Worst Job Ever

Molly Dugger Brennan

I have been away from home for several days on an eye surgery/socializing with old friends whirlwind tour.  Except for the cutting a hole in my eye part, I had a grand time.  The eye thingy worked out great too, because now I can see like a freaking hawk.  I can see individual hairs on the dogs.  I can see tiny birds in the trees.  I can see deer in distant fields.  Unfortunately, now I can see cobwebs and dust.  I can see my own wrinkles for the first time.  I can see moles and chin hair that I did not know I had.  It's a mixed blessing, really.

At dinner one night, one of my friends offered one of the best conversation starters I'd ever heard.  What's the worst job you've ever had?  This question really intrigues me and it sure got the ball rolling at dinner.  Everyone has had some job experience that is at best awkward, and at worst, psychologically damaging.  So, I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

Contest Alert!  Leave your worst-job-ever story in the Comments section below. You've got 3,000 characters to play with.   In my usual magnanimous fashion as Queen of All that is My Own Blog, I'll choose a winner and bestow a prize.  I've not decided what the prize will be but I guarantee you that it will not be of the caliber that you will be able to regift it.  This is more of a bragging rights kind of thing.  I choose
Friday, 30 November 2012 as the end date for this little contest.  Are you in?

As promised, here is my Worst Job Ever story.  It wasn't the work that made it the very worst, it was the boss, the vice president of my division.  This job was at a typical, completely interchangeable, Beltway-bandit tech company.  I was writing user manuals for custom software packages.  I thought the vice president was okay, kind of discomfited, kind of socially inept, but you get that a lot when you take a techie-type and force them into management because that's the only way they'll get promoted past a certain point.  It's not a natural fit and weirdness often ensues.  This guy was ambitious enough and tight enough with the main client to get all the way to division vice president, which really is an accomplishment.

So one year, in order to thank all us worker bees for a job well done on a huge, important, lucrative project, this vice president  invites the entire division to his lakeside home for a party.  It's a pretty property and the food was good, so as far as work parties go, it was quite pleasant.  Lots of shrimp and not an Amway salesman in sight, so I was having a good time.  I'm starting to like this V.P. a little more.  He's okay after all.  He has given me unlimited seafood and rum, how bad can he be?

Part of the gathering was a house tour.  You could wander all through his home and get a feel for what a vice president's salary could get you in the world of real estate.  It was a home furnished sparely, but with great pieces.  The real attraction in the home was the floor to ceiling windows facing the lake in nearly every room.  The view was amazing.  It was a splendid house.

Some of the programmers spent more time lost  in rooms far away from the party  than did the rest of us, but  that was consistent for them.  They spent a lot of their time at work hiding out.  These guys were more comfortable in small, quiet herds.  So I was surprised to see them, as a group, march quickly through the noisy crowd and straight to the bar.

What's up?  After a couple of shots, one of them opened up and spilled the beans.  In paranoid whispers, eyes darting around the room the whole time, he said that they had been perusing the bookshelves in the master bedroom.  Thought there was no better way to get to know a guy than see what he kept in his bedroom, particularly the reading material.  So there they were, reading the book spines  and searching for personality clues, when they come across an entire shelf on bestiality, particularly focused on sex with German shepherds.

Eeeeewwwwww!  What the fuck?  I didn't believe them.  Made them take me to the bookshelf.  Immediately regretted doing that once I saw the books.  Oh.  My.  God.  I went tearing through the house looking for signs of dog ownership.  Are there food bowls, dog beds, leashes, chewies?  Even walked up to Mr.  Perv himself and asked if he had any pets.  The answer, thankfully, was no.

Most of us who had seen the shelf left the party shortly thereafter.  Monday morning was so very awkward.  Everyone in the know stopped talking about their dogs.  Everyone who knew seemed to spend more time cleaning the office kitchen after the V.P. had been in there.  Our Lysol budget tripled in a month.   Things just did not recover from the creepy.  The level of discomfort got so bad that we started floating our resumes to other companies.  One by one, we left the project.

So a party that was meant to foster teamwork and express gratitude for nailing a big, important project broke us apart because someone was too lazy to hide his puppy porn.  That's leadership.


