Nightmare Job: In honor of Labor Day in North America, tell us about the one (more than one) job you could never imagine yourself doing (but remember really doing).
As a retiree, I’ve had more than 40 years of work … and unavoidably, more than a few nightmare jobs.
There was the job for which I was paid exceptionally well. To do absolutely nothing. I was assigned to sit all day in front of a computer and look busy. Not fall asleep. I was not allowed to read, play a game, or write a personal letter. I had to sit there and stare at the screen. Worse, I had to “work” overtime. A standard 8-hour day was not bad enough. I had to continue the farce for 9 or 10 hours.
I am told there are people who crave such jobs. For me, it was as close to actual torture as you could get.
There was the job where I was paid top dollar, had a gorgeous office. And nobody cared what I did. They only hired me because a big contract required a manual. My job was to write it. No one read it, checked it for accuracy. I could have filled it with nursery rhymes. All they wanted to know was “Is it big and heavy?” and “Does it look impressive?” And people wonder why manuals aren’t as good as they should be!
Working under the micro-manager is another one of Those Jobs. Had a few of them. These are the bosses who stand behind you. You can hear them breathe, feel their hot air brush your neck. Icky. They watch to make sure you are doing Your Job and Nothing But Your Job. For me, that means I can’t do my job. I’m a writer. I can’t write with someone watching over my shoulder. The micro-managers also stands by the door in the morning hoping to bag any worker who has the temerity to show up a millisecond late. I was once called on the carpet — really tore me a new one — for being three minutes late. The good part? When I made a genuinely serious mistake — I forgot to place a full-page full color advertisement in the magazine — just left it out of the issue entirely, which no doubt cost the company serious money? It wasn’t any worse a dressing down than I’d gotten for being three minutes late.
It turns out if you yell at your employees for everything, after a while they become psychically numb and nothing you say or do has any effect at all. That’s also true for parents and pet owners. If you yell all the time, no one hears you at all or takes you seriously. To quote Teddy Roosevelt, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” That works better, though it didn’t get him re-elected.
I had a stupid job at a college. Briefly. The work was easy, basically receptionist stuff. Some annoying women came in and asked me my name. I told her. She said, “I don’t like that name. Do you mind if I call you Jane?”
I looked at her, “Yes, I mind. My name is Marilyn. Mrs. Armstrong to you.”
I got fired. I didn’t mind. It was a horrible job anyhow.
This is not the time or place to discuss the wonderful jobs, the terrific bosses, or the great work I’ve had the honor to do. The awful jobs — mostly — didn’t last long. The good ones more than made up for the bad ones.
Retirement is the payback for any professional suffering I endured. I love retirement. It’s the best job of all.