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The Absolute Worst Working Environment? 1716

Posted by timothy
from the no-feet-we-were-too-poor dept.
goodEvans writes "As I write this, there is a window open behind me with a small jet engine outside. This is supplying vast amounts of compressed air to the aircraft undergoing heavy maintenance in the hangar right outside my door. There is a 6-inch diameter air hose going through the office and out the door. All this requires that I sit at my desk wearing a body warmer to keep out the cold, and both ear defenders AND ear plugs to keep out the noise! And this will go on for half a day once a week! What are the worst conditions you have ever had to work under?" Can you top that? (If top is the word ...)
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The Absolute Worst Working Environment?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:52PM (#8044748)
    I had to get up in the morning, at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill and pay mill-owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our dad would kill us and dance about on our graves, singing Hallelujah!

    Oh, ay. And you try and tell the young people of today that, and they won't believe you.
    • by tds67 (670584) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:03PM (#8044978)
      I had to get up in the morning, at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison...

      Luxury! I have to take my wireless laptop into the bathroom with me and multitask to increase productivity!

    • by ozbon (99708) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:03PM (#8044996) Homepage
      I can't top the original poster, that's for sure. I've had two vile working environments, though.

      The first was an office, writing SGML. (Bad enough) The office was actually a corridor, no windows, linoleum floor, and rather than desks, the working area was a length of kitchen worktop down one side of the corridor, where I worked with three others. The corridor had used to be a fire escape, 'til an extension was put on - so at the end of the corridor was a door with a sign on it that read "NO EXIT". Demoralising isn't in it.

      Before working in IT, I did some warehouse work. This was the second worst working environment I've dealt with - working for a supermarket chain, this particular warehouse simply cleaned the green plastic trays that held vegetables and fruit in the supermarkets. So yes, there was plenty of opportunity for rotting fruit/veg too.

      The actual work consisted of two jobs - you could either load the trays onto the cleaning machine, or load them off the machine and stack them. Soul-destroying.
      • by missing000 (602285) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:15PM (#8045186)
        I used to change tires at the Firestone cold weather test track in West Yellowstone Montana.

        We would get out there at ~3AM or whenever we hit low temp, typically -30 degrees fahrenheit, and try to keep tires on cars driving fast on a deiced track.

        The wind would bite, the hours sucked, and if you've never had to emergency jack an SUV at 50 below at 3AM, you've never felt true cold before.
      • by chimpo13 (471212) <slashdot@nokilli.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:49PM (#8045786) Homepage Journal
        I'm working 2 jobs right now (paying off credit cards/student loans). One as a half-assed programmer, the other cleaning monkey shit at a primate lab. 40 hour week at the monkey lab, standing in a puddle of monkey poo, while shooting hot water through the empty cages.

        Hosing poo, trying not to be splashed, while wondering "Is this one of the cages with the SIV poo?" SIV is Simian HIV. Or maybe it'll be a Hepatitis C monkey cage. It won't kill monkeys, but it'll kill humans.

        But hey, it's winter so the poo isn't as stinky and there's no flies & mosquitos. I'd much rather freeze my ass off then wonder if I'm getting bitten by an mosquito that's been dining off an infected research monkey.

        Last month they did some work on bubonic plague monkeys. I can't wait for the R.A.G.E. monkeys. Then I'll have an excuse for my upcoming killing spree.
      • Existential (Score:5, Funny)

        by siskbc (598067) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:22PM (#8046244) Homepage
        so at the end of the corridor was a door with a sign on it that read "NO EXIT". Demoralising isn't in it.

        You are a character from a Jean Paul Sartre book, aren't you?

      • by bonch (38532) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @04:40PM (#8047437)
        First half of last year, I answered a job in the paper asking for people with computer skills. I was told I would be coordinating some database backups and other miscellaneous things for local banks and ATMs. It seemed easy enough. It was a night job, from about 10 to 2 at the latest. I thought it would be fun to try. I was unemployed and needed the work.

        After the very first night, I came home freaked. The mainframe was a big IBM OS/2 machine, but connected to it were several absolutely ancient terminals running custom-written FORTRAN operating applications. These things were so horrible that I felt as though I had been transported back in time 20 years. Green and black monochrome screens, strange keyboards with weird keys I'd never seen, and lists of tabular data with no sane cursor control--for instance, to set an option for a certain batch job, you would have to move the cursor down through the list to the two underline characters sitting to the left of it and enter it there. It was a free cursor you could move anywhere over any text--apparently the software just checked if there were characters typed at a certain location on the screen.

        Along with that, you set things by typing in "P" or "Q" or whatever else into those little areas. There were entire sequences of function keys, letters to put next to jobs, certain ones to put in at certain times, and sitting beside these terminals a big tape drive machine. Behind me were two walls filled from floor to ceiling with garbled tape names like "PVADGH6," divided by day, week, and year. There was a sequence to these that I had to remember, or I would have to start all over. We're talking bank data here, so it would really fuck things up to get it wrong.

        Along with learning that, there was a huge, massive printer I had to learn, and during the process, I also had to go over to some Windows 95 machines and use batch commands to dial in and update ATM machines. I also had to go to other rooms in the building and type in arcane commands to do certain things there, but dependent on other things. I'm barely skimming the surface here--there was an entire four-to-six hour process literally consisting of step after step after step after step, all completely arbitrary and insane. The only break was one of about 45 minutes somewhere in the middle.

        The operator training me was a redneck guy who had been here so long, the entire process was completely memorized to him. He smoked smelly cigars, was annoyingly talkative, and was constantly making fun of the gay guy who worked next door and who would come in late sometimes to work on things. He kept trying to What's worse, he wasn't computer saavy at all--he had just had this process memorized, and it contained all his unintelligent quirks.

        On my last day, about a week into it, he had decided to let me start tackling things by myself. I get the first few steps down, because that's how you learn after just a week--the first parts first. I'm still trying to remember crap like "set all P jobs to J, but make sure GH828G6 is in drive A before pressing F8, but only after the SHEV jobs have gone through by midnight," and I totally start fucking absolutely everything up with the tape back ups, with the job sends, with everything. He actually gets annoyed with me, and doesn't criticize me directly but says things as he fixes them, like "Now we have to wait because all this other shit is running." I think I was there until 6 or 7 in the morning. The sun was up when I got to the car.

