbers but I think the worst are these:
    selling newspaper subscriptions in a basement room filled with smoke at 16. I couldn’t sell worth a damn and it messed up my tender clean lungs. Kinko’s desktop publishing tech in downtown Manhattan. We were round the corner from the first Real World crew. I once got punched in the back by some privileged blond bitch who said I was blocking her light to type by as I was standing in the aisle answering a customers question. I did great at my job, the pay wasn’t spectacular but I had a cadre of backstabbing young white men who hated me because I was better than them and the boss trusted me most. We wound up at another freelance job once for a media firm. I was hired second, I noticed after my first day the biggest ego getting his head together with the supervisor, having a chat and looking my way until I caught him staring. I never got called back again.
    Barista at Borders made me physically ill, I preferred bookselling, if only the customers weren’t such condescending asshats. And we were some sort of retail childcare center, too. Never understood that. I was weekend cleanup at a veterinarian hospital. sometimes the dogs were frightening, but I liked it. It was like having the biggest collection of pets in the world. I love my current job, but I get paid less than I did when I started in prepress nearly 18 years ago and I’m going under. No bonus’, since I’m gov, no COL, since we’re broke, no chance of promotion, because my boss is not likely to die any time soon. it is a welcome change from temping, where I got paid, but every so often my nearness would frighten someone and a contract would be canned with the excuse that I was not skilled enough. Or worse, the contract would go on and then I’d be ambassador of the blahs, being asked dumb questions like why do blah me wear their pants with one leg up and one leg down, or people would play hippetyhop music to soothe me. No, not kidding.

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    Scott says:

    Janitor at Boeringer Ingelheim in Ridgefield, CT. As a contractor. My job was to clean the 16 mens/womens bathrooms every evening. It really wasn’t so bad. I was between school so I know it was just temporary. The key observations I made was that middle management people wouldn’t acknowledge my existence while the President and VP of the company would frequently talk to me and even offered an occasional beer from their private refrigerators. Another observation was the HR people always complained about lost productivity of the snow days while ignoring the extra hours people worked every evening. They were clueless even then.

  187. 187
    Amanda says:

    @Terry: We all worked incredibly hard but it was such a great place to work we didn’t care. And so many great stories…

    An asshole (Republican) Congressman once shoved one of my fellow young Schroeder interns off a members-only elevator that she had gotten on by mistake and she was very upset, obviously. Our chief of staff called up the Congressman and reamed him a new one, screaming at the top of his lungs, all of us appreciatively listening.

    Chief of staff and I used to watch C-SPAN and rate the horrific combovers sported by various members of Cong.

    The semester I was there was when Schroeder got death threats for speaking out about the Navy Tailhook sex abuse scandal — we got a death threat faxed from a military base one day. She was insanely mellow about it, which was amazing to witness, but she rightly pointed out that this was nothing compared to what the women on duty were dealing with…

    All time favorite was the evenings our chief of staff would join the interns to open the MOUNTAIN of mail the office got every day — and he’d offer us all beer — on federal property, some of us underage. Needless to say, we all thought he was the greatest ;-)

  188. 188
    Betsy says:

    OK, Betty Cracker, I’m guessin’ you lived in southeastern N.C. Wilmington?

  189. 189
    gelfling545 says:

    @Jim: My brother’s job during college years was collecting urine samples from race horses at the track. It kept him really focused on getting his degree.

  190. 190
    trollhattan says:

    Wow, and y’all are still alive! A few of my character-builders:

    Steel mill melt shop–where the furnaces and big buckets of molten steel hang out. Only job I’ve had with the daily threat of fiery death or dismemberment, sprinkled with asbestos and chemicals so vile they only sprayed them after dark. Certainly better than shooting at Germans in the Ardennes. My only union job and the pay was great, but I went back to college because I could see the writing on the wall for that industry, not to mention leaving with all my limbs intact.

    Cabbie–meet new, interesting people and psychopaths, daily. Statistically more dangerous than almost any other occupation and on slow days you can actually owe money at the end of your shift (once you’ve paid for the gas used and the oil that has leaked out of your former cop cruiser with a quarter-million city miles on the drivetrain).

    Warehouse order picker–minimum wage hell, but at least no interaction with the public.

    Contract work at a state hospital for the developmentally disabled–Intermittent joy and horror.

    Also, too, being laid off is worse. I’m a three-timer there.

  191. 191
    Betsy says:

    I answered phones at an agency for $7.50 an hour. It wasn’t too horrible as far as the task itself but I shared a small, narrow, windowless room with the other phone-answerer, who picked his nose the whole time.

  192. 192
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    While what happened at Tailhook was bad enough all by itself, the aftermath of Naval officers shitting on their own code of honor by lying about it appalled me the most.

  193. 193
    Betsy says:

    I cleaned up the stands in a basketball arena after midnight. They paid cash $10 an hour, you just had to show up after the game and work til 2 or 3 in the morning. Sometimes I’d find some change or even a few bills under the bleacher seats, which was a nice bonus. But I can’t eat nachos to this day.

  194. 194
    artem1s says:

    plenty of crappy jobs but thankfully no back breaking/death defying feats.

    did my stint at fast food. cannot abide even having a ketchup bottle on my table when I go out to eat. Why do people EAT that stuff? VOLUNTARILY?

    the most mind numbing was a 12 hour shift for Brown doing inventory on the shipping line. i had to measure every third package that came down the conveyor belt. I suppose to check to see if it fell within regulation size? I got the job through a temp agency and was only suppose to do one 4 hour shift. two other shmucks failed to show up so I stayed on for both of their shifts. I was maybe 27? standing on that concrete for 12 hours just about did me in.

    dirtiest was a year as the art director/screen preparer for a silk screen printing company. Toxic in just about every way imaginable and also before digital layout. Bet Mitt never almost bled out from an Exacto blade accident.

    worst ever was also my first. sold magazines over the phone. I specialized in sales to new parents. I had to look up names from the births section of the newspaper, find their number in the white pages or call 411 (god bless the internets). my asshat Glengarry, Glenross boss told me one day that I had the easiest sell EVER! Because all those new moms taking maternity leave were just lounging around the house all day with NOTHING to do! But read our magazines! Minimum wage was the least worse thing about that hellhole but I made it through the whole summer. I try to remember those days when solicitors call me on the landline.

  195. 195
    West of the Cascades says:

    Sliming salmon — standing in rain gear for 15 hours a day trimming the carcasses of salmon as they come out of a machine euphemistically (and derogatorily) named for the Asian folks who used to do the job back in the day, said machine now lopping off the head and fins and slitting the belly and scooping out the guts and depositing the carcass on the slime table. Mitt’s job as a slimer then is to take his slime knife and carefully trim off any fins and bits of the head that the machine missed, scrape the inside of the carcass (“careful to get all of the blood out of the spinal column, Mitt!”), and slide the carcass to the next machine which chops it into smaller pieces to be put into the cans. You stand there and do this over and over from 7 am to 9:15, when you get a 15 minute break, then until noon, when you get an hour for lunch, then from 1 pm to 6 pm and again from 7 pm to midnight. Monday through Saturday. Sunday you get off (and — at least in the town in Alaska I did this in for three summers — there’s a Mormon church!! So you can get some spiritual comfort on your day off).

    Because cannery work is very much like Wall Street, you can earn a bonus — IF you stay through the last day of the season. Since the pink salmon packing season runs from about mid-June to mid-August, you’ll do this for about 7 weeks to collect your bonus.

    Remember to tithe on your bonus, too, and not just on your income (which — since you’re working 90 hours a week with lots of overtime — will look to the federal government like you’re making “a lot” and hence they will probably withhold tax from your income at least at the 25% tax bracket).

    You’ll come home (to whichever home you decide to return) smelling like fish.

  196. 196
    Betsy says:

    I waited tables at a chain steakhouse. The assistant manager would scream at us for not folding the napkins fast enough after our shift. As if I was slowing down the process to make my time at $2.01 an hour last as long as possible.

    The food wasn’t bad. Every so often I got a free steak. We could have as many baked potatoes as we liked.

    Kept me from going hungry for most of a year.

  197. 197
    burnt says:

    I spent six summers as a ranch hand and while I enjoyed the work for the most part some parts of the job…

    One day we went to the neighbor’s to dock 500 head of lambs. The lambs are vaccinated, their ears are slit (for ID purposes), branded with paint, castrated if male, and their tails cut off (docked, hence the name for this operation).

