What is the crappiest job you've ever had?

Here in about 2 weeks we are moving from NYC to Massachusetts. On Thursday I have a final interview with a company that I already know is going to offer me the job so, assuming all goes the way I think it will, the timing will be perfect. However, the job I am going to be offered is apparently with a really crappy company.

As part of the interview process I did some research on the company and former employees have given this place nothing but scathing reviews. It didn’t matter what department they were in, they all hated this place. I am more than willing to grin and bear it for a while, especially since I have been out of the workforce for about a year and a half to be a stay at home mom and I believe that the gap in employment has had a negative impact on my job search, but I’m not tons of thrilled to be walking into something that seems like it is going to suck from day one. I am trying to take the online reviews with a grain of salt since these people are all former employees for a reason, but I can’t help but feel a little apprehensive about the potential suckiness.

So tell me about the worst job you’ve ever had. I’d love to be able to tell myself, when I am bogged down in the horrors of whatever the hell could be wrong with this place, “Well, it could be worse. Remember what poster X had to deal with at their last job?!?”

I once had a job in the garment district working in a coat factory. It was summer. No a/c. They were in the midst of cutting and sewing their winter line of wool coats for the coming fall/winter season. I had to gather the finished coats from the various workstations, rack them and then carry them up and down a mobile step platform to put them on multi-tier racks. Then get them down and load them on rolling racks to load them onto trucks for distribution to the various dept stores. It was hell. Fortunately I was only 15 years old at the time. It was then that I decided to take school much more seriously.

One summer when I was in college I took a job with Manpower, a temp labor agency. On one job we spent a week digging a ditch by hand in a landfill beside the sewage treatment plant. Hot, humid and stinky. Sometimes I think of that job when I’m sitting in an extemely boring meeting, having my soul sucked out bit-by-bit. At least the meeting room is air conditioned!

I have two answers. One was a job that I enjoyed, but that had literal crap in it. The other was a temp job that I mostly liked, but that had some frustrations and where we all got our hours jerked around unforgivably.

The first was helping to develop the feeding parameters for a pilot scale high solids anaerobic digester, meant to produce biogas while decomposing municipal solid waste. I did the digester feeding and the common lab tests. The operating PI would plan out a feed schedule to stress the digester in first one way, then another. When the feed got too far from optimal, the bacterial consortium would become unbalanced, the digester mass would go acidic, and the biogas production would drop.

When we had soured the digester enough, we’d be ready to reset to test the next parameter. The PI would smile and say, “It is time for you to get four, no five hundred pounds of fresh dairy manure.” Dairy manure has everything an anaerobic digester needs. It’s got a perfect carbon to nitrogen ratio. It’s got buffering, to help lower acidity. It’s got necessary micronutrients. All of the nutrients are very bio-available. The digester microbes love it. Toss in enough baking soda to get the acidity close to bearable, then feed the digester fresh dairy manure for a few days, followed by a few days of good feedstock with a little fresh dairy manure, and you have a happy digester, burbling away.

The job also required library research, writing, and technical editing. I loved it. Unfortunately, it was a part time student position. My days there were numbered.

The frustrating job was grading academic acheivement tests with short written answers and essays. It was a temp job that required a bachelors degree, in anything. One small frustration was that when you followed their grading rubric, there was at least one question on every test where you were either grading better answers lower than certain, specified, bad answers, or where some part of the answer was incorrect.

You punched a time clock, even into and out of lunch, and they watched both your productivity and how many bathroom breaks you took. That was also a minor frustration. But they were horrible about knowing when batches of tests would come in. They’d expect you to keep yourself available, and call in, but then put you off one week, two weeks, three weeks. They’s also try to tell you that you couldn’t apply for unemployment for those weeks, which was bunk.

I ended up switching to an envelope stuffing gig. Lower hourly pay, but reliable hours.

I worked part time at a full serve gas station and car wash. The winters really, really sucked. Outside in the cold and snow, pumping gas, checking oil, etc., for slightly more than minimum wage. This was mostly when I was in college, although I continued for a while after graduation and before finding a “real” job.

I worked in a radiator factory for three years. I did a few jobs there but mostly I soldered top & bottom tanks, filler necks and side channels onto radiator cores. There was no air conditioning and in the summer it was very hot and very humid.

