During their lifetime, the average person will work a dozen jobs. At least 11 of these will be utterly shit.
We may not appreciate it at the time, but execrable jobs are a rite of passage. We don’t suffer them for the meagre salary or the opportunity to spunk in customers’ sandwiches. We do it so that in years to come we can look back and reflect, “Thank god I’m not doing that any more.”
Essentially, shitty jobs serve to remind us how far we’ve come – even though in many cases we’ve not come that far at all.
Mopping blood off the butchers’ floor in Safeway? I did that job so I could write a funny blog about it ten years later. It all makes sense now.
Horrible jobs, horrible bosses
Got a worst job you’d like to bitch about? Share it in the comments section below. Alternatively, tweet me and I’ll publish the best tales in this blog.
What follows is my worst five jobs of all time. Enjoy them, cos I sure as hell didn’t.
In 2002, I got a job at a paper mill in Aberdeen. As I noted in my blog at the time: “The laundry job involves collecting soiled workwear in a steamy, grubby paper mill that smells of Chinese, or possibly McDonald’s breakfasts. It’s an almost food smell, but not quite.”
The worst thing about the job wasn’t the role, but the environment in which I worked:
“As I walked around the huge premises, I passed chimneys spewing forth orange methane flames, huge pits of contaminated water, turbines that were shrouded in steam and warehouses of machinery with intriguing names such as Blue Coil Phase Generator.”
Every Thursday, for eight hours, I was supposed to haul laundry bags while sweating it out in work boots, hard hat and boilersuit. I was eventually sacked after cutting one corner too many, having whittled my time on site down to a mere three hours.
Best bit: The paper mill produced police evidence bags. I took a bunch home with me, filled them with ‘bloodied’ clothes and condoms and hung them on the wall. Best Halloween party ever.
Worst bit: Dat smell.
In 2005, I found myself imprisoned for crimes I didn’t commit. OK, so I may have committed them but they weren’t really crimes. Perjury and punting weed? It should be a slap on the wrist, not a three-year stretch.
While inside, I was assigned the job of canteen passman, a trusted position given that the previous three holders had all been sacked for nicking tobacco. After a few weeks of counting out penny chews and making up the prisoners’ tuck shop orders, I too was sacked – for nicking tobacco.
Plot twist: I didn’t steal a single pouch of baccy. To this day, I’m still butthurt about getting sacked from a job I didn’t like for a crime I didn’t commit in a place I didn’t want to be.
Best bit: My 4/10 supervisor. In a male jail, female company is a precious commodity.
Worst bit: The 50p daily wage.
Want moar? Click on the tab below for extra anecdotes. In a hurry? Skip it and read on.
If an army marches on its stomach, a jail lazes on its belly. In a place where there is nothing to do and nowhere to go, the hot meals served daily are one of the few highlights. It’s not that the food is particularly appetising, but at least it fills a hole, both in space and in time. In the mornings, talk invariably turns to ‘What’s for dinner?’ but by lunchtime it’s descended to ‘That was shite.’ Come three o’clock, however, it’s ‘What’s for dinner?’ all over again in the vain hope that the next meal might be better than the last.
It’s not as if there ever are any pleasant surprises in store, for the set menu maps out the fare that lies in wait for the month ahead, and every subsequent month. Even when the meals are so bad as to warrant an immediate plate-scraping into the bin, the ritual of queuing up and accepting – before rejecting – the dollop of gruel wastes a few more minutes. Every little helps pass the time.
For those who really can’t stomach the food, the only other option is to subsist on junk food ordered from the canteen. The shredded cabbage that is boiled to within an inch of its death and served up at mealtimes might be devoid of all goodness but a Pot Noodle from the canteen is no better. Nevertheless there are times, most notably at weekends, when the quality of food dips below the level acceptable even for reprobate scumbags such as myself. On such occasions, canteen food is the lesser of two evils.
Using what limited foodstuffs are available, I have managed to concoct a few dishes that are both palatable and healthy. My preferred snack is tuna salad. Take one tin of tuna and open it using a tin opener (smuggled out of the cookhouse and stashed in your cell lest the screws deem it an offensive weapon and confiscate it). Drain the fish oil into a mug, add some milk and drink the liquid. It tastes jizz salty but is full of goodness. Next, add a blob of salad cream and an orange that has been broken into segments, mix them in with the tuna and there you have it – one high protein, low effort snack.
