Worst Job Ever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 23, 2013
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Most people remember their first job; I certainly won't forget mine. In my whole life, I can't remember being more miserable. The summer of my sophomore year, I finally found a job after a long search. It was at a well-known sub shop. I knew it wouldn't be the ideal place to work – it'd be hot and smelly – but it was a job, and I was excited.

I went to work eager to learn – and earn money – and I tried my absolute hardest to prove myself. However, in the first week I was constantly yelled at and told off. I was given dirty jobs and impossible tasks, and felt underappreciated in everything I did. I have never dreaded anything more than going to that place. It came to a point where I would become physically ill before going to work because I was so nervous. I worked hard and focused on my performance until I finally felt secure enough to calm down.

I had been working at the sub shop for two weeks, and that day I went to work feeling confident. I went right to my station and prepped for the day. Everything was going well – it was the lunch rush and I was keeping up with the orders – so it was completely unexpected when my boss pulled me off the line, requesting to talk. This was odd, since this typically only happens to workers who are in trouble, and as far as I knew I hadn't broken any rules or done anything to get myself in trouble. Not only did the boss take me out of the kitchen, but he pulled me outside. Of course, at this point, I was panicking.

He was a large man with short stumpy legs that appeared to buckle under his weight. His face was covered in stubble, and his body was covered with tattoos. This man was the source of most of my stress. He waited until the door closed before he spoke.

“So I need to go over a few things with you,” he began. “Some of the other workers told me you have an attitude problem. I'll have you know, this won't be tolerated. You remember what happened to Sam? We really hoped you would be different.” He paused to take a drag off his cigarette. “You can't have an attitude. You can't be rude to other employees. I've hand-picked them, so if they have a problem with you, I have a problem with you. And I don't think you want me to have a problem with you.”

As he spoke, I could feel my face getting red with embarrassment and panic. I knew I didn't have an attitude problem; I never even spoke at work, let alone oozed sass. I was extremely careful about how I carried myself. Last week, the girl I'd been trained with, Sam, had been fired. Every day after that, I was told, “Don't be like Sam.” I was determined to prove I was a harder worker, but it seemed I was failing. I didn't think I had an attitude problem, which left me desperately trying to think of a reason why he would want to fire me.

“Do you know what I mean?” he asked, cutting into my thoughts. I tried not to cough on the smoke his words blew at me.

“I don't mean to be rude, but I really don't. I haven't been giving anyone attitude. In fact, I've been on my best behavior,” I replied.

He scowled, and I felt like shrinking back into myself. “Well, I'm not going to give you examples. That's not fair to those who reported you,” he snapped.

“Oh, absolutely,” I said in a sickly sweet tone, at this point just trying to promise improvement and keep my emotions in check. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of seeing me cry.

A customer walked by, eyeing us curiously.

“Another problem I see with you is, hmm, how do I say it? I wouldn't call it laziness … just a lack of motivation.” His words were biting; I can still picture his bloated face as he said them.

“I mean look at me – I'm 300 pounds and I can run circles around you. I need to see a serious improvement or we're going to take action. You're a good kid, I know that, but you're not showing it.”

I had moved on from being embarrassed and teary; now I was just bitter. No one at the shop had made any effort to get to know me. He treated all of the employees like scum he scraped off the grill.

He dismissed me to go back to my station, though I was in no shape to impress anyone at that point. The lunch rush had really taken off, and it was incredibly busy. I occupied myself with spreading mayonnaise on rolls.

The boss returned and said, “Molly, drop what you're doing. You're going to be trained on the register.” I sighed in relief – the register was much less stressful than the other stations. But before I began, he pulled my trainer to the side and whispered things to her, making it clear he was talking about me. This carried on throughout the day; he made my coworkers watch me and judge me. I felt victimized the entire time.

I had done nothing wrong, but here I was being punished, by not only the boss, but by all of the employees. I was just a 16-year-old girl working her first job, but I felt like I was the target of a sick joke. I felt like everything I was told to do was a test. It seemed like I was being setting up for failure, sent on impossible tasks, or expected to do too much for someone who had worked there for such a short time. This trend continued the next week, and in desperation I finally got another job. The relief I felt was unbelievable. After all the bullying and harassment, I felt a load lift off my chest.

The day I planned to give my notice, I went to work feeling incredibly nervous. I was working register, so it was an easy day. However, every time I calmed down, I would remember what I'd have to do before I left and tense up again. The lunch rush was unbelievable, and I was the only one working the register because the boss had decided to take a break.

When things finally slowed down, he came downstairs and quietly talked to the guy working the grill. He then announced, so all could hear, that the girl working put-up was doing a great job. Then he looked directly at me and said, “Grill man says you're doing a really bad job, that you're working really slow, and that's why I had to come down here, so thanks for that.”

I filled up with such rage that I wanted to storm out then and there, but my shift didn't end for fifteen more minutes. Instead I looked at him, put on my best “bad attitude” face, and gave a big thumbs up, which caused him to scowl. I was no longer nervous about his reaction; I was fueled by the rage from his rude remarks.

When my shift finally ended, I walked up to my manager and said, “Could I talk to you?” He put on his “I'm a good boss” face before nodding and walking to the back with me.

“What's up?” he asked. I could see the other workers eavesdropping on our conversation. I didn't care at this point, so I just went for it.

“I've found another job. I can work the rest of my shifts, but after that I'll be leaving,” I said sassily. Yes, it was unprofessional, but everything about this place screamed unprofessional. His face twisted up, not in anger, but in a sort of annoyance. I knew he wanted to fire me, but I beat him to it. I had won.

On my last day of work, everyone knew I was leaving. They sent me on stupid jobs, which I made sure to do as slowly as possible. Everything they thought of me, they got. I wanted to make a lasting impression as “the really slow and sassy girl who worked here for a month and then quit.” I left early and didn't even glance back as I drove away blasting One Direction.

I'm glad I went through this awful experience, because it made me stronger. It also helped me experience the real world. I'd never dealt with such disrespectful people, and I hope never to have to again. I learned a lot from this, but I hope it's a lesson I only have to experience once.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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UnicornUnice This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 27, 2014 at 2:12 pm
Whew! My heart was beating fast and my palms were getting sticky as I was reading the part about your boss telling your "sassy" attitude. It is amazing that you managed to leave your job with dignity! Although I never had a job before, I heard that they can get really, really terrifying. I saw my own sister rant on about how horrible her day at an internship went. Yikes, I hope I won't have a sleazy boss or work in a place where I have to be on high alert and anxious the whole time... (more »)
Bethani said...
Jan. 10, 2014 at 12:50 pm
I'm so sorry. I was bullied at my last job for being autistic along with my learning disability. My manager threatened to fire me because I made a mistake consistently in the first month. This isn't right and he was extremely unprofessional.
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