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.