View Full Version : Most Menial Jobs

09-18-2004, 05:49 AM
What's the worst/most menial job you've ever held?

I can't narrow mine down. A selection:

Laundromat wash-n-fold girl
Vitamin factory line worker, usually in charge of placing one coupon in each bottle of vitamin E.
Mall survey girl (lasted one day)
Liquor store cashier
Bus girl

09-18-2004, 06:15 AM
You really want to know?

Sorting people's garbage at a recycling plant. :ack

09-18-2004, 06:21 AM
How about janitors? Cleaning toilets? Every day? Used by gazillion strangers? No thanks.

Edit: oh, jobs that I have held! Got it. No, I've never cleaned other people's crap, thank you very much.


aka eraser
09-18-2004, 06:53 AM
Picking worms wasn't very glamorous. Clomping around golf courses at night with a miner's light strapped on my head, a gallon pail with sawdust strapped to my left leg and another gallon pail strapped to my right to drop the critters into.

Working garbage on a Parks Dept. truck was worse though I think. Garbage bags weren't invented yet. One guy tossed the containers to me up in the bed of the truck and I dumped them and edged backwards. Before the shift was over, I'd edged back as far as I could go and was knee-deep in rotting garbage and gazillions of maggots.

Then there was the tomato farm...and selling exercise units.. and that job taking the lids off loaves of bread as they came out of the oven and onto the conveyor belt...

Writing's easy. ;)

09-18-2004, 07:00 AM
Bus boy.
Waiter (for too long; hated it)
TV extra (you wait and you wait and you wait, sometimes for 16 hours... and sometimes your scenes are so nasty it's bad)
Sheesh, that's it. I have been spoiled!!

09-18-2004, 07:45 AM
Telemarketer. Cemetery plots. 'Nuff said. :o

09-18-2004, 07:52 AM
Eraser, what was the sawdust for?

I haven't had many jobs. One real job that lasted nine years. After that, freelancing; before that, just a few odd temp things. The worst of those was cutting apricots in half for drying. I was 17. It was 108 degrees out there. You use a curved knife. At the end of a day, the thumb of your nondominant hand is covered with shallow knife cuts.

Chaoc Kazdul
09-18-2004, 07:53 AM
What I do now to afford tuition.

Surface mining.

Don't let the surface part throw you off, you're usually still 15-30 feet below the surface unless you happen to be operating a front loader.

Nice, damp, dark, smelly, poorly lit tunnels, and all the rocks you could ever ask for.

Betty W01
09-18-2004, 08:29 AM
nursery school worker
stay-at-home mom of babies and toddlers (OK, you don't get paid, just supported by your spouse, but you do get to stick your hand in the toilet to retrieve your car keys, mop up vomit, change poopy diapers, wipe spit-up off your neck, blow nasty little noses, sponge rubbed-in food out of baby hair, and perform other fun activities. At least the kids make it all worthwhile. Not fun - but worthwhile)

09-18-2004, 08:10 PM
There's not enough space here for all of them, so I'll just pick one.

I was paid to lie. I was a "test subject" at a polygrapher training school. I had to concoct a story and stick to it until the examiner could wear me down. He didn't like me very much cause I wouldn't budge too easily. He was a Secret Service guy and not amused by my efforts to make him work for his grade!

Hmm, that's not really menial I guess in the scheme of things.

I was paid to open the door at Bennigan's and say "Welcome to Benigan's". That lasted a week.

This is a fun topic. I could see a funny book being written on this subject.

aka eraser
09-18-2004, 08:50 PM
Eraser, what was the sawdust for?

Reph, it was for dipping my slime-infested fingers into so I could get a grip on the next slimey little beggar. We were paid the then-princely sum of $20/1000. On a great night a good picker could pick 3000 or so. The best picker was an elderly Hungarian woman who was terrified of worms...hmm...

This topic is fun. I think I have next week's column now: Sawdust & Slime: Memoirs of a Worm Picker.