        I just didn't bother to show up the next Monday. I collected my check later and left. The boss handed me the check in the lobby, but before he did, he asked me if there had been any problems, if I had been treated nicely. I said everything was fine, but it made me wonder afterward why he would ask, as if he's seen this sort of reaction before. There was a young guy my age before me who also up and quit after a short time (the redneck loved to talk grudgingly about him...no doubt I've joined that
        • by oh (68589) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @08:05PM (#8050036) Journal
          Hmm, sounds like as AS/400 system. Guess what I was just working on? (like 5 minutes ago)

          You were trained badly. Or rather, you weren't trained at all. Sure you can move the curser all over the screen, but hitting TAB (or the key that looks like it) would move you to the start of the next field. There was even a reverse tab, that would move you to the start of the previous field (it was a separate key, not SHIFT-TAB like you have to use if you are on a PC keyboard).

          About 5 years ago I was a call centre operator for a fast food delivery service, and it used an AS/400 back end. 200 operators with green screen terminals, with a call time target of 55 seconds. We found out most of the tricks, there was even a key that cleared the filed from the current position to the end.

          There were some quirks to the as/400 (now called iSeries by IBM), but they aren't that different to a regular computer once you understand how they work. Trouble is, by the sounds of it there was know one who knew anything to teach you.
          • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @08:27PM (#8050269)
            Sounds like the poor guy had culture shock...welcome to the world of RPG and COBOL, the seedy underbelly of the IT world! But hey, most foundations are down with the worms anyway. AS400 on terminals is truly a culture shock..even more so for you Linux gurus. The keyboard mapping on terminals is wacked to a "normal" pc user...worse because there's nothing actually marked to tell you what to do.

            You're right though, they didn't train the poor guy at all. That's a real problem on the old systems. Schools teach stuff way beyond those old systems, but student's don't get a clue about how they work...they do grow on you. Also, most of the systems are in the hands of 50-somethings that were hot in their day, but are stuck on doing things the same old way...they're too busy to want to take time to learn the newer easier ways of doing things...it's not uncommon to find 10+ year old programs these guys wrote still in use every day that these guys tweak from time to time... But it's a tough world because most of these guys learned that stuff from scratch and hacked their own way of doing things to get stuff done with minimal interaction with any "collegues" in the industry...they're also not the best at training new people to help them out.

    • by Alexis Brooke (662281) <alexisbrooke AT adelphia POINT net> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:17PM (#8045225) Homepage
      Yeah, well, atleast you didn't have to run Windows Me.
    • Amusment park (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stfvon007 (632997) <enigmar007NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:27PM (#8045426) Journal
      I was a ride attendant at an amusment park and one day a group of people decided to set themselves on fire while in line for the ride I was running. (this was during a religous event that was happening in the park that week, and is the busiest week in the park)
    • by eschasi (252157) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:33PM (#8045534)
      Piker! You didn't even work with computers. Here's what ComputerWorld [computerworld.com] columnist Frank Hayes has to say [smacdonald.com] about it:
      When I Was A Boy
      --words and music by Frank Hayes

      When I was a boy our Nintendo
      Was carved from an old Apple tree
      And we used garden hose to connect it
      To our steam-powered color tv.

      But it still beat that ancient Atari
      'Cuz I almost went blind, don'tcha know,
      Playing Breakout and Pong on a video game
      Hooked up to the radio.

      And we walked twenty miles to the schoolhouse
      Barefoot, uphill both ways,
      Through blizzards in summer and winter
      Back in the good old days.
      Back when Fortran was not even Three-tran
      And the PC was only a toy
      And we did our computing by gaslight
      When I was a boy.

      When I was a boy all our networks
      Were for hauling in fish from the sea--
      Our bawd rate was eight bits an hour (and she was worth it!),
      And our IP address was just 3.

      And you kids who complain that the World Wide Web
      Is too slow oughtta cut out your bitchin',
      'Cuz when I was a boy every packet
      Was delivered by carrier pigeon

      And we walked twenty miles to the schoolhouse
      Barefoot, uphill both ways,
      Through blizzards in summer and winter
      Back in the good old days.
      Back when Fortran was not even Two-tran
      And the mainframe was only a toy
      And we did our computing by torchlight
      When I was a boy.

      When I was a boy our IS shop
      Built relational tables from wood,
      And we wrappered our data in oilcloth
      To preserve it the best that we could.

      And we carried our bits in a bucket,
      And our mainframe weighed 900 tons,
      And we programmed in ones and in zeros
      And sometimes we ran out of ones.

      And we walked twenty miles to the schoolhouse
      Barefoot, uphill both ways,
      Through blizzards in summer and winter
      Back in the good old days.
      Back when Fortran was not even One-tran
      And the abacus? Only a toy!
      And we did our computing in primordial darkness
      When I was a boy.

      And frankly, I'm older than Frank. At least he had ones and zeros. We had to pick slivers of flesh from our arms to make ones.

    • oh aye? (Score:5, Informative)

      by h4rm0ny (722443) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:15PM (#8046146) Journal
      You Python-quoting bastards!

      I did work in a pit in yorkshire - just outside Hull. The working day consisted of getting up at 5:30am, setting off at 5:50 arriving at the charcoal pits about 6:30 - think of giant power station chimmneys, half-height with the tops blocked off. We'd get changed into our disposable overalls and face-mask, enter a bunker which was lit by giant and very very hot floodlights. A big truck would be backed-up against the doors and we'd start unloading it. This meant climb up, grab a sack of charcoal, carry it back into the bunker, split it with your knife and tip it out. Go back again. Split it, tip it, go back again. Split it, tip it, go back again, etc. We did three bunkers a day, four hours a bunker. We'd take a break between each one - a fourteen hour day, not counting travel. We got 4 quid an hour.

      You'd have a shower when you got back, but it'd take a hour to get properly clean, and even then you'd still cough up black stuff for the rest of the night. And my god, did your back ache!

      And you try and tell someone how lucky they are to be working at a computer, and they just don't believe you!
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:52PM (#8044749) Homepage Journal

    Back in early/mid 80's we had to power the computers with coal-fired generators. The geeks would take turns going into the mine to dig out a few buckets of the stuff. We'd lose two or three people a month in "the pit", but dammit, the data had to flow! Pink slips would fly if a single 110/300 baud modem lost power. We were dedicated!

