How do you deal with a job you absolutely hate?

First of all, my girlfriend and her friends think I was cursed by a freakin gypsy or something. For some reason, each job I take basically ends up taking the worst aspects of the one before and then magnifying it 10x. The enevitable result being I usually quit or get fired within a year or two.

The common denomenator is that in all of these jobs, I usually get stuck doing a bunch of low-level programming crap (stuff like MS Access or VB or web shit). This is something I absolutely hate doing because:

  1. it’s tedious as fuck
  2. no one understands it so my day is a non-stop headache of expectation setting
  3. I have no interest in computers as anything other than a game/research/email/porn machine
  4. it’s not what I do (I’m a business school grad, not a computer guy)

So, after getting laid off from what initially appeared to be an MBA dream job (a Big-5 management consulting firm) with one minor flaw (often found myself stuck doing all the Access crap in the office) the only job I could find a year later was some jerkwater consulting firm that does data management for other consulting firms - so in other words, the one little thing I hated about my last job is now my full time job.

At least once a day, I have to get up and walk around the building so I don’t lose my temper.

At least once a week, I will lose my temper in my hotel room and smash everything I think the hotel won’t charge me for.

At least once a project, I go into the bathroom and start hurling toilet paper rolls against the wall as hard as I can because it’s the only thing that wont break.

THis information is more for background and not meant to be a Pit rant.

So, the question is…how do you deal with a job (whatever that job is) that you find incredibly frustrating so you don’t fly off the handle and lose it.
(oh yeah… did I mention I have to fly 6 hours to work each monday and live in a hotel for the week?)

Well, I worked all summer in a warehouse painting rails. Yellow. All of them.

Oh, wait, I got to use red and black on my last day there.

The worst part was when I was painting guiderails for the lift trucks. They’re these little rails that run a few inches out from these tall racks, and the trucks sort of butt up against them so they’re oriented straight in the aisles. In itself, it wouldn’t have been so bad, except that I had to do it during the hours the warehouse was actually in operation. So basically, I’d paint one aisle, move on to the next one, and see a truck go down the aisle I’d just painted. Then I’d go back and do the first one, and a truck would go down the second one. It was almost cartoonish.

In short, I’m qualified to answer your question.

Therefore, I propose the following:

  1. Realize you could have a much crappier job. Like mine. In my case, I thought back to the janitor’s job that I had right before that one, and realized that I’d moved up in the world.

  2. Realize that you could not have a job at all. During my time at work, I read a couple threads on here (I think…I don’t remember any specifically) that made me thankful I had a job.

  3. Realize that it is only temporary. I counted the days left. I pictured myself there in 40 years, like some of the guys, and realized how I would feel if that happened. That’s a motivator.

  4. Look for a better job. It’ll occupy your time so you’re not thinking about how frustrating your current job is.

  5. Quit. Seriously. If it’s bugging you that much, quit. Find a job that’ll get you by until you find the one you want. I’ve worked at the aforementioned warehouse as a painter, at another warehouse in various capacities, in a factory on an assembly line (THAT was a fun summer…), doing everything but being a waiter at Steak N’ Shake, and as a substitute janitor for the local school district.

All that just REALLY made me want to go to, and then finish college.

Get George Hayduke’s revenge books.

All of them.

Read them.

Fantasize about doing the things in them to your boss and less-loved cow orkers.

Do not actually do these things.

Just enjoy the fantasies.

It will help you get through the day.


I’ll trade jobs with you.

Seriously. How do I get these jobs you keep getting? I intended to become a programmer and wound up a systems analyst, so I have much more responsibility and much more to do with “business stuff” than I ever wanted. Theoretically, this is better because it’s more “challenging” or “stimulating” or some such bunk, but that’s only true if you actually give a crap about your day job. I would KILL to be able to just sit here doing low-level programming all day.

Honest suggestion here: it sounds like you could use some help with rage. I don’t think flying off that handle at such regular intervals is healthy. You might want to get that checked out. If you get those issues sorted out, maybe your job won’t be as bad.

What Ravenman said or at least use that energy for more constructive purposes. I used to have a problem with rage and I started lifting weights and playing hockey again. It took the edge off almost immediatly and everything else fell in line. Seriously if all your jobs follow a pattern it may not be the jobs.

msmith, I know you’ve said elsewhere that you travel almost constantly, which makes me thing you must still be spending a good deal of time “doing business”–and that’s what you want to be doing, right? They don’t send people out on the road to do spreadsheets, do they?

Or has your job changed since the last time you talked about it? If so, I know how that goes.

When I’m “stuck” doing programming or any of the other stuff you describe and I’m feeling the least bit frustrated, I take a little trip in my mind.

First, I go to that job 25 years ago where it was 105 degrees inside and I was assembling rebar for a concrete job while chemicals from a plywood manufacturing line were sloshing out on my back.

After that I take a trip to the Wendy’s restaurant where I had to get up at 4am every morning (during the period when Wendy’s was trying to expand into breakfast. I think I helped them fail :)) and work the bacon/french toast grind.

Finally, I return to that special place when I was 14 years old helping dig out defective septic tanks.

I have a lot more material from my old work experiences, but those three snap me back to reality and make me realize HOW FUCKING LUCKY I AM.

You are, too. At least that’s my opinion.


Or you could read a page in my early work history, when I spent a summer as a ledger clerk for a small magazine distributor. Tedious doesn’t begin to describe it. It was so bad, I had to be careful not to look at clocks so I wouldn’t know how much more I had to endure that day. For the same reason I avoided looking out the window, because I could estimate the time fairly accurately by the position and length of the shadows.

