As I stumbled out of my teens and into my early twenties, distracted by the great quantity and variety of questionable lifestyle choices in which to submerge myself, I plowed through a seemingly endless series of low-paying, crappy jobs. There was the movie theater position where I donned a clip-on bow tie and polyester vest and spent my evenings troweling oily popcorn into giant tubs; the printing company where I had to be there at 7 AM and as a result called in sick at least 75% of the time until I finally, to everyone’s relief, quit; the graveyard shift data-entry job where I nodded off over blinking DOS commands and got thousands of paper cuts; the brief, humiliating stint at a fast-food restaurant where my greatest fear (aside from someone I knew seeing me there) was that I would be asked to clean the grease trap.

The longest I stayed at a place where I was given both a uniform and raises in nickel increments was Kinko’s. I worked there for what seemed like a very long time, mastering every position available in the store, and had it not been for the day I sort of woke up and looked at my coworker, an exhausted silver-haired former fighter pilot grinding out what should have been his retirement years being yelled at by Sunday parishioners needing 500 copies of their church program immediately and what do you mean you’re out of yellow paper and realized I was seeing my potential future, I suppose there’s a good chance I’d still be there today, wearing a FedEx apron and explaining the concept of “single to double sided” to the slackjawed new recruit for the eleventy frillionth time.

It was a menial position with 10 minute off-the-clock breaks, barely-above minimum wage pay, and the indignity of being treated like some sort of copy machine fluffer by the majority of the customers I encountered, but I was friends with all of my coworkers. We joked and laughed all day long, even when we were mired in eight hours’ worth of brain-numbing tasks—or maybe especially because we were.

I still remember all these ridiculous things that happened there. The day I was oh-so-carefully aiming a fancy map through the laminating machine and watched in sheer helpless horror as a fly spiraled downward onto the paper just as the plastic squished it flat, leaving its bloody innards permanently sealed across Italy. The time a proud dad wanted us to create a giant color copy poster of his young pre-teen son at a Hooters, two waitresses leaning over him and smiling, and the uncomfortable, impossible-to-miss erection that became more and more visible as we enlarged the stupid thing. The smarmy frat boy who demanded that we produce a “Gucci-level” printing quality for him, my coworker’s mumbled comeback as she walked to the machine, my hysterical laughter at the transaction that actually resulted in me having to go home and change my pants.

Oh, good times, Kinko’s. I went on to more professional jobs, better paying jobs, and jobs with many more benefits, but sometimes I think that stupid little copy store was the best place I ever worked.

Do you have any fond memories of your entry-level jobs?

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Jenny
13 years ago

When I was fifteen, I worked at a pharmacy about a block from the beach. My job consisted mostly of sitting near a window and reading Surfer magazine. We used to sneak Zimas out of the coolers and drink them from 20 oz foam cups on the ride home (beach cruisers, of course). That’s also the year I was introduced to Dave Matthews and Phish via an older co-worker’s DAT collection. Oh, and we had wheelchair races. And watergun fights. And my boss (the pharmacist) used to put “For Vaginal Use Only” labels in random places.

I think I’d take that job again in a heartbeat.

Pete
Pete
13 years ago

Of the 32 jobs (so far) I have had in my life the most fun was being a cook during the night shift at Denny’s. But that was mostly because of the sex with the waitresses. The most fun in my adult life was the first 3 months at a dot com before the politics kicked in. The rest of it just paid for my hobbies (wife and kids).

Sara
13 years ago

I worked at a water park the summer I turned 16. All of the “cool” kids worked there, so I figured the job could only help my social status. Little did I know I would be sitting outside in 100 degree heat, in a giant shark’s mouth, taking pictures of people all day long. That had to be the most un”cool” job ever!