    Now all these young punks with their Just-Plug-Into-the-AC-Outlet-and-Let-the-Power-Com pany-Do-All-The-Work Computers.. spoiled brats.. they wouldn't know a day of work if it hit them in the head.

    Harummmmph...

    Remind me to tell you how we put the hole in doughnuts back in the day...
  • Whatever (Score:5, Funny)

    by shystershep (643874) * <bdshepherd AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:52PM (#8044757) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, well, I'm sitting here in my Aeron chair, in my private office, working on a computer with a 400mz Pentium II processor and a 5-year-old CRT monitor which is running Windows 98. I think I've got it worse.

    (Not that I'm offering to trade, mind you . . .)
  • Easy one (Score:5, Funny)

    by WinDoze (52234) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:53PM (#8044766)
    I had this job once where they expected actual output! And they wouldn't pay me unless I "produced" something!

    Thank goodness that nightmare ended and now I can suff /. at work.
  • Women (Score:5, Funny)

    by Poppageorgio (461121) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:53PM (#8044771)
    I once had my office on a sales floor with about 20 women. You think a jet engine is annoying, try that out for size!
    • Re:Women (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ilex (261136) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:23PM (#8045353)
      I'm not sure if that should be moded funny or insightful.

      Either way at least you can get a good blow job from a jet engine for a lot less whining noise.
    • Re:Women (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jmccay (70985) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:23PM (#8045370) Journal
      I will take either of your jobs, and you can have mine--none! Keep in mind I am a Software Engineer with a BA in COmputer Science/Mathematics. I was working in a factory putting printed paper & labels into a cutting machine and catching the folded product, but that contract ended before I was able to find another programming job. The agency I am working for doesn't have any contracts. Whine all you want, but at least you have a job, and you can pay bills!
      I think you people need a reality check. You don't have it that bad. Try unemployment for a while, and then working in a factory! If you think this will not happen to you, then be prepared because it will!
    • Re:Women (Score:5, Funny)

      by anna_jakobs (442602) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:38PM (#8045620) Homepage
      What are you talking about? I worked in an office with 5 men, I was the only woman. Talk about testosterone poisoning. Mind you, they weren't the right 5 men.
    • Re:Women (Score:5, Funny)

      by JonTurner (178845) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:40PM (#8045638) Journal
      >>I once had my office on a sales floor with about 20 women. You think a jet engine is annoying...

      It's funnier when you hear them tell it.
      "Twenty of us women once worked on a sales floor with this IT guy..."
    • Re:Women (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lone_marauder (642787) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:57PM (#8045911)
      I once had my office on a sales floor with about 20 women. You think a jet engine is annoying, try that out for size!

      Two words: private shitter.
    • Re:Women (Score:5, Funny)

      by NecrosisLabs (125672) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:38PM (#8046498)
      I feel your pain, brother: I was in an identical situation. Someone once asked me if I though it odd, being the only guy in a department with fifteen women.
      My response was "Naw, I don't have any problems. Mind you, I was a bit concerned when my period started to synchronize."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:53PM (#8044772)
    Well, this is not in the realm of a Slashdotter's job but before I became an engineer I worked at an airport and part of my job was to perform lavatory service on the aircraft. This job entailed placing a hose onto a two latched system coupled with a lever to finally release the contents. .

    The concept was simple enough. I opened latch one and placed the hose onto the opening. This was provided that the second hatch had not failed and excrement flew everywhere. If things worked correctly, I placed a hose onto the opening and released latch two. Everything would go down via a simple gravitational setup. Often, however, the second hatch failed and would get stuck. This required removing the hose and opening the second hatch by hand and hoping that the excrement had not already released while in transit, and therefore reside behind hatch two. The lever would often fail and there would be a race to reapply the hose before the shit hit the fan, so to speak.

    I could give a better description but I don't feel like reliving this. Back to work...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:03PM (#8044982)
      race to reapply the hose before the shit hit the fan

      You were actually a fan of this method?!?

    • by dr_dank (472072) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:06PM (#8045040) Homepage Journal
      This was provided that the second hatch had not failed and excrement flew everywhere.

      Whoda thought that there would be real number two behind door number two.

      or for the old school fans of "Lets Make a Deal"

      Monty Hall: You can keep the dinette set or trade it for what's behind door number two...
    • by Pii (1955) <jedi@NOSPAm.lightsaber.org> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:27PM (#8045425) Journal
      Unpleasant, certainly...

      Back when I was running the network at MCB Quantico (Circa 1992-94), we had to inspect the campus fiber cable plant because the as-built wiring diagrams had been misplaced.

      This entailed crawling through tight tunnels all over the campus, through puddles from leaky or venting pipes, in pitch blackness.

      Did I mention that these leaky or venting pipes were full of steam? (Back when Marine bases were being built, centralized steam heating was all the rage. USMC: Doing more with less since the very beginning.)

      Did I mention that the temperature in the steam tunnels frequently exceeded 130 degrees?

      Did I mention that because they were installed during Quantico's primary expension, in the 1930s I think, that they were wrapped in tattered asbestos insulation?

      Sorry about the crapstains on your jumpsuit, but I dread the day the a doctor looks at my chest x-rays, and says to me, "Hey, what the fuck have you been breathing?"

      • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:28PM (#8046327) Homepage Journal
        I once worked on a cable crew, installing several hundred miles of a backbone to the internet. Six conduits, a few hundred strand of fiber...sounds like a dream, right? All that bandwidth (most of which isn't even lit up seven years later, btw) in the palms of your hands...

        Except I was on the cleanup crew for this project. And we weren't union (they paid extra because we weren't -- a LOT extra). This meant mandatory 13 hour days, six times a week, followed by a half hour trip to a cutrate hotel that was also a brothel. We were working alongside a road, two hundred miles from home, with cars going by at 70-80 mph, and were not allowed to use U-turns (meaning going BACK a mile meant a 45 minute round trip).

        The machines we were using were run by a guy who spiked his iced tea with VODKA. We discovered this one day when they had used our water jug to clean a dirty rock drill bit, and stole a drink from his jug when it proved to be the hottest day of the summer. This was the guy who'd hollar at us to "get in thar' and grease that bit" while it was still spinning. This was the guy who'd spill diesel or boring solution, and yell at us to bury it before the environmental inspectors showed up. The boring solution was a sticky mass of silicate silt with a warning not to breath it. We breathed it every day.