I wore a rubber apron, heavy rubber gloves, steel-toed rubber boots, safety glasses and a respirator like this one to protect against fumes from the lead solder and the flux. Each work station did have a ventilation hood that sucked up most of the fumes.

I stood there for 8 hours a day, sweating and soldering radiators together with a torch. Once a year we had to wear a little sensor to make sure we weren’t breathing too much lead. As far as I know we always met OSHA standards.

Worst job I ever had and whenever my job gets me down I think “At least I’m not soldering radiators together”.

Wow, I hadn’t expected so many of these stories to involve temperature control as the biggest complaint! When the weather is crazy hot or freezing cold I will take great joy in doing a crappy job in an indoor, temperature controlled environment.

On the bright side, maybe we’ll have a new contributor for the Workplace Griping thread.

Also a great place to find horror stories great and small about other peoples’ work situations; if you’re not already familiar with it, over 5000 posts on 116 pages to while away the heavy hours.

Oh, so many to pick from…

Chicken processing plant. Exactly as disgusting as it sounds. Freezing cold to keep the chicken flesh from spoiling, to the point that my hands were in agonizing pain (yeah, wet rubber gloves with a thin cotton liner and metal mesh hand protection, don’t know that they thought that through very well). Loud enough for OSHA-required hearing protection. I was and am also a vegetarian, so this was a desperation job to begin with. Right off the bat, the line supervisor complained to me that I wasn’t chatting with the other ladies on the line while working. And I’m just like… uh, you WANT me to goof off instead of work? While working with the equivalent of a quarter-sized rotating saw? Also, OSHA-required hearing protection? I can’t F-ing hear them! I was “let go” after only a couple weeks.

Another desperation job, doing general go-fer / office work for the lawyer who’s picture you’ll see in the dictionary next to “shyster.” On the regular, he would do things like jet off to France with his girlfriend for two weeks, while not leaving enough money in the business accounts for payroll. After “office drone” work turned into a substantial amount of basic tech support of their computers, I fought for, and he agreed to, a $2 an hour raise. Next paycheck, it was only $1, and when I pointed this out to him, he “didn’t remember agreeing to that.” That was his favorite phrase, actually. He didn’t remember agreeing to a lot of things that would mean holding up his end of the financial bargain. Got out of there right quick. Probably should have contacted the Dept of Labor, but I was young enough not to know about such things. This guy has been intermittently cyber-stalking me ever since then, too, under some bizarre impression that we ever were friends – he’s still doing it even though I have not seen him, spoken to him, or interacted with him in close to ten years. Apparently my resounding silence when he contacts me isn’t a big enough hint.

Temp job with an insurance company, mostly doing scutt work and occasional internal communications. Supervisor was an honest-to-gosh caricature of the stereotypical lying, backstabbing, two-faced, micromanaging corporate middle manager. Even if I had nothing to do, apparently I had to stare at my completed work on the screen because god forbid I check my email for two minutes. The last straw came when I got copied on an email from her to another department manager, telling him that she didn’t know WHY I hadn’t finished the project he was asking about. I, being a professional, emailed her privately saying that WHY was that she had never told me about said project to begin with. The entirety of her response was “It doesn’t matter. Do it now.”

At that point, I literally got up from my desk, went down to the lobby, called the temp agency and said I was done. The agency was not in the least surprised by this. Thanks guys…

Well, can’t speak for anybody else but I generally hate people so that is the one constant of every job I’ve ever had - no sense complaining about that. Climate control was the one real variable. :stuck_out_tongue:

I worked for about 3 days pugging clay when I was about 20 or so. It involved taking powdered clay and running it through a pug mill (which resembled a big meat grinder) and adding water from a garden hose. From the end of the mill, potter’s clay would emerge, which I then had to cut off in specific sized pieces, weigh out and bag for sale. The pay was minimum wage. There was the possibility of a bonus if I produced more than a certain number of bags an hour, but I could never even come close to the number. I’d go home at night with my nose clogged with powdered clay, so much picking was required to be able to breathe. Also, the clay dust was next to impossible to clean off my skin. As I said, I lasted three days. Fortunately, the guy I was working for also owned a comic book shop, which he later hired me to manage for him, and that was a pretty fun job (though still not much money-wise).