The best job I had was working at the public library at the information desk. The pay wasn’t great but the people that came in were something else!

warcrygirl
13 years ago

The best job I ever had was at a small company that produced PBOF connectors for the military and companies like Lockheed and Martin-Marietta. We made the connectors and stuff that they used to film the discovery of the Titanic. We had a cool, relaxed atmosphere and the head honchos were cool as shit (except for that time I played BloodSugarSexMagic a wee bit too loud in my office. I was politely asked to turn it down). The guys out in the shop played pranks on everyone else and my best bud was a girl who worked in engineering. One of the engineers was a Cambodian gentleman named Kry (kree); he was sent to Duck, NC for a customer and immediately sought me out because I lived in NC for awhile. He was absolutely amazed there was a town named Duck. The only drawback was I met, dated and moved in with one of my coworkers. Breaking up with him was tough enough (he wasn’t called the Psycho Italian for nothing) but working with him made it tougher. I miss working there terribly and if I lived in SoCal I’d work there again in a hearbeat.

Maria
13 years ago

My first job was as a camp counselor for my hometown when I was 15 years old. I was watching kids that ranged ages 5 to 12. I was pretty much just a kid myself, so in hindsight I find it strange that I was given this enormous responsibility, but I took it fairly seriously. Oh, and got to go to the beach several times a week, and the movies for free on rain days. Not too shabby.

Then there was Papa Gino’s Pizzeria – a horrible, and I mean HORRIBLE experience. They forced me to work extended shifts without breaks, had poor drainage in the back room resulting in water always overflowing from the sinks, and no mats on the floors for protection. I can’t tell you how many times I slipped on water and fell down carrying bins to the salad bar, lying there with the wind knocked out of me, covered in lettuce and dressing. I was always covered in bruises from minor injuries sustained there. My only revenge other than quitting on the spot and leaving them totally in the lurch…the pounds of Oreo cookies I stole (one at a time) from the back freezer that were used for their Creamy Combos. Hey, I was starving, and they wouldn’t give me a break. Take THAT Papa!!!

squandra
squandra
13 years ago

It wasn’t my first job, but it was my first “grown-up” job. I was being baptized by fire as a TV news producer on the weekend morning shift, and I had the dirty-joke-telling time of my life. Probably the reason I’m still in the business.

Kirsten
13 years ago

I used to work at an ice cream parlor where eventually we got so bored we used to huff on the whipped cream canisters and crank up the toy train they had constantly running up to full speed so it would go careening around the corner and derail. I also remember another bored day where my coworker and I caught a fly and superglued a thread to it’s back – fly on a leash! Good Times…

Joy
Joy
13 years ago

So many to think back on! Cleaning rooms at a motel. No. Not a hotel, but a motel. Classy. Even classier was having to clean the rooms of the people who LIVED there. Yikes. Also worked at a pizza place that had a doctor theme. The delivery truck was actually an old hearse. I also held a wide variety of cashier and waitress jobs. I had many nights I was belittled, reamed, badly tipped, harassed and made to cry by customers who were not always right. I met my husband while working at one restaurant where I waited tables & he was a cook. So I guess not all of the experience were bad.

lisa
13 years ago

Kinko’s was one of my first jobs too, and one of the most fun. I worked the 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. shift on Saturdays and Sundays when I was in college, and sometimes the 3-11 p.m. shift as well. I was friends with all my co-workers too- they were almost all cool, creative people, and there was definitely a great vibe between us. I still shake my head in wonderment that I was able to report for duty that early, usually after being up very late the night before at bars, as I had just hit 21 and was taking full advantage. Ah, Kinko’s, indeed.

Melissa H
13 years ago

Working at Kinkos was always my “dream job” during high school and college. I still think it looks fun! Instead I worked everywhere but. The local fabric store was my favorite minimum wage job.

Katie
Katie
13 years ago

Worst job was in catering at the student center of the University I attended. Crap hours, waiting on people with tons of money and no manners, getting to tote cookies and punch across campus for a 10 minute reception just to walk the 1.5 miles back with the cart and serving stuff rattling, and being scalded by the nasty coffee machine every damn time I had to fill a caraffe! Now, the meals we got when working dinners were amazing (crab/lobster/choc. dipped strawberries) but after 2 semesters of crappy work hours and managers who didn’t care about your lab hours (yeah, those labs are usually required for grades!), I quit and went to work as a barista! Best job change ever!

