The worst job I ever had was probably the job I never actually got.
For one long day many, many years ago I ‘worked’ (in the sense that I sweated blood and tears, not in the sense that I was paid for it) at a truly crappy souvenir store in the city. Don’t ask me why I wanted the job – I can only assume I had acquired a number of habits it was necessary to finance and time has blurred the memory of what those habits might have been.
Anyway the job interview turned into a day trial working behind the counter to “see how I handled it”. How I handled it was, by general consensus of the vaguely creepy couple who ran the place, pretty crappily. This was, perhaps, unsurprising given I’d never worked in retail, didn’t care much for customers and found the shop’s eccentric and frequently contradictory pricing system completely impenetrable. Plus, you know, you try giving a shit about poorly made tshirts with the Australian flag on them or crappy emu figurines that fall apart if you blink at them twice.
At the end of a soul-crushing day I went home (unpaid) feeling exhausted but mildly confident of having acquired gainful employment... only to receive a phone call that night telling me they didn’t think I had quite the right skill-set for the job. “However,” the store’s co-owner told me in a tone that suggested she had a nice boiled lolly for me if I could recite all the words to The Owl and the Pussycat, “we like you so if you want to come back tomorrow for another trial we could see how you go.”
I didn’t go back the next day but, ridiculously, I still feel a faint sense of was-I-really-that-shit embarrassment when I think about that crappy job and what might have been.
The point is, however, that there are a lot of truly bad jobs out there and thinking about them never fails to raise the spirits in a slightly sick schadenfreudey sort of way.
For those for whom my tale of exploitation and woe was not enough to perk you up The Idler, that most delightful of companion for those of us who prefer not to raise a sweat, has a nice little collection of reminiscences about the worst jobs people have had that makes good reading.
These jobs include weedbusting, washing up, and working in a syringe needle factory but also supposedly glamorous jobs like working on an animated movie (a nice reminder, if we need it, that just because a job looks good from the outside if it makes us miserable it is Not a Good Thing) and genrally is rather a good antidote for anyone who has had a crappy day.
For the record, today at least, that does not include me.