HR Strange But True!
September 21, 2006

After sorting through hundreds of submissions, has narrowed its Worst Summer Job Contest down to five finalists, and the company is inviting visitors to cast their vote for the worst of the worst.

Ordered from fewest votes to most, the finalists are (the titles are our own):

The Human Moon Bounce Patch (1% of the vote) -- "Tomato" wrote that he (or she) "worked for a clown for a few summers" (and who among us hasn't?). One of Tomato's tasks was to operate an inflatable "moon bounce" for kids to jump on. Unfortunately, Tomato's moon bounce had a tear, and one of Tomato's tasks was to sit on a blanket atop the duct-taped hole to make sure the moon bounce didn't deflate while the kids were jumping on it.

Frankly, we're not quite sure how Tomato made the list. We predict that after a decade or two spent in a life-sapping office cubicle, Tomato will be yearning for those idyllic human patch days, when the boss actually was supposed to be a clown.

The Baboon Beater (15% of the vote) -- "Casey1966" used his sister's connections to land what he thought would be a cushy job at an amusement park. Halfway through the summer, though, he was assigned to work at the park's safari gate. One of Casey's jobs was to ensure that cars got out but that the safari's baboons and monkeys did not. Casey was given a "baboon beater" -- a 3-foot-long bat -- to dissuade the animals from making a run for it. One day Casey fell asleep on the job and awoke to find his booth surrounded by baboons, one of whom was approaching with the baboon beater in hand. Casey locked the door just in time, but then had to sit in 90-degree heat waiting for help to arrive.

"All this to earn $5.75 an hour and break every child labor law at the age of 15!"

The Corn is Red (18% of the vote) -- "Walden722" worked one summer detasseling corn, "which is basically like running a 3-week, sleep-deprived, heatstroke-inducing, cross-country marathon while pulling the tops off of corn plants. We would work for 3 weeks straight with no days off and hit the buses at 5 a.m. sharp, usually returning home around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m." Even with protective clothing, cuts and blisters were ubiquitous.

"Imagine getting a paper cut on your finger. Now repeat that about 10,000 times over the course of 3 weeks."


The Fire Dancer (24% of the vote) -- "Slatz" worked one summer at a bottle-manufacturing plant. His duties included lubricating the massive machines on the manufacturing line. "At each machine, I would crawl through broken glass to grease hidden conveyor-belt parts and other moving equipment while clouds of sulfur surrounded my head and jets of fire often singed my hair. Twice a week, I would lug a 2-gallon oilcan along the catwalk above the line to top off each machine's reservoir. Up here, on hot days, the temperature would soar to more than 120 degrees."

On one such trip, Slatz's glove caught fire, and the fire quickly spread to his oil-soaked shirt. "I put on quite a show as I danced along the catwalk, flailing at the flames. Almost as quickly as my clothes had ignited, I'd beat out the fire. And while I stood on the catwalk with singed eyebrows and smoke rising from my smoldering shirt and gloves, the crew below gave me a rousing round of applause."

The Ultimate Chicken S--- Job (40% of the vote) -- Desperate for a job, "Gary" spent part of one summer working at a local poultry farm. He describes the 40,000 cooped up chickens as "psychotic," trying to peck each other -- and anything else that came their way -- to death, "unsuccessful only because they'd been debeaked."

Not only did Gary have to shovel chicken poop, he also had to breathe, and the latter proved more difficult: "The poop and dust and feathers and other unimaginably rude stuff all got flung into the air in a fine dust.

"The farmers weren't smart enough to use breathing masks or other air filters, so I didn't either -- and my nasal passages got coated with the nastiest, most loathsome crud you can imagine."

Gary, can you spell O-S-H-A?

You know the drill: If you have a story about a truly nasty job (summer or otherwise), send it in. If we get enough good ones, we'll include them in a future issue.


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