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Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Worst Job I Never Had

Everyone's had bad jobs, and I've had my fair share of them, too.  Most of them have not ended well for me, sadly.
I quit one on accident when I asked for some extra time during a vacation (wording, it appears, is very important in emails) - but they were already having trouble budgeting me for the next year and my boss (the only person advocating for my job) was fired shortly after I left.  It's hard to write your job into a grant when you won't even find out who was awarded the grant until 5 months after they stop paying you.
For years I worked in a bookstore.  I loved the job because it was easy, we all loved books, I got to read early releases, I got to recommend books, and there was a variety of stuff to do.  But then they stopped scheduling me for 2 months and I didn't see the boss the entire time.  I eventually stopped coming in weekly to see that I wasn't on the schedule.  Months later I discover that they called a "mandatory" meeting (no phone call or anything), then fired me when I didn't show up.  Actually, put me on a "Do Not Rehire" list.  The manager later told me he was sorry he did it, because I was one of his best employees. Got a free copy of "The Pillars of the Earth" out of it so... silver lining?
I had a job that let me go after I mentioned that it was illegal for them to demand I work unpaid overtime. On the weekends.
One restaurant I worked at refused to give me my paycheck.  I had to bug the manager about it, and eventually he paid me but I had to meet him in an alley at night and cash the $50 check within 24 hours... creepy.
One summer, I painted houses for a college-kid-run painting company.  I had to constantly repaint my coworkers' jobs.  We were not given proper safety equipment (a face mask) when dealing with paint put up before the year 1978 (which could very well have been full of lead).  Some people expected me to move all their furniture and all the CRAP they left in their room, dust (something they hadn't done... ever), remove wallpaper, prime and paint the walls, move all the furniture back, and not get any paint on their stuff (moving furniture/belongings and dusting were not in my job description).  I once even fell off a ladder because they didn't provide one of the proper height (and if I leaned the heavy ladder up against their gutter, I'd have crushed it).  Oh, did I mention that this was during the largest brood of the 17-year-cicada?  They were EVERYWHERE and getting into all the paint.  But I did all that without complaining.  The complaint came after my 4th week.  I was paid every 2 weeks, and the first 2 weeks had low pay because the manager needed to "find out how long we took" to do each job, and we were paid out by the job.  She said she was just underestimating how long a job would take, so I gave her a second chance.  My first check was for $50.  The second, $80.  For two weeks of full-time, back-breaking, sweaty, dangerous work.  She paid me $10 a house.  Basically $1/hour.
I quit.
That was the worst job I ever had...  but it was not the worst job I've ever experienced.

The worst job I NEVER had was right after I got married.  The market hadn't crashed just yet, so I had a chance of getting something.  I'd moved into a new state and needed to find money right away.  I figured I would get something to do while I looked for a "career" job in technical writing.  I found this agency hiring young people and was curious, so I checked it out.  The office was in the next town over, a good 45-minute drive.  It was a middle man working for AT&T.  Now, AT&T is sort of like an octopus with many tentacles but they don't always communicate well with each other.  They were using companies like this one to promote their services door to door.  I figured I could sell things well; I'd worked in retail for many years after all.  So they said that I could follow someone around, and if I lasted a week I would get a portion of the sales I helped with and they would hire me on, but if I didn't last a week I got nothing.  A week?  That's EASY.
The first thing, though, was that I had to sign some documents saying we were not allowed to lie to customers, to badger customers, etc.  It was all basic stuff about what we could and could not do.  I signed it.  The other paper they had me sign said that I had seen and read their safety info...  I never say any safety info so I didn't sign it.  They never noticed.
So I start to follow this girl around, my supervisor.  Most of the houses are THE NEXT town over, an additional half hour drive further from my house.  Things are fine at first.  Go u and down the street.  Ask if they are an AT&T customer, and if so, offer their new products/deals.  Tell them how much it costs compared to what they are paying now.  Then sign them up or move on to the next.  If they aren't AT&T customers, just move on.
I'm given some training and already had a few doubts.  Instead of teaching how to make a good sale (let the product sell itself, be friendly, be informed/informative, be willing to cut your losses and move on), they were teaching how to pressure people into making a sale (give them a time limit, turn your back on them if they seem to hesitate, only tell them what you want them to know, talk about savings but don't give numbers until it has been approved). It was also set up as a sort of pyramid scheme - where if I got so many sales, I was put in charge of others, and then if they got so many I'd become a manager, and eventually could own my own sales business.  I did not like any of that, so I decide to sell things my own way.
The first 3 days are pretty good.  I'm good with people.  I meet some interesting characters.  I have some fun conversations.  I sign up some people.  I learn about the area.  I was enjoying it.
But the 4th day she had me follow someone else around, and things started to get very uncomfortable.  The new girl was pushy - very pushy.  And I had the feeling she was how most of them acted - how they wanted me to act.  If someone said "no" she wouldn't leave - she would badger them.  If it cost them more money, she wouldn't tell them that until after everything had been approved and we'd already wasted a bunch of their time, so that they were much more likely to sign the papers confirming the change in service.  But the one that got me the most was when we went into a family-run business.  The woman who owned it had her kid with her and was juggling phone calls, customers, a child... and us.  She made it very clear that she didn't need more lines, she didn't need an answering service, she didn't need ANY of the stuff we were selling and she couldn't afford to pay more.  I was ready to cut the losses and keep going... but not my "partner."  She badgered her, started taking up her time, and then started lying about how much it would cost.  It would have cost the poor women more money per month for anything we were offering her, and she didn't NEED any of it.  But my partner would have none of it, and kept pushing the sale, pushing a lie about the cost... and I could see that it was wearing the poor woman down.  I hated it.  I said I needed to use the bathroom, got up, and left.  I had to wait outside because m "partner" was also my ride.  I don't know if she was successful.
The next morning, my supervisor tells me that our boss told me not to come in for my 5th day.  I was both relieved and upset.  I wouldn't get paid for all that time, and I needed a job, but I felt like keeping that job was selling my soul to the Devil.  I spent that day looking for work.
The following Monday, I got a call from the boss asking why I didn't show up on the last day.  I told him what my supervisor said, and he claimed it was a lie.  As recompense, he would pay me for the 4 days I worked, but I had to come in and get it.  I already had interviews lined up.  I never did get back over there to pick up what he owed me.