    The lambs are penned and you scoop up one of the cute things and hold it on a waist-high bench. When the tail is docked a fountain of blood erupts. This day the wind was blowing 20 mph into the faces of the holders and so every lamb meant a blood shower. Those of us holding lambs looked like victims from a slasher movie when we finished.

    Oh, and this being southeastern Montana in the ’80s they still did things straight-up western. That meant for castration a jack knife was used to slice open the scrotum and then the sheepman used his teeth to extract the testicles–I am not kidding.

    I still remember one old bandy-legged man wiping the blade of his jackknife in the grass after we finished. We climbed into his pickup to drive home. He pulled out some Bull Durham plug and sliced off a chunk with that same knife and offered it to me. I politely declined. Good times.

  198. 198
    jibeaux says:

    @cmorenc: Just wanted to let you know that I’ve always liked you. And I am very clean. :)

  199. 199
    chopper says:


    Hail, my fellow collegiate dishwashers!

    back atcha. blackhawk cafeteria, northern illinois university. also student catering upstairs. nothing like working over dishes from 1000 farmers when the Farm Bureau would have their annual meeting.

    i worked about 500 weddings during those years. god help me, they were the most white trash motherfucking weddings i’ve ever seen.

  200. 200
    Julie says:

    The worst ever? Any job waiting tables in the fine Commonwealth of Virginia, where the minimum wage for servers is $2.13 per hour.

    My first job in high school was at the Western Sizzlin’ out in Prince William (before it rebranded itself into the slightly classier ‘Great American Steak and Buffet’). Betty- I hear you on the $1 tips. “But it’s a buffet, you didn’t really *do* anything…” Except bring you your $5.99 steak dinner (that came *with* full access to the buffet), keep your drinks refilled, clean up all the ice cream your horrible children kept throwing on the floor, and call the paramedics when you ate so much you became wedged into the booth you demanded we seat you at even though we kindly tried to encourage you in the direction of a larger table*. But, yeah, you totally served yourself from that buffet. Thanks for the dollar.

    Toward the end of high school, my dad got stationed at Pearl and we moved to Hawaii, where a job at a pizza place paid easily quadruple VA wages, and my eventual serving job at the Hickam AFB Officer’s Club paid government pay scale plus tips. I was shocked. There’s just no overstating what a shitty state VA is to work in if you’re in the service industry.

    * This actually happened… more than once and I only worked there for a year.

  201. 201
    KyCole says:

    I cleaned the lab rat room in college. This consisted of removing the roll of paper under their cages that was full of shit and often partially eaten dead baby rats.

  202. 202
    chopper says:

    also, working in the collections department at first chicago’s credit card division. cubicle work so it wasn’t outside, but was a 45 minute commute in traffic each way. worked til midnight 10 hours a day getting calls from pissed-off people behind on their payments calling me all sorts of shit because their card got declined, and i had to goad them into paying. had to take and fulfill an average of one call every 3 minutes and there were always, always calls waiting. by the end of the job i couldn’t stand to look at a fuckin’ phone ever again or hear one ring.

    took me 10 years from that job to get a credit card. too scared of turning into one of those poor saps.

  203. 203
    chopper says:


    before it rebranded itself into the slightly classier ‘Great American Steak and Buffet’

    i’ve eaten at those. i always left a big tip just out of sympathy.

  204. 204
    Paul in KY says:

    @chris: I didn’t smoke & my parents didn’t either, so I guess I was more susceptible.

  205. 205
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E): Not alot of people who can say they have been to Antartica. I’m an Amundsen fan, so I’m a tad jealous :-)

  206. 206
    Just J says:

    I spent some time emptying comercial laundry vans. There is nothing quite like unloading & sorting uniforms from the local butchery factory in the back of a hot, dark van and discovering the uniforms were covered with maggots.

  207. 207
    Paul in KY says:

    @Maxwel: I’m assuming they were sedated. Or did they dress you up like a gorilla & send you in? That would have been funny (or not).

  208. 208
    West of the Rockies (formerly Frank W.) says:

    I did CSI work for five years; it was sad, smelly work most of the time. Always came home and stood in the shower for about 30 minutes trying to wash away what I’d seen and the creeping cynicism in my soul.

  209. 209
    Paul in KY says:

    @Steeplejack: You can use a toothpick.

    No, I don’t chew gum. Why do you ask?

  210. 210
    erlking says:

    Working 19 1/2 hours on the slime line scraping fish guts in a cannery during the height of salmon season.

    Actually, that was a great job–break every 2 hours with coffee and doughnuts. Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided by the cannery. Accommodations paid for and an extra bump in the pay because they had to put us up in an equipment shed. Gorgeous surroundings in Alaska.

    Know why it was so good? Because the Seafarers International Union of North America: Atlantic, Gulf, Lakes & Inland Waters District fought to make it that way. THAT’S a lesson I think Mittens could use.

  211. 211
    RossinDetroit says:

    Perspective. Many of us have worked horrific jobs and lived to tell the tale. For a lot of people that’s all they have to look forward to until whatever meager retirement awaits when they can’t work any more.
    This is my major beef against Mitt. Not that he’s never broken a sweat or gone home smelly and exhausted. But that he wants to institutionalize the economic system that’s making it impossible for people to rise above that. Our lack of social and economic mobility is a disgrace. Politically, it’s an abstract issue compared to the GWOT, same sex marriage or SOPA. But for many Americans being locked into an under-class is the most critical thing that they and their kids face.

  212. 212
    lethargytartare says:

    1. working on inserting machines in a newspaper mail room. Particularly Friday, 2nd shift, which started at 3:00 and ran until all 70,000 papers left the dock. the 30 year old machines Copley Press refused to replace meant this typically took until 6 or 7 AM, and on one glorious occasion until 1:00 PM. Handling paper for 12-18 hours would chap your hands into giant oozing fissures, and the dust off the newspaper press would leave you blowing jet black snot out of your nose for two days.

    2. “Porter,” Old Faithful Lodge, Yellowstone national Park.
    While the backyard on my days off made it worth it, I don’t think there is a language adequate to describe the horror of cleaning public restrooms that are accessed by 1000-2000 people every 80 minutes or so, all day, every day. Some suffering from giardia.

  213. 213
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amanda: Thanks for answering. Think that would have been a pretty cool job (working for Rep. Schroeder). A lot of others, not so much.

  214. 214
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    I think Willard would enjoy pumping out port-a-johns. Also, I would have beat the crabs with a cucumber.

  215. 215
    Paul in KY says:

    @Origuy: When I was a kid, I used to love ‘Grit’. In the service, they had a similar rag (considering it was the military) called ‘Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine’ or ‘SSAM’. Had the funniest letters to the editor!

  216. 216
    Julie says:

    @elmo: This is exactly what I do, having worked restaurants and catering for year, and it’s what I tell all my friends and co-workers to do as well. Hopefully, it will spread. :)

  217. 217
    Phylllis says:

    Tomato packing shed in the summer. In Florida. Shednot air-conditioned, obviously.Which beat all to hell actually picking the damn things, filling 40 lb tubs with them, and then handing the full tubs up to the guy on the flatbed truck.

  218. 218
    dude says:

    I worked at a taco bell my first year of college. I had no idea what I was getting in to. Months later, after failing two straight semesters, not seeing friends because my sleep patterns changed, and becoming an underage alcoholic to deal with the social isolation and hordes of screaming losers whose goal in life was to get free shit and money from the people who sell them chicken anus tacos, I quit, told my friends who abandoned me because I had to work and they didn’t that they were the reason god no longer talks to us, stopped drinking and got my life in order.

    A few months later I found out that place almost went under because they didn’t have a white guy who spoke English anymore. I don’t know who that makes me hate more, the company or the clients.

  219. 219
    RossinDetroit says:

    Oh, and by the way they’ve just announced that Mitt actually lost Iowa to Santorum by 23 votes. Nobody gives a shit, though. The caucuses are useless except as a way to keep eyes on the TV. The actual result if completely irrelevant.

  220. 220
    Donut says:


    What. The. Fuck ??!!

  221. 221
    Kevin K. says:

    I shoveled processed human waste into the back of a truck for two summers as a student labor job in college. It was like gooey black tar, it stunk and it was very heavy. One of the few highlights was when we found a plastic tampon applicator that had made it through the churning “process.” One of my crazier co-workers made a necklace out of them and wore it everyday to work. I would like to see Mittens wear that necklace.

  222. 222
    Julie says:

    @chopper: Thank you, on behalf of all those servers. :)

  223. 223
    Steeplejack says:

    Agree with RossInDetroit and others about tipping. After working in retail myself (though non-tip variety), I pretty much go 20% unless a felony was committed.

