I dunno if this will count, but I had a job I’d call “surreal”.
I worked for a place we’ll call “Micro-Face”. They were a computer hardware and software distributor, allegedly. They had spent a lot of time selling Amiga stuff for video production. This was in 1993, when the Amiga was pretty much dead, and only a few video producers really were using them. The company decided that with the Amiga in its death throes, they’d start distributing PC CD-ROM software (the CD-ROM was just starting to take off, but EVERYONE was distributing them, especially the big distributors, Merisel and Ingram.)
I was one of the ones selling CD-ROMs. I was told when I interviewed that there would be no cold-calling, that I’d be supplied with a list of customers. This, of course, was a lie. So I spent most of the time cold-calling. It was miserable, because we hardly had any product - for some reason they just wouldn’t order stuff. There were days where I literally had nothing new to sell people. Even when we did get stuff in, they came in ridiculously small quantities. There was a game that was actually pretty hot and we thought we’d be able to sell - and we got in 12 of them total. We’re supposed to be a distributor. And our prices were ridiculous. I had people actually laugh at me when I told them what we were charging.
I got frustrated and asked the sales manager what I could do, since I couldn’t sell anything. After all, we had no product, no quanitity, and no price for them, so how on earth could I tell people to buy from us. His solution was to sell the fact that we’re friendly, unlike Merisel and Ingram. I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
This place had to be hemorrhaging money. The entire time I was there I don’t think I ever sold enough to pay my salary for a week. After a while I didn’t even bother to call customers anymore, because I had none, and I had nothing to sell them even if I did. I found an entertainment info-line in New Orleans (press 4 for movies, 5 for restaurants) and I would just hit numbers on it, having the messages play over and over, just to look like I was on the phone. Nobody else seemed to be selling much of anything either.
Finally after 2 months I couldn’t take it anymore and just walked out. I had never done that before, and it scared me, but I just couldn’t take being there any longer. I felt like I’d been participating in some kind of money laundering scheme, since I saw no obvious ways the place was making money, but nobody seemed concerned about it. They’re still in business, too.
When I interviewed at the place I work now, I mentioned Micro-face and my experience there. The HR person told me she hears the same story often from people who worked there, and they all use the word “surreal” to describe it.