June 26, 2007
Sherry asked me the other day which of the jobs I held was the worst. I told her that such a question isn't easy so answer on the spot, and promised I'd do a post detailing all my jobs, to help me decide. Here goes:
- As a kid I was supposed to help on the family farm. My siblings and cousins (who had been brought down as reinforcements during the heavy season) will attest that I spent most of the time with my nose planted inside a book.
- When I was around 12 years old, I worked as a cleaner at the pool on our moshav. I had to clean the change rooms and hose down the walkways and poolside. I remember that the key to open the front gate would often stick and that the hose was really heavy. In addition to my paltry wage, I was also allowed to swim laps in the morning, when the pool was only open for the local female adults.
- Shortly after we moved to Toronto, when I was 14, my mom suggested that I apply for a job at the local library. I worked as a page (shelving books) for a year. Mindless work, but I used to sneak out books without signing them out, and TOTALLY raided the office supplies and swank announcement paper.
- After a year, a Longo's grocery store opened up near our house so I worked there for a year, as a cashier. At one stage they promoted me to cash supervisor. I was a HORRIBLE manager and was demoted rather quickly. After a year I'd had enough and left.
- The next summer I worked for one day at a window treatment company. It took me about 5 hours to thread one blind. The owner, who was the husband of my mom's schoolmate, suggested I'd be better off watching his daughters while his wife worked in the business.
- I babysat them for an entire summer, including a two week trip to Vancouver with them, when their grandfather was dying. Vancouver was pretty. I must have watched the Little Mermaid and Jungle Book about a thousand times each that summer. I continued to babysit them once a week during the following school year.
- Then I got a job at CIBC. It started as a co-op for school credit, and lasted nearly 8 years.
- My first job there, which lasted for 3 years, was as a teller. Easy work and I really enjoyed it for the most part, but after 3 years I decided I wanted to start working full-time and was looking for something slightly more challenging.
- Next I worked at a downtown branch, in the basement back office. All I did all day long was process Guaranteed Investment certificates (CDs) and look up copies of cheques for customers who had problems with their accounts. Then my colleague on the investments desk went on maternity leave and I took over for her as well.
- In addition to the GICs, I now booked T-Bills, Bankers' Acceptances and Commercial Papers. I had to call the trading desk to do this and loved it. I got quite friendly with most of the traders and even went down there for a visit a couple of times. They used to get beers at their desks on Friday afternoons. The direct line to one of the traders, or variations thereof, has been my online password since then.
- Next I became an assistant to an Account Manager. She was the most successful Account Manager at the branch, and quite possibly in the district. I really liked her and we became great friends. I learned a ton from her. Then a black cat passed between us, and after a very tense period, I decided to move on. She stayed on at the bank for a couple more years and then ended up having a bunch of babies and moving up north.
- My next job was as a Sales and Service Representative, or in other words, a call centre slave. I hated the job with an intense passion, and quite irritatingly, I was fantastic at it. I consistently had one of the highest call quality averages in the call centre, and my sales were really good. The only thing I didn't do well on was call quantity. I was supposed to take 13 calls an hour but almost consistently took 10 or 11.
- My reward for the awesome call quality scores was to become a call quality monitor. For six months I listened in on calls, grading agents on their calls. LOVED. IT. Today when I call service numbers though, and have to listen to their recitations of scripts, in my head I give them a high score, but in my gut I want to throw up. It's all so fake and insincere.
- After the six months were up, I went back on the phones and hated every single second. All my monitor colleagues were getting other jobs, or were being called to help with the monitoring, and for some reason I kept getting turned down for jobs in the centre and was never asked to back up the monitors. This was a black, black period for me. I was lead to understand that I'd pissed someone in management off, and was left with little option but to leave.
- I applied for a job as a Personal Banker at another downtown branch. They ended up hiring someone else, but liked me enough that they decided to create a position for me in the district office.
- I got to the district office the first day, and about 5 minutes later everyone (including me) cleared out to the coffee shop downstairs for a cigarette break (I don't smoke). We sat there for a good 45 minutes (with the District Manager). We went back upstairs and he explained to me that he wanted me to call up clients who had opened bank accounts and to survey their satisfaction with the process and the bank. Me. COLD CALLING PEOPLE. Who mostly didn't speak any English. Well, after about half an hour of this pure hell, it was time for another group cigarette break. Forty five minutes later we were back at our desks, gathered our wallets and went out to get lunch. This took about 25 minutes. We came back and all sat down to eat in the conference room. An hour later we went down for the post lunch cigarette break. Forty five minutes later we went upstairs, made a few calls, filed a little, and went down for our last cigarette break. After that all that was left was to come back up tidy our desks and leave for the day. This went on for about 4 months. Not a word is a lie.
- One of the district branches needed a Personal Banker at this stage, so I was sent down to take on the position. It was fairly harmless and the staff (for the most part) was nice. The manager was a cringe-worthy, creepy wimp. In addition to being a Personal Banker (and I made very little effort to be particularly good) I also opened and closed the branch sometimes, which meant messing around with safe combinations and stuff. Not fun. I could never get the safes to open.