    And I have become incredibly mellow in lines at groceries, fast-food restaurants, etc. Very rarely is the problem the fault of the person you’re facing. It’s more likely that the manager understaffed the shift, or someone called out at the last minute (unmotivated by the crappy pay), or your person was just thrown onto the line without the proper (company-mandated!) training, etc., etc. Or he/she is not in the best frame of mind, because the three customers before you were acting like dicks.

    I was going to say earlier that high school/college part-time jobs should be excluded, but I got called away to do something in the real world. And I see that people have come through with many “real world” examples. It’s one thing to work a shit job for the summer, knowing that in the fall you’ll be moving on with your life, but another thing completely to have that job in, say, your 40s and not see any way out. Ugh. Way too many people in this country in that situation right now.

    Last month I quit one of the worst jobs I have had in my adult life, a multi-year stint as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. Incredibly low pay, managerial incompetence and harassment, capricious scheduling (e.g., getting off at 11:30 p.m. and being scheduled to return at 7:00 a.m. the next morning), asshole customers, etc., etc. Plus standing for eight hours (with two short breaks) on a concrete floor covered with a micro-thin carpet. And for a good stretch of that time I worked for literally the worst manager I have ever had, a bullying, lying martinet who put to shame some of the high-tech douchebags I worked for in a previous life as a “software engineer” (hate that term).

    Regardless of what the future holds, I am glad to be gone from that place.

  224. 224
    Gravie says:

    Bulk-packing apples in Colorado. You stand at the bottom of the chute, waiting for the freshly-waxed apples to tumble down, then shovel them into 50-lb. boxes. The apple stems cut your hands all to hell, and the Caranuba wax stings like an s.o.b. in the cuts. Then you hoist the box and carry it 10 feet to a conveyor belt behind you.

    I’m 5′ tall and weighed about 130 at that time; the Mexican gentleman working next to me noticed me struggling and started coming over to carry my box for me before going back to his station to finish packing and hoisting his box. After a couple of days of this, I realized he was probably going to get fired if I didn’t quit, so I did. My hands and back wouldn’t have lasted more than another couple of days anyway and I had the luxury of quitting, which he certainly did not.

  225. 225
    greenergood says:

    In college, cleaning male dormitory bathrooms on the weekends – beer and piss aren’t really too far away from each other on the smell-ometer, with a soupcon of black plastic bag whiff to complement.

    Picking strawberries for five weeks one summer – couldn’t eat them for 10 years.

    Working the 10 p.m.-6 a.m. shift at Sambo’s pancake house (yes, Sambo’s – it was a long time ago) in upstate NY. At a 2 a.m. bar rush, we seated a black man and his white girlfriend in the back dining room whereupon a group of husky white guys took umbrage and threw the man through the plate glass back window. A week later, my fellow waitress’s husband’s car was surrounded by black cars full of guys in sunglasses wearing earpieces; she dragged me into the staff room and told me to go to her house and take the guns, furs and money and take it to my house. (I didn’t.) Guys from the local branch of the American Nazi Party would come in after the track closed at 3 a.m. and wax lyrical about Aryan pussy, while ancient mobsters would ask us waitresses if we wanted to go home and watch dirty movies with them. I think I lasted 5 months, then went back to weekend dorm cleaning …

  226. 226
    Jager says:

    Cleaning my Grandpas’s graineries and shoveling wheat in the hot, hot sun at 11 leading to my skinny Jr High friends and I unloading semi trailers of watermelons which led to “the fucking kid who does every thing in this restaurant except make money” which led to assembling new farm machinery in the hot, hot sun, which led to tying steel on a highway construction crew (8-10 hours of bending over while a concrete pouring machine nips at your heels)all of which made the dirty jobs I did for my old man at the car store seem like child’s play. Detailing used cars was a fucking breeze compared to the back kitchen at the Riviera!

  227. 227
    RossinDetroit says:

    Hand-peeling 40 lb boxes of potatoes. The restaurant bought cheap produce and every box had a few spuds that had rotted and gotten infested with maggots. Maggots do not like being disturbed, and would make a run for it when you started digging around. After a few hours of gloveless peeling we would have to stop and sweep up the peels and the fleeing squirmies.
    In case you’re wondering, that restaurant closed 25 years ago after serving spoiled shrimp cocktail at a law firm’s Christmas party.

    ETA: this was considered a desirable job in this particular kitchen because you had a milk crate to sit on while whacking the skin off your knuckles with a peeler.

  228. 228
    Phil P. says:

    Shitty jobs, all done for $$ during college:

    – Restaurant dishwasher. The dish-washing machines took care of the china and flatware, but there’s no way around the fact that a day’s worth of hand washing cookpots just sucks and kills your back too. Plus for some reason dishwashers usually get stuck cleaning the bathrooms.

    – Unskilled construction laborer. Winter mornings doing exterior debris cleanup or mixing grout and cement. ‘Nuff said.

    – Campus pizza delivery driver. The work itself is easy, but the looks of pity and scorn on the face of my fellow, non-working students when they opened the door were soul-killing.

    And a plebe job that I was sure was going to suck but didn’t was ‘ham slammer’ at Honey-Baked Hams… Unloading the boxes of hams from the trucks and loading up the spiral slicers was back-breaking, but after a while you work your way up in the Honey-Baked staff ecosystem, and then you get to wield the propane torches used to melt the sugar mix on the hams. That job, my friends, is pure joy. Fire! Melting stuff! Occasionally catching the building ablaze!

  229. 229
    Amanda says:

    @Paul in KY: Indeed. One of the best lessons I learned from being there was how many of the liberal members of Congress, despite their politics, ran their offices like hell holes and treated their staff horribly.

  230. 230
    Amanda says:

    @RossinDetroit: The restaurant I waitressed at was family style and they recycled food routinely. The health department finally nailed them several years after I quit.

  231. 231
    Felinious Wench says:

    Bartender at a club in Downtown Houston….right on the bayou. When it flooded, we had to wait for the water to recede, then shovel out all the muck in time for the shift that night.

    We also had a 12 foot python in the club. She’d get out of her enclosure and go for a swim. She always stayed close; knew where her rat supply was. But whomever had to wrangle Cleo back into her home didn’t have fun.

  232. 232
    Unsympathetic says:

    First job was working at Chuck E Cheese as a prep chef. I told them during the interview that I wasn’t the best person to be one of the dancers. So, naturally, a few shifts in, what happened? They were short a couple waiters and so my pasty white high school self was forced into the mouse suit. The problem with this getup was the head. Specifically, the lines of sight for the eyes: The nose sticks out about a foot and a half directly under the cutouts. Naturally, the high school cheerleaders were quicker than me between the tables.. and so when a 4-year old sprinted behind the waitresses but in front of me, one of my supposedly-dancing feet clocked him good. Fired on the spot for a role they knew I wasn’t good at..

  233. 233
    Miss Rumphius says:

    Nurses aide at a home for the aged. Not one of these nice retirement homes they have now, either. It was backbreaking, shitcleanning work for $1.32 an hour and since they didn’t let girls work at McDonalds in those days, I was glad to have it. I lasted 4 years, summers and weekends.

  234. 234
    Miss Rumphius says:

    Nurses aide at a home for the aged. Not one of these nice retirement homes they have now, either. It was backbreaking, shitcleanning work for $1.32 an hour and since they didn’t let girls work at McDonalds in those days, I was glad to have it. I lasted 4 years, summers and weekends.

  235. 235
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    Many many years ago, when I was just out of college, and my wife and I both had to work to make ends meet, she got a job at as meat packing plant.

    She lasted about three days.

    I for one think that would be the ideal job for Willard.

    I think he would be quite at home hacking corpses apart and grinding the pieces into sausage.

  236. 236
    RossinDetroit says:


    Ohhh! I had to work in costume once. Wore a full yellow rubber ‘fisherman’ rain suit to deliver a special clam bake dinner and serve it tableside. The kitchen was 100 degrees and they’d wet me down with a hose for authenticity. It’s really hard to disassemble a lobster in a wet rubber suit without dripping on the table and the customers. And I perspired a great deal. Everyone loved the act and I had to do it 30 – 40 times a night until the rain coat caught fire off of a stove burner while I was wearing it.

  237. 237
    R. Schmidt Orren says:

    My greatest fortune in life is to have had to work some really terrible, brain-deadening/soul-emptying/physically exhausting and menial jobs because I desperately needed the money while not having a family to support and I knew whatever I was doing, no matter how bad, it was not going to be my life. But sometimes it did take a toll.

