The Worst Job I Ever Had

What’s Your Worst Job?

One of the first jobs I ever had was working at a snack bar just outside the Toronto City Hall. It didn’t have a name, but we called it “The Spot” – at least my manager did. It was a tiny, little, solid concrete bunker of a building, designed in the 60s and very unhuman friendly. The place had no air conditioning, got super-hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter. You served people out of a little slot in the building (really was pretty bunker like) and it had a very limited menu:

  1. Hot dogs
  2. Popcorn
  3. Bags Of Chips
  4. Soda & Coffee
  5. Ice Cream Bars

I think that was pretty much it. I got there early in the morning, went into the City Hall cafeteria to change, and came out in my restaurant scrubs, white shirt, white pants, white apron. It was quiet for about 15 minutes, and then the rush was on!

It started with the bums. They would shamble up to the counter and drop a bunch of wet coins onto it (fished out of the fountain) and ask for coffee. After that, it was a continuous stream of people, all ages, races, genders, tourists and natives, all looking for a quick, unhealthy snack. Like I said, it was hot as hell in there, I we were constantly taking money and shoving snacks at people. To make the torture worse, the manager liked to blast a top 40 station from his BFR (big freaking radio AKA ghetto blaster) which would literally repeat every song every 40 minutes, drilling every top 40 song of that era into my brain. It was hot, sweaty, painful work. You barely got to talk to anyone since it was so busy all of the time, you just churned and burned.

Believe it or not, that was not the worst job I ever had. I’ve had office jobs as a developer and as a manager that were much, much worse. They may not have been as physically taxing, but they were in some ways, much worse.

You see, at least at “The Spot”, you knew exactly what you were doing at every moment. You had a mission “Serve as many people as you could” that was very clear and succinct.

There was no backstabbing, no office politics, no grandstanding, no furtive whispers in the hallway, no long boring meetings for no reason, no wondering if you were going to get fired or not, no slacking allowing others to do your work, no wondering if you have a job after the merger, no wondering if senior management approved or disapproved of the direction you were going in.

It was hard work, but it was clear work. You knew what you had to do, and you did it. If you think about it, except for the fact that it wasn’t very inspirational, it was the perfect job for some people. For some people, a job is just a job – it’s a way to pay for the rest of your life, which you enjoy. I guess I can see the beauty of a job like that for some people. Not me, though.

If you ask me, the best jobs are both clear and inspirational. There are clear goals, a clear mission and a clear purpose. Everyone in the organization is aligned in the same direction. The worst jobs, well they lack direction, lack communication, lack a vision. No one seems to know where anyone is really going – or everyone is going off in different directions.

How do you find these jobs? Either:

  1. Keep looking until you find one. Review each company which you are applying to critically – use Glassdoor and every other source, such as contacting former employees to ask them abut their experience with XYZ corp
  2. Create your own. By far the better choice. Start your own business and imbue it with the core values you wish it to have from the start.

If you really want to ensure that your corporate culture meets your requirements, you have to build your own business.