Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cart & rope girl and my other crap jobs

I have never understood how the jobs that other people have, ones that are exciting, glamorous and paid well, are never my job. It is not that I don’t apply for them, I do. It’s just that when the phone rings and someone offers me a job my usual response is “Where?” That’s because the top 100 places I applied don’t want me and the one place I desperately entered after losing all self esteem, knowing I have no possible interest in the job/field/industry is the job I get. Plus, as I have had about 30-40 different jobs (Wish I was kidding about that) maybe I never “career develop” enough to get to the level above crappy jobs.

Crap Jobs

1) Tape & CD assembler – This is assembling the parts of a tape set like “Learn Croatian the Easy Way” by hand – over and over again with a clock chiming every 90 seconds when you are supposed to have finished. Repeat until the room whirls around like a scene in The Twilight Zone. Time lasted: 1 day.

2) Invigilator – while the title sounds good it really means “stare at university students for three straight hours to make sure they don’t cheat.” You can’t read, you can’t move that much, you just stare at the students. After 10 minutes I got bored and started thinking about things other than if a student was cheating or not. The problem is when I start to have conversations in my mind, part of me likes to comment along with “Yeah” or “Not again” or whatever I may be thinking about (yes, technically this is “talking to yourself”). This is frowned upon during a final exam taken in complete silence, particularly when you are supposed to be the person enforcing this silence. Time lasted: 1 week.

3) Selling jewelry door to door. – this was not the first or the last thing I tried to sell door to door because a) I was always broke b) I liked money and c) my father kept saying things like “If you work hard enough at something you will succeed” and I believed him. Okay, I was 13 or 14 and couldn’t get money legally somewhere else and though I did babysitting, I wasn’t paid for it (some weird Christian cult rule). I lived in Los Angeles. Can you imagine going door to door in Los Angeles trying to sell jewelry? (my entire sales pitch: “Would you like to buy some jewelry, it’s really nice?” “NO!” door slams. “Oh.”) I learned early the face of rejection. Time lasted: many months

4) Working the luggage department in J.C.Penny’s. The rule of department stores is that all staff have to look busy. Standing around with the expressions of extreme boredom and sullenness are bad for business. A luggage department is small, already has the luggage stacked and might get 5-8 customers A DAY. So that means you a) polish the luggage about once every hour and b) work out combinations. See, kids come by and enter combinations into the combination lock suitcases and then shut them. Part of the job was to go through EVERY SINGLE variation for hours and hours until the luggage can be reopened and the combo reset. It usually took me 40 minutes for two three digit combinations. Time lasted: 2 weeks

5) Dishwasher – I worked one summer as a dishwasher and kitchen help at a summer camp. This one should be pretty self explanatory. I washed dishes for 10 hours a day and when I didn’t I peeled potatoes or ripped out chicken guts. I wasn’t allowed to cook anything or learn to cook anything. Think about it – this is the job they give AS PUNISHMENT to people during basic army training. Also, because my food and sleeping bunk were free, I made about $3 a day. Woo Hoo! Time lasted: somewhere between weeks and months, time in the kitchen tends to get blurry.

6) Cart & Rope Girl – while that sounds like some sort of thing you have to pay to see, it was actually a job I never remember applying for – collecting carts at a lumber and building supply store (the other employees teased me because..I read books during lunch- guess I should have been drinking like them). I would have to go out this tiny door (the size of a cart), round up the carts, and shove them back through the door. But that’s not all...I also tied things on to people’s cars. Why I got this job I still don’t know – apparently the low person on the cart collecting ladder gets it (there was one guy there who had collected carts for 4 years – everytime I walked by him I shouted, “Why?”). I only know the knot that ties my shoe so I would just use endless rope around and around the car to try and tie on this giant piece of plywood to the roof with granny knots every 6 feet or so. Several times, after I finished, people couldn’t get in their cars because I had roped them shut. I was really, really trying to get fired but no matter how many expensive items flew off people’s cars on the highway getting home they would never get anyone to replace me. When I handed in my notice to go back to university, the manager asked me to come back next year. How sad is that. Time lasted: 4 months

Actually this list could go on and on and on and probably will on another day. If you had any crap jobs, please email or post them as I never really tire of reading about the misery other people endure in the job force. Misery does love company.


Wendryn said...

I have a worse one - trying to say, cherrfully, to a teenage boy with Cerebral Palsy who was already a little embarrassed that I (yikes! it's a GIRL!) was there:
"Time for your suupository!"
That was not a good evening. I liked most of working with kids with disabilities, but I felt awful about this one - he was terribly embarrassed.

Wendryn said...

clearly I can't spell today - sorry!

LJM said...

My most dull job was filing at a funeral home. Had to alphabetically sort files on customers who had pre-paid for their funeral services. Awfully quiet job!

Time lasted: two days

LJM said...

I remembered another one - Kmart Inventory - how many panties are in this 4X4 foot bin?

GayProf said...

Ooooh – Mine don’t even come close in scale or number. So, I will ignore your request for worst crap job and talk about my favorite crap job. I used to work at an import store as a clerk, but during the holidays I got converted into “demo.” This meant I got to push around a cart with hot coffee, tea, and cookies. Once customers sampled my wares, I was supposed to push them to add said coffee, tea, and cookies to their shopping cart. But, whatever.

I loved giving away free stuff (and eating/drinking it myself). It’s the closest that I ever got to being a flight attendant.
Still, you know that I said "Coffee, Tea, or Me?" like eighty times a day.

kathz said...

worst jobs: (1) data processing - you have to change screens so fast it gives you a headache. The worst time I did this I was temping and refused to do it without breaks - so they made teenage trainees do it instead. (2) filling in form letters and sending them out for a huge debt collection agency with plush offices (again as a temp). The letters with evidence about the circumstances that pushed people into debt were often sad - tiny debts forced many people into misery. (3) health service receptionist (temp for a week) - I didn't have the knowledge that the ill and desperate needed, and they couldn't see why I couldn't help.

best jobs: (1) barmaid, summer of 1979 (good boss and pleasant company, even the drunks). (2) legal proofreader 1985-6. The pay for legal proofreading wasn't good but the solicitors depended on our accuracy and availability. In slack times I read Proust while my proof-reading partner knitted jumpers. The rules said that we should never work more than six hours a day; lunch breaks and tea and coffee breaks were compulsory. There were hampers at Christmas, parties and outings plus a week's extra pay to help with Christmas and again in time for the summer holidays. It was in central London too.

Sober @ Sundown said...

My worst job was probably working the graveyard shift at a nursing home. This full time job started right after my daytime job at the Toro factory. For some reason, I though I could work 2 full time jobs during summer break...... Needless to say, I didn't last very long.

EL said...

I'm with you - I just can't seem to get an interview for the "good jobs", but but but I'm smart and capable!!!!! Hey hey!!! Hire me!!!

Elizabeth McClung said...

I think any job which requires a person to say: "Time for a suppository" - is going to be a crap job.

Working as a debt collector has to be up there as well

My personal favorite crap job (passed on by David): Sweeping the floor in a thermometor factory -- it just seems like something out of willa wonka

elizabeth said...

Sorry - something strange happened and i haven't been able to see any new posts for a week - I refreshed and VOILA!
Great post by the way.

Kristin P said...

I know this was written years ago but, I just got here so I will share mine.

In 1995 I was paid $5/hour to remove stickers from VHS tapes to prepare to sell. Remember when Blockbuster had those stickers with security tags? Yep, paid to place those. All in a stinky warehouse where everyone smoked cheap cigarettes.

I would often talk too much and end up melting a tape with the little heater. I wonder now did that smell worse than the cheap cigarettes?