    Jobs from hell I have had: Hydraulic press operator in a factory.

    Another horrible job, Window washer. 10-hour shift, reaching up 3 stories with a frikkin’ telescoping metal pole with a hose and sponge attached to one end. The pole was heavy, it took a lot of arm and back muscle to get the washing end gently against a window 3 stories up without breaking the window, and the water and soap would often fall on my upturned face, and would get terrible pains in my neck by the end of the week. I took the job because it paid 5 bucks an hour, boy was I glad when the summer was over and I went back to school.

    Another shitty job: Janitor in a bakery for $3.35 an hour — as someone mentioned, flour dust gets everywhere, and after working that job cleaning up fine dust for 6 months I developed a wheeze and a dry hack that would keep me up at night, nothing helped. The doctor said I had developed asthma. Some years later, I was self-employed (and so no group policy for me, and the shitty individual policy I could afford had didn’t cover asthma, pre-existing and all that, natch) and I had a bad asthma attack. I ended up going to the emergency room, and had to pay everything out of pocket. I was barely getting by as it was, and that bill just about bankrupted me. But it was either that, or stop breathing.

    So yeah, fuck you Mittens and your ‘fire your health insurance company’ bullshit.

  238. 238
    fruitie says:

    I once had a job that required disposing of the water from giant cans of tuna on a riverbar in the summer. You learn pretty fast to walk a LONG way up the beach before pouring the tuna juice out – the smell really does travel. I still don’t eat tuna. Other than that, it was a pretty good job tho.

    Worst job I ever had was working retail at Ross Dress For Less. The customers were every bit as awful as you’d expect, but the management was worse. We not only had to check in with the asst. manager every time we left the store (for lunch or breaks or end of shift), we had to be searched to make sure we weren’t stealing anything. Two people were required to take out the trash, because they figured that way we couldn’t stash anything in the garbage to come back and steal later. One time the manager yelled at me in front of a customer I had been helping (I wasn’t supposed to be helping customers! I was supposed to be putting out new merchandise!) until I burst into tears and she sent me to the breakroom. Before going to the breakroom, I stopped in the bathroom to wash my face & compose myself – took all of about 3 minutes. When I came out, she yelled at me for “stealing time” from the company because I hadn’t clocked out first.

    All of this had three results:
    1) I stole everything I could, just to see how much I could get past their police-state security measures.
    2) I quit without giving notice (the only time I’ve ever done that)
    3) I vowed never to work corporate retail again.

  239. 239
    Steeplejack says:


    That’s just . . . awful.

    Another thing I learned at B&N is that I never, ever want to do food-related retail. That’s got to be the one area where the customers are more particular/fussy/crazy than with their beloved books, movies and music.

  240. 240
    Scott says:

    @RossinDetroit: Agree. We all have done crummy jobs. My big beef with the Mitt approach to “creative destruction” is that it is basically legalized looting. The real crime is the breaking of pensions. Your pension is part of your compensation, just deferred. You already earned it. In this country, that debt is subordinated to the Mitts of the world and their debt. Since pensions are already earned, they should have first dibs at the carcass.

  241. 241
    Maude says:

    I had a dandy corporate retail drug store job last Oct/Nov. I quite because they didn’t follow register security. You never counted your drawer, everyone had access to the registers and it would be easy for an assistant manager to accuse a service clerk of stealing. The management was foul.
    Yes, the standing on hard floors.
    I am so glad you are out of that lousy job.

  242. 242
    Betsy says:

    I am truly lucky enough that I have never had a shit job.

    The closest I came (and it really wasn’t close at all) was as a live-in intern at a homeless shelter in Santa Fe, NM for almost a year. Free room and board, plus $1.75 an hour, in 2002. I was fresh out of college and wanted to do something unequivocally good for other people.

    There were only two bad things about that job (well, except for the VERY rare threat of violence, but that was seriously rare, and we had a panic button):

    1) Dealing with imperious donors. Most were good hearted people, but I will never forget the woman who drove up once a month to “donate” the dozen or so gallons of spoiled milk she hadn’t gone through at her restaurant. She’d drive up and just leave them, before anyone could check if they were good or not. When I finally caught her and told her we couldn’t accept them anymore, she screamed at me for five minutes straight.

    2) Having to turn people away because we were full, or kick them out because they broke rules that were there for everyone’s safety. The first day I was supervisor, one of the guests was an obviously insane woman who started screaming at the other guests, calling them racial slurs. I had to evict her for her own and others’ safety. She looked at me and asked, “where am I supposed to go?” And I had nothing to tell her. New Mexico social services for the mentally ill were close to nonexistent. It was awful.

    The best thing about it: getting to know the homeless people as, you know, PEOPLE. Individuals with different personalities, interests, skills. Who were funny or kind or inventive or political or sometimes just assholes – like everyone else. It also taught me to trust my instincts. There was only ever one guest who immediately made my skin crawl. The other interns thought he was just charming. Within a week he’d attacked one of our social workers with a knife.

  243. 243
    Maude says:

    @Maude: Couldn’t edit the spell fail. Quit.

  244. 244
  245. 245
    Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E) says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Hi to another Amundsen fan! Shackleton is cool and all, and his trip makes for truly epic reading, but Amundsen is my favorite Antarctic explorer. Not only am I of Norwegian descent, after much thinking about it I came to the conclusion that adventures are fun to read about, but usually horrifying to have! :)

  246. 246
    Bob2 says:

    Since the thread is probably dead now from being old, I will post this link.
    People who are sick of Megan, look away now.

    Some of the jobs people have mentioned are truly horrendous. Worst I’ve had was long hours in food service and dealing with shitty people in college. Overnight stocking at Target in college. And I guess one time temping sorting baseball cards for 2 days.

  247. 247
    Steeplejack says:


    I quite because they didn’t follow register security.

    Thanks for reminding me! Yeah, that was another thing. You could get written up for your till being off by even a small amount, but they didn’t switch tills when you started a shift (which they used to do in the remote past), so you were at the mercy of any other booksellers that rang on your register before or after you (or if you were on a break or got called away to do something else).

  248. 248
    jl says:

    Dead sheep flock carcass remover and disposer.
    A one off temp job, due to bad feed that killed a bunch of those animated vegetables. But horrid.

  249. 249
    Sad_Dem says:

    Dishwasher at a convalescent hospital. I needed a “connection” to get that job. Burger King–ditto. Junior high school teacher–another job I needed a friend to land. Substitute teacher for a large urban school district. Party schlepper. Telephone solicitor for a Republican newspaper (again, a friend already worked there). And those are just the ones I can remember right now. Each one its own unique purgatory. Screw Mittens and all his well-connected kind.

  250. 250
    Paul in KY says:

    @Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E): Yup. It is a hard life. Sad too in that they had to kill dogs just because they didn’t need them anymore or one had come into heat.

    Like Shackleton too, but Amundsen is the best.

  251. 251
    PeakVT says:

    @RossinDetroit: Sounds like an episode of Spongebob.

  252. 252
    Barry says:

    @Waynski: “I’ve already posted my worst jobs so I just want to say this about the Mittster. I honestly think he would do any of the jobs we mentioned with a smile on his face and if you weren’t smiling or working as hard as he was, he’d complain to the boss and try to have you fired. I think he worked REALLY hard at Bain Capital screwing people and he wants to work just as hard as preznit to do for the rest of America what he did for parts of it at Bain. He thinks American exceptionalism is being an exceptional prick. The man has no empathy. None. That’s what’s wrong him.”

    I disagree, because for most of those jobs working very hard under very rough conditions gets you juuuuust enough money to survive until the next paycheck. Mitt has *never* been in that position, and I believe that he doesn’t comprehend it, save that intellectually he’s made a lot of money putting people in that position.

  253. 253
    worn says:

    Atlanta, GA, mid-80’s, National Library Book Company

    Near as I could tell, a great portion of this company’s business came during the summer months, when school districts from all around the south would send us textbooks by the semiload for rehabilitation. We would remove the covers, and endpages, trim about a 1/16 off the page edges and replace the endpages & covers. You might be surprised at how much that makes a ratty book seemingly covered in writing to appear basically brand new.

