How Did You Survive Your Worst Job?

How Did You Survive Your Worst Job?


We have all had horrible jobs along the way as we have worked toward success. These jobs are the ones we never forget and vow never to do again. It’s a great motivator to make something work when you finally get a good job. Yet, these bad jobs help define who we are.

So what was your worst job? I have had many of them which brought me to tears, yet gave me the survival skills to know I could make it when I lost a good job. I know now what I have to do if I need money and don’t allow a bad job to define who I am rather view it as a stepping-stone to get to where I need to be. Yet, it can be trying, at times.

One of my worst jobs was working in the contract cleaning industry, where my responsibility was to bid out cleaning contracts on commercial buildings. I had just gotten divorced without much money and needed to find work. Having a commercial real estate background, I had relationships in the area that the contract cleaning company wanted contacts.

Most of the assignments I worked on were fine, even though touring boiler rooms and counting bathroom fixtures wasn’t what I had in mind for my career, yet it was a means to the end and I was pretty good at it. I became the top salesperson in my office in spite of not liking what I was doing.

There were two experiences at the contract cleaning company that were intolerable; one was when I was sent to the Chicago County morgue to measure the facility. I can still smell the formaldehyde and blood from the dead bodies hanging off the gurneys. It was a CSI experience with rows of these dead bodies, rooms filled with body parts in jars and a blood-soaked room where they washed the bodies off.

I ran out of the morgue that day barely able to keep from regurgitating on my boss who was on the tour with me and didn’t seem phased by the experience. Sickened by what I had just seen, I asked not to be placed on another tour like this or I would quit. I just couldn’t take it even if the job paid my bills.

Another experience at the contract cleaning firm was most demeaning in my life. I was measuring a men’s bathroom at a synagogue when the building engineer walked into the bathroom when I was measuring and proceeded to take a pee right in the stall next to me, like I wasn’t even in the room! I was appalled by his behavior and told my boss, who laughed at me. It wasn’t funny and I threatened to file a lawsuit which I didn’t do. I just quit the job!

Sometimes, you just need to refocus your goals to determine just how much you can take in a bad job, how much abuse you can tolerate and what are you doing to get out of the situation, as quickly as possible. There were times that I’d rather sleep on my girlfriends’ sofa rather than report into a horrible job.

We all have different levels of tolerance as to what we can stomach to accomplish our goals. For some, it’s not much, but for people like me, I will do what I need to do to get where I need to be, most of the time, but not if its harmful or so degrading that I lose my self-worth.

What was the worst job you have ever had? I would love to hear your stories!


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  • Worst jobs do teach us valuable lessons. They also help to define those limits of how far we are truly willing to go. Unfortunately, I think that every time I believe that I have stumbled across the absolutely worst jobs, I discover that there can be something more heinous just around the corner. In our present, employment challenged, economy, I am not sure that any of us have seen the absolute worst yet.

  • In reply to Sue Fitzpatrick:

    Thanks Sue for your comment. I really think the economy is much better than it was in a real way. There are more opportunities out there in the job market, yet I think many will have to learn new skills to supplement what we already have experience in. And, yes work at some bad jobs until we find a good one!

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