09-18-2004, 09:50 PM
Working as a night cleaner at a hospital. Duties included:

Cleaning the operating rooms. Some surgeons just can't hit the bio-waste basket. Ugh.

Carrying corpses to the morgue and putting them on slabs. One night a teenage boy had died while mountain biking when his bike went of the trail into a 20 metre deep ravine with a frigid mountain creek at the bottom. The ER doc who worked on him had inserted a chest tube so that warm saline could be pumped into his abdominal cavity in an attempt to bring up his core temperature, but it was too late. Anyway, said doc neglected to tie off the tube, so when my partner and I were lifting this poor kid's body onto the slab and the plastic sheet under him ripped, the corpse thumped onto the slab and fluid shot out of the tube into my partner's face.

I thought he was going to kill that doctor. Fortunately, nothing came of it, all the fluid was on the surface of his skin and he washed up quickly. Needless to say, we both quit shortly after that episode.

09-18-2004, 11:09 PM

Rubber gloves?

09-18-2004, 11:34 PM
The septic guy came today to empty our tank...now that's a crappy job...literally...:ack

aka eraser
09-19-2004, 01:25 AM
Rubber gloves?


No reph. Real men don't wear gloves when picking worms. ;)

Gruesome story Chunk. :wha

09-19-2004, 02:48 AM
Cleaning tanning beds in a friend's salon. Some people can be real ... um ... gross. :ack

09-19-2004, 03:11 AM
Putting the tops on Viennese Whirls (by hand) in a biscuit factory in Leith.

Great fun!

Kempo Kid
09-19-2004, 05:53 AM
I don't have anything that can top some of these!

Since I've always been an excellent typist, most of my menial jobs consisted of sitting in front of a typewriter or computer screen all day. The temp job I have now is as "Transaction Processor." Music stores all over the country are now renting out instruments to schoolkids. They write up the order sheets, send them in, and because it's the beginning of the school year, the company hires temps to come in and enter all of these order sheets into the system. They have to be counted, batched, scanned, checked, and the information entered into the system.

There are THOUSANDS of them! Tens of thousands! So that's what I do nine and ten hours a day. I sit there and type in orders as fast as I can. My vision gets blurry. My right hand aches from 10-key entering. And for some reason they keep it so cold in there that even with a jacket on my hands get stiff from being so cold.

And all for $9 an hour. As a tech writer, I'm used to getting several times that, but there are no jobs for tech writers any more.

I once worked as a switchboard operator in Chicago for the Chicago Housing Authority, which oversees all of the housing projects for the Chicago metro area. They had one switchboard operator--me. And this was the winter when the elevators and heat went out in the projects all over the city.

So of course all the tenants called me, screaming and cussing. All I could do was transfer them to other departments. I remember one woman screaming at me, "I don't want you to transfer me nowhere! YOU come down here and YOU fix my @#%$ effing elevator!"

I felt for them. I really did. But I was just a poor temp switchboard operator. There was nothing I could do.

I have never accepted a job as a switchboard operator since.

09-19-2004, 06:29 AM
In ascending order of disgusting:

Dishwasher at a prime dinner restaurant where the dirty dishes came into the dishwashing room on a conveyor belt.

Cleaning the secondary digester at a munincipal sewage treatment plant.

Mucking out a barn at an egg production facility that had been occupied for years by several thousand chickens.

:( :wha :ack

09-19-2004, 11:09 AM
Worst: housewife. That job ended 20 years ago. I excelled in all ways as a domestic engineer, but was miserable with the mundacity. Or maybe it was the idiot I married. (the passage of time has earned him this label. I was a slow learner.)

After that, various temp jobs, the most menial was shoe store worker. I straightened shoes in the rows for hours at a time. Bored brainless.

Waitress didn't last long. I was too busy thinking to remember to put orders on the wheel some times.

Hotel clerk/night auditor. I'm not the cpa type. The entire audit was done manually, using paperworks and a 10 key. I never balanced the hotel. The blessing was meeting famous people, and quitting on short notice when I learned they had me training my own replacement, so they could fire me.