- That branch closed after a few months (but not before I got a nice, totally undeserved raise) and merged with a branch down the street, so off I went to be a Personal Banker there. For the most part, I really enjoyed it – not so much the job, but the staff was great, the manager was extremely supportive. However, I had been going on for nearly 8 years with the bank and the last time I had learned something new had been about three years prior. I finally reached my breaking point, over something fairly asinine. I had made an appointment with a client, who was running late. My manager made me take a walk-in client, which pissed me off as I didn't want my client to have to wait when she arrived. Immediately after the walk-in walked out, I typed up my letter of resignation and handed it in. My client never showed up. I left the bank two weeks later. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I just joined a class-action suit against the bank for unpaid overtime :).
- At this point, I had very little direction or idea of what I wanted to do. I had very little money in the bank, and not three days after I submitted my resignation, my roommate announced that she was leaving three weeks hence. Thanks for the advance notice, babe! Helpful! I muddled through for a couple of months on temp jobs, then moved back home, having decided to move to Israel. One of the temp jobs was at Bank of Montreal. I worked in their bond trading back office for a couple of months. For about three weeks, I watched the person whom I was replacing perform some sort of wizardry in Excel (which at the time I had no knowledge of), with many, many forays into Visual Basic. He had written the program they were using and it was FULL of bugs. He was sick one day, and it turned out that in spite of sitting there glassy-eyed and seemingly not following him in the least, I totally knew what to do. I managed to do the job for a while, but my travel date was coming up, so I quickly trained a replacement and was on my way. This job sucked a lot, but I mention it because my tuition was learning Excel, and being able to tell you that my replacement had been out of the job market for over a year. Because she had been run over by a garbage truck. REALLY. She was also crazy, but I have no way of knowing if that preceded the garbage truck or not.
- I arrived in Israel, speaking very little Hebrew. I learned to type Hebrew in two days, on the promise of a job at a friend's that didn't materialize (I type Hebrew at around 60-70 wpm now). My sister was working for the mayor of Tel Aviv at the time, and was able to get me a job with a friend in the special events department. I worked there for about two months and LOVED IT. We were in charge of planning all of the official events for the mayor. Street namings, park openings, special ceremonies, etc. For the first month, I was paid directly by the municipality. The second month was a problem, as their regulations only allowed them to employ someone temporarily for a month. The friend made some sort of arrangement whereby a security company that they did business with would pay me as though I had worked for them. I went off to Toronto for a month to tie up loose ends and upon returning, found out that the company was refusing to pay me, until the city paid them in advance. Since the city tends to pay anywhere between 90 days and a year from the date of invoice, I ended up with no money. I eventually got paid, but only after going over the friend's head, which pissed her off. Whatever. I have little tolerance these days for toxic friends and she turned out to be nothing but. It took me ages to dump her.
- Regardless of all this, the municipality actually offered me a job, but since it was for the whopping sum of about $700 a month, I told them where to shove their offer.
- My next job was arranged through my cousin. A friend of his was running a software outsourcing start-up and needed a secretary. The guy didn't really interview me, but he took me to his investor, who questioned me about everything other than my professional skills (Married? Kids? Boyfriend? Blahblah). Immediately after the rather invasive "interview" he said: "I don't want you for the job, but [CEO] apparently owes your cousin a favour so I guess the job is yours. There wasn't much of an office – we rented a room in one of the investor's other offices. I mostly did nothing all day, and got paid peanuts. I met someone who for a while became a very good friend there, so there was some merit to the job. The CEO ended up leaving a couple of months later, and seeing the writing on the wall, I moved on as well, but not before getting to hear the asshole investor mention that I was an asset to the company (because I had suggested blocking the CEO's email account upon his rather shady departure).
- I was hired by a venture capital fund as a secretary. The salary was very high, and the benefits were pretty awesome. The job was hell. The company had a CEO (BIG, BIG ASSHOLE) and two investment managers. One was a royal bitch, though I got along with her for the most part, and the other was ok, but he could be a big ass too, and he had some sort of speech impediment (I think his tongue was too big) and I barely understood half of what he said. There was also an accountant, who may have been the craziest, meanest person I'd ever met, and a lawyer. The lawyer started around the same time as I did, and when the accountant (who did the payroll) found out he was making more money than her, she and the bitch investment manager decided to make his life miserable. He ended up quitting about 9 months later. He was no prize, but he didn't deserve to be ganged up on like he had been. To his credit, he had negotiated a contract that said they couldn't fire him for the first year and would have to finance his writing of the NY Bar. The other secretary could also be a nasty piece of work, but after a while I got used to her and we became good friends. We're no longer in contact, but she was ok. I joined the company near the conclusion of the high-tech bubble of 2000-2001. After two or three busy months, everything died. No one was investing in anything, there was no work to do (other than filing) and I was climbing the wall. Add to that being treated like crap, and the raging suicide bombs of the Intifadah that had reared its head a few months after I arrived in Israel, and I decided I'd had enough. I quit and moved back to Toronto. My description does no justice to how horrible this place was. I'll write up another post to detail examples of it, but the true highlight of the job was the day the CEO told me and his secretary that he didn't pay us to think.
