Monday, August 11, 2008

Worst Job Ever Meme

Mr. Teacher tagged me for this meme.

This is kind of a tough one, because some jobs are sucky because of how you feel- snarky co-workers and psycho-bosses. Other jobs suck because of the actual work.

That being said, I'd have to say that my very worst job was one that I took the summer after my freshman year of college. I was bound and determined NOT to go back and work in Chain of Drugstores Retail Hell, I had no "connections", or at least none that I was smart enough to tap into, and I had no restaurant/food service experience. So, I did what everyone seemed to do in the movies and on tv: I went to the Want Ads. Oh, yes, The Want Ads. Given my qualifications (=none), my choices were dockworker, waitress, dishwasher, server, hostess, call girl, telemarketer and maybe if I fudged my application a bit, someone may have hired me to do house painting. Being shorter than short, corn detassling was not really an option for me. How did Everyone Else (you all know them, right?)get to have cool jobs at the Gap and local sports bars? It was all a mystery to me.

I did manage to land an interview- one of those "you'll earn $200 a week, but we won't divulge the actual nature of the job until we meet you" kind of deals. I had to go to this old, creepy building in downtown Rock Island. The man interviewing me was basically ready to hire me before I even sat down. I never really understood the gist of the job until I went home and talked about it with my mom. I was to do something called "canvassing", which I had never heard of. Oy, am I glad I didn't take THAT job- knocking on doors asking people political questions. No freaking way.

Back to the drawing board. What was this? Mailroom? Newspaper? Oooh, how very "His Girl Friday"- I was intrigued. I made the call, set up the interview, showed up early at the office of the local paper. How exciting! Clean-smelling offices, energetic people gettin' the news out! Wow! How many people got their start working in the Mailroom????

Well, as it turned out, the "mailroom" wasn't exactly much of a "room", and I wouldn't exactly be working with any "mail". I would be working from 10:30 at night until about 2:30 or 3:00 am. I would be working in the un-airconditioned warehouse/pressroom, where the newspapers would come flying off the printing presses in stacks of 45. (15, 15, 15) I was to hand a stack of 15 to the guy working the insert machine. He would feed them through the machine, which would stuff the papers full of ads (Walgreens, supermarkets, etc...).

Yeah, so my mom did NOT want me to take this job. Downtown is kind of scurvy and I would be working some creepy hours. I played the "First you tell me to get a job, then you tell me not to take the job I get!" card. I rationalized "Do you really thing I'm going to call back and tell them my mommy won't let me take this job?".
I guess I "won", because I started work the next day.

The work itself was dirty- at the end of a shift, I'd blow my nose and it would be black- from all the inky, papery particles. Many times the presses or the machines would break down and I'd have to stack the papers next to the machine. When the presses broke down, we'd just stand around and wait for them to get up and running again. I advanced from taking stacks of empty, flyer-less papers to catching the stuffed papers. I learned quickly why everyone who did that job wore socks on their wrists- catching and stacking the papers cut the hell out of your arms. I even got to run one of the insert machines- but that didn't last long.

To add to the yuck of the job, we had record-breaking heat and a severe drought that summer. It would still be like 85 degrees in the evening- and humid. When the presses broke down, we'd go hang out in the alley with the mosquitoes and may-flies. Yuck. That's where I really learned a lot about humanity. Most of the folks I worked with were a little, shall we say, rough around the edges. Most were men, save for one girl my age who lasted 2 days and 2 other women. One of them was in her early 20's and had 2 or 3 kids, one of whom was special needs. Because she worked 3rd shift and because she had little money, she would bring the kids to work with her, leave them asleep in the van and park it in the alley. The other woman looked to be in her 50's or so, but in reality was probably more in her 40's. She had severely dyed black hair and was nice enough, but boy could she get down and dirty with the guys we worked with. One guy was older (probably in his 30's~ remember, I was all of 19), and faintly sexy in a scary, untouchable way. Yes, during one of our breaks, he bought cocaine in the alley- it was wrapped in a Playboy centerfold, which he lewdley compared to me. One of the other guys was actually kind of nice and smart, but had been dealt a rough hand. He was constantly talking about his Old Lady. It took me a while to figure out if he meant his mom or his girlfriend. Most of the others looked like they were several bricks shy of the idea of a load and were well on their way to prison. One of them asked me out. I told him I was engaged- to me, ludicrous at age 19, but in that environment? Entirely plausible.

Because the of the roar of the machines, we couldn't really talk while we were working, which was probably a good thing. To pass the time, I sang to myself. That summer, I learned all the lyrics to Ricki Lee Jones'self-titled album, which was then about 10 years old, but I had just discovered it. To this day, I can sing along to most of the songs on that album, especially "Chuck E's In Love".

Driving home in the middle of the night, I would always take the road that followed the river. Because we were experiencing a drought, we mostly had clear skies at night. The moon always looked so beautiful over the water- very "Moon River"-esque.

I had planned to go visit a friend of mine in July or August before school started (a guy who was not my boyfriend but I would have given anything for him to be), so I up and quit (Wow, I don't think I've ever expressed myself as having "up" and done anything before.)right before I left, giving the obligatory 2 weeks' notice, of course.

I probably didn't make that job sound that bad, did I? Well, it was. I promise.

Now, who to tag? Ms Abc Mom, Sweet Adeline, Mrs.Chili, Dolce Bellezza, Professor J and if anyone else is reading this, you may consider yourself tagged.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

I don't quite get it, but....

I am a sucker for Blogthings. Here's my latest:

You Are a Comma

You are open minded and extremely optimistic.

You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.

You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.

You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.

(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark