Icky BossDid you ever have a job you just didn’t like? The kind that was basically just to keep gas in your car and Cheerios in the cabinet? I have a few of them in my time…more than a few actually. There were a few years where I simply could not get hired in my field, but still needed to earn some sort of a living. And in this few years I had a slew of some seriously bad jobs.

It was right after I’d moved back from Arkansas. I needed to find a way to pay rent, and make my car payments, so I took what I could get. I started waitressing at a joint called Sammy Sloans in Englewood, NJ. It’s not there anymore, and I’m not surprised. Run by the drunken, skirt chasing son of the owner it didn’t stand a chance. He was an über prick…made us buy shirts and pants at Bloomingdale’s for our uniform. When we complained about the cost, he screamed at us to buy what he told us to buy or get the fuck out.

Yay, Sammy Sloans!

I recall our opening night – packed to the rafters and super busy. I had a table of 4 senior citizens. While I took their orders I noticed they had no silverware and promised to bring them some. The bin that usually held the napkin-rolled cutlery was empty, and I made a mental note to check on the status of fresh ones. Well, like I said, the restaurant was super packed, and I forgot. I brought this table their food, but they had no silverware with which to eat it.

I was standing by the computer entering in another order when I heard a rhythmic banging on a table in the back of the restaurant. Soon a chant joined the banging…”WE NEED SILVERWARE! WE NEED SILVERWARE! “WE NEED SILVERWARE!”

The entire restaurant had turned around by this point as was staring at my table of seniors. I’d totally forgotten their forks and knives, and their food was getting cold. With a beet red face I skulked over to the table and with a thousand apologies gave them their silverware. As the old man lectured & berated me, his wife was begging him to “leave the poor girl alone…it’s her first day!”

My kinda gal. I gave them a few free desserts. I got a very small tip.

I left that job to work in New York City at a very small advertising & design firm. I actually got the job by meeting the girl who was leaving during a ski weekend at Hunter Mountain. We chatted it up and she set up an appointment for me to have an interview with her boss.

The “interview” was after work at a bar in Soho. The boss, a Fred Flinstone looking dude named Mark, made it clear that he found me very attractive, and that it was too bad I was going to work for him – he would have enjoyed dating me. I spent the drive home trying to shake off the slimy feeling I had – maybe accepting this gig wasn’t the greatest idea. But, I finally had a job in my field and I was going to try to make it work.

The commute itself was a long one – a bus from Jersey to the Port Authority, followed by a very long walk to my subway platform, and then a train to Soho. Working in that part of Manhattan was great though…the galleries, the shops, the cobblestone streets. Lunchtime was always an adventure for me – I’d grab a quick lunch and then roam the streets. I saw Neil Patrick Harris one day and said to myself, “I just walked past Doogie Howser.”

But even the allure of Soho couldn’t keep me in this job. My boss was a pig who made countless inappropriate comments. One day, as I sat in a skirt at my drafting table, he walked past, ran a finger up my leg and said, “Don’t you think it’s time for a shave?”

He also wanted me to take care of his personal affairs, like banking and dry cleaning on my lunch hour – not on company time. When I complained and refused, he cut my health coverage. So I quit.

He fairly begged me to stay…offered me a raise, full health bennies and even a parking spot so I could drive into the city. I told him to fuck off, and went to work as a cashier at Bottle King, a liquor store near my house. That asshole is still in business too. And he still looks like Fred Flintstone.

Ah Bottle King. Although  it wasn’t a glamorous job, it does not belong as part of this blog. While it was a job I took just to pay the bills, my boss was fair and liked me, and the work was fairly easy and somewhat amusing. I see a future post there.

Then there was my job at the window factory. Talk about boring. I worked as a receptionist, and took orders from contractors all over northern NJ for windows. Doesn’t it sound interesting? I also had to file, and type letters for the boss who was balding and walked around the office like he had a stick up his ass.

The office manager was a jarringly unattractive woman who micro-managed every move you made, and would sit behind her desk playing with her mustache hair. One time I asked for the afternoon off to attend my uncle Billy’s funeral. She made me bring her an obit to prove my uncle had actually died and I wasn’t just playing hooky. She was also quite large. The office was usually freezing to accommodate her…I had to wear a sweater in August.

I only got 30 minutes for lunch at this joint, and I’d usually sit in the conference room with my sandwich and a book. There was one engineer named Garish that would approach me asking why I was reading a book when I could be reading the window manuals and learning the product. Um, because it’s my lunch hour? I’ll read your stale manuals in between phone calls.

The last of my bad jobs was directly after leaving the window factory. I went to work for an outfit in Jersey City that produced those shitty magazines that have like a thousand cars for sale or apartments for rent – you know the kind that are printed on paper that is almost grey it’s such crappy quality? But again, at least it was a job in graphics, so I took it.

My boss demanded that while designing, I use only key commands – I had to learn all the shortcuts. He would not tolerate me wasting time using my mouse to access drop down menus. What the fuck…how strange.

Then my job quickly turned from one as a designer to one as his personal assistant. With no notice, I spent a day driving him all over northern New Jersey to drop off his car, pick up his glasses, and run a thousand other crappy errands. Oh, I hated this shabby little job in the shabby little office in shabby little Jersey City.

So I gave my two weeks notice. My boss was so incensed that was quitting, he told me to get the hell out right there and then. He didn’t want to have to look at me for two weeks.

The door did not hit me in the ass on the way out.

Shortly after that I got a job working as a graphic designer, and I’ve worked in design ever since. I came close to taking a few of those shitty jobs while I was unemployed last year, but thankfully I’ve managed to avoid them.

Life really is too short to not enjoy what you do. My husband loves to say “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” While I don’t find that entirely true, it does make the day fly by a bit faster.