Today marks exactly 10 years since I walked out on the most miserable job I ever had. If you want to read the story there’s some more details here.
This is miserable me, 10 years ago, in the middle of the whole sorry walking out on my job saga. I look happy, but I remember being deeply anxious, and just a bit furious.
I’m not really an inspirational story on ditching the corporate grind and following your dreams, because I didn’t really have any dreams like that. I never really even dreamed of being self-employed. I just wanted a job that didn’t make me miserable.
Instead I’m more a story of how when everything comes crashing down and you unexpectedly find yourself without a job 5 weeks before Christmas, you might just be able to turn things around with a little bit of hustle and some imagination.
Traditionally today is also the day I come over a little soppy and reflective on what the last X years have bought me. But today I thought maybe I wouldn’t do that.
Today I thought I’d share some of the terrible jobs I’ve done in the past that have made me miserable, and I’m frankly glad I’m not doing any more.
Who knows what the future holds. I could end up doing terrible jobs again, but for now, lets just be grateful these are in the past. I’d love to hear your terrible job stories too!
I was hired to work at a printing company as a receptionist. The Managing Director was quite young, and a little over excited at having people he could order around.
Part of the job was attempting to sort out and file hundreds of thin metal printing plates that had just been left for ages and cut my fingers to ribbons. This was horrible, but not the final straw.
The company worked across 2 buildings and the Managing Director once called me to come all the way across to the other building where his office was because he needed me. When I got there he asked me to wash out some milk bottles that had gone mouldy because he had left them on the side for days.
That was the final straw. Even at 18 I felt that people who let milk bottles go mouldy should wash them out themselves, no matter how important they were.
Everyone’s favourite temp job. I did this a bit, and didn’t always hate it, until one day I was sent to place where it was actually their full time job to stuff envelopes. I packed vitamin samples for Doctors surgeries for 8 hours a day.
Once an hour they would come to your table and collect your empty address label sheets, count them, then come back and tell you if you were working too slowly.
I’ve had a couple of telesales jobs, and they are not my favourite thing. I am not a natural salesperson. I’ve sold car insurance and done telemarketing for a publishing company, both of which I hated, but not enough to leave without another job to go to.
The worst was working for a company who had telesales jobs outsourced to them. An energy company who shall remain nameless, but sounds a bit like Twittish Brass, had outsourced the task of contacting existing customers and selling them electricity.
My extremely misleadingly excellent performance in the full day interview meant that at least I did not have to deal with the hell that is auto-diallers as I was placed on the business-to-business unit and allowed to push the buttons on my phone on my own. I did have to deal with a database full of existing gas customers who would say things like “Oh, we don’t even have gas in the village” and a Manager who would do helpful things like walk around, bang the back of your chair and shout, SELL!
Salary was something like £6 per hour + commission. If you didn’t make target they would threaten to “base rate” you, which meant cutting your basic hourly rate to the current minimum wage which was £3.60 an hour.
One lunch time I walked out and never went back. They base rated me for all the hours I had already done that week.
This is never going to be anyone’s favourite job really, but my brief stint as what I believe Americans call a “busboy” is worth mentioning in any list of terrible jobs.
I worked in a department store cafeteria. My job (and only my job) was to clear the tables of dirty plates, put them through a huge industrial dishwasher, then restock the clean plates and cutlery.
The things people do to plates when they have finished eating are disgusting and since doing this job I have never left a paper napkin on my plate in the middle of my unfinished food or stuffed in the bottom of a coffee cup because I know some poor git has to fish it out with their fingers.
I don’t even really understand what this job was for. It was supposed to be a couple of days of temp work in a factory coming up to Christmas.
My job was to get a huge rack of clothes, destined for a major retailer, strip the plastic cover from each of the individual items, then get a huge branded cloth bag, cover the whole rail with it and load it onto a lorry.
Why this needed doing I do not know, the racks were obviously not destined to go out on the shop floor as they were and stripping plastic bags off frocks feels like something that could have been done by the person about to hang them, but what do I know.
The static from the plastic bags rubbing on the clothes was horrendous and it was so incredibly boring that after a few hours I decided I didn’t actually need the money that badly, developed a “migraine” and went home.
The One Where They Were Sexist
The final job on my list was my first proper job when I left University. I actually had high hopes for it when I started, the company was a little disorganised and growing rapidly into a new area, which meant I really enjoyed helping put processes in place and learning on the job.
I became pretty good at my role. I had a good understanding of the business and was keen to be part of making it a success. Part of my job was to process reports on drainage damage that engineers in the field sent in and price them up for Insurance companies. This was important. You had to understand what the Insurance companies would pay for, as well as interpret the report, and without this job, the company made no money. More people were hired for the role as the company got busier, they were all men, ex field engineers. I trained them on the role, and then discovered they were being paid TEN THOUSAND POUNDS A YEAR more then me.
I complained and a temporary extra amount was added to my pay check while I was “helping” out with this role. It did not amount to £10,000.
Still, I thought I saw potential for my role in the company, so I stayed. I worked extra hours, I put together audit reports for the company that high value insurance contracts relied on. The Managing Director patted me on the head and called me his little star.
Then they decided to restructure the department and made one of the new people I’d trained my boss. I guess they had to as he was being paid so much more. We were split into teams and each person had a team doing my job processing reports. All of the other teams were men, all of them earning TEN THOUSAND POUNDS A YEAR more than me.
So I asked again for more money. I was refused. So I wrote a letter accusing them of sexual discrimination, had a big row with HR, then left because I just couldn’t be bothered with the hassle.
That’s just a short list of some of the worst jobs I can remember doing. I’ve worked on Supermarket check outs, in Nursing Homes and I’ve temped all over the place, but these are the only ones I really remember hating.
Now, of course, my day is filled with unicorns and rainbows ALL DAY. In the last 10 years there hasn’t been a terrible stressful day where I just haven’t had enough hours to get everything done, there are, of course, no aspects of what I laughingly call my “job” that I absolutely hate and leave for ages.
The worst element of my job now is probably the unpredictability. It’s difficult to make sure you can make a living from blogging alone and there’s a lot of hustle can be involved in making ends meet. But I can set my own hours (as long as they’re long), work from the sofa with the Pugs, and the only mouldy milk bottles I have to wash are ones that are my own fault.
I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring, but I’m hoping I’ll be writing a soppy 2 decades in blogging post.
Happy Anniversary to me!