My best job would be when I worked at the parks department in my home town. From early May until late August I spent my days riding a huge 3-deck 4-wheel-drive lawn mower or weeding flower beds. Loved the work, being outside all day was wonderful, and my co-workers were the best people ever! Plus, I lost a ton of weight with all the heavy lifting of picnic tables when I mowed at the different parks! I was HOT after that summer job!

Sadie
Sadie
13 years ago

I worked as a waitress at a Mexican restaurant during college, and oddly, the cooks were entirely white. It was not a good Mexican restaurant.

Anyway, there was one particularly angry young cook with a very short fuse who always used to screw up your orders and then blame you, humiliatingly, in front of the whole line. One busy Friday night, he fucked up yet another of my orders and when I pointed out that I needed a chimichanga or whateverthefuck, he lost his shit and started screaming at me, calling me a “cunt.” So I started screaming back at him, at which point he picked up a poker-hot fajita skillet from behind the line and THREW IT AT MY HEAD. I ducked and it missed me, but I promptly lost my mind, marched out to the dining room, and started YELLING at my boss that he needed to fire Jeremy RIGHT NOW or I would walk out. So then I, uh, got fired. For yelling at my boss in front of customers.

So later that night when the restaurant closed, my boyfriend at the time waited in his car until Jeremy came out, and he beat the shit out of him. The End.

NancyJak
13 years ago

FIRST job was probably my worst – McDonalds. the manager loved my sister who worked there, but hated me for some reason. When school started and I was cheerleading I could only work SUNDAY MORNINGS and had to start at 6am. Usually I was terribly hungover and would forget to either turn the coffee on or the danish warmer. I didn’t last long
BEST job was Assistant to the Program Manager at a local TV station when I was in my mid-20s. I got to watch alot of television, made the greatest friends and pretty much was the envy of everyone I knew who didn’t work there.
Alas, when I met my husband and moved to California I had to quit. It was worth it I think.

marilyn
13 years ago

This totally brought back my days one summer as a Guest Services Clerk at the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort on Tybee Island, outside of Savannah.

We had to wear Hawaiian shirts and khakis. I guess it’s better than hula skirts.

Shelley
13 years ago

I got a union job doing data entry when I was 17 and it was amazing good times. We were all close friends who hung out after working hours, pranking each other endlessly. An older co-worker (I’m sure she was all of 23) mentored me through my first serious boyfriend stuff (including drawing me a picture comparing circumcised vs. not, because I was clueless.) Later, I inappropriately fell in love with a guy in another department. Sadly he was engaged to someone else… who I eventually met and was my doppelganger. I stayed there a lot longer than I should have, mainly to hang around with him. I have never learned more about life in any other job. On my last day my co-workers all took me out for lunch and got me completely hammered on shooters – my crush drove my car back to work for me and I had to hang around and sober up for a couple of hours before I could leave for good. 17 years ago and I remember like it was yesterday! Thanks for letting me live in the past for a few glorious minutes. Now I’m going to go make a chicken dinner for my little kids and my husband, who is neither of the aforementioned guys. :)

Sunny
Sunny
13 years ago

For the five years I was in college (too many keggers to get it done in four), I worked in a dingy convenience store connected to a truck stop diner/fueling station. Since I was going to school during the day, I worked either the swing or graveyard shift. Though the pay was crap, it was a mindless job, I could study most of the night and I enjoyed giving myself and my buddies DEEPLY discounted prices for cases of beer and groceries. To make it more interesting, the owner had a wicked coke habit and I never saw her unless she stumbled blindly into the store at 4 a.m. for smokes and wine coolers. I was constantly entertained by the diner staff and their never-ending drama of “cook sleeps with waitress, cook breaks up with waitress, cook sleeps with new waitress, waitress catfight in parking lot”, not to mention the tales from the truck drivers and “lot lizards” who would come into the store to buy supplies. The entertainment ended, and I turned in my nametag and ugly polo shirt, the night I walked into the restroom to discover a gal washing her “lady parts” in the sink! Did I mention one of our jobs each night was to clean the bathrooms? Ugh, it’s an image that still haunts me and I avoid public restrooms like the plague!