As a kid I picked fruit all summer. I didn't know until adulthood what a back breaking rip-off of a job that was.

Most any job where I've had a female boss had an extra layer of unpleasantness to it.

Church janitor. Never waxed so many floors in my life. Ditto pews. Disgusting bathrooms.

I plan never to work for anyone but myself again, except as a volunteer. Unless it's secretarial. A girl has her bounderies.

Since we're being honest here: Home health aide to a woman that would not get out of bed. She wanted suppositories in all her orifices all the time. Her doctor was giving her drugs that clearly debilitated her to death.

Speaking of morgues and such. I babysat a family that became mortuary keepers. I took care of the kids there, and part of my job was letting people in to visit the dead. I didn't mind it a bit. But that 2-year-old that cried in his crib for hours straight was hard to take.


09-19-2004, 06:14 PM

09-21-2004, 04:14 AM
Trash collecting in high summer. Ah, odors.

Making popcorn. It was strictly a one-man operation. I stood in a tiny room with a giant popcorn fryer. There was a single tiny window--that looked out onto an auto mechanic's shop. After 8 hours of filling and emptying popcorn, I walked out of there coated with a thin layer of coconut oil smoke.

Locker room attendant. Washing and folding towels all day. Of course the guys blew their noses into the towels--why go for a tissue? And why use a tissue to blot that shaving cut? And no, those people can not pick up their own towels, they needed me to do it. And they needed me to pick up their waxy Q-tips. And flush their urinals. And toilets.

Building shelving units by hand. Talk about dull.

Packing books on the assembly line at Amazon.com. This was unbelievably dull. Everyone around me were little hipsters and not worth talking to. Oh, and actually *looking* at the books around you was seriously frowned upon. Like pretending to be a eunich in a harem.

09-21-2004, 04:52 AM
Thanks to all for sharing. I'm sitting here counting my many, many blessings.

A note to all those who've ever worked as a garbage collector:
ThanK you!

09-21-2004, 04:55 AM
Yes indeed, Liam. I second that.

09-21-2004, 06:16 AM
I'm fifteen and becoming a little worried...hopefully I'll have fun jobs...:grin

Chaoc Kazdul
09-21-2004, 06:27 AM
I used to think the same thing 3 years ago. The problem is, as an unskilled worker, the only decent paying jobs are going to be either digusting or very labour intensive, sometimes both.

09-21-2004, 07:50 AM
writerscut, get yourself a good job. Get an "occupation" education and put it to good use.

09-21-2004, 09:26 AM
Once High School's over, I'm off...it's so hard to find a job here in my tiny Midwestern town...five hundred some mill workers were laid off...so they go for the "menial" jobs that teenagers usually work...and let's face it, if you are a manager, and picking a new employee...do you go with the scrawny, acne faced kid...or the tough worker who's been going at it for twenty some odd years...argh..."I'm John Kerry and I approve this message...;) "

Chaoc Kazdul
09-21-2004, 06:38 PM
To compete with them in that situation, it helps to know people. I managed to get this job 2 years ago (at 16), because of my uncle.

Let your extended family know you are looking for a job, and something might turn up.

Lori Basiewicz
09-21-2004, 10:47 PM
Let's see, the most mind-numbing job was crimping and taping wire harnesses together. Or wait, maybe it was standing at the end of the wash and using compressed air to blow water droplets off circuit boards. Or maybe it was...

When in college, I worked summers and breaks at a factory that assembled circuit boards and wire harnesses. The owner instructed the supervisors to give the college kids the most boring jobs on the floor so we would spend all summer thinking, "Gawd, if I don't finish college, I'll have to spend the rest of my life doing this."

Funny, I never heard of any of the college kids who worked there dropping out.

Also spent about a week filling and taping boxes with shoes to send to a store somewhere.