        None of us were allowed to turn the key of these machines because we weren't trained on them. We had to travel ducked down in the bed of a dumptruck full of roadcones.

        Speaking of which, "laying down the pattern" was fun. Walking into a road during rush hour bumper to bumper traffic with only the authority of an orange flag between a speeding SUV and your flannel shirt takes BALLS. Especially when they're on cell phones. Oh, and some truckers like to play "baseball." That's where they hit your barrels and see how far they can make them fly into your site.

        Actual work was mostly mindless and consisted of using a shovel without stopping. Even if this meant digging a hole and filling it in again. Boss didn't want people calling to say that his crew wasn't working -- that was the inspectors' job.

        There were fun parts, though. Like the one afternoon where we all relaxed with our lunch and watched a car burn at the rest area. Or the way the superviser would call us "niggers," despite the fact that we were all white kids. Or guarding the machines at night from the local union, who would monkeywrench the project until we hired their boys. And nothing in the world is more satisfying than coming home to your girl on Friday, covered in dirt with tanned muscles bulging out everywhere. Doesn't matter if you got them holding 200 pound pipes over your head for a half hour while the welder did his thing.

        Oh, and being able to say "I built this internet with my blood and sweat." That's awesome.
  • my employer (Score:5, Funny)

    by Disoriented (202908) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:54PM (#8044792)

    At my company they make me sit in a small gray box with a computer. The walls are only about 6 feet high!

    And it doesn't end there. My small gray box is just one in a sea of boxes, it's like some cruel farming experiment. Every so often, yet another manager comes by and asks about some memo or putting a stupid cover page on some report. And they expect me to just sit here all day and type stuff into this PC.


    Think outside the box? How?

  • by vpscolo (737900) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:55PM (#8044804) Homepage
    lying flat on my back for 12 hours straight sorting out some underfloor cabling with a laptop next to me which I had to type using one hand, by torchlight in a 2.5ft gap. Fun

    Rus
  • windows 98 (Score:5, Funny)

    by gyratedotorg (545872) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:55PM (#8044805) Homepage
    i work in an environment which consists mainly of windows 98 machines.
  • by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:55PM (#8044809) Homepage Journal
    Being the only tech support rep, and having no authority. For four years. No holidays or weekends.

    Beat that. I was every customer's verbal-abuse toy.
  • by corebreech (469871) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:55PM (#8044816) Journal
    I shit you not, every time somebody would call on this line, a fucking klaxon goes off.

    This company was extremely strange in other ways. The guy who founded it made tents for the Israeli army. He comes into my office one day and sees me debugging code. Mind you, this was a Mac shop, and the debugger on the Mac (Macsbug) does have an unusual appearance. He takes one look at it, and tells me I have a bug. Well, no shit, that's why I'm using the debugger! He says no, that the debugger is a bug, and that he can tell because of the way it makes my screen appear, and to please remove it immediately.

    And how did he get his funding? A really big investment firm whose name shall remain, um, nameless. Turns out that one day they decide they're curious about what this guy is doing, so they send one of their drones over to take a look around. We sit him down in front of the lead programmer's computer, and show him the software that was being worked on. Mind you, this was a fairly involved piece of software, and though I didn't like the framework being used (THINK Class Library) it was nevertheless rather impressive. The drone followed the presentation carefully, or so it appeared, intently staring at the screen during each step of the presentation. Finally, about half an hour later, the presentation ends, and the drone is asked if he has any questions.

    So he asks one.

    "What's that little box in the lower right-hand corner for?"

    He was talking about the grow box. You know, the thing that makes the window grow bigger and smaller.

    So we demonstrate how you can change the size of the window. This, it turns out, was the most amazing thing he had ever seen! He starts nodding appreciatively, as if he's sure their investment in this company is a good thing after all. Then he leaves.

    I think this is when I started smoking pot.
    • by SmackCrackandPot (641205) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:28PM (#8045437)
      I shit you not, every time somebody would call on this line, a fucking klaxon goes off.

      I believe that. I used to work in the helpdesk of a large company back in the late 80's. At that time, Ethernet networks were fairly new to the company (cards cost $1000+ for 10 Mbits/sec). On occasions, the odd card would either start transmitting unrelentlessly (referred inhouse as jabbering), start sending out truncated packets (runts), or just not talking at all (sulking). We actually had two Ethernet backbones; if one failed, engineers would run relentlessly up all 15+ floors of the building switching lines until the network was restored and the offending PC was identified.

      The precursor to all of this was a single telephone call... Has anyone noticed that the network is dead?

      Quickly followed by an avalanche of a thousand plus callers, all asking the same thing.

      To keep the PHB happy, everyone had to run around frantically, to appear as if they were actually doing something. Sitting down quietly at a LAN analyzer and an Ethernet address map of the building was the last thing management wanted to see.

    • by Talinom (243100) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @05:28PM (#8048114) Homepage Journal
      I shit you not, every time somebody would call on this line, a fucking klaxon goes off.

      What's the phone number?
  • try this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sickmtbnutcase (608308) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:56PM (#8044835)
    20 below zero (F - that is) spreading cow manure using a tractor(John Deere 2630) with no cab on it. Not to mention there's a 10-20 mph wind.
  • by rtkluttz (244325) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:56PM (#8044837) Homepage
    I worked in an office inside of a manufacturing facility where raw fiberglass insulation products were being processed (read pounded into submission by 300 ton presses) that caused much of it to be ejected into the air.

    Many people who started work there rarely made it past lunch time the first day.

  • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:57PM (#8044843)
    As I write this, there is a window open behind me with a small jet engine outside.

    hit command-w, and you'll be fine.

  • Worst job (Score:5, Funny)

    by loserbert (697119) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:57PM (#8044854) Homepage
    I wouldn't want to be the alien that has to do all the anal probing. I mean c'mon! Have you seen the people that get abducted?
  • Thats really minor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:57PM (#8044862) Homepage Journal
    Try working in an assembly plant for a while where you breathe clouds of oil based coolant and it drips off the celing after condensing. Even IT guys have to work out there on the PLC's and network hardware.