Rowen
Rowen
13 years ago

My WORST job happened when I was entering the field of child care. I was doing some sub work for a friend and my name was passed onto a couple of other caregivers who needed time off during the summer. So I started subbing for this other lady who always called me at the last minute to come work, or would call me at 1:00 and say, “Where are you? You were supposed to be here at 12:30!” when she had never called me to ask that I work that day.
When I would get there, she would be sitting in her living room watching TV while the kids all slept in the basement. She was in it for the money and was always looking for subs so she could go sail in her yacht or drive up island to her cabin with her fiancee in her sports car- she always flaunted these escapades, like she was better than me.
Well, her daycare was DISGUSTING! It was in her basement and it had 2 tiny windows and no lights and there was mold growing in her water cooler and the place stunk of old diapers and there was clearly not enough room for all of the children that were there. PLUS- she had 2 tenants that lived in 2 different rooms off of the children’s play- like I said, she was in it for the money.
I worked for her for about 2 weeks, suffering through for the kids because I felt sorry for them. The last straw came when she ‘fired’ a family because their child would not potty train fast enough- she’d had a couple of accidents and she was tired of cleaning them up. This made me upset and we had a bit of a spat.
So she called me up and told me that she didn’t like my attitude and that she didn’t think I was good enough to work for her and she ‘fired’ me too. But you now what, I was happy to leave because the place was a dive!
I know for a fact that I am a wonderful caregiver, so her loss.
And just to prove how terrible she was- her daycare was closed down a week later because she had left the gate to her front yard unlocked and 2 of her children wandered off and were found wandering around downtown!! Ugh. What a terrible experience!

Brit
Brit
13 years ago

Ahh I too was a victim of the movie theater industry! We had hideous bright yellow polos (I think it was to somewhat hide the nasty butter splashes!). It was always entertaining to see the die hard Harry Potter fans that came in dressed like their favorite characters. The funniest incident by far was the older gentleman that thought he could sneak in his jumbo sized thermos cup full of beer. We also had the mirror windows on in the office so all those people coming out would confuse them for regular mirrors and stand there picking their teeth for 5 minutes! So funny…great times!

Brooke
13 years ago

My favorite job was when I worked for the Disney Store at Stanford Mall from 1991-1994. I was 17 when I started, and the manager was a little worried because the last person they’d hired who wasn’t yet 18 hadn’t even known how to change a vacuum bag. I went straight home from my first shift and made my Mom show me how to change a vacuum bag.

My manager Paul was an awesome guy. I had a big ol’ crush on him and if he knew it, he didn’t let on. When I turned 18, he made a big deal of presenting me with a no-longer-subject-to-a-work-permit time card, and at some point (birthday? last day before heading to college?) someone ordered a cake with Belle on it for me. We mocked people, we made bawdy jokes about the Princesses, and had Sunday night parties where no one gave a crap that I was under 21. Disney gave us a ton of responsibility and I just loved being a part of that team, even with the pleated skirts, pink tops, and cheerleader sweaters.

Later on, things went downhill when I found evidence that someone was stealing from the till but refused to speculate about who might be guilty. They wrote me up for ringing on someone else’s cashier ID (There were extenuating circumstances which the Loss Prevention Nazi verified and said “Oh, well”) and while they didn’t fire me or anything, they shook the corporate finger at me and said they couldn’t process my transfer to the store near my college. I sat down on the steps to the stock room and cried, and pretty much that was the end of my career with them.

