May 13, 2009

Worst Jobs in the World

I was talking to a buddy of mine the other day and he got onto the subject of the worst job he’s ever had to do. This is a guy who is providing for a family of four and works mainly for the city. So if there is any opportunity to get a better paying job, he’ll jump at the chance no matter what the gig is. But before I tell you about his, sure-fire, worst job in the history of man, I thought I’d soften you up a bit first by telling you a couple of my own.

One of the earliest jobs I ever had was working at a KFC/Taco Bell. I don’t know who the genius was that decided Kentucky Fried Chicken should go hand in hand with Mexican food, but what can you do? Some of the people that worked there were pretty fun I have to admit. One of the cooks in the back part of the kitchen would come in with a feather pillow once every so often. He’d wait till he thought the crowd was really backed up at the front counter and then he would grab a handful of feathers and throw them in the air. He’d come storming out from the back with a huge meat cleaver in hand, a trail of feathers clinging to him like static, while he’d scream, “Damn it! Catch that chicken! Don’t let him get away! Damn feathers every where…There he goes! Don’t let him get away!” And he’d run into the back again. The silence was deafening.

But one thing sticks out in my mind as clear as day. A customer who came into the restaurant every Friday like clockwork. The glass double doors would swing open like a western saloon, giving the customer just enough room to squeeze inside. A roped off maze leading up to the cashier would be knocked over in her wake. And before I knew it, I would be face to face with the behemoth that was this woman, gasping for breath as she mopped her sweaty brow over top of the register. Finally she would place her order;

“I’ll have a 20 piece meal with 2 gravies 2 coleslaws, 2 family fries, a dozen rolls and…(this is the kicker) a large DIET Pepsi.”

I am required to ask her every time, even though I know the answer, “Is that for inside or to go?”

“For inside please.”

And there she would sit. In a booth all by herself, consuming an entire family of poultry. This happened every week.

Finally the day came where I was moving on to a different place of employment. It was my last day at KFC/T.B. and who should come through the door with a ‘Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum’? The behemoth! And sure enough, she gets the usual with the large DIET Pepsi. Now once every so often, you find yourself compelled to do something absolutely rude and out of character. Whether it’s just you being a cocky young teenager at the time or just being fed up with the daily monotony of life as an adult. Regardless, once in a while you do something that brings you into the fold of Assholes United™.

When she added on the DIET Pepsi at the end of her order, I finally cracked. I leaned in to her and whispered, “Honey, live a little. The ‘DIET’ ain’t helping anything. Go crazy this one time and get yourself the REAL Pepsi!”

Needless to say I was given the rest of the day off. So I look at it as a win/win situation.

The next place I found myself employed at was a video store which had the bonus of being open 24 hours a day. Me being the night owl in my youth took every late night shift I could get my hands on. Not a bad deal. Mop the floors serve a handful of customers and have an unlimited supply of videos to watch.

One particular night I was working with another guy named Steve who had been there for at least 2 years or so. For the most part we sat at the front and popped in horror movies to watch as we did absolutely dick all for the rest of the night. We had a security camera in and around most of the store and one or two in the back room. The back room was the adults-only section. Anytime someone went in there we locked the cameras on it, in case someone tried to steal some porn. While we were at the front shooting the shit about movies and girls and what not, Steve happened to look over at the security monitor over my shoulder.

“Jesus Fuck!” were his exact words as he bounded over the counter top and leapt over two racks of cassettes. I had no idea that Steve had such ninja-like reflexes. A couple of customers were just coming up to the front with their selections when the guy bounded past them into the back room. I tried to pretend that this was a common occurrence and might have said something like, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

No sooner did these people leave, Steve came out of the back room slamming the door wide open. He was dragging something across the floor with him. Actually it wasn’t some ‘thing’ it was some ‘guy’. Steve didn’t even look at me, just kept dragging this human carcass across the floor and to the exit. He literally tossed this guy into the parking lot and screamed, “You ever come back here, I’ll kick your fucking head in!”

Steve walked back inside in a huff, came behind the counter again, sat down on his stool and didn’t say a word.

“Uhhh…” was all I could say.

“Fucking guy was jerking off back there.”

“Dude…that’s gross!”


“Does that kinda shit happen all the time here?!”

“No it’s been a while now. Fucking freak.”

“No shit.”

“Well…I hate to tell ya, but since you’re the new guy here, you’re gonna have to do the clean up.”

“No that’s cool man. I mean, I’d be pretty shaken up too after that. You want to just do the cleaning for me another night?”

“No I mean the “clean-up”. Back there.”


After a few ballsy statements saying no way was I being paid enough money to do that, I snapped on the rubber gloves and filled up a soapy bucket. I walked into the back room, gently nudging the door open to peer inside. The door creaked ominously. My eyes darted back and forth, trying to asses the situation. I couldn’t see anything that resembled, “a mess”. Was he pulling my leg about this or something? There was nothing here, nothing to clean up. Maybe he got the guy just in time?

Nope. As soon as I turned around to leave, I saw it. The rack on the other side of the door was the victim. I’m willing to bet that this guy was saving himself for weeks in preparation for this night. Cause I’m telling you, the guy did a freaking Picasso on the back of the door. I mean it was across the boxes, from the top of the rack right to the bottom, on the wall behind the rack…as if an elephant just sneezed onto the door only to have a spider make its web with the contents. It took me 20 minutes and a loss of my lunch to get it all cleaned up.

That had to be one of the worst things I have ever done in my employment history.

But it comes nowhere near the recent job description my friend had told me about.

He had just finished up a two month stint working for the city’s water and waste management plant. After three weeks on the job he was tasked with unclogging, “The Digester”.

It’s pretty much what you would imagine. If you know your human anatomy well enough, you know that there are parts that move your food through out your body, keeping what’s needed and eventually discarding the leftovers. Well, every so often, you’ll do something like swallow your gum or a piece of hair. That stuff takes a little while longer to get through the system. Well “The Digester” is the end result of the city’s digestive system. And to put it delicately, the city has swallowed up a lot of gum and hair.

This thing only gets cleaned out once every two years I’m told. And as my buddy got himself suited up in a Haz-Mat suit and flipped on the oxygen, I’m sure he was a little nervous about seeing the 2 year supply of what cannot be processed by a huge waste management plant. Into the tunnels he goes and after 20 minutes of walking through raw sewage, he comes to a great, big, sphere-shaped boiler. They crack the door open…and there before him is the worlds biggest, nastiest hairball in history. On closer inspection he realized it wasn’t just hair, oh no. It was long hair from people’s heads, short hairs from their bodies, used tampons that people flushed away, used condoms that have made there way down. All stuck together with the worst of what the human body can dispose itself of.

To give you a bit more of a visual, the mound stood about 25 feet high and was at least 100 feet in length. He had to hack at it with a weed whacker and when that didn’t work, he’d use his hands to pull it apart. Every time he shredded a piece off, a condom, (most definitely ‘used’) or a tampon, (ditto) would slap against his mask. All the while they were doing this they were awakening the gnats that had nested in this heap. So many would fly out from it that they would barely be able to see exactly what they were doing.

I don’t care who you are, where you are in life, or how shitty things can get. After hearing about that, I look at my life and I am so very very thankful for where I am and what I get to do.

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