    How about a PCB etching line where you have clouds of nitric acid..

    Try a coke processing plant ( the black coal stuff, not the drink ) or a casting plant that uses graphite as a release agent.. Both will cause black lung, among other things...

    This stuff kills you .. your 'bad job' is just an irritant... Be happy you are employed and quit whining.
    • by phriedom (561200) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:31PM (#8045492)
      I have to back you up on the PCB fabriction plant. I'm a PCB designer and have toured a few plants. On the most recent tour, the Salesman, who isn't even in the plant that much sounded like he had half a lung left. He wasn't overweight, but he was huffing and puffing just strolling around the lines and talking to us. His skin didn't look right either. He commented that some people talk about the distinctive smell of a PCB plant but he had no idea what they meant because he hasn't been able to smell anything in years.

      Whenever things in the office are bad, I think about that guy, or the etch line technicians.
  • Shit- (Score:5, Informative)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:58PM (#8044874) Homepage Journal
    I used to be an OSHA/EPA-type inspector. I've seen shit that will melt your eyes.

    How about inspecting a toxic waste dump, recently uncovered in a marina, left over from the Vietnam era days, drums and drums of Agent Orange.

    Asbestos factory plants shut down an abandoned, with asbestos piles higher than most apartment complexes.

    Lead reclaimation factories that never should have gotten permits to begin with.

    Frat-boy dorm rooms (I had to wear a gas mask in one section, it was so bad)

    Public housing projects where aborted fetuses are hidden under stair cases, along with use diapers from the other kids.

    You got nothing on what I have seen...
  • Tacoma Narrows! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:58PM (#8044883) Journal
    This certainly doesn't top your story (what's a body warmer?) but at the time of the Northridge earthquake, I was working in a lab in a catwalk connecting two medical buildings, with a road underneath. We had frequent, strong aftershocks for weeks afterward and the floor would twist and flex like that movie of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse.

    Apparently it was structurally OK but the drywall was completely ripped away at one of the building junctions. You could see plenty of daylight and pigeons started nesting in it. It took UCLA three years to bother to fix it.

    Still better than this job, though...

  • True Story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ellem (147712) * <ellem52@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:59PM (#8044906) Homepage Journal
    They put me in the server room once.

    The server room was the HVAC room and it was about 30 degrees in there at all times. The AC was so loud I had to use a phone outside the room and I only knew it was ringing by a red light hooked up (by me) in the HVAC room. When the AC clanged on it would suck papers off my desk, and pulled my hat off more than once. When I told them they had to move me the told me to quit.

    I did.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:00PM (#8044918)
    I Work for SCO... top that!
  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@[ ]cast.net ['com' in gap]> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:00PM (#8044924)
    I had a server room at an old factory that I admin'd at. The room had a partly failed Liebert line conditioner that powered the circa 1970 HP 3000. It made a tone loud enough to prevent going into the room more than a few seconds without hearing protection.

    The unit was so old that the Liebert rep had never even seen one before, much less find it in his manual. The electrician couldn't order the part to fix it himself (he knew what was wrong with it) because the whole system was due to be replaced in 18 months and they didn't want to sink money into it.

    As a result I got hold of the maintenece head and asked him if I could borrow his decibal meter. He asked me what for, and followed me into the server room.

    This was a plant that had hearing protection in different areas, beyond the typical hearing plugs due to OSHA and worker safety concerns (they had to undergo anual hearing tests to monitor for damage). I ended up with a several hundred dollar pair of 40db rated earmuffs - that I was to wear over normal ear plugs, the very next day.
  • by bigattichouse (527527) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:00PM (#8044927) Homepage

    A poem:

    In the bowels of a military hospital,
    working 11 hour shifts
    on death march.

    Some Asshole in the next room
    where-in lies the thermostat,
    Decided that they should
    turn the temp down
    and lock the door
    over the holidays
    To save energy.

    Not realizing,
    in the bowels of the hospital,
    in a room once marked O.R.
    That turning a thermostat to 45,
    will
    in fact
    make the room 45...
    and not just settle
    on ambient temp.

    11 hour shifts, trying to
    type with a coat, and hat
    and gloves on.

    I brought a space heater.
    It helped a little.

    I was very unhappy.
  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:03PM (#8044976) Homepage
    If you have enough free time to read Slashdot, then there are people working under far worse conditions than you. If you can even access the internet or a computer full stop, then by definition, your life, and therefore your job is unlikely to be that bad.

    I could start rambling about people in third-world countries walking miles to get clean water for their families, or some 8-year-old kid in a sweatshop, or whatever.... but you get the picture.
  • by DaRat (678130) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:03PM (#8044990)

    I was going to make a crack about an OfficeSpace like big mutual insurance company where I was consulting, but then I got to thinking a bit more. I think that we all probably have pretty good working environments, all things considered. Think about these environments (among others):

    • Working in an illegal diamond mine. Hot as hell, hard to breathe, little food, you get shot if you don't find anything or enough.
    • Picking through a trash dump in a third world city for anything that can be sold.
    • A brothel where mama-san or the russian mafia guy holds the keys to the locks and all of the cards (including your passport, if any).
    • Subsistence farming in the third world, particularly in a war torn region.
    • A sweatshop
    • Standing on a street corner hoping for day laborer work knowing that half the time you are going to get stiffed for pay.
    • Sitting on your butt at home because you've been out of work for 9 months.
    • by FreshFunk510 (526493) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:17PM (#8045235)
      Well isn't that why we pay taxes?

      Think of it this way. You could either be one of the things you mentioned or:

      • Owner of diamond mine who gets cheap labor.
      • Connected official in third world country.
      • Mama-san or Russian Mafia who runs a brothel.
      • War lord.
      • Sweatshop owner.

      You get the idea. Anyway, Homo Homini Lupus ("Man is a wolf to man."), even in America.
  • by polished look 2 (662705) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:04PM (#8045001) Journal

    I worked at a mental health agency that a few years prior diagnosed me with schizophrenia - hearing voices, seeing visions, etc. Anyway, I quit my meds and my brain began working overtime so naturally I make a great programmer. While working at the agency I find out that they're embezzling money and after a while they realize they can't trust me. So what did they do? They started simulating the symptoms of schizophrenia. Totally serious - they'd go by my cubicle and blurt out words such as "nigger" or blame things I had nothing to do with on me.

