We've already pointed out all the ways working in an office can kill you, but you probably thought you were safe standing at a cash register or handing people their no-whip low-fat iced cafe fartes. Outside of an irate customer throwing whipped cream in your eye, or contracting something nasty from all that filthy money, what's the worst that could happen?
A lot, it turns out. No matter what job you have, there seems to be something out to get you. Such as ...
Have you ever heard someone brag that they pack all 40 of their hours into a few long shifts, leaving them four days to do all the cool stuff you don't get to do? Or that they work the night shift so they don't have to deal with all of you awful, disgusting people? Next time you see them, you should tell them they're going to die. That'll show 'em. That'll wipe that smug look right off their face ... unless they fell asleep in the middle of your sentence, which they probably did.
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This actually has nothing to do with this article; all the stock photo models are drunk today.
There are definitely perks to shift work, but the downsides include heart disease, ulcers, obesity, diabetes, and freaking cancer. The problem is that it disrupts your circadian rhythm, which is like your internal clock that tells you when it's time to eat and shit and sleep, like some kind of seriously overinvolved babysitter. This basically putting you in permanent jet lag. That sounds like kind of a wussy complaint, but it fucks you up in short order. It has the same effect as accelerated aging, everyone's least favorite superpower.
Befitting the old person you've become, you even start to lose cognitive ability. Taking your sleep schedule hostage results in a severe case of what is scientifically known as the brain fuzzies. That's annoying enough when you start walking into rooms and forgetting what you went in there for, but it also results in tons of workplace accidents. You know, like this:
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"Everyone who would have fired me is dead, so ... three-day weekend?"
Yeah, they think the Chernobyl disaster was caused by the fatigue of shift work. Maybe consider that when they offer you night shift incentives. And if you work nights, it might be time to get a more traditional 9-to-5 job, but hopefully one that's pretty close to your home, because ...
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Nobody likes sitting in traffic every morning, but it's not the worst thing, right? You take a few deep breaths, put on a good audiobook (or an even better podcast) and let it go. Except you're not. Statistically, you're really super not.
We'll put this delicately: Commuting is turning your life into a living hell. People who travel more than 30 minutes to work report higher anxiety and lower levels of happiness and life satisfaction. Just 10 miles between your bed and your desk is enough to make you more likely to be depressed. Commuters even report a higher likelihood of having "the sense that their daily activities lack meaning." That's fancy talk for an existential fucking crisis. Pretty heavy for just sitting there.
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"Is it too late to go back and get a pump of arsenic instead of vanilla?"
It doesn't end with your broken psyche, either. Commuting also messes with your sleep, and not just because you're sacrificing sleepy time to spend an hour next to a booze-smelling construction worker on the bus -- the sleep you do get is shittier and you wake up more exhausted. It gets worse: Traveling more than 10 miles every morning raises your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Holy shit, commuting is the equivalent of eating a Big Mac and doing a speedball before taking the SATs naked in front of Jennifer Lawrence, every day.
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"Ha! Look how tiny his verbal score is!"
Even the mode of transportation makes a difference, and not the way you'd think. For example, it seems like walking or biking would give you all the feel-happy resulting from endorphins and good old-fashioned fresh air, while traveling in your own car would make you more susceptible to social isolation and other psychological nasties, given all that time you're spending alone with your terrible, terrible self. Well, it turns out fresh air can suck it. People traveling in their own vehicles were better off than anyone else, including walkers, cyclists, and bus riders. So buy a damn car already, you cheap bastard, and start going places with it. But don't get carried away, or you could make things even worse ...
If your job puts you on the road more than just the time it takes to get there and back, we have even worse news. The more you travel for business, the more likely you are to come back home with a fashionable toe tag souvenir. You would think the luxury of air travel, with its resplendent two inches of leg room and undercooked chicken, would do a body good, and you may not be wrong -- traveling by car is actually much more common. That implies drive-thrus, sitting for hours, and basically every other ingredient in dead person stew. So you might as well pick up sketchy hitchhikers, because you're already putting your life on the line anyway.
And if he asks if you can help bury a body, say yes. You could use the exercise.
Sure enough, frequent business travelers were almost twice as likely to be obese, as well as more likely to see their blood pressure and cholesterol levels shoot up. As you probably suspected, business travel also puts a strain on your family life and increases stress. So the solution is to find a job that doesn't require you to travel at all, right? Nope! Curiously, people who never travel were also more likely to be in poor health, probably because they were too unhealthy to travel to begin with, or their butts can't fit in cars.
So the solution is to find a job that allows you to travel the exactly correct amount. Just make sure it isn't related to food or building stuff, though ...
