The Worst Jobs I’ve Ever Had

At some point, we all get stuck with a bad job. Alice Stanley has had five.

Telemarketing

This job is rather depressing. No one wants you to exist. And, there is absolutely no fulfillment to a day’s work. No one needed the newspaper — I pushed them to buy it.

Perk: Telemarketing has the highest turnover rate of any job, so you can get away with a lot of crap with no fear of being fired. Examples include never following a dress code and being able to work on accents and dialects with every new call.

Scooping Ice Cream at Marble Slab Creamery

This job may have been better under different circumstances. It was a stand in a mall during the holidays. People were snippy and specific about their ice cream because they’d been spending so much money shopping. Additionally, the place was super over-priced, so at least a couple times a day someone refused to pay, and I would have to throw out their whole order (this was after I had scooped the rock hard mass of dessert and burnt my hand on the waffle cone machine). I was dirt poor at the time, so I would refrain from buying any food outside of work since I could eat all I wanted on duty. Consequently, I usually felt sick by closing time and gained ten pounds in a month.

Perk: Although I couldn’t fit into my pants the day I quit, my biceps were huge. Between scooping and mashing sprinkles on the slab, I was absolutely ripped.

Modeling

Nothing fancy — just for a portraiture class. I made about ten dollars an hour for sitting still a couple times. This was much more difficult than I had planned. I almost passed out from keeping my eyes open and my breathing still. I didn’t mind being stared at by strangers, but I could have done without their various comments about my face that they would rattle off as if my motionlessness made me deaf. But hey, I probably would have eventually learned that my nose was “bulbous” and my hair was “stringy.”

Perk: I got to keep a few beginning sketches from one talented woman, and they don’t look too shabby.

Summer Camp

Camp is the most love/hate job I can think of. The summers I have worked camp hold most of my life’s “Am I really doing this right now?” memories. The urine-soaked sleeping bags, the tiny homesick sniffles, and the permanent smile you have plastered on your face even when your fourteen-year-olds refuse to get out of bed. Because you serve as a stand-in parent, you’re on call 24-hours-a-day with little off time. Not only is this taxing, but you are basically sucked into a black hole for three months because you see no news, little technology, and communicate with others primarily via snail mail.

Perk: Of course, helping youth learn and achieve is incredibly rewarding. On the activity end, it is refreshing to see knowledge you share applied and proven successful immediately whether that’s in drama or archery class. The character development end is even more gratifying. You’re cooler than a mom, but respected way more than a friend. And giving advice is proof that the wisdom you gleaned from the angst-ridden adolescent years actually comes in handy one day. Also, it turns out all those cliché teaching lines (“I learn as much from students as they do from me”) are basically true. Plus, includes room and board — even if it is earwig or mouse infested.

Build-A-Bear

Hands down the worst job I have ever had. On day two when I got reprimanded for saying “awesome” instead of “pawsome” and “very” instead of “beary” I knew I was in for a long summer. I spent most of my hours stuffing. If I worked long enough my fingers would bleed from all the sewing. I would be sweating in my nasty denim/ khaki uniform, and if a kid kept their foot on the bearing-filling machine after I asked them to stop, all the stuffing would fly up and stick to my face and arms. Meanwhile, the same renditions of cartoony voices singing such classics as “Teddy Bear Picnic” and “I’m a Ballerina Bear” blared over the loudspeaker on repeat. One day, a mom told me she and her daughter were making a bear to commemorate the kid’s last day with a pacifier. Before I knew it, the child pulled the drool-covered plastic from her mouth and stuck it in my hand. I looked at the mom with horror, but she smiled back asking I sew it into the stuffed animal. My boss told me I was lucky I hadn’t gotten pet ashes yet. I quit the next day.

Perk: None. In fact, the perks designated by the business are really perks children shopping would want — not employees. You know, if you work at Build-A-Bear for a year you get a treat bag on your birthday! The only fond memories I have include stealing “bear bows” in the back room for my own hair and fantasizing about shoving kids’ mouths on the stuffer. Pawsome!

Alice Stanley is an MFA candidate in Dramatic Writing at Arizona State University. Follow her tweets or send her an email. She also has a website.