For some unknown reason, recently I was reflecting back on the many varieties of jobs I’ve had. Throughout my life, I have had some of the most unique – and just plain quirky – job experiences out there. Would you believe that I once cleaned a house? That may not sound weird to you, but for a self-proclaimed “organized slob” who hates to clean, actually cleaned a house for a short time. And let’s not forget the time I attempted to be a vacuum cleaner salesman. Oops…excuse me – a salesWOMAN. (Or is it salesperson?) Don’t ask me why I bothered with that job. I’m a terrible salesperson! Both of those were while I was in college, and obviously I was desperate. But despite these two odd jobs, they don’t even rank as the top two worst jobs I have ever had. Those are the ones I want to entertain you with today.
That’s right. You read that correctly. I can see your eyebrows furrowed together with the confused expression on your face and “what in the world is that?” scrolling across your brain. Don’t feel bad. Ninety percent of America doesn’t know about the Midwest’s biggest kept secret. It’s so unusual that my spell checker doesn’t even provide an alternate word for “detasseling”! So let me enlighten you…
Every summer thousands of people (mostly teenagers and adults desperate for income) load up on a bus at 6 a.m. just to have the privilege of walking through cornfields, pulling the tassels out of the cornstalks. The tassels are those wheat-like looking things you see blooming out of the top (like what’s shown in the picture above). The purpose of this is so the plants don’t pollinate. The reason? I don’t have a clue because I don’t remember. However, I searched the internet and believe it or not, Wikipedia has an article about it. So if you’re really interested in case you ever plan on being a Jeopardy contestant (and I can understand if you don’t care), you can read all about it here. But here is an excerpt I found funny: Detasseling work is usually performed by teens; as such, it serves as a typical rite of passage in rural areas of the Corn Belt of the Midwestern United States. For many teens in these areas it is their first job. “Rite of passage”? Who are they kidding?!
This job is done in pouring rain and in the hottest of conditions. The bus would return anywhere between 4 and 5 p.m. Despite the summer heat, it was always a good idea to wear long sleeves; because I would come home with scratches all over my arms, filthy, exhausted, and sore. You would think that after being tortured for one summer, I never did it again. Wrong! I was just dumb enough – and desperate enough – to do it again for a second summer. The difference for the second summer, however, was a different company who treated the employees just a tad bit better.
Yes, I was one of those people who stood in a store, offering free samples to complete strangers. Remember my comment about not being a good salesperson? Well…this job was just plain horrible. Being shy by nature (and the shyness was worse then than it is now), it was challenging for me to greet customers let alone ask them if they wanted to sample something they didn’t come into the store to buy. I was also that annoying voice over the intercom, “Attention customers! Stop by the cheese section to sample Kroger’s in-store made pizza. They’re on sale today, 2 for $5. Thank you for shopping Kroger.” Oh, the humiliation! And I can tell you from experience that in-store made pizzas were not that great, and pawning free samples off onto unsuspecting customers did not increase sales. The only fun part of this job was actually making the pizzas to put out for sale. But it wasn’t just pizza that I would paste a fake smile on my face in an attempt to sell the goods. I also had to provide cheese samples. Have I mentioned I was desperate for a job?
On the upside, I have had many jobs that I enjoyed and didn’t regret. I spent many years of my life waitressing (which helped me get over quite a bit of my shyness) and I enjoyed it. But one of my favorite jobs was working for a scenic railroad on Cape Cod. Besides the fact it was just plain fun since I grew up with trains and love them, I felt like I had followed in my dad’s footsteps by working for a railroad. And of course, I absolutely love doing what I’m doing right now: serving as an assistant pastor. What makes it great is the pastor and pastoral staff I work with as well as the loving people I serve. (A little brownnosing never hurt anyone!)
So what was the worst job you’ve ever had?