Another favourite is creamed rice with banana. Take a tin of creamed rice, slice a banana and the rest should be pretty self-explanatory. With such inventive recipes, I’m contemplating publishing my own jail cookbook when I get out – provided Martha Stewart hasn’t already beaten me to it.
From my time working as canteen passman, I’ve gained an insight into the makeup of the average inmate’s diet. As a rule, items packed with sugar are devoured ravenously, while healthier stuff such as tinned peaches are left on the shelf to gather dust. After reeling in horror at the toothless wonders around me, I vowed to brush thrice daily for the duration of my sentence. And it seems to have worked, for I have received several compliments on the brightness of my pearlys. It’s not that they’re particularly gleaming, but by jail standards they’re considered to be whiter than white.
According to Taffy, I’m the first cellmate he’s had who actually bothers to brush their teeth. ‘When all the folk in here say their teeth are rotten cos of drugs, that’s just an excuse’ he ranted. ‘I’ve been abusing drugs for years but my teeth are fine cos I’ve looked after them. That boy in the dorm, have you seen him when he grins? All that’s left is black stumps. I tell you, he’s got breath that would knock a fly off a bucket of shite.’
Two weeks into my job as canteen passman and I have yet to be sacked. In fairness, I haven’t really been trying to get the boot, even though I begrudge having to get up at 8:30 Monday to Friday and slog my guts out for a pittance. £7, to be precise, which equates to approximately 50p an hour. Even the sweatshop kiddies who make my Nike trainers earn more than that. Though in fairness, they don’t get three meals a day and a two-hour break in which to watch Neighbours and have a wank.
The job is repetitive and the work mind-numbing, but then so is being locked up in a cell all day. At least while I’m working, the time passes quickly and I can converse with the Northern Irish girl in ‘normalspeak’ as opposed to the jail patois that is the only universally understood language among my criminal peers. (‘Fa’s yer padmate? Is he ‘ahund his door – has he snecked it again? Did ah tell you ah’m getting lib-ed on Friday? Cannae wait tae get ma hole and take a charge!’)
Although the cons have been urging me to nick the entire contents of the stockroom, I have resisted the urge to do anything as blatantly brazen as that. ‘Have you got a wee smokie-smokie for me?’ asked Ben the first day I returned from the job. ‘You should rob that place’ he urged me. ‘That’s fit I’d dae – rob it dry. I’d return with tobacco taped all round my waist.’ Taffy meanwhile, informed me that the previous guy to have held my job was sacked after stock checks revealed the canteen to be under by £30-40 every week. ‘That boy ripped the arse oot o the place’ he told me. ‘He was that greedy, he was nicking ten times more snout than he could smoke in a week. The screws searched his cell and found £30 worth of Golden Virginia in there.’
“My name is ________ from Space Design. It’s just a quick call to inform you that your area has been selected for our £60,000 feature home giveaway.”
Yeah, that was me. I may still be a cunt, but I’m happy to say I’m no longer one of those cunts. As I wrote on the day I started work there: “It’s the job I’ve always dreamed of…in my nightmares.”
Space Kitchens was the most racist, misogynist, dissolute environment I’ve ever worked in (and that includes prison). It was also the funniest, attracting such characters as P, a crack-smoking armed robber who ran the office in between pumping hookers and robbing Jamaicans. Then there was Dave Bradley, a misanthrope who liked to phone up customers and tell them about the pre-cum in his boxer shorts. He would also introduce himself as ‘a small Brazilian tree frog’ before attempting to flog them a luxury kitchen.
As I noted at the time, “Telesales is not a job; it’s a means of venting your frustrations on the rest of society.”
Space Kitchens is one of the only jobs I didn’t lose, but in an office where taking drugs, piecing sluts and harassing pensioners were commonplace, getting sacked was virtually impossible. We were the telesales equivalent of Luis Suarez: good enough for the job and thus virtually untouchable.
Best bit: Dave Bradley. If you’ve got time, click the tab below for some of his most memorable insults.
Worst bit: Those awful moments when we actually had to work.
26th June 2002: My marketing mentor at the office was a certain Dave Bradley, the same Dave Bradley who played bass for my band at our Elgin gig, despite not knowing any of the songs, before proceeding to go skinny dipping in the North Sea. Today, the normally scruffy student was talking like a toff and wearing a suit. He resembled a yuppie competing with his brothers for a share of daddy’s inheritance, desperately trying to look sophisticated in order to impress. But like all good personal sellers, there was method in his madness as I was soon to discover.
