Frozen Bananas, Deep Fat Fryers, Crappy Showers & Me
I had many unpleasant jobs as a high school and college student needing to earn money for college.
Aside from babysitting (which I started at age 11), my first job was at a frozen banana factory. I worked there the summer that I was 14 (got a special permit to work that young) making frozen bananas covered in chocolate and nuts -- the kind of "treat" that people mostly buy at the beach or at fairs or carnivals. This may make the job sound like fun, but eating and making food are two different things. And to this day when I smell bananas, I have a bad acid flashback.
We had to carry 50 pound bunches of fresh bananas to our work tables while large spiders dropped out of them, peel them in a single motion (I can still demonstrate how to do this), put them on sticks, freeze'em on racks, then carry the (awkward) stacks of racks of already-frozen bananas out of the walk-in freezer (without dropping any), dip the bananas in molten chocolate and roll them in chopped nuts before bagging and boxing them and putting them back in the freezer -- all before they thawed.
The only fun part of the job was what one of my co-workers called "cleaning my nuts," which was when we trolled in our bin of chopped nuts for the gobs of chocolate that had dropped and congealed there. We popped these nutty little clusters into our mouths all day to give us energy to keep standing and dipping for 8 hours.
After that job, I started working in restaurants and was a bus girl, a hostess and a waitress over various summers. (I could tell tales from all those jobs, but let's keep this relatively short!) Then when I was 17, I graduated from high school in 3-1/2 years and worked 40-50 hours/week at Jack in the Box for 7 months until I left for college.
At Jack's, I not only learned what's in secret sauce (our joke: Why don't they show Jack's hands on the logo? A: Where do you think they get secret sauce from?) -- I also learned to make a prefab (don't ask) milkshake one-handed with a single motion (see a theme here?) on a cranky machine that was fond of spewing shake mix all over those who didn't treat it right.
I found out what fast food looks like behind-the-scenes (such as the frozen preformed filling that the tacos arrived with from the warehouse) and at least way back in the 70's, it wasn't pretty. Plus the young guys working the fryers spit into them for fun to make them crackle and hiss. To this day, I can't smell frying food without having a bad acid flashback (again) to my days encased in an orange and brown polyester uniform asking dozens of people an hour, "Can I take your order?"
The worst job there was working the carport, which in those days required pushing and holding a stiff pedal firmly with your knee to activate the intercom/speaker to the cars outside, while writing their order in wax pencil on a plastic board above my head and simultaneously ringing up an order and pushing food out to another car waiting at the window. The first few weeks on the carport, I had bruises all over my knee, as well as greasy nightmares.
But these were merely warm-ups for what I consider my worst job, as a maid at the university I attended. Every summer, they turned the "nice" dorm with the suites into a resort center where families could stay and take advantage of the tennis courts and other campus amenities while having their kids kept busy all day with activities run by college students. (All at a fraction of the cost of a regular "resort".)
Everyone who stayed there had kids, and while the kids played, so did the parents, who engaged in a lot of drinking. I became very familiar with the nauseating smell of beer and used Pampers mixed together in the trash cans when I cleaned their rooms. (This may be why I didn't drink beer until my early 40's.)
Our guests all seemed to be from affluent parts of L.A. and expected us to perform the same sort of daily cleaning that maids in fancy hotels do, but without giving us any tips. Unless you count the Worst Gift of All left for me one day on the floor of a shower that I had to clean: A huge pile of shit.
Cleaning several toilets every hour for 8 hours a day was bad enough, but having someone leave me shit in a shower "for the maid to deal with because she's beneath me, after all" - - well, that qualifies as My Worst Job Ever.