- I returned to Toronto about a month after I quit and did some temping. My mom saw an ad for a temporary secretarial job at a Jewish school, covering a three month maternity leave. Given that maternity leave in Canada is a year long, I was surprised that someone would only take three months off, but knowing what I know today about BDI, nothing surprises me. (Read back the archives from 2003-2004 for BDI shenanigans) The job itself was awesome. Three months later when BDI came back, instead of letting me go they created a position for me that I loved. In addition to secretarial work, I was also in charge of the production of 4 textbooks, so essentially I was also a desktop publisher. I got along famously with my boss, tolerated BDI (ok, that's a lie. Couldn't tolerate her at all. Hey, did I mention BDI was fired? For threatening a girl that ended up replacing me eventually?), made great friends, but after a couple of years there, I had a yen to go back to Israel.
- I returned to Israel towards the end of 2004. For six months I did a bit of translating (very little) and mostly squandered my savings at the neighbourhood cafe. In February 2005 I did a translation job for someone, who in turn ended up offering me a full-time job. I hadn't really been looking for a job and the pay and benefits weren't exactly where I figured they should be, but I decided to take it on. It was better than no job at all, and it wasn't like I had been looking, anyway.
- I had no idea what the job would be. I was working for a small company, sub-contracted to a huge, government-owned aviation concern, working in their UAV division. The first three months were hell. I was supposed to coordinate the preparation of a bid document in response to a tender. The timeline was impossible, people were not giving me the materials that I needed, I didn't understand any of it anyway, and my MS-Word skills, as it turned out, left MUCH to be desired. But then the deadline was extended, and people took that to mean they were in no rush to give me work, and I ended up going to work every day, sitting in front of a computer and doing nothing. There was no internet, and I could hardly show up and read a book. I suffered for a few months and then told my boss that I'd had enough and that as soon as I found another job, I'd be leaving.
- Within two weeks he transferred me to another project, which was the exact opposite of where I'd been. There were a ton of people, most of whom were pretty awesome, and there was more work to do than hours in the day. I often worked 12 hour days, if not more. It was a really exciting project and I was mostly along for the ride for a huge milestone, which was fantastic. However, I was covering for someone's maternity leave (seriously – she made BDI look good), and when she returned I was transferred to another part of the project, which was yet another hell.
- Although I used a rather advanced database, as far as I was concerned, all I did for six months was file. I hated every single moment of it. Oh, except for the part where I met my boyfriend! Hi baby! After the six months were up, and that part of the project ended, I ended up working here and there on various bids. Though I enjoy putting together documents, and messing around with MS-WORD, I was bored and I was tired of the "human factor" that seemed to repeatedly star in my work. As of a month ago, I no longer work there. Though this job had lots of ups and downs, I learned so much there, that I consider it to be one of my best jobs ever. Truly. I also made some fantastic friends there, which is always a bonus.
- Somewhere in the middle of the last job, I started translating more seriously, when a television channel that was putting on a new local production of a very well known children's television show contracted my services. They needed all of the scripts translated into English, so that the program's owner could approve them. I did (and still do) a lot of work for them, and enjoy just about every minute of it. In general, my translating work has picked up a lot in the past year, and though I haven't actually done much to look for work, if I made just the smallest effort, I could probably live on it rather comfortably.
- What's next for me? Time will tell.
So - which was my worst job? It's a toss up, but I'd say that the Venture Capital job was it. I spent a year there, taking nothing but abuse and I came out of it having learned not a single thing. With most of my other crappy jobs, there was at least something positive or amusing to take away, somewhat offsetting the misery but not so in that job.
So there you have it. What was your worst job?
Posted by raptorgirl at June 26, 2007 07:56 PM
You failed to mention newspaper delivery person for the Thornhill Liberal, a very short-lived experience which you quickly passed on to your brother.
Oh, yeah! That was so short lived I totally forgot about it. I think I delivered all of... once?
That was a very interesting read! Do you feel the time has flown by looking at your work history broken down like that, flat on the page?
My worst job was a side job, doing medical billing for one of the most corrupt doctors I've ever met. I never saw a patient come into that office, yet he miraculously had stacks of fee tickets to be billed to Medicare. What a fraud.
Well, resume is fairly up-to-date and is fairly extensive. I'm a very different person today than I was in my early 20s, and a lot of my discontent was a function of my being a miserable sow. I think that even bad jobs can teach you something, but what I know today is that I won't tolerate jobs that are bad yet have no redeeming value. I could have spent the last couple of years making a lot more money, but the difference between what I earned and what I could have earned was more than made up for with what I call my "tuition fees". What I learned is much more valuable than that difference.
I can look back in mostly amusement today, even on the bad situations, because they only served to make me better, at least from a professional perspective. I've also been fairly fortunate to have some really great jobs.