Under the table, I cleaned garbage dumpsters and trucks out with a high-pressure hose at the garbage company owned by my dad. Good pay for a 14 year old ($5 an hour tax free at a point when minimum wage was $3.35, plus I was 14, so it’s not like I had bills to pay), but I hated going home smelling like rotting trash. I did enjoy rifling through the truck drivers’ stashes of porn in the cab when I had to drive them in and out.

I worked in an aluminum foundry for a year, about 10 years ago.

In involved working around enormous gas fire furnaces and pools of molten aluminum the size of large bathtubs. Much of the pouring was automated, but there were some parts that were hand-poured with a large metal ladle.

Some parts required sand cores to be used to form cavities. The cores were held together with something oily that burned horribly once the molten aluminum contacted it. It smelled nasty, I can only imagine that it wasn’t very good to breathe, either. When I stopped anywhere on the way home from work, locals would know where I worked by the smell on my clothes.

So, you have a dozen huge, partially open furnaces which makes the place impossible to a/c. In the summer time, the entire place was 100 degrees, and near the furnaces it would get well above 100 degrees, and standing over a pot to dip it out…well, you’re standing over a tub of 1400 degree metal, you figure it out.

You know a place is HOT when you step outside in the middle of a midwestern summer to cool off.

Oh yeah, and I got some sort of dermatitis on my hands from wearing insulated gloves all the time, that became infected. And, I have permanent pigmentless spots on a few of my fingers from recurring burns inflicted from working on the molds in production. It was totally worth 11.35/hr.

The four to midnight shift in a plastics factory. We made packaging products and my job was forming and packing them. I had a college degree and had to beg management to hire me because I was “overqualified” and they thought I wouldn’t stay.

We were raising two young children and I wanted to be home with them during the day and avoid babysitting charges. So this was what I thought was the best choice for the family.

Besides the distasteful job of producing items that were going into landfills and not biodegrading for a lifetime and more it was also a hot, dangerous and unendingly boring job.

No radios, little contact with other workers, twenty minutes for lunch and a ten minute potty break. If you exceeded your standard output for the day they raised the standard and most employees were lifers who were in competition with each other. So, to their detriment, the bar kept getting set increasingly higher until we were working at breakneck speed. (Actually that worked in my favor as it made the evening go a little faster.)

Eight hours a work day we breathed the noxious fumes of hydrocarbons and all these years later the number of us who worked there who developed cancer is beyond the norm.

I think that was one of the most difficult things for me - I knew I wasn’t going to be there forever. But a lot of young women there had hopes of raising their children and getting a college education and the chances of them being able to do that didn’t look very good to me. It really gave me a realistic look at what it’s like to be among the working poor. Sad.

Another temperature story. Landscaping in Florida. 'nuff said.

When I was 13 I worked at a western themed amusement park in Oklahoma City for a summer. I worked in a tiny booth selling soda, pop corn, and snow cones 12 hours a day. I couldn’t leave the booth, and even on slow, slow days, we I couldn’t read a book. The boss did let me have a crappy AM radio, though. Even now, when I hear “In the Year 2525,” I think of that summer.

The job that I absolutely grew to detest, though, was when I was a counselor at a residential home for emotionally disturbed children. And I mean really disturbed, some howling at the moon disturbed. I worked there for two and a half years, started dreading to go to work the next day as soon as I got home from work, and started drinking like a fish. Even now, twenty-some odd years later, I feel relief driving by that place and knowing that I don’t have to make the turn into the parking lot.

I’m not sure why I hated it so much, though, to tell you the truth. It wasn’t the children so much, some of whom I grew to really care for.

I worked as a laborer for a summer digging ditches, pouring concrete, hauling bricks, and other scut work. Not as bad as those two jobs, though.

My worst job was a tie between being a busboy/janitor at a Chili’s in the summer of 1989, and being a retail goon at a sporting goods store in graduate school.

