I’ve worked some terrible jobs in my life, but these 12 people have had experiences that make mine look like a walk in the park. Bloody hotel room cleanup anyone? Yeah, doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun…
Hotel housekeeping. If it comes out of the human body, I’ve cleaned it up. I started in a by-the-hour motel when I was 14, owned by a woman who didn’t bother with hazardous waste procedure and cleaned up what looked like a murder scene with nothing but bleach and kitchen gloves. I walked into that room, and was absolutely positive that when I pulled the shower curtain open there was going to be a body in the bathtub. Thankfully there wasn’t, just blood everywhere. Owner refused to let me report it, made me clean it, and I didn’t want to get in trouble for bleaching a murder scene at 14 so I never did call the cops.
I was a waiter at a kids restaurant, which had a bear as its mascot. The new guy had to “be the bear” on their first day, which meant putting on a massive bear costume over our waiter’s uniform, including a huge fur head that you could barely see out of. You were then led around the place to wave at the parents and play with the kids, once per hour. If you spoke you were fired, as some of these kids were return customers who would recognise a waiter’s voice.
Wanting to impress my boss, I really hammed it up. I danced, I gestured, I goofed around, I sat on a mother’s lap, I ruffled a father’s hair while he growled “get off me or I’ll stab you”. The boss loved it so much that he made me be the bear every day I worked there.
Which would be great, except it was August, and so hot that the restaurant’s air conditioning broke. The bear suit hadn’t been washed in the history of the restaurant, so served as a memorial to the sweat of a hundred fallen waiters. Little kids would run headfirst at the bear and headbutt my testicles with depressing regularity. And all it earned me was the disgust of my wait team, who thought I was “goofing off work” by being the bear, since it was clearly easier than carrying two plates of reheated lasagne across the room and refilling drinks.
I worked at a slaughterhouse for a little while. They killed steers there but got pork shipped in. The hams came in a gigantic cardboard vat, probably 5′ wide and 4′ deep.
They were heavily waxed on the inside to make them waterproof and had steel banding running around the outside kind of like an old keg or barrel. Once we fished out most of the hams and trimmed them there was always a couple feet of blood at the bottom. As the new guy it was my job to dangle over the edge with a meat hook in one hand fishing for the remaining hams and scraps. Usually it was about an hour in shoulder deep blood with your face next to the surface.
4. Booooooring-oh wait!
Lifeguard. It was hours upon hours of boredom intermingled with seconds of sheer terror.
5. Breaking Rocks
Worked in a granite quarry. It was hell on earth.
You know in the old black and white movies where the prisoners were punished by making big rocks into smaller rocks with a 12lb sledgehammer, that’s sort of what I did for a living. Some parts of it were bearable, especially when I got to blow stuff up with primer cord. Touching your wires to the crane battery’s positive and negative post and feeling the ground leap underfoot as you separate 40+ tons of granite from the earth is awesome. I just had to be careful and stay under the crane as debris from the explosion rains down. That was it however.
It was generally 120° in the hole during summer and seemed to always be below freezing in the winter. Swinging a sledgehammer hundreds of times in these conditions is brutal. The only people that the hard physical labor didn’t phase were two of my coworkers. These dudes were superhuman. The heat didn’t bother them, they would be wearing long sleeves in June when the temperature dipped into the 80’s, they were chilly. I had to make them give me the hammer when it was my turn to pound in the wedges and the foot-spikes, otherwise they would keep the sledgehammer and start down the line again.
Any normal man would be physically exhausted from swinging the sledgehammer dozens of times. Not my coworkers, they were beasts. That goes for the jackhammer too. I laugh when I see one person running one on TV. It takes two people to run them monsters, at least ours did. Enter the supermen. I would turn my back for one minute then feel the vibrations in the ground that you can feel when the jackhammer is, well, jacking. Turn around and there would be one of them running it by himself, defying the law of physics. That was over 25 years ago. Much respect for these men. For me, however, I was in hell.
6. The Internship Blues
Internship at a public relations firm in college. Was promised agency experience, writing opportunities, and valuable experience.
Turns out what they actually meant was “sitting in a room for 8 hours cold-calling CEOs from an outdated call list and trying to trick them into a sales presentation.”
Might I add, about a month into the job they hired a new intern manager. Drove to work every day from the Cape on his Harley (2+ hours one way), lauded his degree, chain smoked, and DJ’ed on the side at north shore nightclubs. He insisted on sitting in the room with us, for 8 hours to check if we were actually making calls, all while berating us for being poor employees and cheap labor.
On my last day of the internship, he called me into his office and told me “the only reason you are still here is because we didn’t have to pay you. You’ll never be successful like me. You’re not cut out for the business world, if I were you, I would drop out and try to find a trade you’ll succeed in.”
Even as a 19-year old, I knew an idiot when I saw one. I looked him square in the eye and said “you can do the work yourself” and walked out with the other interns. He then wrote a letter of complaint to my school to try and have my internship credit revoked, but luckily my advisor knew the situation and cut him out.
Dan the DJ, if you’re reading this, I want you to know I took your advice and did my best to never become you.