  • by cenonce (597067) <<anthony_t> <at> <mac.com>> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:06PM (#8045045)
    IAAL, and this is certainly not my area of expertise, but requiring you to wear ear plugs for 4 hours a day under those conditions sounds like an OSHA violation [osha.gov].

    -A
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:07PM (#8045059) Homepage Journal
    (note: I have NOTHING to do with SCO)

    Think about what it would be like to be a bit slinger at SCO in Utah:

    First of all, SCO is looking to hire people in India - in other words, you know your job is going to be outsourced soon.

    Second of all, you likely are a Unix or Linux programmer - and your company name is reviled in the industry you are in.

    Third of all, if you ARE looking to move, nobody wants to hire you for fear of SCO suing them for some imagined infringment.

    Fourth of all, the only company that MIGHT hire you as a bit slinger is Microsoft.

    Fifth of all, you know points 3 and 4 won't change until AFTER the company collapes - and then you are out of work.

    Granted, unlike soldiers in Iraq nobody is shooting at SCO employees or trying to blow them up (AND NOBODY SHOULD, EITHER!). But still, for tech jobs, being a programmer at SCO has to blow.
  • by carn1fex (613593) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:11PM (#8045119)
    I work for NASA and I was doing sattelite verification work, where we strap all sorta shit to the belly of a P3 Orion aircraft that basically mimics a sattelite, fly over the ocean and compare the data with the sattelite to see it matches. So we fly through thunder storms in the P3 which is a 4 prop, unheated hell chamber. Fly high and the temperature suddenly drops to nothing and we all wear thermals, then we drop back down to the deck and the temperture jacks up, we sweat buckets and the terbulence sets in. Couple this with the instrument im in charge of going on the blink so there i am strapped to a metal chair in this flying gas can with a radiometer ripped open, doing voltage equations, multimeter in hand, writing code to do tests, sweating my ass off then suddenly freezing in my own sweat, having to get up and the terbulence is dangerously bad star-trek level insanity with people flying thru the air (i almost got knocked out at one point). Now throw in the sound of all the korean grad students barfing their brains out and smell of tuna fish vomit smackin me in the face like a can of beer in a pillow case while i try to do calculus that has to be correct enough for me not to blow the whole package up when i go to test something out. Fun.
  • by pnuema (523776) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:11PM (#8045127)
    While I was in college, I worked construction for a Harvestore agent in Nebraska. You know, those blue and white grain silos you see all over the Midwest.

    One time the construction crew was required to go take down two silos that had been used to store bone meal (basically all parts of an animal you can't feed to humans ground up to be made into dog food) at a defunct rendering plant so they could be moved to the plant's new location. Off we went.

    We arive at the sight, and drive down what looks like a gravel road, next to a nice little lake. Evrything was fine until I stepped out of the car. When I did, I realized that the road wasn't gravel; it was bone, and the lake was blood red. I was so shocked I stepped off of the road and into six inches of rotten grease that had turned rancid in the Nebraska summer sun. I won't even bother to describe the smell.

    It averaged 102 the three days I was there. Everything looked like I was watching a bad TV with static on it, because flies were everywhere. You couldn't walk without tripping over a horse's leg, or a cow's tail. Part of my job was to be inside the silo (omg the smell of rotten bone meal) pulling out bolts while another member of the team used a blowtorch to burn the carcinogenic caulking off of the outside to loosen the bolts. Inisde the silo it was probably 130 degrees, filled with black choking smoke, and the stink...

    Those three days, more than any other, convinced me to finish my college degree.
  • by petabyte (238821) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:14PM (#8045184)
    I worked at the university doing tech support for students in the dorms. The section I worked in was filled with the sororities. As such you can imagine the computer problems (they varied from computer is physically destroyed to bonzi buddy won't go away). Of course the challenge was fixing the computer in a room with 6 19-year-old, very attractive women while they were changing (literally). My highlight was attempting to defrag a drive (so this is basically watching the bar go across the screen) while 3 girls where dancing and singing around the room. They were in towels just out of the shower and waiting for me to leave.

    Sure, the conditions weren't that bad, but you try fixing computer equipment under those conditions; it's not easy!!!

    Yes, and the phrase you're looking for is: "I hate you."
  • by Theatetus (521747) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:15PM (#8045191) Journal

    An unrefrigerated morgue in the desert. Some of my utilities still have that smell in them...

  • House Calls (Score:5, Interesting)

    by niko9 (315647) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:15PM (#8045195)
    Being a Paramedic in NYC, our "work enviroment" can get interesting:

    An HIV+ patient (who also has Hep B/C) in cardiac arrest face down in a pool of his own vomit. The SRO (single room occupancy) he lives is described as follows: The walls are yellow from filth. Roaches are EVERYWHERE. The floor is non existant, it's just one seamless sea of garbage. None of the lights work, so we are using our Surefire Tac lights and the ambient light from a LifePak 12 to wrok the arrest. There's no ID anywhere that can be found and there are pill bottles dating back years.

    He's in asystole, but not rigor, so we can;t realy pronounce him dead. He's on the floor, so one of us has to get on the floor to try endotracheal intubation, without getting said vomit, blood, feces on our uniform.

    The poor soul hasn't showered in months and the apartment reeks of bad body odor and dried vomit. It's to narrown to work him up in the hallway, so in the apartment we stay. Doing CPR in a sqaut/sittting postion isn't very comfortable after 5 minutes. Trying to find a place to rest the drug bag without it tipping over is a pain in the ass. Keeping track of all your sharps and making damn sure they are properly disposed of in the sharps box.

    The heat is truned on so high, you feel like you in a pizza oven and the windows are painted shut from years of paint being applied layer after layer.

    So after about 20 mins of working this patient up you have/are:

    Sweating profusely with a severe case of sweaty balls.

    Your uniform has come in contact with dirt, dried feces, mouse droppings, rotting food, roaches, dust balls, urine/blood soaked rug.

    Your drug back asunder all around the apartment. Intubation kit is a mess with a dirty handle and used bristo-jets everywhere.

    Oh, and just in case you patient does get some spontaneous rhythm back and you happen to be on the fifth floor of said SRO with no elevator, guess what prize you get???

