What is the worst job you ever had?
I figure this topic can get us some laughs. Tell us the worst job you ever had, and why it was so bad?
I'll get the ball rolling with an essay I wrote for a high school english class. Please do not assume you have to make your horror stories as long as I did. I made mine this long so it would count as 3 assignments.
Shakespeare and Company box office, this is Mike speaking. How may I help you?
The job seemed innocuous enough as I sat in the lawn chair behind the ratty old trailer that served as Shakespeare and Company's Box Office. All I had to do was sell tickets to people. They call, or come up to the window, tell me what show they want to see, give me their credit card, and I sell them the tickets. Better yet, as I was working part time, I never had to come in before 1 in the afternoon.
I had no idea of the insanity I was committing myself to.
The Can as we called it, was a beige corrugated aluminum trailer with 2
ticket windows in the front, 7 ancient computers, (4 of which were used for selling tickets. 1 was the server, 1 was for the remote station, and the last one was the credit card machine), a gigantic old air conditioner that did a better job at creating a large block of ice over its evaporator coils than it did at actually cooling The Can, and a linoleum tiled floor that was so dirty not even bleach could clean it.
Shakespeare and Company is located in Lenox Massachusetts; a stones throw away from Tanglewood to give the more "cultured" amongst you a better idea. Up until the end of the summer of 2001, Shake and Co. was located on The Mount, Edith Wharton's summer estate. It is an absolutely beautiful piece of land, that, should anyone ever be in the area, and likes that sort of thing, should check out. But I digress.
Shakespeare and Company had 2 Theaters on The Mount, one in their new Headquarters a mile up the road and a black box theater in a mansion a ways further up the road past the new headquarters.
Being that it was the last year they would have space at the mount they decided to show the play "A Midsummer Nights Dream" on our outdoor main stage, a 300 lawn chair theater, in the side yard of the Wharton mansion. The stage is perhaps one of the most beautiful stages I have ever seen in my life. Rather than making it stand alone, they decided to build it into the surrounding area. Stage right is a vaguely conventional stage, though it was stepped to follow the contour of the land there. Stage left was simply the woods, the stage made simply of fallen pine needles. The fact that on a clear night you could see the moon and stars in the sky, made it positively magical, perfect for a play such as Midsummer Nights Dream.
Up at The Can, we had a marvelous view of the dusty parking lot and got to sit in full view of the blazing summer sun. We were located right by the stables that housed the scene shop as well as the stables theater. On hot days, the poor air conditioner simply couldn't keep The Can cool even when it didn't decide to be an icemaker instead.
The first day wasn't that bad. I worked the windows and sold a handful of tickets. Real easy. No computer problems, no angry people. I could take this job. Great money for so little work.
95% of the people who buy things from you are nice people.
4% are impatient, but tolerant.
1% of the people you meet will be absolutely bat**** psycho.
On day two, I met one of the 4% varieties.
I had yet to memorize what show was where, and where each theater is, how many seats, and what else. So, my first phone call, I got this grumpy old man. I took my time, trying not to get too flustered about the whole affair. The man did not help with comments like "You don't sound very sure about yourself." and "Do you have mental problems boy?" finally I handed the guy off to my manager.
*Box office revelation #1*: The amount of money in the computer will NEVER match the amount of money in the credit card machine.
Among the great many ticketing and computer problems we had, this was, perhaps the most persistent and maddening. The ticketing computers are made to talk to the credit card machine that then makes the charge to all the credit cards. It rarely worked out so simply. For whatever reason cards ended up getting double charged, or not charged at all. So, at the end of the day, when we closed, we would have to sit for hours, going through every credit card transaction made, looking for double charges. The box office closed at 8. And more often than not, we would be there til past midnight, figuring out which, of the 300+ credit card transactions were wrong. Once that mess was straightened out, we had to check the reports and make sure that the right amount of money went into their proper shows. This was also a pain in the ***. David, one of our employees, was a master at "******* with the reports".
*Box office revelation #2*: If a customers windshield wipers are on, all shows MUST be canceled, even when the customer's car is in New York City, California or Tokyo.
This was one of the odder ones. Because we did have an outdoor stage we occasionally had to cancel a performance for rain. A rain check would be given to every person who attended, in the case that the show was canceled due to rain. A show would only be canceled if the rain was hard enough to make it unsafe for the actors to perform.
A few hours before the show it was drizzling lightly, more misting than raining. Though it had been raining quite hard earlier that day, a car pulls up stopping right in front of the box office. This is not allowed. A woman gets out and I open the window.
"Can I help you?"
"I want a rain check."
"I'm sorry. We only give rain checks if the performance is canceled."
"What do you mean? It's raining out. I should get a rain check!"
She's beginning to get agitated. I know this can only go one way, poorly. I hope it's not the violent kind of poorly.
"We only cancel a show if it is raining hard enough that it poses a danger for the actors to perform."
"Then I want to change my tickets to another performance!"
Ugh. Because we print tickets out beforehand, we don't allow people changing performances within 48 hours of the show. We don't give refunds either, under any circumstances. I inform her about our policy on changing performances, knowing full well she will demand a refund next.
"Then I want a refund!"
I told you so.
When someone orders tickets. We tell them there are no refunds, and we also tell them the policy on rain checks. This is standard operating protocol. It also explains these rules in all of our pamphlets. This does not stop people from asking for them (see Box office revelation #3)
"We cannot give you a refund either. I'm sorry."
The woman sulks back to the illegally parked car. I expect her to drive away.
Her husband gets out and approaches the window. The whole skit repeats itself, because obviously, I'm just a misogynist, and if it's a man asking, he'll get results. Finally the man asks for Ron, the box office manager. Ron wanders over, and I go to work on looking busy somewhere else.
I don't hear most of the exchange, but I do hear the man exclaiming, "My windshield wipers are on! How can you have the performance if my windshield wipers are on!"
In the end, he did not get his rain voucher or refund.
I do not know if they attended the show.
*Box Office Revelation #3*: No matter how much information you give them, customers will ALWAYS find a way to be ignorant.
It's positively amazing to see how stupid people can be. Take for example, the play, Corealanus (kor E all anus) was also known to the Shake and Co. crew as, "The anus play" because it had the sound "anus" in it. Everyone was afraid to say it. Cory al lanus was a popular variant. People constantly wanted refunds or rain checks or to switch shows 15 minutes before the performance begins. They could never decide what show they wanted, and in some cases could not even remember what name they bought their tickets under.
*Box Office Revelation #4*: When engaging in water fights with the scene
shop, it is best not to shoot the company manager.
First- a little background.
Working in a box office frequently requires long periods of time where you do nothing at all. For this reason, we would occasionally get in a water fight with the scene shop usually battling over the possession of a large, dirty, pikachu plush doll. We had the classic hand held water pistols. The scene shop had the largest super soakers known to mankind, capable of shooting more water than a fire hose. We did later obtain a super soaker of our own... but it didn't have anywhere near the flow rate that the scene shop guns did. Though I was not there at the time, this is what happened...
Andrew was a PR person. He worked at the box office, but his primary job was to handle ticketing for press people. He also was a royal pain in the *** for Ron, our manager. It wasn't that Andrew was a bad person, he just couldn't do anything right. He had gotten into a water fight with the scene shop, ran blindly around the corner, into the scene shop and opened fire, right at the company manager. He quickly realized his mistake, as he was ***** slapped so hard it knocked him to the ground.