Busboy: Basically I showed up at 8 every morning and spent the next 3.5 hours cleaning the restaurant for a hair above minimum wage ($3.45 instead of 3.35). Then I put my busboy hat on, and bussed tables and did any crappy front-restaurant job that needed doing. The management had this (IMO) draconian attitude that despite being paid only $2.01 the same as the waiters and waitresses, that they could goof around and chat if there weren’t any customers, but the busboys had to be kept busy with whatever make-work they could dream up, no matter how unpleasant. So I did the following crap tasks over the course of that summer: scraped gum off sidewalk in front of restaurant in 100 degree heat, scrubbed concrete near grease trap in 100 degree heat, went dumpster-diving for customer credit cards and checks more than once (in 100 degree heat), and most pointless of all, spent hours scraping little bits of paint off the window sashes that the painters had missed (again, 100 degree heat). Then, there were the stupid-ass games they’d play with scheduling so as to maximize your inability to make any sort of plans on weekends, and yet prevent you from getting so much as $1 in overtime.

Sporting goods retail guy was entirely inside, so no 100 degree heat, but involved patently unsafe stuff like being expected to raise up the forklift/cherry picker thing up as high as it would go, and then standing on the safety rails to get at crap that some fool had stacked that high in the stock room. It also involved dealing with customers, which gave me a bunch of stories, but reinforced my notion that most people aren’t too bright, and that there are a lot of people who aren’t quite special-needs but who are pretty freakin’ stupid. ** Not nearly as much make-work though, although similar levels of stupidity- I got into an argument with a manager about how to lay out a certain line of products- the “plan-o-gram” displayed how to put it on the racks, which is fine, but their thing was assuming 6’ tall shelves, and ours were 5’. I pointed out that all this stuff wasn’t going to fit on the shelves in this particular layout, but got my ass chewed because “this is how corporate wants it, so we have to do it that way.” Stupid. I finally ended up putting it on as best as I could, and handing the manager a big box of all the shit that wouldn’t fit at the end of my shift. They ended up just putting it on willy-nilly on another rack to the right- had we put some thought into it, we could have had it look better, but retardo-manager wouldn’t have that.

Both jobs involved wearing a not-quite-uniform (some sort of khakis and a polo of a particular color) so we had to supply that out of our own pockets. Both had the same infuriating scheduling, and the sporting goods one had the added bonus of management who, when asked weeks ahead of time if I could be off a particular weekend, scheduled me during that weekend, and then got angry when I called them out on it, and told me I’d have to work out a shift swap with someone else, but that I was responsible if they didn’t show up.

It’s crap like this and the mistrust that many companies have for workers that I’m convinced causes so much workplace apathy and discontent. If they just let people do their jobs, I’m sure that 75-80% would do a fine job and be happy about it, and 10% would do an ok job and be happy about it, and the remaining 10-15% would chat too much, do a bad job, etc… Instead, they have 80% doing an ok job and hating it, and 10% inexplicably loving their jobs, and 10% actively doing as shitty of a job as they can get away with.

There was a part of a summer that I worked for a Pony Ride and Petting Zoo. Long hours on weekends and hard work. I was required to help my boss set up and tear down the “wheel” that the ponies travelled around, a heavy job that left me with bruises on my arms and legs, bad enough my then boyfriend was worried people would accuse him of beating on me. We travelled out of town, I had to drive myself and there were no accommadations for me… I slept some weekends in my car, some in the trailer with the ponies. And then there were the sticky little children, sweaty little ponies, a usually useless coworker culled from the local transient carney population, stupid parents, PETA types complaining about animal abuse and a weekend of crappy carnival food. I’m surprised I stuck it out as long as I did. Then I didn’t get paid and ended up getting a goat in lieu. (She was a nice goat)

Early 1990’s, I worked in the kitchen of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. For the record, this is the greasiest place in the known universe. I routinely came home at the end of a shift reeking of fried chicken, with not a little grease and breading on my uniform. A lot of times I worked closing shift, which involved doing a shitload of dishes after the doors were locked, so in addition to being greasy, I also got soaking wet. The frequent exposure to soap and hot water made the skin peel from my hands in big sheets - seriously, it was like I had dipped my palms in Elmer’s glue, let it dry, and then could peel it off. Rubber dishwashing gloves didn’t seem to help; water got into them, either at the wrists or through the inevitable hole in the fingers, and soaked my hands no matter what I did.

I don’t think I’ve eaten at a KFC since leaving there.

Baling hay in Texas.