Tuesday, May 3, 2022

What was your worst job ever?

The year was 1989. It was the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. I worked as a busboy in the dining room of an assisted living facility. It paid $7 an hour, which was a great wage 33 years ago. 

Clearing tables, however, wasn't the only job duty. Part of my job was to "drive" non-ambulatory residents from their apartments to the dining room for dinner. One resident in particular — who, in hindsight, almost certainly suffered from some form of dementia — would answer her door completely nude. But that wasn't what made that summer job my worst job ever.

What made it my worst job ever was the dish washing. Each of us would take turns on a rotating shift of back-of-house tasks, including washing dishes. That's also not what made that job my worst job ever. That fact goes to the bucket of ice water the kitchen manager provided us to numb our hands so that we could catch and sort the dishes as soon as they rack came through the belt on the industrial dishwashing machine. The white ceramic was so hot that it looked to be glowing a tinge of red. And there I was, once every four shifts, repeatedly submerging my hands in ice water so that I could adequately perform my job. Did we get gloves? No. Did I ask for gloves? Absolutely. What was I told, "We gave you a bucket of ice water; be happy you get that."

I actually lasted the whole summer. I'm not a quitter and could never imagine letting that employer get the best of me (burns on my hands notwithstanding). 

Now, of course, with two and a half decades of employment law experience in my rearview mirror I can spot that OSHA violation from a million miles away. Indeed, I hadn't thought about that experience in years, but was reminded of it upon reading this OSHA news release announcing $161,000 in civil penalties against seven Little Ceasars' franchises for allowing 15-year-old workers to engage in prohibited and hazardous activities. 

I've also been thinking a lot lately about my jobs as a high schooler, as my 15-year-old just started her first part-time job. On this week's episode of The Norah and Dad Show, you'll hear Norah talk about her brand-new job, which she absolutely loves. Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Overcast, from our website, and everywhere else podcasts are available.

I'd love to read about the jobs you held as a teenager, and which was your worst. Please share in the comments below.