    My job (in addition to unloading the trailers) was to get the dog ear folds out of the pages of the books. If these weren’t eradicated, then when trimmed the books would be peppered with little fold-out flaps post-trimming. This job was much like an assembly line, in that I had a supervisor who would often come down to the basement and stare over the de-folders, all the while letting us know what his production goals were and how we were most assuredly not meeting them. It was mentally numbing work, hurriedly flipping through hundreds of these rump books every day on an efficient quest for the smallest of folds. Later I got promoted to hand sewing endpages on some of the higher end books we dealt with – yes, as in needle & thread by hand through about 1/4″ of paper. Each slip or lapse in concentration led to a full-depth needle plunge into – but sort of parallel to – the epidermis.

    This was full-time work for minimum wage, which at that point was $3.35/hr, which I recall to have been $3.35/hr. I certainly do remember my weekly take-home pay: $125.02 a week (overtime was not really a thing that was much approved at NLBC).

  254. 254
    Gravenstone says:

    Saw operator at a brass plant. My station was located just across the pickling pools from the forge outlet, so I had a 3′ cyclone fan blowing into my right ear to stay cool. And that was the summer the roof was off (replaced every 3-4 years since the sulfuric acid vapors from the pickling tanks rotted it away over time). I fucking glittered like a cheap vampire every night since I was covered with brass dust. And when I wasn’t running my saw, I was working the sorter (spins brass rod stock while you run your hands over it, feeling for deformities and imperfections – left me so my knuckles get stiff and won’t let me open my hands if I have to grip anything tightly for more than a few seconds).

    Also fun, steam cleaning bathrooms and showers in the dorm during summer break. We called the degreaser/detergenmt we used “panther piss”. It ate neoprene gloves.

    And of course, growing up on a small family farm, slinging bales of hay and straw in 90 degree weather and 90+% humidity (got a nice case of heat exhaustion one day from that), or walking fields to pick up the rocks which surface each spring, or shoveling the ear corn from the wagons onto the elevator to load the corn crib.

  255. 255
    dance around in your bones says:

    The first shitty job I had (many years ago) was assembling and stamping together parts for toy watches. It was a job you could do at home-they supplied the machine and the parts, and you assembled part one-two-three and put it under a big stamper thing that you operated with your foot.

    One-two-three BAM! One-two-three BAM! You had to do about a bazillion toy watches to collect $50 a week. It was gruesome. And every time we went to the movies I’d think “I worked a whole day to be able to afford this” (I SAID it was a long time ago…when 2 people could go to the movies for $10).

    Another shitty job I had was operating the barbecue/smoker for a BBQ rib place. Went home smelling like a BBQ rib every night. Occasionally I would have to run to the grocery store during the day to get something we’d run out of at the deli, and I could FEEL people inching away from me and that SMELL, which was smoky and unidentifiable if you didn’t know what it was. I figured they assumed the worst.

    I quit that job after the owner found me throwing out a box of uncooked ribs that had started to go slimy and rainbow-sheenish, and showed me how to make them “ok to cook” by rinsing them under the sink in vinegar. I mean…..really.

  256. 256
    EconWatcher says:

    This is one of the longer threads I’ve ever seen that didn’t include a flame war. And one of the most interesting. Kudos to Betty Cracker.

  257. 257
    HarleyPeyton says:

    Okay. Swather jockey for the Jolly Green Giant in Dayton, Washington. On the hippie night shift.

    The Giant was the go-to summer job for folks whose long hair disqualified them for most other jobs. They sat you on top of what was basically a tractor rigged to run backwards — big wheels first — showed you how to start and steer, and sent you on your way. (That’s basically a five minute training session.) The swather jockeys hit the fields before the combines, dividing up the peas into rows. The combines scooped them up shortly after. The night shift ran six to six. It got cold. On the plus side, there were many stops at the Break Bus — a school bus with the heat chugging — to smoke pot and figure out ways to work less. We slept through the days in trailers. Six to a trailer.

    The day shift was populated primarily by recently paroled convicts from the state prison in Walla Walla.

  258. 258
    Mak says:

    @Jewish Steel: Let me fourth your, Gravestone and Wylde Pirate @36’s vote for bailing/stacking hay. Yes, it was hot; and yes, it was dusty. But for me the worst (at least the first time I did it) was the way flying hay stuck to every square inch of exposed sweaty skin, leaving a days-long nasty rash. The cure? Wear a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, hat and in the 120 degree heat in the loft.

    Made the frequent mucking of livestock stalls seem like child’s play.

    Not nearly as torturous, but certainly weirder was the summer in the ice factory. Eight hours spent in twenty-seven degrees, after which, upon leaving the factory, steam rose off of your body for several minutes.

  259. 259
    rdale says:

    Roughneck on an oil rig. Incredibly loud, smelly, nasty, and very, very dangerous. I can’t believe I still have all my fingers and toes after several summers on a rig floor; I do have a hairline fracture in my neck vertebrae from a big piece of steel falling out of the rig. Tripping 10,000 feet of pipe out of hole in the ground takes about 12 hours, and once you get started you can’t stop because rock might fall into the hole and jam it. Huge, unmuffled diesels roar as it pulls the pipe, three joints at a time (about 90 feet). Then you use huge power wrenches called tongs to break the connection, and as soon as you do hot, chemical-laden water pours out all over you. Then you wrestle that stand of pipe over to the racks, watching that the motor man doesn’t drop it onto your toes. You do that for at least 8 hours straight. No matter if there is rain, sleet, snow, wind, gnats crawling in your ears, you simply cannot stop. If your shift ends you work until your replacement is standing right there next to you, and hand the tongs to him; only then can you leave the rig floor. I worked just about every job in the oil patch and finally, after the aforementioned accident when I almost got killed, quit the next day and got a job in a library. Been there ever since, over 30 years.

  260. 260
    Ruckus says:

    Ammo humper for a destroyer’s 5″, dock to ammo locker. They made us wear leather soled shoes on wet steel decks. Last round ever carried, of course I slipped on the deck, the only thing between the round fuse and the ground was my hand. It was an exciting few seconds.
    Second worse job was forward refueling at sea above the arctic circle in winter.

  261. 261
    jl says:

    @Mak: Bucking hay was kind of fun, IMHO.

  262. 262
    Seanly says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    I would agree with that sentiment.

    I wouldn’t think of any of my jobs as particulary bad.
    I worked at a supermarket as a bagger/cashier which including mopping the floor. One summer I worked at a McDonald’s & the grocery store.

    In between my masters & my unsuccessful pursuit of a PhD, I worked for a small surveying company. I had recently taught a surveying lab & it didn’t require much thinking.

    Things I learned –
    1) Fellow white males are some of the laziest people – especially the young one.
    2) Save for retirement – one of the fellow baggers had retired from the USPS and his wife was a retired teacher.
    3) I can’t stand idiots who wait until the entire order is done to open their checkbook and start filling out the check.
    4) I still don’t like going grocery shopping.
    5) Being involuntarily unemployed is terrible.

  263. 263
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Betsy: Damn close! I wasn’t really living there. It was kind of a commune experience that went awry…

  264. 264
    Ruckus says:

    Specimen collection for drug testing of racers. If there was a strong suspicion of drug use I would have to watch the entire process. That’s human racers BTW.

  265. 265
    JasperL says:

    Worked parts of the summer for a elderly pig farmer I got to know. On the good days, I simply helped him load up hogs for a trip to the slaughterhouse. Or ground up corn with a commercial feed for when he was getting them fattened up for sale.

    Worse days I helped him castrate the piglets. There was no anesthetic, he prepped them with a simple wash, then made an incision, then snip, with an ordinary razor blade like you’d find at the grocery in packs of five, then threw the “mountain oysters” to the rest of the pigs, who gobbled them up like delicacies!! Lots of fun!!

    But the worst was cleaning out the stalls where the sows gave birth and raised the piglets for a few weeks. Looks like mud, but it’s feces mixed with straw, about two feet deep in my case the first time. You can’t appreciate the smell until you’ve spent a day mucking around in it.

  266. 266
    Steeplejack says:

    This thread paradoxically has reminded me of one kind of cool temp job that I had way back in the day, doing “word processing” for a couple of months in 1980-81. This was when word processing meant a dedicated machine, typically a Wang system, with a primitive operating system (before MS-DOS) and just the one application both contained on a single floppy disk (8″). (You had a second diskette on which to save your documents.) I was between “real” jobs and needed money, so I got a gig with a company similar to Manpower Inc. or Kelly Services (formerly “Kelly Girls” in the Mad Men era). Because I was male, I got tapped to work a night shift at the regional office of some huge national corporation (Gulf Oil?). The office park was not sketchy at all, but they didn’t want a woman working alone in the office and then getting out late at night. I would come in at 4:00 or 5:00, check in with the office manager (no-nonsense middle-aged woman), get situated at my workstation and then be pretty much alone until 11:00 or 12:00.