Dave had only been with the company for ten days, but already he had been promoted. He had a certain flair that both endeared and endangered him to the public. I sat down on the other side of the table, picked up the extra handset and listened in as Dave dealt his dodgiest lines to members of the unsuspecting public. He had decided to appropriate an eccentric upper-class accent for the purposes of his job, and it went something like this: ‘Oh hello! Is that Mrs Smith? Oh jolly good, marvellous! I’m Mr Bradley from Space Design and I’m carrying out some market research in the Bridge of Don area for a competition we’re running next week giving homeowners the chance to have a luxury kitchen installed at no cost at all. Now let me see, I’m just looking up your details on my fictional computer in front of me… ah yes – you’re the property owner and your kitchen is over five years old, could you verify that for me? What do you mean you’re not interested, not interested in what – a million pounds?’ The woman starts to explain why she is not interested and it is at this point that Mr Bradley hangs up. He is rude, obnoxious and a complete maverick. Yet somehow, it works.
1st July 2002: Today Dave was perfecting his phone technique, which involved calling up housewives and trying to sell them kitchens by introducing himself as Mr Bin Laden, Michael Caine, Mr Spam Javelin or, best of all, Mrs Haemaphroditey. The rest of the morning passed quickly, with Dave trying out a number of stupid voices on unsuspecting victims, his best one being ‘The Constipated Yorkshireman’. He also did his best to slip into the conversation, wherever possible, the fact that he’d ‘just cracked one off.’ That boy needs therapy.
16th July 2002: Dave returned to work today, one week after he was given the sack for making fun of Billy No Brains. Mr Bradley celebrated his return by announcing to those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end that he was calling from The Floating Fortress Of Doom and had a colostomy bag attached to himself. After a week away from the office, Bradders was madder than ever. The psychotic look of pleasure that wells up in his eyes when tormenting his phone victims is delicious.
17th July 2002: Behind Stevie, sitting at a desk of his own, is Dave Bradley, known to everyone else in the office – and himself – as ‘Tosser’. Tosser Dave is drinking beer and phoning householders on his sheet to inform them that he is a small Brazilian frog, and would they like a luxury kitchen installation at no cost anyway?
22nd July 2002: There’s also a new manager, P, who is assisting Alex and possibly trying to tame the deranged beast that is David Bradley. Today he was ‘The Second Coming of Jesus Christ’, doing research ‘into your anus’ and a friendly telesaleser who promised Mrs Lamb that he wouldn’t fleece her for a kitchen. Most of Dave’s off-the-cuff comments went unchecked until P had the misfortune of calling back a potential customer who was puzzled as to why the previous gentleman had said ‘You may have seen our company before on Crimewatch.’ Every circus needs a clown. It’s just a shame for the residents of Aberdeen and Tayside that we got Pennywise.
28th July 2002: The Essex girl, who’d never had the pleasure of Dave Bradley before, was astonished by his phone manner, especially when he started informing members of the public that he had a dripping penis and would they like to smell his cheese?
3rd August 2002: Dave Bradley, a performing seal whose name may be frustratingly familiar to you, was sent home from work on Thursday for misbehaving yet again. It wasn’t a member of staff he had insulted this time, but a member of the public who had the pleasure of learning that ‘My name’s Dave and I’m a wanker’ as well as some gooey details about the pre-cum developing in his boxers. Fooling around in front of P is one thing, but when the branch manager is in the room it’s career suicide, or at least it would be if Dave had a career to live for in the first place. As a salesman, Bradley is pretty average, but as a morale-booster for the rest of the staff, he works better than any hot coals team-building exercise. Telesales is not a job; it’s a means of venting your frustrations on the rest of society.
6th December 2002 It’s been a while since I wrote anything about the office in which I work, and I think now is as good a time as any to tell you about the motley crew of retards, paedos and bimbos that have dodged their way in through the revolving doors of telesales over the last few months.
David Bradley is back within the fold for the fifth (or is it the sixth?) time. To the public, this means receiving more calls like this: ‘Hi, my name’s Mr Bradley and I’m doing market research into your redneck community…Let me just check: you own the property, the kitchen’s over five years old and you love the cock, am I right? What do you mean you don’t understand? Are you retarded or just senile? How old is the kitchen? It’s hardly quantum physics. Jesus Christ, I’d better go – a building’s just fallen down.’
