Any of you could wind up in one of these jobs, at any moment, without realizing it. The shitty jobs I'm about to describe aren't specific positions or industries -- they're situations. Some of you -- hell, maybe even most of you -- are already in one of them.
The thing is, when people try to think up the worst job possible, most of them go right to shit. As in, "It could be worse, you could be shoveling shit somewhere!" or "At least we're not working in a sewer! In shit!" But that type of job isn't as bad as you think -- you actually get used to the smell of poop, the same as you acclimate to a job where you work in brutal heat or bitter cold.
And of course the monsters.
But these jobs, on the list below? They're the ones you never get used to, where the longer you do it, the more it eats away at you. So let's take a moment to say a prayer for ...
#9. The Punching Bag
Also Known As:
The job where you have to face complaining customers, but you have no ability to fix their problem.
The hell of these jobs is that they're not advertised as "complaint department." If your job was to handle people's complaints and help them, that could be fairly satisfying. People might actually thank you now and then.
"Thank you so much -- sorry I called you a cocksucker."
No, I'm talking about jobs where you are between the public and whoever is fucking up constantly on the back end (and in some cases, the business itself is just shitty at what they do) but you have no power to do anything about it. All you can do is absorb their frustration and insults until they give up, because they finally ran out of ways to call you a worthless turd. Usually after threatening that they'll get you fired.
For Example ...
Think about the waiter or waitress at a restaurant where the quality of the food is terrible. When a customer complains, there is no correcting the order or sending it back to the kitchen -- the replacement will be just as bad, because the restaurant's owner is buying their meat from a Russian guy selling it out of the back of a van, and the cook is his 16-year-old nephew. But the customer will never get to curse out the owner, or the cook. So they'll just take it out on you instead.
All night long.
Or, remember when the American government hired more than half a million college kids and other people off the street to do the census last year? Those kids faced abuse from hundreds of paranoid nutjobs believing Glenn Beck's conspiracy theories about the census being used to send us all into concentration camps. What the hell do you even say to that? How do you reassure that person?
I could name examples all day, but to find the Punching Bags, you need to look no further than your last frustrating experience with customer service -- they'll be at the other end. Ever try to call UPS (or whatever courier you use) about a package that failed to arrive? You quickly find out that the person on the other end of the phone has no ability to contact the driver of the truck, and no knowledge of where your package is other than what you yourself could have found on their tracking website. So, presumably they spend their entire day as a sponge for complaints from angry customers (or, worse, crying customers talking about how the next dose of their kidney medicine is in that box).
"Kathy, do you still have that noose I loaned you?"
They're Punching Bags. Go easy on them.
#8. The Walking Dead
Also Known As:
The job that requires sleep deprivation. Long, irregular hours of tedium that your sleep patterns are physically incapable of adjusting to.
I'm not talking about jobs that won't let you take a nap after you were up all night with the baby or a Dr. Who marathon. That's every job. No, I'm talking about the jobs where torture-level sleep deprivation is a requirement (and it is literally a form of torture, used by everyone from the KGB to the CIA).
And Windows Updates.
I'm talking about real exhaustion here, the kind that makes you feel sick. Your brain is trying desperately to shut down. A thick sludge of sleepiness is clogging up your thought pipes. And you have to push through it, night after night. You can't get up and walk around, or get fresh air or entertain yourself. You just have to sit there, often in dead silence, and force yourself to stay awake for hours and hours and hours. It's hell. It is a fucking living hell.
For Example ...
Jobs like security guards who do night watch, sitting in a chair in a closed shopping mall and staring at non-moving images on security cameras for eight straight hours. No action, no book, no music, and if you get caught going to sleep, you're fired.
If one of those channels gets porn, it means you have to arrest someone.
Which is still a better outcome than long-haul truckers (who studies show get less than five hours sleep before driving for 10), since falling asleep at the wheel means somebody's probably gonna die. But at least they can turn on the radio.
And make no mistake -- your body never adjusts to an irregular sleep schedule (the recommended treatment for sleep problems caused by odd work hours is to get "a normal work and sleep schedule." Thanks for the advice, fucker!).
But the worst part is what sleep deprivation does to you even when you're not feeling sleepy. You can feel your IQ dropping. It's like Edward Norton at the beginning of Fight Club -- you walk around in a haze, you forget shit, you leave your keys in the lock. You start having conversations you don't remember. And when you're driving home, you are as dangerous as a drunk.
Fatigued driver accident (yes, they survived, somehow).
And good luck getting sympathy when you complain to a friend that your job is so boring, you can fall asleep while doing it. That just sounds like you're complaining about how easy your job is. At least, to anyone who's never had to actually do it.
#7. The Girl
Also Known As:
The lone representative of your gender in the workplace.
This could also be "The Guy." It works either way. I suspect it's harder being the lone girl in a shop full of dudes than being the lone guy in a female-dominated office, but mainly I say that because I want to see the Men's Rights dipshits show up in the comments section.
For Example ...
You'll find it in every auto body shop with a secretary -- one female working the desk and 10 greasy men working on engines (and don't accuse me of stereotyping -- 97 percent of secretaries are women, 99 percent of auto mechanics are men).
It's no fun. There is the obvious sexual harassment element of it, which I barely need to touch on since you've been on the Internet and have seen what happens when a girl shows up on a male-dominated forum ("TITS OR GTFO"). It's the same in real life, only it's not as overt. But it is far more awkward, as there is no escaping it unless she quits. So the tension is sustained for eight or nine hours a day, every day, for as many years as she works there. And it's a no-win; if The Girl reacts badly to a crude joke, she's a bitch. If she replies to innuendo with innuendo of her own, then it's, "Dude, I think she's into me!"