    My job was to transcribe dictation tapes from the financial weasels into actual documents and print them out: letters, external memoranda, price quotes and bids, shipping schedules, etc. “Dear Southland Propane: Re your letter of the 13th ultimo, The hell you say, blah, blah, blah. Sincerely yours, Dick Mucho, account rep.” This was back when pretty much only secretaries (and writers and reporters) knew how to type, and it was still considered to be sort of beneath big swinging dick business dudes. So the account reps and finance weasels would dictate into little tape recorders at their desks, and the audiocassettes would be collected and processed by a pool of secretaries. They had too much work to do, so I came in at night to handle the overflow.

    Because I had a background in journalism and typesetting, I was really good at this, not making (very many) mistakes and often cleaning up their tortured syntax. Plus there were a lot of formatting issues–e.g., tables were a bitch—and I was good at rejiggering things so that, say, a proposal would fit on two full pages instead of spilling over three lines onto a third page, etc.

    As part of proper office correspondence etiquette back then you made a notation at the bottom of each document in the form “BSD:sj.” “BSD” was the nominal author of the document—the finance weasel—and “sj” was the drone who actually prepared the document—me. One day the office manager called me into her office at the start of my shift, and I thought, “Oh, shit, what have I done wrong?” She had a funny look on her face, and after a lot of hemming and hawing she told me that the regional manager had called down and instructed her that all his correspondence was to be held and done only by “sj.” So I spent my last month there in this slightly weird, Shop Around the Corner relationship with “F. Carl, regional manager,” carrying his spear and holding his shield as he smote the miscreants and shaped up the unruly vassals of the Southeast region by snail mail. I can still remember his (disembodied) voice to this day.

    The cool thing about the job was that it was kind of absorbing–lots of little technical challenges to solve–and I got to work on a computer! Well, sort of a computer. And I liked the solitude of being the only one in a big, fancy office suite in the quiet of the evening. And the pay was pretty good: I think it was about $10 an hour, and that was 30 years ago. Hey, highly skilled word processors were hard to find. Heh.

    Okay, end of story. No real point. Sorry to go all Studs Terkel on you, but this thread has really opened the floodgates. But it is amazing how much has changed in the workplace in the last 30 years.

  267. 267
    JasperL says:


    Never minded bailing hay either, after I learned the first time that you didn’t do it in shorts and a t-shirt…

    The lasting impression of that was seeing what real strength looked like. I lived in the suburbs and had friends who played football and were “weight lifters,” but I’m sure none of them could literally throw a bail of hay up to the top of the wagon like some of those farm boys could do.

  268. 268
    Ruckus says:

    One of the worse jobs someone else had which I witnessed was working the gate counter at O’Hare in a bad winter where flights were being canceled right and left. I stood in line for about 30 minutes before my turn and every single person blamed this woman for the weather, for not flying the plane herself and for personally ruining their trip. By the time it was my turn I knew what one of the worse jobs was. Dealing with the general public when things are not going quite right and there is nothing that can be done to fix the situation.

  269. 269
    Steeplejack says:

    @dance around in your bones:

    Went home smelling like a BBQ rib every night.

    I laughed at this. I had a regular customer in the music department at B&N who worked as a pizza delivery driver, and he reeked of pizza whiff. Really surreal at 10:00 a.m. in the morning to catch that smell–not to mention getting paid all in one-dollar bills for a $40 purchase. Good times. I felt sorry for him. He was always talking about problems with his girlfriend, and I always wanted to say, “Did you ever consider . . .?”

  270. 270

    ok, this isn’t truly the worst job ever(i won’t try to compete on that level), but for a man with no foreign policy experience like raw money, “floor manager” at a strip club.

    what better primer for raw money, than improvising the physical removal of a patron from the champagne area(openish floor plan!) who is being removed for refusal to put his erect piece back in his pants, while disturbing as few of the other crusties as possible?

  271. 271
    Betsy says:

    Oops, just realized there’s another Betsy who’s already posted. Sorry!!

  272. 272

    My first job was lichen prep, I was 14 and underage but I was tall. Did tge onion thing. “Graduated” at a still underaged 15 to waitressing at a buffet with a lot of retirees comng in. I was lucky to get tipped a quarter from the bice ones. We bussed our own tables and the ammonia mix ate off the tips of my diners and they STILL don’t look right.

    But my worst day at work was from a decent job where I had to go and compare a bunch of computer code to phone company files to make sure it was doing the legal thing. They wouldn’t let me use their bathroom and they were in the middle of nowhere. I drove 20 minutes to find a gas station washroom I WOULD NOT USE. Then drive 20 minutes back, finished up, and got out of there. .

  273. 273
    Steeplejack says:


    Just change your nym to something different, e.g., “That Other Betsy.”

  274. 274

    I cannot fix my typos, so let me say the nice customers tipped a quarter, most left nothing. And I messed up the tips of my fingers. Stupid auto correct.

  275. 275
    Steeplejack says:

    @WereBear (itouch):

    My first job was lichen prep [. . .].

    Do tell.

    (I love autocorrect. That’s got to be “kitchen prep,” right?)

  276. 276
    Tokyokie says:

    I kept the grass at the sewage-treatment plant mowed while i was in high school. The worst part was mowing the sides of the polishing pond: Each of the four sides was about 100 yards long, and you had to stand at the top of the embankment and let the mower roll down an 45-degree slope to the water’s and then jerk it back up with one hand. No shade and an awful smell; mouth breathing quickly became reflexive. Luckily nobody cared about it being done neatly.

    But that wasn’t as bad as working for the oil-field supply company, emptying bags of drilling mud into a big tank. Exhausting, and at the end of the day, you went home and showered and blew muddy snot out of your nose.

  277. 277
    cmorenc says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Is your house at Emerald Isle by any chance?

    Nope, Sunset Beach, which is the last beach in N.C. before South Carolina, which is just across Little River Inlet.

  278. 278
    Jamey: Bike Commuter of the Gods says:

    So, what horrid job from your past would you assign to Willard?

    Either lobster-shift raw-materials checkpoint supervisor at a bubble-gum factory, puppy-cage hoser-outer at a discount store pet department (the dogs were treated with loving care; we minders, notsomuch), the job I have now (content marketer at a foundering professional publisher), or paid BJ commenter.

  279. 279
    m jones says:

    outdoor holiday decorator in metro/suburban Chicago during the month of November through January. 8-12 hours per day in shopping center parking lots and on city streets. I don’t know which was worse – the frigid and constant November rain while putting up lights with 30 foot aluminum poles or the sub zero arctic blasts while taking them down in January.

    Ah, also, the pay was like $5 per hour, the job was temporary sub contracting work with no benefits.

  280. 280

    First real job was cooking for Col. Sanders – that sucked @ 0.85/hr. I’ve dish washed, bussed, waited – I liked waiting in the best place in the city – motel/restaraunt. Been an exterminator. Labor in an iron foundry – molten iron is interesting. Hotshot firefighter. Over 35 yrs in residential/commercial construction. Hot roofs, comp, single membrane, wood. Framing, siding, finish, ceramic tile…

    I have no idea what a nice easy job looks like from the inside other than college studying ME. Wouldn’t know how to deal with safe quiet work. On the nose thing… never had a clue what the next day would involve blowing out my nose.

  281. 281
    Constantia says:

    Two stand out: packing vitamin pill bottles into boxes in a vitamin pill factory (still can’t stand the smell of those supplement places 35 years later); and working in an airless, windowless basement in a giant bank putting checks in order to mail back to people with their statements. Pre PC–or any computers except gigantic mainframes–practically pre-typewriter. I think it was legal to be under minium wage, too, that the temp agency took a cut. That was the recession of the late ’70s. Ugh.

  282. 282

    I was a telemarketer for a hearing aid company. I would call through the phone book searching for people who needed a free hearing test. Let the joking ensue!

    Also: I think you all would enjoy my snarky tumblr Herman Cain photos mashed up with Tracy Jorday quotes from 30 rock.

  283. 283
    honus says:

    @Chuck Butcher: Been on those roofs, footers, humped that plywood and sheetrock too. Run siding from ladders and scaffolds that were death traps.
    I always laugh when people ask me why I quit construction after 17 years to become a lawyer. I also got a good laugh when the alumni magazine interviewed me as a “second career” student and asked about the the pressure and difficulty of law school.

  284. 284
    Sad_Dem says:

    @honus and Chuck Butcher: I’ve had my share of crappy jobs, but I was never a roofer, and so I’ve never been blown off a roof by the wind while carrying a piece of plywood, or had hot tar fill up my boots. I tip my hat to roofers.

