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What Was Your Worst Summer Job?

WaiterWhat was your worst summer job, and what did you learn from it?

You've paid your dues, but here's a chance to look at where it all began. From flipping burgers and taking orders to filing and fetching coffee, tell us about your worst summer job and what it taught you. Please comment below.



#1 I cleaned clarifiers at

I cleaned clarifiers at sewage treatment plants. In case you are wondering what a clarifier is, it is the first stop for all sewage arriving at the treatment plant. I was responsible for scrubbing the 'scum' off the walls after the discovered the guy who was in charge of doing this had not done so for a year!

#2 In the summer prior to the

In the summer prior to the one I spent pushing patients around and mopping blood up off operating room floors, I repaired tennis courts in the 95 degree heat of South Florida. What did I learn....always keep a pair of knee pads handy :)

#3 My dad lined up my first job

My dad lined up my first job for me working for a guy spraying some sort of defoliant on cedar and mesquite for ranchers in west Texas, from an airplane. I was part of the ground support crew. It was mid summer and very hot. My responsibilities were to help clear a landing strip in a pasture of rocks and logs that might damage the plane, and later, to be an aiming point for the pilot as he was lining up his run on the pastures he was going to spray. I would mark his starting point on every run by holding up a flag on a 20 foot pole so that the pilot would fly directly at me. Then just as the plane was about to start spraying, I would drop the pole 90 degrees to the side, and run in that direction to avoid the spray. I would then run back to the end of the pole, stand it up on that spot, 20 from where I was, and wait for the pilot to make another run. I lasted one day on that job and got paid $6.

#4 Digging up old, clogged

Digging up old, clogged residential sewer lines [by hand, pick and shovel, no machinery, no 401k, no health insurance ;) ]. This is why I ended up at the McCombs School [BBA '75].

#5 Scoopin' horse manure, over,

Scoopin' horse manure, over, and over, and over again.

#6 I once worked as an

I once worked as an engineering intern at a satellite office of an oil company. They found out one day on short notice that the CEO was coming to visit and had no one to clean up the myriad cigarette butts at the front door. In that case, they decided it was a job for the intern. I actually think I gained the respect of some people that day. I think you have to have the attitude that no job is too small or beneath you. You're a team, everyone has to pull their weight. Plus, I held that over their heads for a while...I don't think I paid for my own lunch for a couple weeks after that.

#7 Like my brother above, I

Like my brother above, I worked at a grain elevator, although this one was active. Before the season, we had to clean the sour grain from the tunnels in the oppressive heat. Shining a flashlight across the surface of the sludge (which looked and smelled exactly like raw sewage) revealed a shimmering mass of maggots. The days were spent bent over, standing in knee deep muck, shoveling the stuff into 5 gal buckets and hauling it back to the end of the tunnels. On the tanks without tunnels, we belly crawled down half-pipes to reach the spilled grain, but these were generally dry, so instead of maggots, you battled rats. The stench permeated everything, including your skin, and ruined my appetite for 3 months of the year. During the season, the job was easier, consisting of sampling, weighing and unloading grain trucks as well as pulling and loading rail cars. However, the hours were much longer (80-110 hours a week) and the grain dust gave my allegies fits. I worked this job for 6 summers (age 15-20) to save money for college. This job was nasty, but taught me lessons that carried me through college and a career. Hard work and perserverance will carry you a long way, even in a minimum wage job. If you want something bad enough, nothing can stop you from taking that next step. I learned the value of a dollar and the advantages of an education. It made me appreciate the sacrifices my parents made to put food on the table, clothes on my back, and the chance for me and my siblings to have more opportunities in life than they had. It also taught me that there is no job that "American's won't do". I outlasted many "non-documented workers" who high-tailed it after a few days in the tunnels. No one "owes you" anything (welfare, tips, free healthcare,etc) unless it is part of the compensation for the work for which you were contracted. You can withstand anything, as long as you know that it is a means to an end, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

#8 I cleaned out and rehabbed a

I cleaned out and rehabbed a mothballed grain elevator. Old sour wet grain had to be removed from inside the silos in triple digit heat and the tunnels under the silos had to be patched and cleaned while battling territorial giant rats. I smelled so bad at the end of the day that I had to ride home with the windows down on my old car or the smell would overcome me. I had to undress in my garage and throw my clothes straight into the washer so the smell would not infiltrate the house. It was a hot, dirty, nasty, honest day's work. This job reinforced the importance of education and the options provided by education. Manual labor does not bother me, but I knew an education would allow me to have options in life as to employment opportunities. Education qualified me for more than just manual labor options.

#9 I spent the summer working to

I spent the summer working to get the school ready for the next year. Lesson: Remember and be grateful for all the hard work which happens behind-the-scenes to make everything look great and work. Bonus lesson: Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty!

#10 I waited tables in college at

I waited tables in college at Applebee’s. In many ways, I can’t imagine a worse job fit for me, which made the experience all the more valuable. I learned how to come out of my shell, keep cool in a crisis and multitask like no other.

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