09-22-2004, 12:29 AM
The most boring and mindless job I ever did had to be bobbin-checker at a textile factory. I sat at the end of a line and received boxes filled with these aluminum rolls they called 'bobbins'. They were the size and shape of the cardboard roll at the centre of your average paper towels. My job was to take each empty bobbin and lower it over a round template the size of the inside diameter of the bobbin. If there was a crip or dent in either end of the bobbin that prevented it from fitting over the template, I put a mark on the bobbin and put it in a box. If both ends fit over the template properly, I put it in a different box.

The quota was 3000 a day. I could feel my IQ dropping on a daily basis.

I met my quota once and got in trouble with the union. I was there five weeks before being laid off. I'm sure it didn't have anything to do with lower profits than expected due to a lack of production from the staff, oh no.

09-22-2004, 03:49 AM
Oh, I forgot to mention that when I was putting the tops on the Viennese Whirls, they paid you two thirds wages for the first month , till you 'aquired the necessary skills'.

In all fairness, I did spend the first two days, clutching the tops in my sticky little hands, while pursuing the bottoms down the conveyor belt shouting 'Come back! Come back!'

By the end of the week I could do the whole damned lot, though.


09-22-2004, 09:36 AM
The owner instructed the supervisors to give the college kids the most boring jobs on the floor so we would spend all summer thinking, "Gawd, if I don't finish college, I'll have to spend the rest of my life doing this."

What an enlightened owner!

09-23-2004, 02:45 AM
Information girl at Bloomingdales. I wore a pink sash that said, "Information here" but no one ever asked me anything. I had to stand in the same place for 9 hours.

Envelope factory: sealing medical bills

Caterer's helper: cleaning up pots and pans and emptying trash cans at weddings.

09-23-2004, 06:16 AM
Information girl at Bloomingdales. I wore a pink sash that said, "Information here" but no one ever asked me anything. I had to stand in the same place for 9 hours.

Yuck! I'd rather deal with the garbage.

09-23-2004, 06:42 AM
I was a lap dancer. Unfortunately, I didn't make back my cab money.

09-23-2004, 08:28 AM
Information girl at Bloomingdales. I wore a pink sash that said, "Information here" but no one ever asked me anything. I had to stand in the same place for 9 hours.

I'd love this. It would be daydream time for me.

09-25-2004, 01:21 AM
I thought it would be fun, actually, but it was awful. It's so much harder to do stand still and do nothing than I thought it would be. Time passed soooo slowly. I finally begged them to move me anywhere else, so they put me in housewares and I sold silverware.

Puddle Jumper
12-29-2005, 10:15 AM
Probably the one that most people would look down on the most was I did some custodial work in college on my college campus.

It's funny because I had a good friend who also did custodial work, a really good looking guy which I wished could have developed into more than a friendship but he had a girlfriend back home. Anyway, I remember we were chatting one time and I was complaining to him about having to clean mens restrooms - telling him that guys have horrible aim and I hated cleaning around their toilets. He countered me by saying that that was nothing compared to the smell of those little trash cans between the stalls in the womens restroom. I guess being female I'm just used to them that I never noticed the smell as much.

So I've got a question if anyone cares to answer. Which do you think would be worse if you had to clean public restrooms - cleaning the spray around men's toilets or emptying out little trash cans in womens restrooms used for feminie pads and tampons?

12-29-2005, 12:19 PM
So I've got a question if anyone cares to answer. Which do you think would be worse if you had to clean public restrooms - cleaning the spray around men's toilets or emptying out little trash cans in womens restrooms used for feminie pads and tampons?

Hmmm... It's a toss up. I think both are equally gross.

12-29-2005, 03:14 PM
I worked for a cleaning company - Servicemaster - several years ago. I learned that in the average office, the mens' restroom is infinitely cleaner than the ladies'. Women can just be nasty! At least in the mens all I had to worry about was pee on the floor.

12-29-2005, 04:55 PM
Delivered and installed appliances (refrigerators, washers, dryers and the like).
Worked my way up to repairman (all appliances except refrigerators--I was in college so I couldn't go to refrigeration school).
Washed glassware in a molecular biology laboratory (five rinses with tap water, five rinses with distilled water)
Sold shoes in a WalMart-type store
Worked security for Super Bowl XXX in Tempe (Phoenix Valley), and for all of the activities of the week before (the NFL Experience, I think it was called). I was on the roof of the press box during the game, so I got to watch it.