TUWABVB
13 years ago

One job I shared with my closest friends from high school was to waitress at an upscale old age home. They had three formal meals a day and the earliest shift started at 7:00 a.m. and covered breakfast and lunch Oh, and we weren’t allowed to take tips.

The worst thing we did? We convinced a rather senile old lady that she had already eaten breakfast when she wandered in 5 minutes before closing. We had already reset the dining room for lunch and I knew her order was the same every day. So my friend was able to tell her she had Special K with skim milk, and 4 prunes and orange juice. She shuffled off rather confused and likely very hungry. But we brought her an extra portion at lunch.

amelia
13 years ago

I got my first job (besides the under-the-table cash bonanza that was babysitting) at a small husband/wife law office near my highschool.
I was probably about 16 and all I had to do was answer the phone and file stuff.
No one ever called, and there was rarely filing to be done, so usually I just played solitaire.
Their daughter was about 11 and would get dropped off from here super fancy private school around 3pm. She would sit in a chair facing me until it was time for me to leave at 5:30. She would just stare…for 2 1/2 hours… No homework, no reading, no phone calls…just the staring.
It was unnerving.
Strangely enough, it was the fact that I had to wear panty hose that eventually led me to decide I should just stick to babysitting.

Trish
Trish
13 years ago

The most interesting job I had during college was when I worked as a patient transporter for the radiology department at a local hospital. I worked the 3 – 11 pm shift in the ER on the weekends and saw all kinds of crazy (and sometimes gory) stuff come through there: the prisoner who hung himself after eating four peanut butter sandwiches (did you know you can regurgitate food after you die?), the motorcyclist who threw rocks at a big-rig and then was run over on purpose by said big-rig (lost the bottom part of his leg), the woman who was so obese that they had to transport her to the hospital on the floor of the ambulance (we thought that giant flap that hung from her belly to her ankles was a tumor…it wasn’t). We were also responsible for x-raying bodies for the coroner – I specifically recall a guy they had pulled from the river and all of the flies buzzing around in the body bag. I even had to assist in my 4th grade teacher’s lower GI study, complete with barium contrast (meaning, barium enema).

That job always gave me the best stories to tell my friends, I always had plenty of down time to study, there was the other cute patient transporter to make-out with, and I was in great shape from running around the hospital retrieving people for chest x-rays. It was great.

Janet
Janet
13 years ago

Worst job I ever had was working at a Golf and Country Club. I worked as a bartender in the Men’s Grill. We had to wear uniforms and were not allowed to sit or even lean on anything while working and when we weren’t serving someone we were to clasp our hands behind our back. No women where allowed entrance to the men’s grill save the wait-staff. Rich old f’ers that had absolutely no manners what-so-ever. These guys would fart, belch, swear, and smoke all day long. Only good part of the job was that the pay was decent (for the times) and the cash tips around the holidays rocked.

Hillary
13 years ago

I spent my high school and college years at a grocery store as a produce girl/cashier. I worked cash registers that predated scanners. I dreamed in numbers. After 5 p.m., the whole store was run by teenagers — a bag boy turned a maple syrup tap into a bong, friends came in and juggled fruit, a girlfriend found out she was pregnant with a “broken” test off the shelf … thinking about it, we were a lot like Empire Records, only with fruit.

Shannon
13 years ago

Back in the early-to-mid 1990s, I worked at the coolest record store in Seattle, Cellophane Square. It started at $5/hour and had zero benefits except for an employee discount, so you were essentially taking your paycheck and funneling it right back to the store owner by purchasing all the cool music that came through.

We were all flat broke, yet managed to find enough money to drink a LOT at the neighborhood bars! I had a blast working at that store, meeting rock stars, dating coworkers, laughing at customers, listening to music, coming in hungover half the time, seeing shows for free. The lack of income is what eventually drove me away in 1996.

My core group of friends to this day all worked at that store and I eventually married one of ’em! Lots of marriages came out of that crowd, too. Good people, good times!