::: mumbling :::

… gonna set the building on fire…


YOU are in a position to dominate this shittly little company! You are the only employee who is computer-literate? You must be crazy! I would do the following:
-set up the databases, e-mail systems, etc. with YOUR own passwords
-make SURE that YOU buy all of the software. and make SURE you make the salesman KNOW that you are the decision-maker
-make ALL of the company files acessable to you!
-set up a 6-month schedule to review the status and useability of the system…and make SURE the boss knows that he is dependent upon you1
In short, you are in a great posituion! You can make this company totally dependent on you, and by extension, you are irreplaceable!
Later, when review time comes, write up a list of your accomplishments…then tell the boss you want a 25% raise!
I wish I were in a position to have done this…you might well become the IT manager for this dump…in a year you will have them eating out of your hand! Above all else…DO NOT QUIT! This is the opportunity of a lifetime! :smiley:

msmith537 Sounds like you’re taking some steps to deal with your anger though you may want to check into an anger management course of some kind.

Back when I had a job (actually it was a boss) I really, really hated. Who stressed me out and pissed me off on an hourly or sometimes minutely (is that a word?) basis I found myself reciting the serenity prayer.

Grant me the serenity to:
accept the things I cannot change
Change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I quickly realized that the only thing I could change was myself. My attitude and my job. I applied for a lateral move to another dept. in the company to get away from the witch I was working for and it ended up opening any number of other doors for me. It was the best decision I ever made.

Keep looking for something else and when you find a position that looks like what you want make sure they know that you’re not a programmer or a database designer or anything else that you don’t want to do. Pretend you don’t know how to do those things if you have to and be prepared to delegate those tasks to someone who may not do them as well.

Not exactly. I’m not the IT director or anything. I don’t have access to any of that stuff. Mostly I just use standalone database programs and Excel to crunch numbers and create TPS reports for clients.
I have a friend who has had similar high-stress/high-competition career issues. Mostly we drink a lot on weekends and indulge in anti-boss fantasies:

1)Boss “Well, you had some trouble but everything seems to have worked out in the end”
Me "it sure did…(pantomime pulling out a sword and cutting off bosses head)

  1. " I need to step out for a second " (walk outside, casually purchase an ax in a hardware store, walk in the project room without a word and cleave my laptop in two and then go home)

  2. “YOUR fired!” (toss lit cigarette at office which then prompty explodes)

  3. Girls who just walked in the bar 2 seconds after we left “I’m sick of banging rich successful bankers and lawyers. What I really want is a couple of poor shleps with crappy jobs to have meaningless sex with”

(In between discussing anti-boss fantasies, my buddy said that I would join a law firm and they would be like “Hey great! We need someone to create a database for the past 20 years of case law!”)

I just sublimate my despair into a deep depression.

Hey, I ain’t saying that that’s a healthy way to do it…

in the words of the great philosopher Homer…

“you just go in every day and do it reeeaallly half-assed, that’s the American Way” :wink:


We used to work together at SR. How does this job compare to that one? I have had bad luck with jobs too since I was laid off from there. I really miss coming in at 10 am and leaving at 4 pm because they said “face time really isn’t that important” and I took them up on it. I didn’t really have that much respect for the place when I was there but I do find myself looking at the employment section of their web site longingly some times. How do you feel? Do you think that a change of careers is in order? Remember the world is your oyster but don’t let it give you hepatitus.

Channel your anger into something constructive. Exercise. Buy a bicycle, go ride about 20 miles or so after work. Walk. Run. Swim. Lift weights.

Seriously. Exercise is a great stress reliever.

Oh it’s much worse. As boring as that job was, there’s a lot to be said about working a 6 hour day and having your own cubicle in the same relatively nice office park. Actually having time to go to the gym, take evening classes and have a life outside of work is pretty nice.

The job I had between this one and SR was pretty good though, even by Big-5 consulting firm standards. That was more management consulting though. Still hard work but at least it was advancing my career.

Exercise would be nice. Too bad the only access I have to a gym is the crappy exercise room at whatever Starwood hotel I stay at.

The last time I had a really depressing job (working as a staging contractor for a company with a cheapskate, workaholic, micromanaging owner) I dealt with it by smoking a lot of pot. That lasted until the boss’s right-hand man caught me, promoted me to supervisor, and told me if I would stay straight on the job, I could share his stash after hours. Still a shitty job, though.

I have truly been there. One thing that helps sometimes is to look at the most horrible job descriptions you can find. Like cleaning and packing shellfish for $7 an hour on rotating shifts. Really picture what that’s like on a daily basis, and think about the fact that someone’s life once sucked so much they were glad they got that job.

That can give you a short time boost. As a more long-term thing, I find it helps to find a way to give back to the less fortunate. I realize with your travel that will be difficult. But nothing is impossible. If you are home weekends, commit to a weekend or 2 a month doing something like visiting sick kids in the hospital, feeding the homeless or being a Big Brother to a kid who really has a bad home life. This gets me out of rather self-centered place, and really helps me cope if the job is hellish. Most local United Ways have a service that matches your volunteer interests and availability with a suitable way to volunteer.

Also, I made up my mind a long time ago that if my job wasn’t challenging me, I would challenge myself. Sometimes that is by aggressively initiating and pursuing new projects at work, sometimes it is with after hours stuff. In my experience it’s the rare employer that is going to try to make sure your job is interesting.