What’s Your Line?

What is the weirdest/worst job(s) you’ve ever had? I don’t know what made me start thinking about this, but at 4 a.m. this morning my foggy brain started reminiscing on past employment.

Here’s one for DaisyFae – Back in the late seventies I worked in a hollow-core door factory. Yep. I could have made the cabinet doors at your mom’s house. I made a shitload of ’em. I was running a gigantic chopping saw sometimes, but mainly I was just gluing the the front and back together, and gluing a little piece of wood in between the front and back so it wouldn’t collapse the first time you touched it. And then cleaning it. Quality stuff.

OMFG!11!! it was SO boring. All I could do to make it interesting was to try and do it as efficiently as possible – counting strokes and moving as little as possible. No wild grabs, every movement counted, that kind of thing. The other women hated my guts because they were into not working very hard AND this was probably their life’s work and didn’t want to set any difficult, hard to sustain goals.  When I was efficient it set the bar too high and made them look bad.  I’m surprised I never got knifed in the parking lot.

What made it a good job was that we went out to this little bar close by and drank beers (yes, plural) every day and ate fresh clams for lunch sometimes.  I’m not so sure I’d drink today and then go run a saw.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.  Later on everyone except me and one other person got laid off, and six months later the factory shut down completely, if temporarily.  I think it was 70’s recession related.

The other really  heinous job I had was working for a medical office with a psychiatrist (degree grandfathered in from an OD), social worker (LCSW), and a PhD whose degree was not in Psychology but who was practicing as one.  They were all nuts and possibly crooks.  I did the insurance billing.  I was younger and rather more naive.  I tried to quit and they gave me two dollars more an hour to stay.  That was back when two dollars more an hour was a lot bigger deal.  Early 80’s.  So I stayed, doormat that I am.  I’d love to tell you a funny story about them, but there isn’t one.  The office manager was the wife of the fake psychologist.  She had 5 outfits which were comprised of something like 6 pieces.  She had one outfit for each workday and wore the same thing for the entire two years I worked there without variation.  It was threadbare when I left.  The husband bought outrageously bleeding edge expensive stereo equipment.  That would be where the clothes budget went, I suppose.   Shudder. 

So what was your worst/weirdest job ever?

9 thoughts on “What’s Your Line?

  1. I’m too tired to type this out tonight, so this is a reminder to myself (I hope, or that someone else will remind me) to tell you all about the Book Whorehouse!

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  2. she still has those cabinets. nice craftsmanship. it’s a testament to your skills that you could do it efficiently while plastered!

    worst job? 2 weeks as a waitress before i dropped a tray in the kitchen and screamed ‘as god as my witness i will NEVER wait tables again’. and i haven’t.

    strangest job? worked in a “Photo Bug” in high school. sat by myself in a box, doing homework, yakking on the phone and looking at other peoples pictures. and yes, the machines in the late 70’s would process porn…

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  3. Okay, so I used to work at this franchise bookstore back in the early 90’s, that we jokingly called “The Book Whorehouse” (note: substitute last word for a word that rhymes with “wheremouse”). We used to have to greet every customer that came in the door. Not with a “hi, can I help you, no, k, I’ll be over here shout if you need me” but with “Hi, welcome to The Book Whorehouse! Have you ever been in our store before? Well, what we are (or ‘great, then you already know we are’) a deep discount bookstore that carries thousands of books at 50-90 percent off the original retail price. My name is X, please let me know if I can help you find anything.” and then we’d have to give them a free bookmark. Provided they were still standing there, anyway. And the owners would check up on us to make sure we really were doing this by sending in Secret Shoppers every week to test us. Always different days of the week, and sometimes new people or sometimes repeat customers. Oh, god, that job sucked. Plus they were HUUUUUUUGE Rush Limbaugh fans and had a TV in their office so that they could watch his TV show every morning. And they made me fire a perfectly good employee just because he had long hair. As the manager, I was on salary, and one month they worked me so hard that it averaged to less than $3/hour that I was making. They didn’t count going to the bank to make the night deposit, which was done every day after work, as time “on the clock” since they didn’t want to be responsible if you were robbed at the bank; also since you were going home anyway, couldn’t you just drop it off? Oh, my, god, I hated that job, and hated myself for continuing to work there. I finally quit one night – I forget what was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it wasn’t too long after they made me fire Ronnie – and I quit by faxing in my resignation letter with the closing paperwork at the end of the day. The next day, they fired me! Karma’s a bitch, though, because they went bankrupt the next year.

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  4. bc says:

    df – PhotoBug would have been good for broadening your horizons, I guess. 🙂
    I worked in Vic’s Pie Shop for 4 days, and it was my one and only food service job. It was Bad.
    Lor – Book Whorehouse – great name! Could you actually hear Rush in the background? If yes, perhaps there’s still the opportunity for a worker’s comp claim. No doubt it damaged your sensibilties.

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  5. mair says:

    When I was 16 or 17, I used to work in a bank and I got to spend time in the vault wrapping coin. They had to keep the door mostly closed, for security reasons, so I was pretty much locked in the vault. It was pretty yucky.

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  6. bc says:

    nm – y’know, I’m trying to picture this scenario and it just won’t come. [Perhaps the same difficulty as the heiress? sorry, couldn’t help myself] It’s the perfect setup for a porn movie – nurses, dogs, heiresses, sex aids. What kind of men were at the scene? Inquiring minds want to know. And see, if you took pictures.

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