Drake isn’t the only one who started from the bottom. We’ve all done our share of not-so-glamorous jobs. Even in our 20s, we might still be working some of them! Enjoy the best of the worst job stories our writers and editors have to offer!
Katie: That Time I Joined the Circus
My very first temp job out of college was a week working for the circus. Yes, seriously; I answered phones for the circus, fielded people’s questions about finding a 1970s print of a tiger jumping through flames on a velvet background poster, how to put batteries in a Minnie Mouse glowstick, and complaints of burnt popcorn. All these were hilarious and get relegated as a good story, except for the fact that reception was on the top floor in their “showcase” room. And what does the circus showcase? CLOWNS. There were four clown masks as tall as I am behind me, three life-sized ones throughout the room, a stuffed gorilla in a tutu that looked straight out me, and an additional grouping of clowns sitting in chairs in front of me. It might behoove me to mention that I happen to be DEATHLY SCARED OF CLOWNS. I spent the entire week there terrified to move in fear that at any moment “It” was going to eat me.
Erin: Very Sexy
When I was in college, I worked at Victoria’s Secret over the summer. It was actually an awesome job but there were some choice moments that registered pretty high on the awful scale. For example, when my ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend came in, and I had to make awkward smalltalk while ringing up her white thong. Or when I asked a woman if she needed any help and this launched her into a 15-minute conversation about how her military boyfriend was coming back from overseas, and she really wanted to find some crotchless panties because “they are a lot of fun.” Then there was the time a woman’s dog peed in the dressing room, when our system went offline the first day of the Semi-Annual Sale and we had to make carbon copies of all the credit cards, and when an odd man who had to be at least 40 asked me for lingerie advice (OK) for his 19-year-old girlfriend (ew) who looked a lot like me (!) and then followed me around the store (!!). The worst was when a particularly creepy-looking couple tried to return some dirty-looking lingerie they had bought online that smelled distinctly like fish. Even though we couldn’t accept the return, my manager stepped in, overrode the register for the return, and after they had left, turned to me and said, “Don’t touch those—burn them.”
Angela: Old People Wrangler Problems
This past summer, I spent a lot of time answering phone calls and calling Bingo. While my job for the most part was low-stress and enjoyable, I learned one important lesson: Always make sure you knock three times, as loud as you can before you open closed doors. I saw way too many wrinkly butts, and many other more scarring body parts this summer. Sometimes, it would be a resident dropping their pants in the middle of the hallway, usually when there was a tour for new residents going on (men and their timing). Other times, I would knock and ask if there was someone in the bathroom. Then after receiving no reply I would open the door to find a resident reading the newspaper! Now, I just don’t drink anything during work hours, for my sanity and my poor eyes!
Haley: Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
When I was in my last year of high school, I worked for a few months at a local plant nursery. (Yep: greenhouses, big piles of mulch, random assortments of crepe myrtles, and lots of misery.) I’d spend most of the day in various stages of “drenched” because, since I was the least favorite employee, I had to water all the plants. Every day. All of them. It took hours. I hated it. I worked from August till about February (at which time I was “let go”—long story), and my time there spanned the Christmas season, when our little gravel lot out back filled up with—you guessed it—Christmas trees. We had big ones, we had small ones, we had spindly ones, we had bushy ones. We had them all. Looking back, selling the Christmas trees wasn’t so bad—sometimes people would tip you after you helped tie the tree to their car, and since I lived in North Alabama, it never really got too cold. One day, though, it was just me and one other co-worker responsible for selling any and all Christmas trees that day. We went to untie a particularly large, sticky, prickly tree from its stakes, when I hear, through the needles, “Uhhh. Haley. Uhhh. Tiiiimberrrr!” Next thing I knew I was flat on my back on the cold dirty gravel, pinned down underneath a giant evergreen. I was sticky, dirty, wet, cold and traumatized. I swore from then on I’d never have a real Christmas tree in my home. Ever. (Bonus: My co-workers also thought it would be funny to feed me through the tree-netting machine and then leave me there. It’s about as fun as it sounds.)
Vanessa: Hollister & Me
In high school, I worked at Hollister. I was one of the few minorities that the store employed. One of my fellow (white) co-workers accused me of stealing her purse. Even though we had never worked the same shifts and I’d never seen this girl before in my life, she was certain that I had taken her stuff. The local cops came and questioned me in the middle of my shift while I was in the very front of the store in front of all the customers. They said that this girl had explicitly named me as the culprit. Later, I found out that this girl had lied about the whole thing. The manager never apologized, nor did the girl.
Amy: Would You Like Fries With That?
When I returned from a year in the U.S. in 2012, I was poor. So I took the first job I was offered—at McDonald’s. The whole experience was one big “bad job story.” I was enrolled at university full-time, but my need for extra moolah seemed more important to me at the time, so five days a week I would get up at 3.30 a.m., walk three miles to McDonald’s, open up at 5 a.m., sell burgers to disgruntled workmen and obnoxious families for 10 hours, and return home only to melt into a (greasy) emotional wreck at the end of the day (for about five minutes, before dutifully getting on with my schoolwork). This went on for a whole semester, before I took another job which allowed me to sleep in ‘til 7 a.m. every morning. It was bliss.
Kirstie: Work Is For The Dogs
At 16 I got my first job working as a playtime “TLC Counselor” for a doggy daycamp. I love dogs so I thought it was the perfect fit. Play with dogs all day, get paid, not bad! Except for the part where I forgot I had only been around hypoallergenic poodles my entire life. Surrounded by limitless dog and cat hair caused me to be constantly sneezing with a runny nose all day every day I worked. Since my job was to take all the dogs out for playtime, I also spent all day outside in the 100 degree Texas heat. Feeling sick and sweating to death is bad enough, and then you have a 70-lb. muddy dog jumping on you wanting to play with the ball. I would leave every day smelling like poop (literally), covered in mud, dirt and bug bites with a red nose from all of the blowing my nose I was doing. Needless to say, now I’ll keep my love of dogs to playing with my own pets!
Rebekah: Something Is Fishy Here…
When I was about 16 I was super excited when I got my first job, as a kitchen hand for a fish-and-chip shop. The owner was a big scary guy covered in tattoos with a douche-moustache, and if you did anything wrong, he had no qualms about yelling at you in front of all of the customers and the staff. I used to be so scared of doing something wrong that my hands constantly shook, which is a pain in the ass when you need to count out a customer’s change. The lowest point of my life as a kitchen-bitch was one afternoon when Douche-Moustache was out the back filleting fish, and I was getting through a mountain of dishes. He called me over, picked up a fish fillet, and then, as he looked me straight in the eye, he rubbed the fish up and down my arm, all whilst laughing maniacally. It was like something out of a really bad B-grade movie. I don’t think I gave him the outrage he was looking for though—I was so shocked that I just stared at him for a couple of seconds, cleaned the fish-gunk off my arm, and then went back to the dishes. So strange!!