This weekend, Nat Geo premieres a new show: Jobs That Bite! In it, “Jeremy Brandt sets off across the country to experience some of the wildest animal jobs America has to offer.”
Of course, this show takes its title literally—in that these animals actually bite. However, we asked our bloggers for a job they worked that figuratively “bit.” And while most of what they came up with is more glamorous than “sticking your arm up a cow’s butt” (well, except perhaps for farmer’s daughter Brigit), their choices do remind us of all the pit stops along the road of employment.
Growing up on the farm, I was expected to do the work—with no payment involved. The worst was working in the fields in the summer. Drenched in sweat, doused in dirt, and covered in rotten vegetable juices sure gets you messy and miserable. There were times where I’ve literally had to be hosed down after a long day’s work. Let’s just say that wasn’t always dirt under my fingernails …
My worst job was working at a TV-and-celebrity-gossip website. It sounded great to spend time with pop culture from the comfort of my couch, but it was pretty miserable. I was lonely and spent all day writing mean things about people I’d never met and didn’t care about. I had a couple alter egos and sock puppets, and I’d have them pick fights with each other to try and build an audience. At one point, I panned a Katy Perry single and got a thank-you note from her publicist, because any publicity is good. The whole thing was terribly discouraging.
The worst job I’ve worked was as a “dietary aide” at an assisted living facility for elderly people. I loved the people I worked with, but the dishwasher would always break down and overflow. Nothing says “Friday night” to a high schooler more than being knee-deep in dishwasher-steamed beef Wellington and fish chowder. Sometimes, a resident would try to escape. That always made for an exciting night.
For two summers in high school, I worked in a rope factory (stay with me). Actually, we were more of a wholesale/distributor with accounts all over New England (“rope factory” just sounds better). I basically did all the work no one else wanted to do: unloading containers of rope, shrink (shrank?) wrapping pallets or rope, moving inventory from our primary warehouse to a secondary location. The job gave me a brief insight into what I never, ever wanted to do—and made me very grateful for having the ability to attend college and earn a degree.
I’ve been pretty lucky with my own jobs. But last spring, my daughter was hired as a babysitter for a family with three kids. Her job was to babysit the kids, while the parents were to be undisturbed in other parts of the house. Challenge enough! But soon, she was told to clean the guinea pig cage each week (for no extra cash). Then, she was put in charge of Girl Scout cookie delivery and money collection—carrying boxes throughout the neighborhood, while being assisted by the three kids and a large dog. Her job description kept getting more involved, but the pay stayed the same. This was a job that bit! And yes, it bit the dust in the end.
I was a caddy at a country club throughout high school. The money was great, and it was all cash, but there were quite a few drawbacks. Early morning hours, boring waiting-around time, manual labor, early hours, hot weather, wet socks, waking up for the early hours, snooty clientele, rainy days, and terrible early morning hours. I didn’t like waking up early, clearly.
The semester before I went abroad, I was looking to make some extra cash to spend overseas. I took a second job as a barista at the “Barnes and Noble Café.” In reality, it was a Starbucks inside a bookstore. The point is, I never want to see any person drink a Frappuccino ever again. I still have nightmares from those sticky syrups.
I’ve had food service and other jobs where I spent hours filing or entering data. But, for me, a job “bites” when you think you’ll love it—and then don’t. My senior year in college, I served as the features editor for our daily newspaper. As a journalism student, I thought this was something I should do. I hated it almost immediately. The deadlines were unrelenting, and the writers were unreliable. I wasn’t ready for the responsibility and quit about a month in. Figuring out that your career path may not be 100% on point when you’re a senior? Yeah, that bit.
I once served tables at a 24-hour diner. Of course, I worked the night shift: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Not only was the schedule grueling, but I also encountered some very… unique characters during those hours. Nothing could make me go back to that!
My worst job by far was in food services—and I stayed there for 5 whole years from ages 14 to 19! Terrible as it was, it taught me A LOT about what “working” truly meant, and I think the experience definitely had in impact on my future work ethic and career goals. I’d recommend some time behind the register to all the high school kids out there.
While I have never had a job that really “bites,” I have worked previously for my dad who—instead of paying me in money—decided I was working for my “right to bite,” i.e., I was earning my stay in my parents’ house. For him, he saw it as an opportunity to teach me about working in an office environment. To me, it sounded more like he was capitalizing on free labor! Either way, it helped me get where I am today, so I am quite thankful!
All right, readers, now it’s your turn! Share your job that “bites” in the comments!