What's the worst job you've ever had?

Candice Atherton
Dilbert, that poster child for the corporately disenfranchised, was the nation's most popular comic strip in the 1990's. In the 1980's, "Take this job and shove it" was both a hit movie and a hit song. Such success might be an indication of our nation's sentiment toward the job world. But most of us are forced to live by that "reality check" that represents one of the only mathematical proofs that applies to real life:

if no job = no money
and no money = no food
then no job = no food
therefore, I must work.

So the laborer returns at the beginning of each week to put in the required hours. But thanks be to the government for declaring a holiday. This weekend we get to celebrate our work by not showing up for it on Monday.

In honor of Labor Day, surveyed some of our readers and discovered that, in addition to the fact that we have food on the table, there is at least one more reason to be thankful this Labor Day:


"What's the worst job you ever had?"

Many of the responses we received were actually juicy enough that we had to promise anonymity. But everyone's worst jobs tended to fall into one of a few indisputable categories.

The altogether annoying - they speak for themselves
  • "I worked in a popsicle manufacturing plant where all I did was watch to make sure that the paper (in the wrapper machine) did not break, because if it did we had a big mess on our hands. My mom actually had to awaken me when I was having nightmares and yelling "The paper broke! "The paper broke!"

  • "I typed in orders for a carpet manufacturer. The order sheets were 6 copies thick, with a different pastel color for each page. If you made one mistake, you had to use Liquid Paper on each page with the appropriate color.

  • "Two words: data entry."

  • "I was a punchout clerk for a few days where I would go through recently built houses and clean the extra grout out of the commodes [translation: toilets]."

  • "I had to wheel a computer from desk to desk to take fingerprints (16 prints per person) from each of the company's 3,000 employees.

  • "While I was pledging a fraternity in college (note the late implied late bedtimes on weekends) I worked as a maid in a hotel. 8:00am every Saturday and Sunday . . ."

Bothersome bosses: They come in many shapes and forms but the complaints all sounded similar. Fill in the blanks:

I worked for this . . .
  • "control freak"
  • "ogre"
  • "mad man with a temper"
who at the time. . .
  • "prevented me from getting a promotion"
  • "had no use for me"
  • "belittled me in front of everyone"
and even . . .
  • "told me he hated me"
  • "haunts me to this day because I get sweaty palms when I think of her"
  • "frequently chewed me out, which was frightening to the eye and ear because of his bizarre eyes, hair and accent."

Jobs with morals to the story:
  • "I worked with one other guy to move a huge pile of pebbles from one side of a 200-yard roof to the other. It was a twelve-story building with structural problems and it was winter when the wind chill was 30 below. . . But it's amazing what you can accomplish as long as you do it one pebble at a time.

  • "Even though my boss (the aforementioned ogre) disliked me, someone else in the store had me promoted . . . The best part of revenge is surviving.

Agricultural agitations
  • "We had to climb on top of these enormous piles of sugar beets, which were about two stories high, and rake the piles until they were flat at the top. It reduced the surface area of the piles to avoid burning from the sun."

  • "We had a cow named Bulgey because her eyes bulged out. But the even scarier protrusion was her foot. Unlike other cows, who kick straight back when you milk them, she somehow managed to kick out to the side. Well, you can imagine the potential for danger when she would kick the pail out from under you . . . You just never knew if you were going to get slammed and if so, which part of you she would strike..."

  • "In those days we irrigated the fields with these square weirs which required us to climb inside them to pick out all the frogs and algae. It was grim because it got under my nails."

Eccentric employment
  • "I worked in a rodent toxicology lab where they were testing asbestos, it's not fun working in a suit that makes you look like the Michelin Man."

  • "Okay, I admit. I never had this job but I've always wondered -- who does the smell testing for deodorants?"

  • "I was, literally, a guinea pig for psychology experiments. Funny though, I can't remember anything they did to me . . ."

Jobs with implicitly high failure rates
  • "I had a very short stint selling cars."

  • "I sold cleaning products door to door, but I didn't realize that I wasn't supposed to sell the demonstration pieces. After a few hours I couldn't figure out how they expected me to sell with nothing to show anyone. I was sent home after that."

  • "I sold $1000 vacuum cleaners door to door. I only sold one the whole time I was working there and it was to my parents."

And last but not least - The Disgusting:
  • Enough said - "I worked for a butcher."

  • Where do they go? "I was the guy who cleaned up the roadkill."

  • Blood buster - "I worked at a fish food manufacturer and these trailers would come in full of frozen cow blood from the slaughterhouses. My job was to stand on these blocks of frozen blood and chip away at it with a pick axe. I came home every day looking like a horror movie.

  • Poop pumper - "When I worked at a marina, I would take the special purpose hose on the dock and attach it to the boats in order to suck out the sewage. There was this one really bad day when I got a defective hose and it exploded all over me."

So the bottom line is, if you're having trouble celebrating your job over the Labor Day weekend, try offering a prayer of thanksgiving -- at least you don't have one of those jobs.

Tell us about YOUR worst job ever in our Forums discussion.

If you are currently working in any of the jobs above, feel free to peruse the jobs available at