Jenny
13 years ago

I worked in the gift shop at a water theme park, it was my first real job. I LOVED it. It was as if all of us who worked there were in our own little earth, and we all had titles – John the Lifeguard, Paul from Cash Control, Melissa the Customer Service Lady, Chris the Locker Guy – and my entire summer was spent in one long and happy soap opera story. I didn’t take myself seriously and would jokingly beg the funnel cake girl to whip me up one, tell Dave the super boss to let Paul know that I enjoyed long walks on the beach and counting cash at the end of the day . . . just typing this is making me have a goofy grin on my face.

js
js
13 years ago

My “favorite” job was as a waitress at Applebees. We were all roughly 19-25 and got along great. Nearly every night after work someone would have a bonfire at their house and we would party until the wee hours. The bartender CONSTANTLY had a SEVERE case of male-cameltoe. It was hysterical. There was the token slut (a boy) that everyone wanted. I don’t know how many times I’d come to work the next day still drunk from the night before. We all had a blast together. At one of the bonfires, one of our waiters was so trashed that he didn’t realize his foot was in the fire until we pointed out that his shoe was actually melting off his foot. It was fantastic! That’s also the night that I decided to show off my amazing balance beam skills. FYI, drunk balance-beaming on a fallen tree balancing a few feet off the groud…well it ends badly.

Di
Di
13 years ago

I was lucky to have two pretty awesome jobs – one I ran the camp “store” at a small sleepaway camp on the north shore of Long Island. Beautiful place, wonderful staff, mostly OK kids – most of whom were there on Fresh Air Fund Scholarships. The only downside was that it was a church camp. We had to attend services 3 times a week.

The other – I was a library “page” when I was in high school I shelved books. Being a major book nerd, this was heaven. Plus, the way the libraries worked in my hometown, you went to the library branch closest to your house, even if you were in a different school district, so I worked with kids from a totally different high school. I was “exotic” and “interesting” and dated a lot. Good times, man, good times.

Erin
13 years ago

I once worked a this crappy little resturant for a crappy little man and his sad but crappy little family. He would throw knives at the employees, belittle us in front of co-workers and customers and made a very inappropriate drunken pass at my girlfriend. I finally quit by telling him to go fuck himself and thowing my apron at him.

Despite all this, I still look back fondly on the memories of my coworkers and all the fun we had. Its funny how such a terrible working environment can forge such strong friendship and good times.

Heather
13 years ago

Of the many jobs my dad “found” for me during summer breaks the one I always think about is the one working at a plastics molded factory during the night shift assembling dashboards for Chrysler Minivans. Time was money and parts-per-hour were counted with religious zeal. I will never forget the one older lady who worked the line and could smoke an entire cigarette without taking it out of her mouth (I am still amazed we could smoke while we worked…). She said it messed up her production to take it out of her mouth. It was a crazy summer.

Jamie
13 years ago

Honestly, I’m not sure which of my first jobs was worse — both retail, both in tacky clothing stores. One was a summer spent in overalls and pink tees, being forced to constantly straighten the dressing room(s) at Limited Too…or maybe it was the year and a half I spent as a cashier, straddling the fine line between whorish cougar clothing and tacky-as-hell formal dresses at Gantos. Aaaack.

Alyson
Alyson
13 years ago

I worked the same summer job for 9 years. It was a food shack, attached to a house, on the beach in York Maine. I loved, loved, loved it. The bosses were cool, it was a small place and when I got a surfboard it lived there so I could get out of work, change and jump in the ocean. I would totally work there again.

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

Hi, long time lurker, first time comment-er. I read this post and just have to tell you about my holiday job while I was at university. Basically I worked at a meatworks and spent the whole day, every work day stuffing paper towels in the a**holes of dead sheep at a rate of 3.5 per minute. Couldn’t wait to get out of that sh*thole. literally.

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

By the way, the money was okay, and i’m a lawyer now so my sh*tty (pun intended) university holiday job only serves to make me appreciate my otherwise tedious desk job now

iidly
13 years ago

$3.10 an hour working as a maid at the Alderbrook Inn Resort, in Union, Washington along Hood Canal.

