Mary Poppins, Dead Birds and Human Flesh

Sarah Howden 28 May 2014

Caitlin Moran once said that “life divides into amazing enjoyable times and appaling experiences that will make future amazing anecdotes”. With that in mind, I asked our TCS readership about the worst jobs they’ve ever had, with some surprising results. At least we know there's something to fall back on if the degree doesn't work out.

“I started working in a kitchen when I was 13. The chef was this guy called Taz with a huge ginger beard and a love of Steven King novels. Every Sunday, when we got a roast in, he’d stab it several times with a carving knife. I once asked him why, and he said it was the closest he’d ever get to stabbing human flesh…”

“I worked in the kids’ section of Clarks for a year and a half. I don't know why because they paid £4.75 an hour and I don't really like children or feet. Once, a five year old girl launched a shoe at my face. They have hard shoes by that age! I narrowly avoided footwear-induced-blindness. The worst bit, though, was that her mum found it hilarious. After that, even free shoe polish couldn’t induce me to stay.”

Even less fun than it looks

I had a summer job working with the maintenance department at my school. Highlights included cleaning the swimming pool changing rooms, for what felt like the first time in about 50 years (Pubes. Everywhere.) I also cleaned out a chimney which had been boarded up for the last 30 years. It was full of soot and dead birds in varying states of decay…I felt like a Victorian chimney sweep and not in the Mary-Poppins way. On my first day at the same job, the boss made up names for all the female employees and refused to call us anything else from then on – I was 'Abigail' for months.”

“My last boss was a nightmare. On the first day of my waitressing job, he informed me that for ‘health and safety reasons’ my knee length skirt was too long (he was concerned I would ‘trip on the stairs’). Despite paying less than minimum wage, he kept our tips so I just hid them in my bra. I'd come home with 50 pence pieces stuck to my breasts. It was like working in the most low-budget strip club ever. I also got very weird looks when I jumped on the bus to go home and had to root around in my top to find the fare.”


All images credited to: Rob Jervis