Best crap job ever


picture this covered lightly with a love note scrawled on a paper napkin, sometimes with drawings…I was enchanted!

I’m deeply thankful my husband has a well-paying job, because it occurred to me recently that because of my extreme decrepitudinal age and how long ago I had my last crap job, I don’t think I could get hired, even for that same crap job. My skills are probably outdated, too. Don’t you have to be able to do HTML and Google Analytics to get by in pink-collar-land now?

These reflections led me to recall all the crap jobs I’ve held and, perversely, try to choose which of them I would like to do again. Let’s see…

dishwashing at the university cafeteria
scooping ice cream
painting exterior fences, walls, barns, etc. at a dude farm
waiting table in an “old folks home” as we called ‘em then
shelving books at the library
building tacos
selling kid’s clothing
cleaning, painting, & renovating a factory space
desktop publishing for real estate, marketing, & consulting firms
repairing torn and broken fake sunflowers for an Italian opera

These are just the jobs I got paid for, the ones I remember anyway. There have been many, many crap jobs I did as a volunteer, among them:

summer horse bathing, winter horse dressing, and teaching at tots’ horse camp
shifting acres of plastic floor tiles for roller derby track
running science fiction convention programming

The dish room at the cafeteria was one of my first crap jobs, and the one I loved best of that era. Despite scoring some interesting porn from donations rejected by the library, getting my clothes eaten off me by cows at the dude farm, and the artistic satisfaction of reconstructing fifty-year-old rubber sunflowers, I felt the dish room had more going for it, especially food. I was nineteen in the late seventies. The worst you could get from eating someone’s apparently untouched slice of pie was the flu. We all did it. Also, my then-boyfriend would send me love notes written on paper napkins, usually covering that slice of pie. (I married him and I still have him, and the notes!)

The yuckiest job in the dish room was taking the dishes and flatware off each tray as it passed by on the “trayveyor,” dumping garbage down the garbage disposal, and sorting the dishes onto racks. I enjoyed that job, too. There was a dandy overhead-hung sprayer, good for squirting your coworkers. Washing pots and pans was less fun, but the giant, boxy, badly-sealed dishwasher gouted massive clouds of steam that entertained my simple mind. The university bought me a pair of very butch steel-toed boots to work in, which I wore to classes with my very seventies farmer-jane overalls. And if a small earthenware bowl happened to fall into the garbage disposal, it was chewed to shrapnel with a noise like machinegunfire. Cool!

horse blankets


and this wasn’t all…some horses got spandex hoodies and bodystockings called “slinkies”…no, they did not enjoy being dressed up in all this stuff

Yeah, I think I’d go for that one again. That or handling horses, although that job paid me only in “free” rides, and only sometimes. I think I got ten free rides for about twenty-two-hundred hours of hard work, kicks and bites thrown in free. Horses were hugely rewarding, again on the intangibles. Horses are nice people by and large, and horse people are often crazy. My conclusion after about ten years hanging around with them was that being around horses regresses a person emotionally to childhood. If you were a nice kid, that’s great. If you were a mean kid, not so great. Horses are amazingly forgiving, however, and they seem to like all kids. That kind of unconditional acceptance is priceless.

Well, enough about my crap jobs. What were your favorites? Would you do any of them again, as long as you didn’t have to live on the pay?

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Best crap job ever — 19 Comments

  1. I am grand at crap jobs because I was ordained to be Robin, to somebody else’s Batman. Come up to me and say, “Let’s dress up as winged creatures and fight crime!” and I am there. My favorite one was clerking in the art supply section of my college bookstore. It had a large and well-regarded Fine Arts department, so the pens, markers, papers and other products were just utterly seductive.

    • Gawd, Brenda, did you spend your whole salary on art supplies? I would have!

      Thank goodness I got to eat ice cream free at the Baskins where I spent a summer. (My employer wasn’t thrilled, but I was!)

  2. “My conclusion after about ten years hanging around with them was that being around horses regresses a person emotionally to childhood. If you were a nice kid, that’s great. If you were a mean kid, not so great.”

    I love this!

      • Yep. Long-term. And acutally, my current boy (DuncanHorse, a Lippie gelding and that will tell you how long Judy Tarr and I have been friends) loves his blanket and will stick his out out for it when the weather occasion arises that makes it necessary. “You may put it on me,” he says. “Now.” My mare used to stand stock still for her occasional blanketing, also. So I dunno about your sample population!

        • I hear from Judy that some of her horses demand blankets, too. Maybe because you and she only do it when it’s too cold. My trainer did it to keep their winter coats from coming in, because she was all about pretty. All her horses were young horses, and because she was kinda mean, many had attitude. Green attitudinal horses who don’t want blankets, slinkies, baths, you name it…

          • Eh, I’ve worked in barns where horses were defacto blanketed and I’ve got a friend who blankets particular horses to keep the coat down for show purposes…never any big deal. I think the better conclusion to draw is about the trainer, not the horses…

  3. My best crap job was loading trucks for UPS. It paid really well for the time — more than double minimum wage — and allowed me to get paid for getting into very good shape (who needs to lift weights when you’re constantly lifting 50-pound boxes). On the down side, it was from 4 to 8 AM, which meant I never got a decent night’s sleep.

    And it kept me in school, because I was sure about one thing: I wasn’t going to load trucks for the rest of my life!

  4. My high school used a key punch long after that was obsolete. Worked splendidly too. So for a year I was a key-punch operator.

    • sheesh, keypunch. I learned keypunch when I was learning hexadecimal code in college.

  5. Probably my best crap job, back when it was difficult for women to break the glass ceiling, was in the film industry. So many creative people all around. I never in any other job had so many co workers who were full of wit and creative ideas. But when the guys all got promoted . . . well, enough of that. The perks were awesome.

    The worst crap job, by far, was bar maid at a rough harbor bar. The only time I’ve ever been fired–for refusing to sleep with my boss (fifty-something) after he’d put his nineteen year old wife in the hospital, he’d beaten her so badly. Also, he didn’t have the guts to fire me directly, but made my co-worker do it. (But she found me a much better job at a nice restaurant through her network.) And he got his. My replacement turned out to be a lesbian. When he found out, he fired her–and she went to the ACLU and sued him. And won!

  6. Sherwood, we NEVER show up at the same bars. Not even the same cons. This isn’t going to work bicoastally.

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