It was my first job with a lot of other women. It was an eye opening education for me as I was shoved into the world of sex, drugs, and rock n roll. Being from a little town I had no idea what people did in their hotel room.

One day I was servicing a room and I saw whips, and masks, along with some other really weird stuff (I later learned this was a dildo).

The educational benefits were amazing at that job.

Valerie
Valerie
13 years ago

I was a lifeguard at a golf county club that hardly anyone swam at…as a result my three best friends would come hang out and I would get paid to lay out and get a tan. All the dirty old men that played golf there would buy us drinks in the evenings or let us sneak a bottle of liquor out of the storage closet. Many of my summer nights were spent driving golf carts around the course – rather drunkenly with friends. Oh did we have a good time! I still don’t know why the place needed a lifeguard…come to think of it – maybe those dirty old men wanted some young women around to ogle at and buy drinks in hopes of something. HA!

Operation Pink Herring
13 years ago

I had at least a dozen entry level jobs: ice cream scooper, bagel seller, laundry folder, data enterer… but when I started lifeguarding, I came into the same situation you had at Kinko’s. It was such terrible, mind-numbing work (I guarded a man-made lake, the biggest danger was when a mom would plunk her baby down in six inches of water and then not pay attention as the baby face planted) but we were all so close – probably because it was so bad. we had to rake lines in the sand every morning and pull rowboats up and scrub them on rainy days. And when quitting time (8pm) came, we’d get our bottle of vodka out of the guard shack and drink until it was time to go to work again. Ah, youth.

april
13 years ago

My best job was at Chuck E. Cheese. All of my friends worked there and all the guys were hot and the managers liked to date all the girls so you got away with everything. The worst part was being dressed up as the rat and the 12 year old boys would come and feel you up and run away screaming Chuck E’s a girl. Although we always got our revenege by knocking the shit out of them later. It was an “accident” You can’t see shit in that costume, promise!

Karen
Karen
13 years ago

I quit my first job out of college to take what I thought would be a great job as an event planner. The woman who owned the company turned out to be a pathological liar. The two memories that stick out – manning the audio tape sales booth at the national convention for funeral home directors (sessions like “makeup for motor vehicle accident victims” – thank god it was only audio) and sitting in our office in a dangerous area of town handing out rubber paychecks to non-English-speaking employees. Paydays sucked so hard. Every two weeks, that horrible woman would leave me in the office alone to hand out paychecks that she knew would bounce. On the day I walked out, I found every w4 in a drawer – unfiles with the government because all the employees were illegal. She never filed mine either. She still owes me $500.

Epilogue: Two years ago I was at a local convention center for a work meeting. I almost choked on my asparagus when I looked up to see her refilling tea glasses. I am ashamed at how giddy I was. :)

Liz
Liz
13 years ago

i worked at a big book chain during grad school, which was the best job in the world: unlimited access to books, and a 30% discount on my textbooks. also, an incredibly fun and stimulating group of coworkers, book geeks one and all. one night at closing, bored, i wrote a snarky limerick about customers and propped it in a cash register keyboard. it evolved into an anonymous haiku contest in “the bookseller log book”, something that was supposed to be used for official business only. christmas season:

ma’am, please get in line.
don’t pretend you don’t hear me.
don’t make me hurt you.

oh, and w. he was a gangly man in his forties, clearly mentally ill, who used to show up in what he fondly believed were kilts (in actuality, animal-patterned skirts). he would pack in his lunch and guard his chair with a hand-lettered cardboard sign that read “this seat is taken”. his elderly mother used to call the store and ask for him, and we’d page him overhead “w, you have a call on line two”.

and did you know that most people go to the sex book section, pick a book, take it somewhere else to read, and stick it back on the shelf wherever they happen to be? sex books in gardening. sex books in the c++ section. sex books in the children’s section, for god’s sake. just leave it on the end of the counter for us to reshelve, thanks.

teralyne
teralyne
13 years ago

My faorite job was the working the grill at Dairy Queen. I had a blast cooking and did a pretty good job. The best part was of course the guys coming to walk me home after work. They would show up and need a hamburger real bad and just walk me home (the long way) when I was done making it.

