I was talking with some friends recently about past jobs that we hated and it occurred to me that this might be a good topic for the Mint. Not sure we can top anything Mike Rowe has done, but I bet there are some good stories to be shared. I will go first.
In the summer of 1986, the University of Arkansas and I agreed that we might need to spend some time apart (in other words, they kicked me out for a year). Apparently, they felt my excessive partying and failure to attend class regularly might be detrimental to my education and long-term career choices.
During that time, I had to find gainful employment in order to pay rent and try to put food on the table as well as beer in the fridge. Fast food work was out for me as I had done that in the past with little to no pleasure gained from the experience.
I managed to secure a job at a local car wash. This was one of those businesses that after the car went through an automated wash, several of us would greet it at the end to dry it off and clean the windows. Glamorous work, as you might imagine. However, it gets worse.
In desperate need for more income than the part-time $3.35 minimum wage the car wash provided, I was mindlessly lured into selling waterless cookware door-to-door under the guise the commissions would make me filthy rich. Well, at least make a better living than the car wash provided.
We would set about going from house to house asking people if they would like a demonstration on how the most advanced technology in the cookware industry would save them time...and water. The demonstration showed how you could "boil" an egg in a pan with no water at all. I found that only those people who appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance thought this culinary marvel was in the least bit interesting.
I never sold a single item. Bruised and broke, I shoved my shattered ego into my pocket, discarded my dreams of wealth and went back to a normal hourly position.
Now, the silver lining. I eventually landed a job at a local hardware store where I would work for four years. During this time, I learned a great deal about the vocational arts from skilled carpenters, plumbers and other craftsmen. To this day, that knowledge has served me well more times than algebra ever will.
Also, it helped me understand the importance of getting my degree. I returned to school in 1987 and excelled in all areas. I never missed a class and always sat in the front row. Whenever I seemed to tire of studying, I always remembered that job and it helped propel me forward. I have since gone on to create a successful 25-year career in marketing and public relations. But I also know how to use a multitude of tools and I always boil my eggs with water.