Mark Anderson
12-29-2005, 06:53 PM
Menial....had quite a few of those. Possibly the most menial was doing manual inventory at a screw and bolt factory. Imagine a hopper as big as a truck filled with little screws, and counting every single one of them. Then doing it again for accuracy. Three weeks counting screws. 8 hours a day. That was menial.

12-29-2005, 07:05 PM
For one summer when I was 16 I detasseled corn for a seed company. There were a good couple hundred of us doing this, people of all ages, but mostly young. They would take us all out to the fields in old school buses where we walked through each row, pulling the tassel off each stalk.

Here's how it worked.

Approach stalk, pull off tassel.

Go to next one, do it again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Until you reached the end of your row. Then your group got into the bus to go to another field.

Minimum wage was $3.35 an hour, time and a half on Sundays.

That sucked.


12-29-2005, 07:37 PM
Both while in college:

Waitress (made me appreciate my college education)

B & G gal (Building & Grounds at the college for a semester...fancy name for janitress. My roommate and I emptied trash in all the rooms of the 3-story main campus hall. For fun we did wheelies down the hallways on the trash can, and TP'd a favorite professor's office).

12-29-2005, 08:42 PM
My two worst:

Doing laundry at a convalescent hospital

Cleaning mouse and rat cages for an animal physiology professor (the official title was "laboratory assistant", and I did have some other duties occasionally, but most of the work time was cleaning cages)

12-29-2005, 08:59 PM
*Cleaning up after my kids and cat. 24/7 no pay. Occasional gifts. This job encompasses virtually every job disclipline in the USA, and some that do not exist on this planet.

*Cleaning up tables in a fast food restaurant. I was a 'Cow Girl' ..At least I did not have to work back in the food prep area, and I was usually scheduled to come in on the evening shift and evening diners are not as explosively goop and disgust oriented as the teenage crowd that came in around 3.

*Selling books for Time Life Libraries. Each part of this seems ok. Books. Selling. Library. But it involved high pressure sales to cold call customers, and in the middle of the day that means old people who are soooo happy to get phone calls that they'll do anything to keep you on the phone. However there is a floor boss who would tell us to flat out push the sale and threaten to hang up if the poor lonely person did not buy. One lady was so lonely I'd sneak in calls to her. On other occasions he'd walk around with a stop watch and if you'd been trying to sell for more than 6 min he'd walk over and hang up for you. I hated that.

* All of my remaining jobs may seem both stressful and boring, but I've enjoyed them most of the time.

Oh I enjoy my kids, but the sheer mess!!!!! Well, now they are teenagers so I can work their tushies off until they decide to move out.

William Haskins
12-29-2005, 09:01 PM
assistant crack whore

12-29-2005, 09:16 PM
Pin boy at a local bowling alley (obviously many moons ago). People would roll the bowling ball as hard as they could, so the pins would bounce up and nail me. Definitely not as glamorous a job as assistant crack whore.

12-29-2005, 09:28 PM
assistant crack whore's fluffer.

Puddle Jumper
12-30-2005, 04:06 AM
I worked for a cleaning company - Servicemaster - several years ago. I learned that in the average office, the mens' restroom is infinitely cleaner than the ladies'. Women can just be nasty! At least in the mens all I had to worry about was pee on the floor.
The restrooms I cleaned, the womens were always cleaner overall. I didn't know how nasty women could make restrooms until I worked retail and saw that women had a horrible habit of missing. Which I still haven't figured out how you miss since unlike a guy, you can't stand over a toilet - or maybe they do.

As a result of that experience, I will avoid using a public restroom at all cost. I really, really, really have to go to use one and I always examine the toilet before sitting on it. I think guys are lucky, they can stand. I did visit the Philippines once and was told never to sit on public toilets there because they never get cleaned. Yeah, the McDonalds restroom was probably the grossest thing I've seen in all my life.