Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mundularity


This one's going to be another interactive post; I want to hear back from all of you. I mean it, now!

I wanna hear about the most tedious, boring, or mundane job you've ever had.

I have two, that nearly did me in, coma-ly speaking. Back in 1982, I was a bindery clerk in a large printing company. It was physical, busy work, and mildly stimulating, most of the time.

Mildly, I said. At least you had to stay alert enough to avoid losing limbs in huge machinery. Or your head; there were very strict safety regulations about the length of your hair. If it touched your collar, you had to wear a hairnet, lest your hair get caught in some rollers, and your head be ripped off. I once tired of the hairnet, broke down and got a very short haircut.

It still touched my collar. I mean it *ting* juuuuust tagged up to my collar, if I wore a collar. I was ordered by the safety nazi's to put my hairnet back on, or get written up. I was so pissed off that I bought some big black hairnets, and wore the knot right in the middle of my forehead, Ruth Buzzy style.

The OSHA officials yawned and said "go ahead, you stupid little girl, we couldn't care less." I persisted until the men on the nightshift asked me to stop because they couldn't stand to look at me anymore.

Excuse me. I got off on a tangent. I meant to say, that the work there generally stimulating enough that the shifts went by quickly.

Though there was ONE mind-numbing job: Catching.

"Catching" entailed standing at the end of a long press, and "catching" the paper that came off the end. Then you'd put it in a box, then 1/2 hour or so and then catch some more.

An older woman that I worked with used to just go to sleep when she was catching. The idea of it was mortifying to me; even at 19 I had a strong work ethic, and sleeping on the job!!! horrors! I remember quaking in my boots one night as the supervisor approached my snoozing co-worker. Imagine my surprise when he nudged her and said "Wake up Gussie! Wanna work overtime?" So instead of sleeping until 11:00 p.m., she slept til 1 a.m.

****

My second boring job was also in a printing company, a textbook company. There, we were given skids and skids and skids of freshly printed pages, and we were to look at every single page, front and back, to check that the printing was good, that there were no blank pages, etc. This job was called "Flipping." Yes. I was a "flipper," not to be confused with a "flapper," which would have been infinitely more stimulating.

Sitting in a chair, and flipping pages, day in and day out, mountains of pages waiting behind us, presses still running and creating more pages for flipping security.

The kicker is that we were not supposed to talk to one another while we were flipping.
The upper echelon apparently thought that we were all so daft that we couldn't talk and do mind-numbing work at the same time.

The problem you see...was, well me. You see how much crap I have in my head here! My head is, and always has been, a multi-tasking head; it simply must do more than one thing at a time! Even as I write right now, my head is off somewhere practicing its spanish. It can't be bothered to sit and watch me blog.

I swear I'd try to behave myself while I was flipping, but after a couple hours, I'd lean over to a fellow flipper and whisper "did you bring your lunch?"

Immediately, sirens and alarms would go off in the front office, and I'd get called up front, and the head honcho would tell me to shut my pie-hole.

It's a wonder I didn't combust.

****

My friend Di had a job, as a kid, at a company that made balsa-wood curtain rings. Her job, as the rings went down the assembly line, was to poke her finger into the middle of each one, popping out the center circle that was scored into the wood. (hence, forming a ring)

OK, she wins, that was definitely worse than my two worst-est boring-est jobs.

****

Ding, ding ding!!! Your turn!!! What's the the worst, most boring, or most mundane thing you ever got paid for?

Inquiring Minds...

21 comments:

  1. Lawyering is pretty mundane after doing it for 30 years. About the only thing going for it is you work in air conditioning so you don't sweat much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are of course, very familiar with my most boring job. I lasted almost three months I think, in that time perfecting the art of sleeping with my hands on the keyboard and waking at the slightest sound behind my head. I think it was the glue Kurt used to build the cubicle that really did me in. Thank god Yoram never called me princess.

