Four Stupid Jobs I’ve Had

When you hover within the middle class your whole life, you have to get acquainted with the working world sooner rather than later. While some have been less painful than others, I’ve had a lot of jobs since I started working at 16. In the years since, I’ve zinged from extreme superlatives in my “career;” for any given job I’ve been either too smart, too dumb, too experienced, not experienced enough, or just plain bored, but in the spirit of staying financially afloat and pretty self-sufficient, here is a look at four of the stupider jobs I’ve ever had the displeasure of calling my own:

1. As a teen, I worked at the Dairy Queen in my hometown for a couple years. As it was my first job, Dairy Queen (or “The DQ,” as we used to say) provided me with a nice learning curve which basically meant that there were no expectations for me whatsoever. And those are expectations I can live with! In my small, very white town, I was used to being the only Asian person anywhere within a 10-mile radius, but was surprised to find that the owners of the DQ were an elderly Chinese couple, Mr. and Mrs. Chao. Mr. Chao had the thankless task of training the employees. “Hold cone in left hand. Pull lever with right hand,” he said as he demonstrated, pulling the lever down to create a perfect, snowman-shaped masterpiece, giving the top a last swift pull-away to create the trademark curlicue on top. Attempting to mimic this procedure, I produced something that looked like an amorphous glob of not-yet-dried paste. Time after time I tried; Mr. Chao patiently wiped the disfigured tops of the cones into a pan to later be used for an ice cream cake. “Let us try again later,” he would say sighing, and retreat into the back office.

2. My next stupid job was in college, where I worked as the Copier Attendant in the school library. Yes, that’s a thing. I sat outside the copier room (which only contained three machines) with a handmade sign that said “Copier Attendant,” and sometimes I drew an arrow to where I was sitting, like those “I’m with stupid” shirts. My only duties were refilling the paper and toner if needed, and answering questions for the idiots who had somehow made it to college and didn’t know how to use copier machines. Oh, and removing paper jams. That was a big one. I do however, credit that job for forcing me to do all my homework those few semesters, purely out of sheer boredom.

3. Another stupid job I had in college was that of Portrait Photographer. I worked for a company called Portrait Innovations, which is exactly as cheesy as it sounds, in this big yuppie outdoor shopping center. At the time, it was somewhat revolutionary because we used only digital cameras and the customers could pick out what prints they wanted in-store AND have them printed the same day instead of having to wait 4 to 6 weeks for proofs to come in the mail. Since I was part time, the job was only on Saturdays and Sundays, starting at 8:30 a.m., meaning I would often come to work hungover or still drunk, have to take pictures of babies, watch them barf into their burpy cloths, and try not to barf all over myself while taking said pictures. Some things I learned at that job: babies are extremely amused by bouncy balls, feather boas, and keys, which means they are just like puppies. And they slobber a lot, which also means they are just like puppies. Except you probably shouldn’t leave your baby in the car while you go stock up on beer for tailgating.

4. I’m skipping over a lot, but the last stupid job I’ll talk about here is that stupid month I decided it was a good idea to be a daycare teacher. Since I graduated with an education degree and wasn’t sure if a life of teaching in a union-less state was the life for me, I decided to bide my time herding a class of three year-olds to and from the diaper changing station, continuously, all day long. I’m not exaggerating; this is exactly what it was. While my co-teacher was singing songs with the group, I would start with one kid, change his or her diaper, work my way through the entire group and when I was finished, my co-teacher would start all over again because by that point, they would have all soiled themselves. There was one kid who I’ll call Jack (name changed for privacy, of course) who was a three year-old, but on the larger and older side of the “threes.” His mother was adamant about his being potty trained and instructed us to basically ignore his need for a diaper and “just put him in his big boy underpants.” So off he would run to the playground in his Spider Man wee wees and every day, I would see a huge dark spot creep slowly from the crotch of his Osh Kosh B’Gosh-es and change him back into a diaper. One particular day after snapping on my rubber gloves, I was lifting this massive toddler onto the changing table and pulling his little panties down when a perfectly ball-shaped turd somehow leaped out of his underwear and onto the changing table. But it didn’t stop there, oh no it didn’t, and I watched in horror and slow-motion as it continued rolling to the edge of the changing table and fell four feet to the floor where it finally stopped on top of a white mottled tile. I looked at Jack. I looked at the floor. I looked around. There was no one else there, which was when I realized I would have to pick up the turd and throw it away. And that was the day I quit my job as a daycare teacher.

Photo Credit: eisureblogs.chicagotribune.com

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About the author

Patricia Scull - Patty the Pauper

Patty loves cats, cheese, and irony, so although she is currently a petite Asian chick, she is well on her way to becoming a fat, smelly, cat lady later in life. Born in Korea and adopted to white people in the South, Patty spent her youth frolicking happily in the cornfields of eastern North Carolina. She currently lives in the East Village and can be found boozing her way through the bars (and streets) of New York.
  • maggiejane

    I worked at a portrait studio also, but in a Walmart, while I was enormously pregnant with my first kid. I think there is a room in hell where this portrait studio sits, waiting for its next hapless employee…

  • Brad

    I like this!

  • stacy

    Job #4 was payback for job #2.