  285. 285
    RossinDetroit says:

    My first job was party store stocker at age 15. A teenager and a room full of beer. I have a trustworthy face. We burned the boxes in a huge steel barrel out back. One windy day a load suddenly flamed up and the flames whipped around toward me. Took off an eyebrow, sideburn, a big patch of hair and left a line of blisters on my ear. After that I let it pile up until a calm day. I’m pretty sure we were breaking numerous laws but, hey! A job!

  286. 286
    Death Panel Truck says:

    Sorting cherries on the night shift at Holtzinger Fruit Co. in Prosser, Washington.

    Roguing rye (walking through wheat fields for ten hours in 100-degree heat pulling rye out of the ground.)

    Rod weeding with a Caterpillar D5 tractor and sixty feet of John Deere weeders (the chains on which broke at least five times during a 12-hour day.)

    Harvesting wheat with a John Deere 95 combine. No cab, only a canopy. The sweat bees would eat you alive. Twelve-hour days. $50 a day (this was 1980, and my employer was my dad.)

    Straightening shelves at night at the Kmart store in Yakima, Washington. You started at HABA (health and beauty aids) and worked your way to pet supplies, and over to toys (a bitch during the Xmas season.)

    Then I graduated.

  287. 287
    RossinDetroit says:

    @Death Panel Truck:

    Did you know they have robot tractors now? My parents’ farmer neighbors have one. The operator lines it up in the field, starts it off and watches display screens for faults while the thing plants a whole field guided by GPS. I mean, why not? Other than costing more than a large house.

  288. 288
    Ronzoni Rigatoni says:

    @jibeaux: Oh, Jeez, you, too? Gaaah! To this day I absolutely hate kids in that age group, including my own three.

  289. 289
    Death Panel Truck says:

    @RossinDetroit: That’s pretty cool. I’ve heard they have combines with GPS now. I’ve been away from the farm for 20 years now.

    The first Cat tractor I operated was an old ’50s D6 with a pony motor. You started it up in the morning and let it run all day long. When I rod weeded, I had to follow the lines left by a flat disc dragged behind the leftward weeder. My dad was blind in one eye, but he could plant the straightest furrows of wheat I’ve ever seen. He tried to show me how to do it, but my hands weren’t as steady on the steering clutches as his were.

  290. 290
    TheHalfrican says:


    Overnight cabbie in Camden. Go with God, my son.

  291. 291
    Death Panel Truck says:

    @RossinDetroit: That’s pretty cool. I’ve heard they have combines with GPS and Internet access, so you can keep track of the price of wheat while you’re cutting it. I’ve been away from the farm for 20 years now.

    The first Cat tractor I operated was an old ’50s D6 with a pony motor. You started it up in the morning and let it run all day long. When I rod weeded, I had to follow the lines left by a flat disc dragged behind the leftward weeder. My dad was blind in one eye, but he could plant the straightest furrows of wheat I’ve ever seen. He tried to show me how to do it, but my hands weren’t as steady on the steering clutches as his were.

  292. 292
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Death Panel Truck:

    Farmers out in my parents’ area drive by and check out the straightness of their neighbors’ rows. But those days are over. Nobody beats the Robot Tractor.

  293. 293
    KS in MA says:

    @Amanda: Glad you enjoyed working for Pat Schroeder. She was awesome.

  294. 294
    Pseudonym says:

    I’ve had shitty jobs. Back in college I had a summer internship after my freshman year where I was supposed to do QA for a business analytics product. I had no clue what the product did or how QA was supposed to work, so I just tried to build an automated build system that somehow involved upgrading gcc. This turned into a huge issue, though it worked out ok. I still had no idea what I was supposed to do with my time. Most of the bugs I filed weren’t actual bugs, supposedly, I was just misunderstanding how the product was supposed to work. I wasn’t the most dedicated or hard-working employee there, of course, since there wasn’t much for me to do. Also, my boss had a habit of compulsively always having something in his hand to eat. Near the end of the internship I “hacked” my boss’s windows registry so that, when the computer started, it would open WinAmp and start playing the classic Muppet™ song “C is for Cookie” performed by Cookie Monster of course. I was asked to leave at that point and reminded not to try entering the building again.

    The other worst job I had was at a much larger Silicon Valley startup. I did well for a while, until I ended up with a obsessively anal-retented boss forcing me to work on uninteresting problems and be a stupid cog in a big machine. I had a not-perfectly-amiable exit from that situation and company.

    I gave up a lot of stock options when I left that company prematurely, but in the end I don’t think I regret it. I still came out several million ahead.

    I think I can actually appreciate how fortunate I’ve been. I’ve seen smarter people work harder for less… not a ton, but enough. I’ve seen a ton of people work a lot harder for a tiny fraction of what I came out with, people who didn’t have opportunity to consider leaving a job they weren’t enjoying enough to find something better.

    I think that Romney’s record at Bain Capital paints him as an extraordinarily hard worker with a lot of analytical intelligence and valuable financial insight. I’m sure he was worth $250m or whatever to Bain; those kinds of deals are very tricky, and getting a 60% one-year return is absurdly high.

    But I don’t think what he did is particularly socially useful. I have strong doubts about whether the economy was actually improved at all by the interference and actions of Bain Capital. What if it was, though? What if Romney was some sort of economic genius? Shouldn’t that sort of intelligence find itself more valuable in the private sector, since the government is only getting in the way?

    I admit, I do feel envious. I’m not worth $250 million to anyone, at least at the moment. (I’m not worth a damn cent when it comes to trying to meet women, but that’s a different story.) I am not as smart as Mitt Romney. I just don’t see any indication that he’s interested in anything other than what’s best for Mitt Romney.

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    Paul in KY says:

    @cmorenc: Never been to that one. Heard nice things about it though. Glad you have a place like that.

  296. 296
    Mongoose says:

    Mitt happens. Just don’t get it on your shoe!

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    slippy says:

    I used to “shag” cars (drive them) from the service station at a car dealership back to the mechanics. When I wasn’t moving cars, I was doing great stuff like hauling oil drums full of discarded car parts (a complete transmission, for example) out to the dumpsters. My day was 12 hours of whatever the mechanics could think of to make me do.

    I used to open at Arby’s. After a morning of loading slabs of greasy, gag-inducingly fake-looking roast beef into ovens, my clothes reeked of cow blood and preservatives. And fry grease. My manager was an incredible asshole who often would schedule me for impossible hours (closing until 2:00 a.m. and opening at 6:00 a.m. the following morning) just to see how hard he could run me down, I think.

    And my favorite job I’m so glad I’ll never do again:

    I worked in like a button factory for two days. Sitting on a stool punching these fucking things out (I actually can’t remember what the hell I helped make for 2 days — it was a long time ago). All I remember was how miserable and dreary the workplace was, and how much the stool made my ass hurt. I was so glad I didn’t work out at that place.

    I have had my current job for 17 years. I doubt Mittens has that kind of an attention span. Who the fuck names their kid after an item of clothing?

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    Funlife says:

    Oh those stinking jobs. My first job was part-time. I cleaned dog kennels at a veterinarian’s. These were not healthy dogs in the kennels, they were sick and cleaning these boxs was not a treat.

    Another one, was washing pots and pans in the largest non-military kitchen in the US. Hot, stinking, wet.

    I had other crappy jobs, but I would rather watch Mittens and the crew try to do something we call “working for a living” like those two jobs.

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    berick says:

    I’ve had my share. But my brother’s beat mine. Once, when living in New Orleans, the only two jobs he could find were 1) Telephone soliciting for a cemetery (buy that plot before you need it!) and 2) Drug guinea pig (here’s your shot, remember to tell us if you itch, hallucinate, pee funny colors, etc.)

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    Marcellina says:

    Although it wasn’t as bad as what many have written here, probably my worst job was as a singing waitress. People go to these restaurants to enjoy the Italian-opera flair and pay a lot of money for dinner. We were paid below minimum wage; were expected to get the diners to spend a minimum on food and drink, come hell or high water (check averages were calculated each night); we hustled just like any other waitstaff and tolerated the usual abuse from the kitchen; and we sang opera arias in between bringing out pasta courses, hoping it would bring in a little something extra in tips. It pains me to this day to have to watch waitstaff perform, be it line-dancing or whatever. And I now never tip under 20% unless my waitperson really screws up and shows no remorse.

