Crummy Jobs: Human Paper Shredder

Crummy Jobs: Human Paper Shredder

I've had a few crummy jobs in my life. I worked as a dishwasher in the dorm cafeteria during college, sorting dirty plates and glasses at the end of a conveyer belt. It was hot, wet and there were no windows. Dinnertime saw three times the volume of dishes as breakfast so I tried to work mornings. Weekend breakfasts (when many students slept in or went home) were like Club Med to a dish jockey, except for the 5:30 wake up call.

Yet nothing was quite like my four day stint during high school in a bank basement, emptying and shredding the vault.  My Dad was an architect and the bank was his client.  It was our winter break and I needed some cash. The bank was cleaning out the vault (not moving it, which I imagine would be quite a task) and needed to shred an endless stream of paper.

Each day I would report to a dimly lit, closet size room in the basement. The shredder, which took up 3/4 of the room, looked like a mini farm combine, complete with a row of daggers ready to feast on bank records.  I slipped on a pair of gloves, my mask and got to work, feeding file after file into the the big boy.

That was the job. I was on my feet for hours, feeding the beast. It was monotonous; like operating an elevator in a coal mine. It was dusty, dirty, relentless work. The only highlight was when the custodian would wheel up a new barrel of files and talk about the Bears, except after a day or two it dawned on me that it was all he ever talked about.

The pay was decent considering there was no technical skill required. I was glad to get my check and go back to school.

While on duty I learned that I was filling in for a regular employee on vacation. In other words, the bank paid someone to do this kind of work full time, something my teenage self absorbed mind could barely grasp.

Working in the bank basement was as crummy job but it gave me a greater appreciation for all types of labor while reaffirming my desire to get a college degree. I have worked in a couple of banks since my week with the giant shredder and often smile while dumping items into the large shredding bins, which these days are picked up and professionally shredded offsite.

Have you ever had a crummy job? Thank you for reading. I would enjoy hearing from you in the comments section and would love it if you like us on Facebook.

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