"I can name 200 pornos off the top of my head that start exactly like this."
Not that it isn't awkward for, say, a male nurse who statistically will be the only penis owner in the vicinity. It creates a different though equally weird tension, because there are things women only say around other women (usually regarding what douchebags men can be). Also, there are plenty of members of both genders who regard any member of the other as the enemy. What I'm trying to say is that being a young dude in close quarters with a bitter, divorced mother of three is no fun.
#6. The Laughingstock
Also Known As:
The hard job that everyone laughs at you for having.
"So what do you do?"
"I'm a turkey masturbator."
You can laugh. I did. But working at the kind of job that not only makes people laugh at you, but makes them tell the exact same fucking joke every time you bring it up, is awful. You eventually start lying about what you do, as if it's illegal. Just to not hear that same goddamned joke again.
"I'm a turkey m- ... carver. I carve turkeys."
If you're scoffing and saying people should learn to have a sense of humor about themselves, I'm guessing you're not yet at that stage of life where you're judged according to your job. If you're 22 and you tell your peers, "I work at Chipotle, holding a sign while dressed as a burrito," they'll either laugh in sympathy, or say, "No shit, are they hiring? What are the hours like?"
But soon you'll move onto a period of your life where you are defined entirely by what you do. It's how the newspapers will refer to you if you ever make the headlines ("Pet Groomer Dies in Chimp Attack"), it'll be the first thing you're asked at parties, it'll be the first thing girls ask you when you start flirting. The polite attempt to hide their disappointment when they decide they're talking to a guy with a loser job is kind of crushing.
For Example ...
God help you if you worked at a fast food restaurant in your youth, but kept getting promoted until, at middle age, you wound up a store manager. It doesn't matter that you're working 60 hours a week and taking in bonus money for keeping the store profitable -- when you tell people you work at Kentucky Fried Chicken, you're a loser with a picture of Colonel Sanders on your hat. Work anywhere in the newspaper business along the distribution chain? It doesn't matter how high up the ladder you are, or if you needed a special license to drive the truck that ships the papers -- to everyone else you're a "paperboy."
I know a guy who waited three years on a waiting list to get a job as a mailman -- it's a tough job to get because it's a sweet government job with good benefits, and you have to pass all sorts of exams and background checks. But to this day, if he tells people what he does, they'll make a joke about "going postal." "Haha! You're not going to shoot us, are you! Do you want some of my lithium?" The same joke, over and over and over.
"You know, I wasn't going to -- but that sounds like a great idea."
Though that's not as bad as working at, say, a sperm bank. Or any job that involves sex in any capacity. It's fucking 2011, but if you are connected to the porn industry in any way (even on the billing or Web hosting side), you have to lie about your job as if you're a drug dealer. And it's a lie you have to tell constantly.
All because society has decided that certain jobs, regardless of skill level, pay or difficulty, are to be ridiculed.
In some areas, these guys make more than most of the people reading this article.
#5. The Cog
Also Known As:
Endless, mindless repetition that could just as easily be accomplished with a machine.
I'm not just talking about boring jobs here -- most jobs are boring. Starbucks is boring, but at least the drinks are different from customer to customer, and you can practice making designs in the foam. No, I'm talking about a task that takes five minutes to learn, must be repeated five thousand times a day and never changes. You stand in one spot, you perform the same task, over and over and over.
For Example ...
You've watched one of those "how stuff is made" type shows, where they visit a factory like this one where they make tasty brownies. And while the job of the "pour the brownie batter into the pan" lady looks boring ...
... there is still a fun and satisfying aspect to it. She probably has to worry about the consistency and temperature and amounts of the batter, and she gets to watch her empty pan turn into a bunch of delicious brownies, and she can pretend she's Willy Wonka.
But then at the very end of the assembly line are the poor bastards whose job it is to just stack the brownies into boxes:
Their faces say it all.
All day long. The same number of brownies in every box. An endless stream of boxes that never, ever stop. Even in an automated world, the workforce is absolutely full of these jobs -- it's still cheaper to make a low-paid human pack boxes than to buy an expensive machine. Here's another video, this from a Pringles factory. Check out the guy whose job it is to stand in front of the Pringles chute and straighten the rows of chips so they slip neatly into the tubes:
Now, some stressed out CPA with a hectic office is reading this and saying, "Shit, I'd love to be the guy who puts those little blue stickers on the bananas at the Chiquita factory. That'd be like a vacation to my ulcer-ridden ass."
Bullshit. It's like thinking being stranded on a desert island would be a nice break from the daily grind. It'd be peaceful for about an hour, and then you'd start to go insane. Your brain is a supercomputer containing an entire universe of wonders and creativity, and you're going to make it stare at a row of chips for eight or 12 or 16 hours at a stretch? Oh, and it's a failure-only job. If you do it perfectly, no one notices. But if you fuck up and the chip tube loader jams, you catch hell.
And when it comes time to ask for a promotion, or to look for a new job, what do you tell them you did? What skill did you learn? How did you better yourself? What job does this qualify you for? What interesting stories do you have to tell when you get together with friends? You'd start looking at that flow of chips and imagining the best years of your life flowing away, one Pringle-shaped moment at a time.