What was your worst job ever?

My task at work today is to compare four months of bank statements to four months of Quickbooks in-house accounting records to figure out where a discrepancy of a couple of dollars is coming from. It’s really quite painful, but I’m taking a bit of comfort in thinking about other jobs I’ve had that sucked way more.

When Dan and I first moved to Baltimore it was about a month and a half after we graduated from college and I was still kind of nervous about my decision not to pursue graduate school for psychology in favor of focusing on writing. I figured it would be wise to get a job that would look good on an application, in case I changed my mind and wanted to apply to schools. So I took a job as a Research Assistant at Johns Hopkins Bayview where I administered intake questionnaires for substance abuse study participants. If you ever want to feel completely depressed about the state of the world, spend your time interviewing heroin addicts in Baltimore. It wasn’t for me and I quit after three months.

That wasn’t my worst job, though. I was unemployed for about a month after that, which was positively glorious. I had worked during high school and all through college, so I really reveled in being able to spend my days doing only things that I enjoyed and found interesting. But after a short while Dan and I were both like, “OMG we seriously need more money!” So I took a temp job at the law firm of a big deal lawyer who maybe won a ton of notoriety through asbestos lawsuits and is now best known for owning a local baseball team and is not especially popular because of it.

The job paid pretty well and with the holidays approaching at that time, I was happy to have it, but my god was it awful. The law firm was in charge of a class action suit against a prescription drug company because of a complication with a specific drug and it was my responsibility to go through the records of every single plaintiff in the suit, group the pages by category (chart vs letter vs a bunch of other stuff I don’t really remember) and then order them by date. No big deal, except that the records were not separated by plaintiff. Every time something had come in for the Drug X case over the years, it just went in a box for that case. So I would spend eight hours a day sitting on the floor, sifting through pages and pages of medical documentation—all of it with basically illegible handwriting and fading type—and making separate piles for each person. Box after box. Person after person. Page after page. All day long. It wasn’t so bad at first because I would bring in my iPod and just listen to music all day while sorting, but then one of the senior partners decided that it looked really unprofessional for me to have headphones on all day and told me that I couldn’t do that any more. It was the most painstaking, eye numbing, boring job I have ever had.

And on top of all that, I got contact dermatitis from handling so much paper.

One day of going line-by-line over bank statements doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.

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One thought on “What was your worst job ever?

  1. Mine was at a bar in Chicago. My first day I had to come in at 4 and sit there until 11 with no customers and 5 other servers. Then everyone that came in wanted to get drinks from the bar. I had to work til 2 and made $42. Everything was done manually and we didn’t get an hourly wage. Worst job ever.

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