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

There was my cashier’s job at Rite Aid my senior year of high school where I wasn’t allowed to give customers their inappropriate pictures. They would go out to their car to look at their pictures, realize some were missing and immediately come back asking roundabout questions as to why some “important” pictures were missing. I loved watching them squirm.

Also, in college I worked at Starbucks – probably the greatest job ever. There were so many kooky customers. Namely the guy we called “shadow boxer” who would box his reflection in the mirrored windows.

Leah
13 years ago

I worked at Barnes and Noble (the tiniest one! without a coffee shop!) for two years during college, and the possibility of reconnecting with some of those coworkers tops the list of why I might eventually relent and join Facebook. The pay was awful, the managers were drunk on delusions of grandeur, and there was a revolving door of “bathroom books” and skeezy men who would call up and want me to read them the table of contents from “Sex for One: The Joy of Self-loving.” (Love THIS, you creepy mofos!)

One of my most vivid memories is the time I had to put on the stupid character outfit for our children’s storytime. I am 5’8″ and the costume was built for someone no taller than 5’6″, but the fact that my shoulders and ankles were exposed didn’t stop one little kid from running at me full-tilt for a hug, which I received by bending down and poking the kid in the eye with the long, pointy mouse snout of the costume. I don’t think it was a total FAIL, though, because at least I escaped with no diseases from either the costume or the kids.

Amber S
Amber S
13 years ago

My first “job” was as a sample lady for Breyer’s ice cream. I got paid $50 and had to work 5 hours or so on a Saturday or Sunday at one of the local supermarkets giving out samples of ice cream. That was a lot of money in the early nineties for a 15 year old. Plus, there was no uniform, no boss present and I ate tons of really good coffee ice cream.

Rumblelizard
Rumblelizard
13 years ago

No.

Okay, I lie: the first crappy waitressing job I had, I was carrying a bunch of stuff up from the basement with one of the cooks. He was dawdling at the bottom of the stairs for some reason, and from the top I yelled down to him, “Are you coming?!” and he yelled back, “Nah, I’m not even breathing hard!”

For some reason (prolly because I was very young and CatholicSchool sheltered), at the time this struck me as being exquisitely funny. The memory still makes smile.

Lisa
13 years ago

Great post. I need to do one of my own because I think my early jobs were the most fun.

Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

My first job was at a library in the children’s section. You want to talk about awful?

My next job was at an animal hospital working for a vet that was probably the most evil woman in the world. I loved working with the animals but the owners? OMG.

Then I worked at a cat hospital, scary.

I have been working for the same company now for 10 years. I enjoy working with animals much more then people.

Nona
Nona
13 years ago

CopyMax, actually. Very similar experiences, too. I met some of the coolest people there, had some of the best times, and miss the friends I had. Thanks for reminding me!

Jeanette
13 years ago

My first job was in a old movie theatre. I had them best coworkers. Yes we troweled oily popcorn into cups and overflowed cups of pop, or listened to customers bitch because we didn’t put enough butter on their popcorn. But we also lined up popcorn kernels on the counter and flicked them onto the lobby so the ushers had to constantly sweep them up. We would learn the whole script to movies and would talk right along with the actors. We would have midnight jaunts through the back of the theatre, behind the curtain where there were dressing rooms and such. Plus I ended up marrying one of my coworkers later! Loved that job and never had better one since!

Claire
13 years ago

When I worked at CompUSA, an old guy came in with this ancient keyboard that couldn’t have cost hi more than 10 bucks and he demanded we simply replace it. When we told him that was impossible, he went into the GM’s office and started banging it on the corner of his desk. little plastic keys and bits flew everywhere and we escorted him outside. That was one of my fondest memories!