    I lasted until my 21st birthday where drunkenness of epic proportions overtook me. I called in to say I'd be late at nine, still pretty well tanked. I fell back to sleep and woke up at three, when I called in and said I wasn't coming back.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Stfarmer7:31 AM

    I was a rubber tester. :)

    Ok, I know that needs some explanation. I worked for a company that manufactured weatherstrips for cars. They also mixed the rubber that was used to make the weatherstrips. My job was to test the rubber to make sure it was within specifications. They could crank out a batch of rubber every three minutes.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous8:31 AM

    FYI Lori,
    The "head honcho" is worse now than back then. Man, I need to find a new job. I could fill your day with stories about meaningless jobs from that place. But I don't feel like slitting my wrists remembering them. Boy, I'm glad I took today off.

    you know who.....

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have never had a mind numbing job..I'm hyper and most my jobs were go go go.
    I had a few nuts for bosses tho.
    He's an example....
    I had a waitress job.
    The Boss was anal.
    The Bowling Alley across the street closed for the night and everyone came over. I was rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off. The boss demanded I stop and Vacuum Sweep the floor right that minute because the carpet was new. I tried to explain how busy I was and asked if he could help and he told me no, It was my job.
    I handed him my apron and told him to do it himself and left.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amishlaw: Anything would become mundane after 30 years; romanticize it and refer to yourself as a "master attorney."

    Mike: Laughing my ass off here; I was waiting for this from Chaz! You were, admittedly, here during a tumultuous era;It's MUCH better now that I'm in charge. Just ask Chuck...who couldn't stand the excitement of clearing for 10s every day either. Btw, that carpet he glued on the cubicles hasn't been vacuumed since you left; it's allergen city here now....in case you want to come back.

    Stfarmer: How'd you test it? Give it a good pull and see if it was bouncy enough? And every 3 minutes...you were like Lucy in the chocolate factory.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear I know who: Really! I figured they'd mellow with age, though everyone was about 98 when I worked there 20 years ago...

    Lynn: OMG, Good for you for putting the snot-nosed boss in his place. What a nut!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I once had to hand out 5000 adverts for a PS2 controller in a toy store, for 4 days. This would not have ordinarily been a problem but the toy store was the size of a postage stamp and had very little foot traffic. It was as exciting as watching paint dry. I ended up watching Spiderman about 20 times, without any sound. I had to get rid of the adverts to get paid, so I got my mom and step-dad to come by and I would give them 100 adverts at a time to dispose as they pleased.

    But it's not nearly as boring as being a silent flipper.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ok, that IS bad, and I'm sorry, but i laughed outloud at the watching Spiderman with no sound. That is pure torture! You should have put those flyers in the restroom, to use as t.p.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Again with the language comment.
    I can see what a flipper is and that it's mind numbing. I don't think there's such a job as a "flapper". I flapper was slang for a short haired and short skirted woman of loose morals back in the 1920's. Betty Boop wa a flapper. I think you mean "Fluffer" which is the woman (presumably) who keeps porn stars...um...interested between shots. Or reawakens their interest after shots as the case may be.
    I think that's what you mean, no?

    Boring jobs, boring jobs... work is dull. That's why they call it work. If it was fun they wouldn;t call it work and they wouldn't oay you for it. Mostly. I've had every sort of horrible mind numbing job imaginable and then some. The job I hated most was working as a cook at McDonald's hands down. Besides being vile, filthy work at the best of times I would get burned 500 times a day mostly on my hands. Needless to say I didn't last long there. I think I was there about a week before they fired me for refusing to cut my hair.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I meant flapper, all right. Short-skirted girlies doing the Charleston and living it up...MUCH more fun than flipper...and fluffer didn't cross my mind!

    McD's has a hair-code?!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I used to watch flipper as a kid... Iknow U aren't flipper :P

    My most mundane job was as a painter/painters helper in industrial painting. My hat is off to those guys - the job paid the bills, but it was a very lonely non-people job.

    ReplyDelete
  13. When I was at university, I spent the summer after my first year working in a car factory. For three months I spent eight hours a day painting dots of glue into the corner of map pockets for car doors. The glue sprayer (to which the upholstery would be stuck) couldn't get into the corners and it was cheaper to pay me (quite well, I might add) than fix the problem. The only thing that kept me from drinking the glue was the knowledge that I was off in September. The poor fool who took over when I left didn't have that to look forward to. I think he's still there...

    ReplyDelete
  14. When I was a teen I worked one summer pressing pants in a dry cleaners.

    The high point of my day was if I could catch a glimpse of one of the hotties working the register up front.