Then we have Angus, a 49-year-old confirmer who puts the D in dirty old man into girls young enough to be his grandchildren. (And in some cases, they probably are.) This is a guy who’s had more lapdancers than you’ve had lapdances. That’s quite impressive for a man who looks like Gerry Adams gone fishing. Last week, Angus set up a date with a woman he met over the phone while trying to sell her a kitchen. As Alex put it, ‘How is it that he can close a woman but he can’t close an appointment?’ Like a Dyson, this guy will pick up anything.
The next colleague I would like you to meet is Charlie. Charlie was introduced to the realm of telesales by Angus and is, you’ll be surprised to hear, another dirty old man. Charlie is the sort of guy the police issue photo-fits of; long hair, tinted glasses and a sex offender’s beard. Dave Bradley is convinced that Charlie used to be a roadie for The Doors, and he may well be right; this man has more history than a museum. It is Charlie’s claim to fame that he knows everyone in some way, from the dancers in Private Eyes right through to your second cousin in Venezuela.
Start a conversation about over-unity machines and before you can say ‘Impossible!’, Charlie will have piped up with ‘I know a guy who makes those things actually.’ Charlie treats every person he phones as if they are a long lost friend, and who knows, they probably are. This is a guy who always has a listening ear and a twitching knob. If The Doors’ comeback tour doesn’t materialise, a career with The Samaritans surely beckons.
Who else do we have? Well there’s Georgenna, a girl so repulsive I once told her ‘If you were my wife, I would beat you,’ but she left us when push came to shove thanks to Alex. My ginger-pubed boss is still good for some things at least.
And that leaves us with Alison, the last member of staff I would like to tell you about. Alison was walking past the office last week when Alex pitched her for a job. No big deal there; Alex often pitches blonde 14-year-olds for jobs as a roundabout way of getting into their pants. The only difference was, Alison didn’t have blonde hair and she wasn’t 14. Hers was grey and she was 60. Nevertheless, the offer had been laid down and, after phoning the office to check that it wasn’t a wind-up, she accepted. Four shifts later and Alison has happily settled into her telesales job. The only problem is, she has so far failed to get a single bite [interested customer to call back].
Alex suggests that Nicole trains her for a bit to see if Alison’s performance can improve. Five minutes into the training session and Nicole puts down the phone to write down the bite she has just gotten. Alison seems confused by this. ‘What are you doing?’ she asks. ‘I’m writing down the bite I just got,’ replies Nicole. ‘Haven’t you had one of these yet?’ ‘Ach, I didnae know we wis supposed to write these things down’ says Alison. ‘I thought we wis just supposed tae fone fowk up and hae a chit-chat wi’ them about kitchens. If I’d kent, ah coulda had hunners o thae things by now.’
In 2002 (a vintage year for shitty jobs), I took on a temporary job delivering Thomson Directories – 5,000 of the bastards. Even back then, when Google had yet to become A Thing, people didn’t read the fuckers. Most of the directories were discarded like stillborn foetuses.
My week-end predictions proved correct, and we were soon tossing the books into skips and wheelie bins a safe distance from our route.
Best bit: Conceiving fiendish ways to dispose of the directories.
Worst bit: Everything else.
My final worst job involved working as a cleaner. At a prestigious private girls school. You know; the sort of place where the girls all have ponies and the mums all have affairs.
When I got home, I would write about my day in my blog. How I’d gone to work. Cleaned some stuff. And then jerked off in the girls’ toilets.
Yeah, that happened. Sometimes I would jerk off in the girls’ toilets. And then blog about it. I should stress that I wasn’t jerking off because it was a girls’ toilet. I was jerking off because that’s what guys do when they’re bored at work. The toilet just seemed the best place for it. I mean, I wasn’t gonna start jacking it in the headmaster’s office was I? He busts in just as I’m spraying wads of cream cleaner across the chaise longue. No, that’s not gonna work.
So, I jacked off in the girls’ toilets and then blogged about it. And when the headmaster eventually found my blog – as tends to happen when you name the school in your public internet blog – I was summoned to his office like a disobedient child – like a disobedient child with a chronic masturbation problem – and fired.
22 years of age. Sacked from my £67 a week cleaning job for jacking off in the girls’ toilets. As I left the headmaster’s office for the last time, I knew what he was thinking: “That pervert will never amount to anything.”
And you know what?
He was right.
Best bit: Go figure.
Worst bit: Becoming the First Person Ever to Be Sacked Because of Their Weblog.