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So much for the idea that drug users are all welfare-gobbling layabouts. Since drugs are kind of expensive, and heroin isn't great at psyching you up for some armed robbery, it turns out that nine million drug users and 10 million alcoholics totally have jobs (and those are just the ones honest/dumb enough to admit it in polls). And just like in high school, those who dabble in narcotics are more likely to congregate in certain sectors. For example, only four percent of the people who work in social services are on drugs, but food service workers? That's 17.4 percent. Which you already knew if you've ever been asked if you want fries with your dime bag, or vice versa.
That's not flour.
The next largest group, construction workers, is rather more troubling. The worst that can happen if the fry cook is high is a gnarly burn or maybe a fire (if they don't drink themselves to death first), but we're talking about people who regularly get themselves killed on the job. The sketchy-looking guy waiting for the bathroom at Starbucks is not the guy you want swinging thousands of pounds of steel beam directly over your head. The sector with the third-largest amount of dopeheads is arts and entertainment, but we all saw that one coming.
Not marble, either.
There's a reason these jobs tend to attract drug users, and that reason is piss. If going without drugs long enough to piss clean in front of a dude in a lab coat isn't an option, your job choices are pretty limited. (Although pissing in front of dudes in general is probably pretty lucrative.) But purveyors of these kinds of physical labor will basically take anyone willing to do it, so sometimes there's a reverse-correlation thing going on. Drug users also tend to gravitate toward companies that don't require drug testing or give employees advance warning, which is about as good as "not test[ing] at all." Something to keep in mind next time you're walking under a construction site -- maybe they only think you're a "hot mamacita" because they're high as balls.
But hey, at least by working one of these jobs, you're getting the benefits of not sitting all day, right? Yeah, about that ...
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We already know that sitting around on your fat ass all day isn't great for you, hence the proliferation of dorky standing desks (or plopping your laptop on your kitchen counter, if you're less fancy). We've pointed out before that our bodies aren't made to sit in the kinds of chairs we use, but we actually invented chairs because we're not made to stand for long periods of time, either. It's all well and good to get back to our roots and do things the natural way, except that the natural way left us with messed up spines and varicose veins.
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We're only a few years away from bringing back "hunchback" as a social status.
Those standing desks are even creating new problems. Your monitor is now in a less ideal position, which pisses off your neck, and you're overextending your wrists, increasing your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. You might lose a few pounds, but it's actually a worse idea if you're overweight, because it puts too much of a strain on your back, joints, and veins. Yes, standing taxes your veins, because your circulatory system has to move bloody rocks up a mountain of flesh, which sounds pretty hardcore but can leave you with heart disease. You hereby have science's permission to sit your ass down (preferably on a backless chair). Just remember to get up and walk around the office every 20 minutes or so to avoid complications from that, because our bodies are fucking ridiculous and will never let us be happy.
"Stabilizing ball chairs lead to genital hemorrhoids!" -- 2025's update of this article
You could also find a job that allows you to lie on your back all day, but that's still illegal in many countries. It better pay well, too, because ...
More bad news for shift workers, or anyone else working more than 11 hours a day: On top of being miserable, your risk for heart disease takes a big jump. As in, it goes up by 67 freaking percent. It turns out that sitting motionless for half a day, far away from proper food preparation facilities, while your soul slowly rots from the inside out isn't very good for you -- which is tricky, because working overtime isn't often the employee's choice. They legally can't make you most of the time, but after Obama takes away all of our jobs, the asshole who insists on working no more than a third of his entire day will be the first to go. If you're on salary, that's as good as kissing your couch goodbye. So it's a choice between having a job or having non-terrible health.
And no, just looking at cat GIFs for half of those hours doesn't offset the damage.
If you're voluntarily picking up long shifts and overtime because you hate fun and also just really need the money, the news is even worse. Surprise, surprise: Poor people are sick people. Low wages have been linked to an increase in obesity and hypertension, otherwise known as Blood Trying To Burst Out Of Your Veins Disease. Of course, being yelled at all day over forgetting to hold the mayo and other stresses typically encountered in low-wage jobs will send anyone's blood spurting, but it seems to be literally not having enough money that makes you sick. The study declared that "a 10-percent increase in everyone's wages would account for 132,000 fewer cases of hypertension per year." Oh, is that it? Why the hell haven't we done that yet?
Anyway, there you have it: Don't work in the service industry, don't work a trade, stay home, don't work hourly, don't work salary, don't sit, don't stand, and above all, do not be poor. If you somehow can't manage that, at least your job offers great health insurance, right?
Manna can be seen being smug about how many of these things don't apply to her on Twitter.