    Show 'em what he gets Johnny!

    You get to carry this guy on a flat longbaord down five flight of poorly maintained staircase!! That's including stopping at every landing to give a few squeezes to the BVM (bag-valve-mask) on the way down. Sometime they weigh 100lbs secondary to severe weight loss, somtime they can way upwards of 200lbs.

    But it's worth it in my book. Plus after a call like that, we hit the diner for some rare burgers with a side of chili.

    --
  • by bjtuna (70129) <brian@interca[ ].net ['rve' in gap]> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:19PM (#8045262) Homepage
    I work in Newark, New Jersey. Top that.
  • Explosives anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Big Bob the Finder (714285) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:48PM (#8045774) Homepage Journal
    I used to make explosives as a contractor for the government. Not just any explosives- we made stuff that the national labs wouldn't touch because it was too dangerous, all in the name of "terrorism research." We made stuff so sensitive that nobody in their right minds would make it. Fortunately for them, they found us.

    We used to make hundreds of grams of the stuff at a time, wrapped in Kevlar with ear defenders on and huge safety shields. Everything was by hand signals.

    Making things worse was the fact that we were working in a bunker in a remote part of a western state that only had one life flight helicopter for the entire state at the time, and no level 1 trauma center. The local hospital was 70 miles away from any major city, and really wasn't up to fixing anything more complex than hangnails.

    Miserable, wretched job- making explosives nobody else would make, under horrible working conditions. Fortunately, my boss was great. He and I made some truly dangerous compounds, and got away without so much as a scratch- a combination of skill and luck.

  • 2guys dept store (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:52PM (#8045836) Journal
    I published this elsewhere [creativesynth.com], previously:

    My first amazing disaster Day Job was at Two Guys. Two Guys Department Stores don't exist anymore. They were too far ahead of their time, in a sad and evil way. They were huge -- truly enormous - stores that had everything from groceries to stereos to clothing to lumber to car parts- like a WalMart on steroids. Unfortunately, their merchandise was second rate and they treated their employees poorly, ultimately dooming the store to failure.

    For minimum wage, my job was to scrape bubblegum off the floor, and then wax the floor before the store opened. I would spend the rest of the day attending to emergencies as they developed. In principle, it was an OK summer job for a long haired arty musician type barely out of High School with no job skills. In practice it was a torture pit.

    The place was run by this monstrous and abusive asshole we called Ming - from the old Buck Rogers movies- Ming The Merciless. To call him a creep and a jerk would be an insult to the nasty fiends and sentient nodes of evil in our world and the next. He was simply one of the vilest creatures Mother Nature has ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of this Earth. Everyone hated him, and everyone hated Two Guys, even the people who shopped there. There was an underground river of merchandise leaving the store in the pockets and cars of the customers AND the employees. It was an enterprise so universal, the manager of the electronics department was even caught shoplifting- by Ming, no less!

    The thieving manager was pushing one of those giant tacky fake wood console TV/Stereo/turntable/Radio sets out the door at closing time. Ming saw him struggling to get it out the door, and asked,

    "Why don't you have one of the kids move this? Where's the customer's TRUCK to haul this thing away? Hey - isn't that YOUR VAN parked there with the door open and motor running???"

    Busted...

    Morale was non-existent. Employees would regularly sabotage the place just for the sake of something interesting to do that would irritate Ming. One fine afternoon, some whack job let all the gerbils out of the cages in the Pets Department. The fuzzy little guys, being hungry little critters, quickly hopped off to the Grocery Department, where they merrily tucked into the lettuce and surrounding produce. A little old woman with rhinestone cat's eye glasses rattled some celery at me and shouted in a thick Yiddish accent-

    "My boy- der's RATS in zee lettuce! Call zee Police! Do zomsink!"

    We chased them all into the back of the building and set up little food stations for them.

    One day, we, the porters of Two Guys, the lowest of the low, had had enough of Ming's white glove treatment of the crappy linoleum floors, and figured- we have to shut this place down. We took all the rubbish, display cases, boxes -- anything we could find- and packed it into the trash compactor room. A clothing rack was quickly heaved into the compactor, and in moments, the compactor's motor burned itself out. Then the trash REALLY started piling up. The next day, we anonymously called the health and fire departments for numerous violations. Yes, it was a stinking mess. Yes, they should have been fined and closed until it was fixed. Yes, we needed a day off. But Ming met the inspectors at the door with a case of booze for each of them. They never set foot on my polished linoleum. The reports of Two Guys's crimes against man and nature were never made, and the store opened as usual. Ming had us compacting trash by the afternoon.

    This kind of open warfare between workers and management (actually, the sides were unevenly divided into: Everybody versus MING. Even the department managers hated him, and would regularly work to sabotage him.) was a regular feature of the workday. As a porter, I had free range to the entire store. Regular retail employees were required to stay in their departments, so, I would cruise through the store and see w

  • Not a geek job... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ann Elk (668880) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:57PM (#8045912)

    ...and not my job, but a friend of mine had one of the worst jobs I've ever heard of.

    He worked for a factory that makes cement and delivers it to building sites in those big "mixer" trucks. Back then, the cement containers on the trucks were chain driven (I think they're mostly hydraulic now). Sometimes, the chains would break. If a drive chain broke while a truck was loaded, it had to be *quickly* returned to the factory to be unloaded.

    Sometimes, the cement would "set" before it could be unloaded. And thus, my friend's job...

    He had to crawl into the container with a jack-hammer, break up the cement, and throw it out. Just imagine the noise of a jackhammer operating within a giant metal trash can. There was also one additional hazard -- the "blades" attached to the container that mix the cement. The cement basically acts like a grinding stone and sharpens the blades until they are like razors.

    Whenever we would sit around at talk about really bad previous jobs, he was not allowed to play :-).

  • by caudron (466327) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:02PM (#8045984) Homepage
    In Edwin Muir's Autobiography, (a must-read!) he described a pretty bad working experience as an office clerk in a bone factory. Bones from all over Scotland, some no longer fresh, were reduced to charcoal that was later used to purify sugar. "The bones, decorated with festoons of slowly writhing, fat yellow maggots" lay outside the building in a railway siding until the furnace was ready for them. The smell of the roasting bones, Muir wrote, "was a gentle, clinging, sweet stench, suggesting dissolution and hospitals and slaughter-houses, the odour of drains, and the rancid stink of bad, roasting meat." A room Muir rented around this time looked out on a graveyard; nothing could have been more apt. "Absorbed in my own dissociation," Muir observed of his Glasgow period, "the world retreated from me in all its shapes."