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    Sourmash says:

    My worst jobs, in no particular order:
    1. Driveway sealing: we made two trips to each house, one to prep, one to seal. Prepping wasn’t so bad, scraping weeds and what not out of the crack in the asphalt and filling them with driveway grade caulk, trimming the edges of the lawn, scrubbing and cleaning any low spots where water and therefore dirt gathered. Sealing was another matter. We used what amounted to black latex paint fortified with tar, pitch and sand. Get that stuff on you and you had to remove it with paint thinner and you wouldn’t want to expose that part of you to sun for a month. Try that working outdoors. I wore the same clothes everyday as cleaning them was obviously impossible after the first day. Eventually, and I’m not kidding, my pants could be stood up without support, there was so much tar and crud on them. Same went for all the guys I worked with, we all stunk to high heaven. They were a bunch of “saved” drunks who got hired by my cheapskate boss out of some local ministry somewhere. he paid us peanuts. To a man, they all had records and were trying to stay on the straight and narrow. I got more preaching in one fall than I did in 8 years of Catholic grade school. And the boss drove us like sled dogs, starting at first light and ending as late as possible. He did his estimating at dusk and checked out to see if they had a lighted drive, keeping those for the end of the day. Lunch was fast food, eaten in the truck on the way to another job. It got so I sealcoated all day, had nightmares about sealcoating, then went back to sealcoating. In Chicago’s summer heat and humidity. I kept at it despite hating it since I was promised a $.50 per hour bonus if I stayed to the end of the season. Turned out the “season” ended long after I left for school.
    2.Landscape construction in the Rocky Mountains. Digging holes on a side hill in an area that’s full of…ROCKS, hence the name. BIG ones. Many was the time a root ball conflicted, often just a matter of inches, with what seemed to be a little rock, and we’d have to dig it out, only to find it was a 3ft. diameter monster. The boss was a German immigrant who had the uncanny ability to round the bend just as you were flopped on the ground from exhaustion. I made it for two weeks.
    3. Restaurant dishwasher. Yes I know it’s been written about above, but my experience was unique: a very nice place run by an absolute witch of a woman, HUGE, she was, in a TINY kitchen, barely enough room to turn around, and so demanding. She refused to allow me to use gloves, since I wouldn’t be able to tell if the dishes were greasy. HOT water, and if it wasn’t hot enough, she’d turn on the hot water and hold my hands under it until they were burning to show me what she meant. I worked Saturday all day and Snday brunch. Each day started off with cleaning the huge muffin tins, each one held 48 muffins (6×8 cups) and she refused to use those little paper cups, so each cup had baked in residue that had to be individually scrubbed out. A nightmare. My co-workers were great though. 4 male waiters, all gay, they were so helpful and defended me from her and were so kind, I lost whatever homophobia I might have had.

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    nat says:

    Cleaning stables shoveling horse shit. Would have been fine, except I’m allergic to horses.

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    Geo says:

    Loading pig lungs into a meat grinder with a pitchfork for making making dog food and collecting eggs in a battery chicken farm with 5000 squawking tortured birds. Cutting cabbage for $5 a row was no picnic either. It was freezing cold, wet and each row was 300 yards long. I could make twenty bucks on a really good day and then I couldn’t stand up straight for the next twelve hours, not to mention the mud.

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    TheRedBanana says:

    As much as these jobs weren’t pleasant, I am grateful for the experience and grateful that I no longer have to work them. I am now a teacher and love it.

    1. Detassling corn in southern IL: Get up at 4:00am, drive an hour to the fields, wear a garbage bag to keep the dew off you as best you can, walk the rows collecting 4 pound soles of mud on your shoes, end the day at 3-4ish when the heat and humidity become too intolerable.
    2. Working at the sewage treatment plant for 2 summers, so great when things get hot and stinky. Beginning of each summer I would catch a bad bug and be sick for 2-3 days.
    Working at the dorm cafeteria in college, first scraping the trays that are shoved through the window, then later on, working the giant dishwasher. Nacho cheese is a very resistant substance.
    3. Worked for 2 weeks in the dead of winter in northwest Wisconsin at a dried ingredient factory, turning all variety of foods into powders. Smoking was allowed in the unventilated break room.
    4. Worked for another week at a canning company. Inspecting cans for imperfections is unbelievably mind-numbing. Got to love temp jobs, when you have no relationship with the people.

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    dwayne says:

    Popeyes’s Fried Chicken and the layaway department at a badly run Kmart during Christmas season!

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    carolinelaffs says:

    ah, Mitt’s halcyon days of pestering the French in lieu of Vietnam – jerk (and few other things…).
    But I have my own tales of crap jobs starting in the ’70s:
    Age 10 – parents buy a tavern & wedding hall(see Deerhunter w slightly different accents). Coatcheck/kitchen help/bus girl – usually til 1am all weekend long – 4pm – 1am. Sometimes double shifts (afternoon & evening weddings/parties). Graduated to waitress at ~13.
    Worst parts:
    Coatcheck – trying not to fall asleep (not allowed)from 10-1am in an unheated/no AC closet surrounded by cheap, ancient fur coats(usually german shepherd, I think)doused in eu de Walgreens – while Stanley whatever-the-hells band is blasting polkas and the occasional ambulence siren – for a quarter tip per(if lucky).
    Waitressing – being bitched at/grabbed at by drunk wedding guests – because the 3 whole chickens plus beef plus sausage, etc. per 10 person table wasn’t enough food – and if she’s (me) old enough to work, then she should be old enough to fend off the letchers (from the wife of said letch).
    Clean-up – sloejin fizz puke is the worst.
    Rents sold business when I was 15 – worked at non-alcohol restaurants (less dosh but less creeps-most times) thru highschool – still hate Taco Bell and polyester(god, the smell)…summers in beyond unsafe plastics factory….on and on…pretty much don’t complain that I sit at a desk in
    front of a computer in non-profit land these days.
    Lessons learned – open bar (bad idea), small business ownership sucks and destroys marriages (my parents’), not all women are your sisters (see letch story) – but it was how me and the sibs got to college later (when it was still somewhat affordable). Oh, and rethuglicans (even the wannabes in their nasty old dog fur coats) are racist, women-hating *ssholes who’ll knock you in the gutter and step on your head if there’s a shiny dime on the other side – even when their Cayman and Tiffany’s accounts are bulging or their own personal meany of a cloud guy says everyone-not-them is unworthy.

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    John says:

    1. Filling paper bags with kitty litter in a dark, airless, roach-infested basement.
    2. Running a jackhammer in a hot dog factory on Easter Sunday.
    3. Repairing a septic system distribution box while it is operating. INCOMING!
    4. Inhaling vast amounts of toxic chemicals in an ancient leather factory.
    “Ready for your close-up, Mitt?”

  308. 308
    phred says:

    Two jobs come to mind:

    1. Hospital file clerk. Minimum wage, no benefits, no holiday pay. The computer would generate a slip of paper, and I’d go through the files to find the corresponding folder, pull it, and give it to my boss. Not so bad, except that the outpatient files were in three different places, and I’d rarely find a match. Some days I’d find half a dozen files at the most. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d actually been able to accomplish something.

    2. Primate caretaker. I cleaned monkey cages, fed the monkeys, and did anything else that needed doing. I enjoyed the job, but I’d like to see Mittens go into a squirrel monkey cage and find a baby monkey’s arm lying on the floor–the other monkeys ate the rest of it. Six months of that job left me in much better shape, and 40lbs lighter.

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    bjvl says:


    Baling hay, shoveling shit, milking cows, doing field work.

    Driving tractor in 100+ degrees, fixing broken shit-covered barn cleaner chain in -20 below, climbing into a moldy silo to un-jam the unloader with your fingers, so the cows can get fed.

    Milking 50 head of cattle BY HAND because the power went out and the generator’s broken.

    Mittens has No F*cking Clue.

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    Jeff says:

    the BEST shit-wage job I ever had? Pizza Hut delivery guy. Yep: driving around all evening, listening to NPR and smoking cigarettes. Didn’t have to deal with customers apart from “heres your pizza”. Downside: put 5,000 miles on my car in less than 2 months (which was, at that point, 13 years old).

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    dragonet2 says:

    @KXB:I started using MS Word in 1987 and it had an insert-page-number function. They were either stupid or screwing with you if they told you it didn’t.

    Word has always been my workhorse (on a Mac) but I wish they’d have stopped screwing with it at about Word 6 for Mac.

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    […] in honor of the crappy jobs Willard Mitt Romney never had, new Juicer Betty Cracker lists the three worst jobs she ever had. How would Mitt do with […]

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