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  • 20 Nov 2012, 3:12 PM Mark B wrote:
    During my teen years I lived out in the boonies. Well, that's sort of an exaggeration. We actually had to travel to get to the boonies. In any case, a neighboring farmer needed some help and I was available. We put up fence, hauled hay, etc.
    Then came the cow. He had a cow that had trouble during calving and was paralyzed in her back legs. That being the case, she could not move but was stuck laying in the mud and cow manure she producded all day long.
    The farmer did not want to put her down, so each morning he would pick me up, take me to the pole barn, and we would lift her onto her feet for a few minutes trying to get some feeling and circulation back into them.
    The method for doing this was he would get the tractor, and I would attach the hook to a harness that went around the cow's body. He would then slowly lift the hook, with me supporting the cow. Of course the cow had spent its entire day and night laying in mud and manure, and it was necessary for me to get really close and personal with the cow to get it's legs under it and hold it steady.
    I gave this my all each morning, ignoring the filth and stench, determined we would save the cow.
    We did this for a week, and then one morning the farmer came by and said the cow had died. I felt both relief and remorse at the same time. Relief because my Herculean task had ended, and remorse because I had failed to save the cow. That was more than 30 years ago, and it still bothers me when I think of it.
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  • 20 Nov 2012, 3:13 PM Peggy Sue wrote:
    My weirdest job? That is a quandry. I don't know about everyone else, but I have had more weird jobs than normal ones. I was robbed at gunpoint at a pizza shop, forced to stay overnight at a mall to make sure the tie store I was the manager of wasn't robbed, and was hit on by a top executive who then forced me to get a new job, but I think the weirdest job I ever had was working for Jewish lawyers-feel free to make your own jokes here. There were 4 of them (lawyers) and 5 of us (secretaries). I worked there over 20 years ago and still remain the best of friends with the girls there. The guys however, were another story. They were not happy, friendly souls at all. They never smiled or said hello. They took all of the Jewish holidays off while we girls worked all day on Christmas Eve. The coffee creamer, sugar, etc., were BOLTED to the table so no one would steal them. Once they held a 3-day meeting to decide whether or not to give us a two cent raise! We were yelled at if we drank coffee at our computer stations. They were all senile and couldn't remember our names so they just made them up. Yes, it was that kind of place. So we tried to make our days more fun. For instance, the head of the firm (my boss) wore turtlenecks from the beginning of fall until the end of spring. We started a little game called the "Turtleneck Derby." We each drew our own little turtleneck and tacked it to a calendar. Whomever came closest to the date Frank started wearing his turtleneck got the prize (money!) We also had monthly "girls nights out" usually at my house since I was the only single girl there. We cooked or ordered food, we made t-shirts, just had FUN. We also took some trips together - one to Canada to see Phantom of the Opera. But the weirdest thing that ever happened while I worked there is - the lawyers were getting a new video camera so they offered to sell the old one to one of the girls. She bought it and they gave her the tapes that went with it. On Monday of that week the girl who bought the video recorder told us that we were having girls night out at her house that weekend because she had something to show us that we would not believe! We arrived with munchies and drinks prepared for the show. She popped in a tape of her son playhing baseball but as the game ended something else came on. It was the two top lawyers of the firm completely naked on a cruise ship! They were posing with their wives who both were wearing lovely heels and scarves but other than that everyone was completely naked. They were having naked activities - men painting pumpkins on women's breasts for example. And imagine a nake buffet line! Needless to say, after that I could never look at my bosses the same way. We still get together every couple of years and watch the tape!!
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  • 21 Nov 2012, 5:11 PM Don Stewart wrote:
    My introduction to nicotine, like my blue-collar work experience, was brutal and instructive. One college summer found me working in a steelyard, an apprentice insulator building the world's largest blast furnace. Number Eight stood at the end of a row of giant structures that rose belching from the ground like kings on a colossal chessboard. Searing exhaust fumes from No. 8 were piped to three adjacent furnaces, inhaled as an auxiliary fuel source. It was that hot.

    So was the weather. Weeks without rain brought the worst drought the South had experienced in a lifetime; the mercury that July afternoon passed the 110 mark. Railroad tracks ran below, carrying tons of iron ore to the glowing furnaces, retreating with open cauldrons of molten steel that passed directly beneath my feet.

    My job was to wrap fiberglass on a fifty-yard stretch of pipe, running from the fourth-story superstructure to a building across the rail yard. It ran with two other pipes, the three entering a triad of holes cut into a bare metal wall.

    Sitting on the lowest pipe, I clamped sections of fiberglass tubing on the one in front of me, sealing the seams with tape, pushing boxes of insulation ahead of me as I scooted along, clamping and taping, griping about the heat.

    Fiberglass is irritating to work with. Glass dust sticks to your skin, creeps into eyes and nostrils, flits into lungs. We wore long sleeves and gloves, shirts buttoned to the neck, bandanas. Add hard hats, safety glasses, and face masks on the hottest day of the year, suspended a hundred feet above a busy railroad track, we were slowly roasted by cauldrons of sloshing pig iron. Then the journeyman turned to me and said: "You ever dip Skoal, boy?"

    No. I had tasted cigarettes before, but I never tried chaw - or snuff.

    “Put a pinch between yer lip and gum. Don't get it on your tongue. Don't swallow the spit. Spit the spit. No, don't spit it out the snuff. Might get a bit spicy, but don't fret - it'll go away in a minute...”

    I forget the rest. It only took seconds for the stabbing pain of tobacco juice to flow between my teeth and coat my tongue with bitter fire. Seconds later my head inflated like a cheap balloon, and began to spin of its own accord. I wanted to cry. I wanted to throw up. Mostly, I wanted to spit this stuff out as fast as it went in.

    But my boss had other ideas-his opinion held sway, since he barred the only exit from my perch above the railroad tracks.

    I watched the pipes disappear into the building across the yard. They wavered in the heat. Time slowed. Gorge rose in my throat as an arid breeze lifted an empty box into the air, dropped it slowly into a ten foot bucket of molten iron. I watched the box light on the crusted surface of liquid metal. Whooof! In the space of a second it was gone, without a trace of ash. I was next, my body slumping toward the heat.

    My mouth fell open, snuff fell from my lips, and hands were upon me.

    Safe on the ground, I awoke
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