    ReplyDelete
  15. my most mundane of jobs (was mundane cuz i wasn't very good at it), was packing plums for my dad. i was anal about trying to match the perfect sizes of plums to be packed. "real" packers could tell by look/feel the appropriate sizes but at the beginning, i was holding up the plums side-by-side to see if they were comparable. needless to say, it didn't make my packing-day go very quickly. if i got 20 boxes done in a day, that was pretty darn good for me (there were really good packers that could pack around 100/day). and since it was my dad, i ended up going home early, citing allergy problems. never got to be very fast. my career hopes of becoming a top-notch plum-packer dashed. :)

    btw, your 1st job and the critical hair-length reminded me of a job that i had working as teller at a bank. we had a coin counting/rolling machine. one day, a co-worker, who had extremely long hair, had to use this machine. well, (i'm sure you could see this coming) she ended up getting her hair caught in this machine, almost to her scalp. she was stuck in an awkward, bent-over position for quite a lengthy period of time as people tried to figure out how to extricate her. she was pretty upset, as you can imagine, though not hurt. they were finally able to reverse the machine and unroll her hair -- ended up not having to take drastic steps like cutting her hair off. it wasn't funny at all at the time, but remembering this now, makes me giggle a little at the memory of her hunched over that machine... (does this make me a bad person?)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous11:19 PM

    Ok, I must admit.. I like tedious repetative jobs. My favortie thing to do at gordman's was get the new shipments take them out of the box, put the price tags on and put them back in the box. My worst job was blockbuster.. Where everyday you had to come in a look at the log of jobs to be done that day, and see the managers assigned jobs crossed out and written in under various names of the 'under' workers. AND those jobs had to be done first. That sucked the most cause you hated every minute of it, and no one had a personality. Almost like "Officespace" with out the cubicals.

    Brandi

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've had a few!

    I worked on the assembly line in a magnet packaging factory. Sometimes I'd heat seal the big sheets after putting the magnets on the cards and sometimes I'd be work the die cut machine and sometimes (when I was very lucky) I'd pack the boxes with 2 dozen each - flipped one way and the other to make them fit. Excitement beyond belief.

    I worked at Gino's - a fast food chain owned by some football player. It was like McD's with KFC - we really did have the Colonel's chicken. Dressing the burgers was as dull as dirt and so repetitive!

    My first job in advertising was as a media clerk. All I did was type in the times that all the radio commercials ran (thousands of them!) and hit the report button to see if the times matched the timeframes ordered. If not, I had to report which spots ran incorrectly. Mind numbing stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Stuffing envelopes. God, I hated stuffing envelopes. I was burnt out from working in domestic violence field so registered with a temp agency in order to do something mindless. Did you know that there are companies that hire people Full Time to stuff envelopes???? Neither did I.

    ReplyDelete
  19. My first job: Register One at a 24-hour Walgreens.

    Though I have to say it was hours of soul-crushing tedium punctuated by brief instances of panic-inducing stupidity from both customers AND coworkers.

    Lord, I hated that job.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The worst I ever had was working for a temp agency, answering phones for a cable company. Because I was only a contractor, I didn't have access to the computer, so I couldn't input work orders- all I could do was take down their information, and pass it along to a supervisor. Which meant that the people that called me wouldn't get their work orders inputted into the system for at least two hours after I spoke them. At least. It sucked because a. I was answering the phones constantly for unhappy/angry people, and b. I couldn't solve their problems. Yuck. I was very happy to leave that job after 3 weeks, when they didn't need me anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Stfarmer1:22 PM

    I'm a little late getting back to this but....

    Manufactured rubber is made from natural(from trees)or synthetic rubber which is mixed with oil, carbon black and lots of chemicals (retarders, blowing agents and fillers). There are different variations of the receipe depending on how soft (spongy) the rubber is supposed to be. The rubber is extruded into the shape it needs to be and then heated to around 375 degrees to cure it. On the rubber has been cured it won't change shape anymore.

    My testing job involved checking the viscosity, cure rate and specific gravity of the rubber after it was mixed but before it was extruded and cured. One of the testing machines was called an oscillating disk rheometer (ODR for short). Even after all these years (20 years ago) I still love that name.

    More than you ever wanted to know, I'm sure!

    ReplyDelete

Back talk! Comment here!