In direct contrast to the three amazing jobs I wrote about yesterday, here are the three very worst jobs I have ever had in my life:
1. Clerk at the Bursar’s Office of my College: This was when I went back to school as an adult and needed a part-time job somewhere that worked with my schedule. While it did fit nicely around my classes, I had some vivid nightmares about this job. The most common nightmare I had involved me getting yelled at by students who were angry when they were dropped from classes due to not paying their tuition. I would actually wake up from these dreams frustrated and screaming. The second most common nightmare I had was about counting tuition money incorrectly and being held responsible to pay the school back for it.
2. Cashier at CVS: Now, I love CVS for providing me with ExtraBucks and drugs, but working there was awful. This was while I was in college for the first time, so you can assume that most of the time that I was working there, I had absolutely no idea what was going on around me. My first day, my register total was under by more than $100. I attribute this to me not grasping the exact meaning of numbers. Instead of firing me on the spot, they let me work at the pharmacy. For some reason, I thought only pharmacists could work the pharmacy, and not barely-functioning hungover college students. I don’t remember much about this, but it lasted not so long, as they eventually did fire me.
3. Managing Editor at the Journal of International Something and Something: This was my worst job of all time. In my opinion, being an editor is all about sitting quietly by yourself and writing on pieces of paper with a red pen. Or at least, that’s how it should be. This was a monthly, widely-read journal that had a total of one person on the editorial staff. I was responsibly for everything involved in the printing of the magazine. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Once I was asked to go to a medical conference, which is in itself not unusual, but I was required to transport all the materials to the convention, set up the actual booth, and stand there and sell subscriptions. At other medical journals I’ve worked at, all I had to do at conventions was go to cocktail parties and make small talk with the doctors. And I am so much better at that than any sort of manual labor and construction. Our booth looked like a life-sized version of one of those dioramas made with Popsicle sticks that kids make in elementary school. And I had to sit there for two full days selling journal subscriptions. But I do not like to directly confront people, so I think I only sold three the entire weekend. And the cost of the space rental for the booth was $6,000. The last straw for me was that the job did not offer any medical insurance, and during said conference I was suffering with a tooth that needed a root canal I could not afford. If you can’t tell, I am still very bitter about this job, which only lasted three months but felt like three decades.
Currently, I have a job that would not make my best or worst list. But I am a freelancer, so I don’t have to attend meetings or have anything to do with day-to-day office nonsense. I just sit quietly at my cubicle and write in red ink on a piece of paper, the way the Powers That Be intended for an editor to do. And it also allows me to use the office computer for doing things like writing blog entries (although my actual blog site is blocked!), and write and edit my own books while I have downtime. And believe it or not, after years of trying, I managed to get a job at yet another place that gives out free Diet Coke!
Mentally, I am now going through a shift between what I think of as my job and what I think of as my career. My job is medical editing. It’s tedious and not fun but it pays relatively well since no one in their right mind likes doing it. My career, on the other hand, is being a writer. It’s what I put the majority of my energies into. It’s what wakes me up in the middle of the night when I suddenly realize the perfect ending to a chapter. It’s what makes me frantically type with two fingers onto my iphone when I’m on the subway. So I may have realized this late in the game, but my job is just something I do for money, while my career is what really makes me feel fulfilled and self-actualized. And at least I realized that before I tried to make a career out of playing minesweeper and drinking Diet Coke.