    In effort of understatment, I'll just add that that would kinda suck.
  • by edremy (36408) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:06PM (#8046036) Journal
    How about taking a tank across a desert in 110 degree weather, being coated in powdery dust from the tanks in front of you to the point of having breathing problems, with the stench of 4 people who haven't had a shower in a week jammed in a space the size of a closet. Add to that the constant physical danger inside a tank, (I've had friends nearly killed through a second's inattention) the little sleep you get is jammed into a clear space on the back deck, lousy food, the constant hammering of the thermal sight fridge and occasional noises that top the jet engine listed above.

    Infantry have it even worse: we've at least got the beast to haul our stuff.

    And that was peacetime. I was never shot at: feel for the folks on the front lines. They're doing a shitty job for almost no pay and they might come home in pieces.

  • Worse than that. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bobv-pillars-net (97943) <bobvin@pillars.net> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:07PM (#8046062) Homepage Journal
    Worked for a month in a grease-processing factory in Portsmouth, VA called Divers Processing. We were issued chemical-resistant boots and gloves once a week; they usually lasted a day and a half before springing leaks. Extra pairs came out of your paycheck. Workday started at 6am and ended when the boss said you were done. Sometimes that was 10pm or later, even on Saturdays and Sundays. Even the rats hated the place; they looked absolutely miserable. A big horsefly landed on my arm once and apparently got a mouthful of what I was shoveling at the time; it died instantly. I used to come home and run my clothes through four wash cycles before the water stopped changing color. It was two weeks after I quit before the smell wore off my hands and arms. Whenever the EPA needs some extra income, it sends an inspection team to assess a six-figure fine. The owner gladly pays because it's cheaper than actually cleaning up the mess.
  • Life in Dry Dock (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ronin Developer (67677) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:51PM (#8046719)
    Imagine yourself on a navy ship ( a really big metal box) in dry dock in Portsmouth, VA during middle of the summer. Barnacles and other sea life rotting on the hull while the sandblaster makes its way from bow to stern. You have to wear a hard hat, respirator and hearing protection because the noise of the sandblaster will drive you deaf in no time.

    There's no ventilation (let alone AC), drinking water has traces of diesel fuel marine (DFM) that truly loosens you up inside (great with unsweeted tea). The doc tells you its within acceptable limits.

    You have the priviledge of sleeping in a state room directly beneath the black fight deck with, maybe, an inch of insulation between your space and the deck. Temperatures are 100 degrees plus well into the night with dust comprising of lead paint, sand, pulvurized sea life and lord knows what else that got into everything. There is no water for showering. Working toilets are few and far between due to the repair work in progress.

    During the day, you oversaw repair work to your spaces and equipment or did paperwork that was covered in drops of gritty sweat.

    Your day started at 4:30am with Officer's call at 5:30. It ended at 6pm (unless you had duty).

    Top it off, the enlisted guys had it worse.

    Fortunately, when the work was done and we put out to sea, the work was worth it and life onboard wasn't so bad.

    They decommissioned the ship two years later.
  • by buzzcutbuddha (113929) <maurice-slashdot@mauricere e v e s.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @04:15PM (#8047083) Homepage

    I've had 27 different jobs in my life:
    groundskeeper, photographer, construction worker, car salesman, telemarketer, bill collector, restaurant manager, cook, pizza delivery boy, cashier, PC technician, project manager, software engineer, just to name a few.

    One of the worst conditions I ever dealt with was when I was doing groundskeeping work. I worked on the estate of a multi-millionaire businessman who owned several thousand acres in the Pennsylvania country side. He had acres and acres of pine trees he was growing to sell at Christmas. But he decided that he didn't like that idea any more, and so he wanted them all cut down and uprooted so he could put in his own personal golf course. So during one of the hottest summers ever, I would trundle out with the 3 other guys in my jeans, boots, t-shirt, flannel shirt, hat, and gloves to cut down pine trees with chainsaws, and then heave them into the trailer to be hauled away. I got heat exhaustion 3 times that summer, and so many rashes from the needles and sap, it was awful. We asked the millionaire if we could work 4am until noon, and enjoy some cooler temperatures, but he didn't want his sleep disturbed.

    Same millionaire would have us go out and wash his airplane at the local airport whenever it rained. No lie. It would be pouring and we'd be outside in the rain with brushes and soap scrubbing down the exterior of his jet. That, and when it rained, we'd go clean his turkey pens. He would throw lavish Thanksgiving parties and have fresh turkeys from his coops killed. So we'd go in and sweep up turkey shit and breath in all those nasty feathers and shit. I mean, literally, shit. Hourly pay rate: $4.25

    Worked in an office that used to be a janitor's closet, and it doubled as the server room. It was the width of your standard cubicle. Day-time temperatures of over 100 degrees. The company required suit and tie as well.

    The company I work for now is great, but the facilities suck. Mold growing up the walls and in the ceiling tiles, the roof leaks horrendously and we've had lights short out above us because of leaking water. There are crickets and mice all the time. The fire alarm just goes off at random, so you never know if you're supposed to get up and leave or not. For the entire month of December we had no heat at all, and they had to send us home some days. The other guys in my office bought a space heater to help us out, and it blew out a circuit. Now it's over 80 in here, and the heat's rising. You always think you're smelling something burning, but you can't be sure. There's only 3 toilets for over fifty men (on average), except the one's always busted, so we really only have two. They keep saying that they're going to fix the toilet but they never do. We don't have any windows, and no way to get fresh air. We'd like to turn off the lights overhead and use desk lamps, but oh, no switches to control the lights. This office used to be a chemical lab and there are still portions of the office that haven't been converted to "Class A" office space and still have drums of whatever sitting around. Love the company, but the location is killing us.

  • by Wilk4 (632760) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @04:15PM (#8047088) Homepage
    these (slashdotted earlier) have got to be pretty bad on any scale, not just in science.
    Popular Science Mag: The Worst Jobs In Science [popsci.com]
    (slashdot reference [slashdot.org])

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