Thursday, May 26, 2011
Take this Job and ....
By Deborah Sharp
A guy wrote recently in the New York Times Sunday magazine about his worst job ever: Dressed in a gorilla suit, he delivered flowers, cakes, or balloons, even doing a monkey dance or singing songs. He recalled the night that a bunch of drunken college boys celebrated their pal's birthday by dousing the gorilla-gram guy with beer.
Reading about the beer-swilling celebrants got me thinking about awful jobs. High on my list was a cocktail waitress gig at a college bar near the University of Georgia. It was the 80s; I was in grad school, and always short of money. The tips were good, but I had to put up with being pawed at by legions of UGA frat boys. Even worse were the aging alumni, who'd return on game days in huge, tricked-out RVs with horns that blared ''Dixie.'' They were old enough to know better, but there they were: Drunk, stupid, dressed from head-to-toe in red and black to relive their good ol' boy glory days as Georgia Bulldog football fans.
Like the gorilla guy, I had plenty of beers spilled on me when I worked at O'Malley's Tavern. Unlike the pawing, though, I'm pretty sure the dousings were unintentional. A Ph.D. candidate in psychology, I chalked all those beer baths up to alcohol-induced impairment of sensory motor functions. Sloppy drunks, in other words.
That wasn't even my worst job as I worked my way through UGA. Ask me sometime about being a member of the late-summer cleaning crew charged with sprucing up Sanford Stadium for the opening day of football season. My job was washing down the plastic seats. They numbered eighty-some thousand back then, and most of them covered in pigeon poo. The upside: Swabbing bird turds made the spilled beer seem benign.
Joel Lovell, who wrote the Times' essay on wearing the monkey suit, concluded his piece by revealing that one of the beer-swilling college students gave him a $30 tip. He said he could have rejected the money, asserting some pride. But he didn't. ''The pay was worth the humiliation,'' he wrote.
I look back, and remember the tips I pocketed at O'Malley's. I kept my mouth shut, plastered a smile on my face, and learned to side-step the worst of the roaming hands. The pay didn't make the humiliation worthwhile ... it just made it a necessary evil.
What was your most humiliating job? Looking back, would you have done things differently?