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The Absolute Worst Working Environment? 1716

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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  • 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 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 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 mrphish697 ( 219802 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:13PM (#8045156)
    This type of "You got nothing to complain about" comment always comes up in discussions like these. This thread is about somebody with a loud, comedic work setting. It does not detract from what our (or anybody else's) soldiers have to endure, nor from any other dangerous vocation. Get over yourself.
  • 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:my employer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:26PM (#8045412) Journal
    "Think outside the box? How?"

    Imagine yourself in India, doing the same thing for 80% less pay.

    Or on the street wondering if a Masters in Computer Science will help you get an assistant manager job at a Taco Bell because your employer imagined your job in India costing him 80% less.

  • Being a temp (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jafac ( 1449 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @02:26PM (#8045417) Homepage
    . . . For 14 months now. . .
  • 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:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:01PM (#8045962)
    Software Engineer with a BA in COmputer Science/Mathematics

    BA in Computer Science??? I thought Computer Science was a Bachelor of Science type degree???

  • 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.

  • Re:True Story (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lieutenant_Dan ( 583843 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:17PM (#8046195) Homepage Journal
    He probably had to deal with the same crap that most of us do; no proper office space for the IT staff. At some places, IT gets less credit/resources than the janitorial staff.

    I had to deal with something similar like that as well. In my case it was a massive PBX telecom box whose EM output was giving me severe headaches if stayed in that room for more than two hours. I just waited until one of the other desks became vacant and just made it my permanent spot.

  • by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:18PM (#8046198) Homepage Journal
    I call either troll or real schizophrenia. But I incline to troll.

    I've worked with enough schizophrenics (see some of my other posts) to know that what you are saying is exactly what someone with schizophrenia would say--and that you are wrong. Medication is effective, and if you are not trolling, you NEED to go see a competent clinical psychologist. Even if the embezzeling is real, I strongly urge you to seek help from a clinician.

  • by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:21PM (#8046232)
    I'll go one further. My grandfather died of lung cancer (no, he didn't smoke) after working win a plant that used PCB's for 20 years. He was 50. Beat *that*.
  • by mrtrumbe ( 412155 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:27PM (#8046311) Homepage
    We had a "contest" similar to this topic at work a few years back. One of my co-workers started telling us about his worst job and it escalated into a group bitch-fest about the bad jobs we'd had in our younger days.

    As we were telling our "war stories," one co-worker (a guy who grew up in a Southeast Asian country) sat quietly listening. When the last person had ended his tale of a nasty landscaping job he'd had as a teen, our co-worker jumped in. "Well, when I was fourteen, I was walking through a swamp carrying a rifle over my head..."

    Needless to say, our stories paled in comparison to his remarkable (and sometimes painful) stories of his childhood. The moral I took away from the situation was that there is always someone out there who has it far worse than you.

    That doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to whine about our jobs, but its always good to keep a little perspective.


  • Re:Question: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chimpo13 ( 471212 ) <> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:46PM (#8046652) Homepage Journal
    Sadly, the spraying shit pays better, has more paid days off and way better benefits. It's through the University of California (basically a state job). It's nice being a programmer at one job (no one knows what IT does) and then being the lowest of the low at another job. But most of the animal care employees ain't too bright, I like the programming job better.

    And to the AC post, yup, that's the place, and those are the monkeys. Are monkeys into anal? I just know they like the doggy style position. I guess that does explain the gay monkey pr0n in all the bathrooms. And I just thought the doctors were kinky.
  • by Old VMS Junkie ( 739626 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:48PM (#8046669)
    I did some contract work at a Children's Hospital. It had the usual downsides... boss was a butthead, etc. Then you hear your first "Code Blue" over the PA system and you realize that somewhere in that hospital a little kid is dying. You go to eat in the cafeteria and all around you are kids sicker than you ever imagined. My oldest was two at the time and my wife was pregnant with #2. I have NEVER dreaded going to work so much or flown out of the buidling so fast at the end of the day. When they called me six months later for more work I told them that there was just no way I could go back. When my second was born I was never so happy to see all ten fingers and toes.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @04:31PM (#8047302) Journal
    In retrospect, I agree I should have intervened, with at least a "hey, Mr M - mellow out!". But I was completely shocked and appalled. Also, it happened so quickly. Also, I was a total stoner at the time (1977), and always smoked a doobie before work, so I'm sure I was pretty blasted at the time this all went down.

    I'm not making excuses, just adding some background for your understanding.

    If it happened today, I would certainly intervene - that kind of behaviour is so unacceptable.

    I sometimes wonder whatever happened to Ming and John. Ming was in his 50s then, and that was 27 years ago, so he's probably dead by now. JOhn would be in his late 50s now. I hope he's well.


  • Re:My sad tale.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by damien_kane ( 519267 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @04:33PM (#8047340)
    we hadn't really started burning those until after we tried some prophets, but they don't seem to burn as well as witches for some reason

    It's coz witches are made of wood... everybody knows that...
  • Re:Women (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @05:31PM (#8048155)
    who'd take you seriously if you have a ba and not a bs and you have an email addy
  • 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'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 juaja ( 682026 ) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @11:05PM (#8051552)
    "They're doing a shitty job for almost no pay and they might come home in pieces." Add to this the fact that they are there because some nutcase (and co.) planned a war based on nothing but air (and little oil) and you got yourself a job.
  • by smkndrkn ( 3654 ) on Thursday January 22, 2004 @12:56AM (#8052212)
    You have a good point.

    I have done exactly what you did not and hauled off and just "fucked someone up". I didn't get 30 days I got a year in jail...2 years on probation after getting out....and a 5 year deferred sentence. I cannot get the felony off my record for 5 years after the 5 year deferment (2007) and I cannot start a business that deals with alcohol (I've wanted to start a small brewery for a couple years now) or own any sort of gun (I own a home and have been trained with many weapons and I enjoy target shooting)....

    Let me tell was extremely satisfying giving someone "what they deserve" and even for years after it happened I was not fact I'm not sorry now...I am, however, sorry about what happened after the fact.

    Considering consequences is important...unfortunately I didn't....

    So to the person that replied to you...I would say either:

    1) don't get caught being the tough guy you think you are
    2) think about it before you do it...consequences are sometimes more far reaching than you think

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears