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Breaking News: Politicians have actually worked for a living!

The Associated Press has interviewed the presidential candidates about their worst jobs ever. The answers were varied, but the award goes to John McCain:

Republican Fred Thompson, son of a used-car salesman, remembers his years before law offices, Hollywood and the Senate. "Well, let's see," he said. "I've worked in a factory, I was a bouncer at my uncle's drag strip, I worked at the post office, I sold children's shoes, I sold ladies', I sold men's clothing, I was a night clerk at a motel.

"I can't think of a job that I had that I wasn't thankful for at the time."

Romney never went begging for dollars -- his dad was head of American Motors and governor of Michigan. But the Republican presidential candidate got up close and personal with sewage while spending time at his uncle's spread, doing chores at age 15. He said he spent a week on his assigned task of cutting the sewage pipe.


In Alaska, she washed dishes in Mount McKinley National Park, the better of two brief menial jobs that financed her travels. "My worst job was sliming fish in a fish cannery in Valdez," she said without hesitation.

The Democratic New York senator elaborated on this in her memoirs: standing in bloody water in knee-high boots on a pier removing salmon guts with a spoon; supervisors yelling when she didn't slime fast enough; switching to the packing line where she reported spoiled fish to the boss, who soon fired her.

Republican John McCain, son of an admiral, had post-grad employment unlike most -- war. The Navy pilot landed in a vicious Hanoi prison and has no complaints about other circumstances of his youth: "I've never really had a bad job."

Bill Richardson worked for a summer laying sod, and called it "backbreaking".
John Edwards had cleaning duties at a mill.
Mike Huckabee worked at JCPenney -- I assume cleaning, because he talked about how he never touches glass doors, as he had to work so hard getting fingerprints off the doors.
Barack Obama said his worst job was scooping ice cream, because he ate too much of it.
Chris Dodd sold clothes in a haberdashery, and said it was "boring".

All together, I guess we're supposed to be awed by the fact that these people have, at some point, actually worked.

At any rate, this seemed to be a fun topic, so let's get the ball rolling.

My worst job ever was, by far, as a dog washer at a doggie spa. It was the first job I ever had, I was fifteen, and my mother literally made me take it. I lasted a week. Maybe some people are good with that kind of thing, but I simply was not. I love dogs, but I did not like washing them every single day, and having to go home smelling like wet dog and burnt doggie pee (they tended to pee when you blow dried them after washing them).

I also worked at a museum here, the Museum of Science and History, as an intern for five years. I worked for one summer in the planetarium, but most of my experience there was working in the history department -- giving tours, doing demonstrations, and the like. Occasionally, though not often, we did exhibitions in period dress, which means I know what a corset feels like (not good!!). It was one of the best jobs I've ever had.

There also was, of course, Jacksonville.com. I covered sports there, and had some of the best experiences of my life. It's where I started my writing "career", really, but there were lots of different things we were expected to contribute -- photo galleries, columns, video reports, etc. While writing was what I mainly did, I also got to dabble in some photography and be both in front of and behind the camera.

And like many college-aged kids, I worked as a server in various restaurants for about three years. This was one of those jobs that you're either really, really good at, or you're terrible (in my opinion). I was really, really good. Serving is also one of those jobs that you kind of simultaneously love and hate.

After only a few months at my first job as a server (Sneakers Sports Grille, where you wear cheerleading uniforms), I was promoted to a shift leader and a trainer. Therefore, I tend to have ridiculously high standards when I eat out. If a server brings me a new drink without taking the empty glass away, for example, I get slightly annoyed. If they have a great attitude and personality, though, I can overlook just about anything. I do have a kind of mental tally of things that I expect servers to do (pre-bus, check on you throughout the meal, try to upsell, etc.). I also tend to simultaneously be more sympathetic to servers than other people -- if you've never been one, you can never understand what it's like and how stressful it can be. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I hate watching people be rude to servers, and it tends to make me want to tip that server even higher to make up for it. People, don't be rude to your server. Really, really don't. If you don't know what I mean, then watch the movie Waiting. It is a scarily accurate depiction of what working in a restaurant is like. If you're such a terrible person that you can't be nice to your server just, you know, to be a decent human being, then do it for your own good. You don't want to screw with the person who is taking care of your food. I have never personally messed with anyone's food, but I have witnessed it. Many times.

So that's some of my job history (yes, much of these overlapped -- I often work multiple jobs at the same time). What was your worst job, or perhaps, your best? Let's get a little conversation going here.


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Comments (38)

All together, I guess we... (Below threshold)

All together, I guess we're supposed to be awed by the fact that these people have, at some point, actually worked.

Don't take it for granted. Some, like Bush, haven't.

Let's go cronologically her... (Below threshold)

Let's go cronologically here:

1. Clerk in a hardware store - worst part - unloading the Sakcrete truck. 80 lb bags had to be unloaded by hand. It wasn't so bad putting them in customer's cars, because then you only dealt with 1 or 2 sacks. Unloading the truck was a year's supply for the store.

2. Night crew in a grocery store. (eventually stock boy / bagger too).

3. Dorm cafeteria, either line or dishroom on any given day.

4. Driver for Hertz.

5. Navy, most especially Marine week.

6. Data processing post college

I was trying to think of my... (Below threshold)

I was trying to think of my worst job and I couldn't think of one. I hated waiting tables in Lovely Utica, NY, but I hated Utica, not waiting tables.
But.... I remembered my first job; paperboy.
I had about 20 houses on my route and half of them were very particular about how you left their paper. I tried to do everything exactly right. I put the papers in the correct spot, rolled them up correctly and all the other crap. All at 5 a.m.
After my first two weeks, I collected payment. I earned one quarter in tips. Not one quarter of their bill, I earned 25 cents total in tips.
That job sucked. I had people giving me an extra hard time about how to place their papers exactly so (after my first day. I had put my name and number in each paper so they would know their new paper boy and about half called me to yell at me for not doing something that I didn't know I was supposed to do. Like rolling one guy's paper up and sticking in his trellis with the open side down on the outside and up on the inside), and after being yelled at and trying my hardest to do all the things they demanded, only one person tipped me.

I landed a summer job in a ... (Below threshold)

I landed a summer job in a shipyard. I worked second shift on a clean-up crew. We cleaned up after the sandblasters. Some nights I walked out of there looking like a coal miner.

Schleping construction mate... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

Schleping construction materials under the summer sun here in Texas was a drag. Two bundles of shingles at a time up the ladder to a two story roof was the worst, followed closely by carrying sheetrock upto the second floor. On the plus side, I made 3X what my friends working at the car wash or mall earned.

The worst jobs I ever had w... (Below threshold)

The worst jobs I ever had were never because of the jobs, but the employers.

First job: 13 years old - making beaded necklaces behind a curtain at the Seminole Reservation in South Florida. So next time you visit a reservation that sells "hand-made" items as souveniers, remember; it might have really been made by a scrawny little redheaded kid who just wanted work and got paid 40 cents a piece.

Best job: Literally slaving my butt off as the only employee at a little restaurant in Freeport, Texas as waitress, cook, cashier and dishwasher. Why it was the best job? The man I worked for had to close the business and as a last token of his appreciation he gave me a roll of quarters (it was all he had left) and told me I was the hardest worker he'd ever had the pleasure of knowing. I've never forgotten him for that.

(they tended to pee when... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

(they tended to pee when you blow dried them after washing them).

I just wrap an extra towel around myself... Oh, you meant the dog!

I win: "store standards" (c... (Below threshold)

I win: "store standards" (custodial) at Wal-Mart. You would be surprised (or perhaps not) by how many women who shop at that pit of despair enjoy slapping soiled feminine napkins to the walls of bathroom stalls. I even caught someone doing it, as I suspected her as a repeat offender and sent in my female coworker who busted her, and that fat hag threw a fit (in front of her kids) and the manager tried to make me apologize. I quit instead, as I was a week away from starting college. There's no dignity to be had in Wal-Mart, not as a consumer but especially not as an employee.

I worked in the oil/gas fie... (Below threshold)

I worked in the oil/gas fields of Wyoming, air hammering asbestos out from the inside of oil oil storage tanks while wearing a full protection suit, goggles and resp during the summer.

It encouraged me to stay in college.

Am I the only one that find... (Below threshold)

Am I the only one that find Hillary and Obama's answers a little too similar to the classic answer to the "what's your biggest fault" interview question ("I work too hard"). C'mon - my worst job was eating too much ice cream?! I got fired for being ethical about fish guts?! Get over yourself.

Putting that aside - put me down for the following: janitor, dumpster painter, shaker (the guys the ride around on the back of trash trucks picking up trash - aka 'shaking cans'), hazardous waste clean up including standing knee deep in a vat of multi-colored-take-your-best-guess in the basement of a burned down, abandoned paint mill in the middle of summer. Sorry, matthew, you don't win. And I suspect someone will come up with something worse than what I've done - and I've only worked in the civilian sector. And, yes, I was thankful to have those jobs. More now than then, but you know what they say about hindsight.

Brian:"Don't t... (Below threshold)


"Don't take it for granted. Some, like Bush, haven't."

And some like Brian take great pride in his job as Chief Asshat and Cranial/Rectum Reversal Specialist.

I still say John McCain win... (Below threshold)

I still say John McCain wins. ;)

Considering George W. spent... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Considering George W. spent his younger years working on oil rigs as a roughneck, I'd have to say Brian is a liar.

My best job ever was being ... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

My best job ever was being a farmer.

My worst job ever was being a farmer.

I am now a farmer emeritus, as my brother took over full time, but I still help out from time to time as needed.

"I'd have to say Brian i... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"I'd have to say Brian is a liar"

You just now figured that out? You're not very observant then...

Plastic bag factory. The jo... (Below threshold)

Plastic bag factory. The job was taking plastic bags out of one box, counting them into bundles and putting them into another box. I was supposed to do 9 hours of that. After 3 I walked out. There should be a machine for that job, was my reasoning.

Nope. He's been beneath my ... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Nope. He's been beneath my notice for the most part til now. Somehow he got past my BDS filters.

The list:lawnmower/l... (Below threshold)

The list:
lawnmower/landscaper (good job, great tan)
dishwasher at a wafflehouse type resturaunt (average)
stock clerk/grocery bagger at Winn Dixie (average job, long hours @ minimum wage $1.65)
Machinest Mate US Navy (good job, minus the urinal and toilet snaking)
Officer US Navy (great job, great experience/ travel)
clothing sales @ Brooks Brothers (good xmas job)
junior bond trader, Prudential Bache (good job)
bond broker (worst job)
clothing sales manager @ Bergdorf Goodman (average job)
business anaylst @ financial software vendor (good job)
product manager @ financial software vendor(good job)
software consultant @ hedge fund (best job :)

newspaper deliver boy (Cd. ... (Below threshold)

newspaper deliver boy (Cd. Obregon, Mexico)

high school teacher

landscaper / nuseryman / Christmas tree tender

assemblyman (Little Harvey food dryers)

assemblyman (window and door factory)

low-end web designer

missionary (does that qualify as working for a living?)

second-hand store

writer (Christian Light Publications; Lamp & Light Publishers)

editor / proofreader

warehouse grass seed cleaner operator

Jobs I never had that intrigue(d) me: mechanic, electrician, farmer, programmer, TalkShowHost.

presently: home-based business (Anabaptist Bookstore)

Setting clay pigeon on a ma... (Below threshold)

Setting clay pigeon on a machine at a trap club (different than skeet shooting) at age 13 -16. Benefits - free shooting, free soda and free cracked knuckles if you didn't get your fingers claear in time. Also bought my first shotgun, an 870 Remington for $135.

Cleaning up at a bakery at age 17. Benefits - free food and nice looking counter help.

Shoe salesman at age 18 through college. Benefits - never had a stuffed up head. Some of those feet I smelled literally bowled me over.

Janitor in an office/apartment buidling at age 20.

I held the last three job simultaneously and worked 70+ hours a week in the summer to help finance college.

Stuffing boxes at a music distribution center right out of college.

Worked for an engineer for 4 years. Tyrant of a boss, but learned more from him then I ever learned at school.

Taught CAD for four years. Learned a lot about human nature.

Back into engineering as my own boss and have been there ever since and loving it. Hard work, long hours at time, but the pay is great!

None of the jobs were bad if you approached them with the right attitude. Whether making less than miminum wage or $100+/hour, I've always been happy with what I've made and never complained.

And some like Brian take... (Below threshold)

And some like Brian take great pride in his job as Chief Asshat and Cranial/Rectum Reversal Specialist.

And some like marc resort to hurling vapid insults when they've been bested and have nothing more intelligent to say. I hope you thanked the 7 year old who gave you that line.

Let's see: Picking fruit i... (Below threshold)

Let's see: Picking fruit in the Sacramento Valley. 14 years old (lied about my age), 84 hours per week, 102 - 104 degree heat, 90+ percent humidity. My co-workers were winos and bums picked up on Skid Row every other Monday (when they got paid, they bought enough cheap wine to stay drunk for days).

But I don't regret it at all. It left me really, really sure I wanted an education and a white collar job.

First actual job, working e... (Below threshold)

First actual job, working every Saturday at a General Tire store in Cleveland, Ohio - every 6 months 4 of us rotated to different jobs. It was a great experience.

First full time job right out of high school and before college? Working for Fisher/Fazio Costa grocery stores - again in Cleveland - where my job LITERALLY was typing employees' names on checks - all day long, every single day. We had a supervisor who had one of those "clicker" thingies and he would give a click when we were permitted to take our break, another click for lunch, a click for afternoon break and a double click at the end of the day. We were otherwise to sit at our desks and do our jobs (?) and NO CONVERSATION was permitted. It amazes me to this day that I lasted 3 months!

Best job - in retrospect - 7 years working for Herbie Oppenheimer, a man who never saw me as a "girl" but rather saw me as a collection of skills that only required encouragement and he LOVED encouraging people. I learned more from him on a daily basis than I ever did in school and although he's been gone now for many years, I still absolutely honor and respect him and remember him with profound love and no small amount of amusement. The man had multiple degrees and never displayed them. When asked what he did for a living his response was "I'm just a little bookkeeper." The more I think about that, the more I realize how profound that persona was that he created for his business self.

lessee...burger fl... (Below threshold)


burger flipper at the local burger joint. that kinda sucked in high school. no matter what i did i smelt like onions and fried meat.

box boy, and then produce clerk at a grocery store

college dorm cafeteria chef's assistant. see burger flipper above for the down side of that job

front desk for a college dorm both during the school year and during the summer when the rented the dorms out for conferences. that was a fun college job, never knew who you were going to meet.. one week it was all of the high end bankers from around the Pacific Rim. The next week it was the cross dressing square dancing convention. swear to god.

i was a college dorm resident advisor for a year before i had enough of the PC crap they were shoving down our throats.

christmas retail at a computer software shop just when CD ROM games were coming out.

graveyard shift at a gas station/convenience store. that was entertaining, i had to lock the beer up at 2am and unlock it at 6am. there were lines at both times.

did inside telephone sales for a few years. loved getting laid off by an idiot of a manager and then being able to tell the owner of the company No when he offered me my job back 2 weeks later.

worst job ever: telephone tech support contractor for MS for Windows 95/98 and IE4.

then i got a job at the company i work for now doing first internal IT Helpdesk and then corporate IT systems administration and engineering. best damn job i've ever had.

Ranch work---Fixing fence, ... (Below threshold)

Ranch work---Fixing fence, irrigating, etc. No pay--I lived there.

Haying--started on the swather--$20 per day. Moved up to the baler--$25 per day.

Taco Hell--shift manager for 2 years. Couldn't eat there for 2 years afterwards.

Busboy---suprisingly good money for the time. Coat & Tie place. Restaurant people are partiers....

Airborne Express--driver/dispatcher/loadmaster. Kind of a cool job that got me through college.

Worked for an electrical contractor--started as the shop rat. Became the purchasing agent for the whole company and manager of one division of the company that rewound electric motors and fixed tools. Was also apprentice electrician and apprentice refrigeration technician. Good experience.

Bouncer---teaches you exactly how not to act in bars. Did this as second job over the years, many times double timing it in jobs below just to make a living.

Pilot--Instructor, flew pipelines, wildlife surveys, aerial photography, fire patrols, search & rescue, etc. Extremely hard to make a living. Cool jobs but NO money in it.

EMS pilot---started as co-pilot and worked up to site manager. Hospital politics suck.

Director of Operations/Chief Pilot for a company owned by a very rich guy. Didn't last long because he wanted us to break federal regulations. Quit due to ethics.

EMS pilot---very happy just being a line captain--get paged, hurry to airport, fly a patient where they need to go, go home. Doesn't get much better than that....

I know I've missed a couple--probably because I've just repressed them.... :)

My worst jobs were being a ... (Below threshold)

My worst jobs were being a logger in AK and WA, welder in a battery factory, farm laborer, and working as a part-time elementary school janitor.

Favorite jobs were sorority house boy during my college days, and, of course my current job.

I'm always reminding myself, it's called work because someone has to PAY me to do it.

I started working when I wa... (Below threshold)

I started working when I was 15, and other than a year off with my infant son (due to his health reasons), I've been working ever since for a total of 30 years of janitorial jobs, waitress jobs, checkout, auto detailing, airlines, real estate agent and now lawyer (never had to flip burgers, whew!). Way too many of our young men and women now days spend their summers and after-school hours in sports, camps, traveling, etc. and don't know what it's like to hold down a job, much less a stinky one.

Apple pickerCorn Det... (Below threshold)

Apple picker
Corn Detasseler
Hand cultivated an experimental soy field
Gopher for people working on Mariner 9 (the first Mars orbiter)
Lackey for Hans Bethe (about 6 weeks)
Reclimation Archeology (Lake Shelby was flooding due to a man made dam and we needed get artifacts out asap)
Short order cook at a ski lodge
Barker at a amusment park
Data babysitter for an electron microscope group
Math grader
Rigger (sort of)
Book store clerk
Astronomy Lecturer at a Resort on Saint Johns USVI
Physics lecturer at UVI (USVI)
Astronomy Lecturer at the U of I.

Finally Physics Professor (for 20 years)

Worked one summer in a slau... (Below threshold)

Worked one summer in a slaughterhouse. When the trailer trucks came to haul away the offal, it was all dumped into the truck, heads included. Because the freight cost was by weight and the heads weighed around a hunnert pounds apiece, we had to wade into the offal, kick around till we found a head, then reach into the muck, grab the head and throw it out into the dumpster.

Fun stuff.

And the chicks at the local bah loved the way we smelled.

Brian - "I hope you tha... (Below threshold)

Brian - "I hope you thanked the 7 year old who gave you that line."

Actually no I didn't, so I'll take the opportunity to now.

Thanks Brian, it's a collection, paraphrased, of many of your thoughts and comments.

Thank you!

Anyone see the irony of Brian accusing someone of stealing from a 7 year old when his original post was nothing more than an off-topic snipe attack that once again demonstrates his acute case of BDS.

his original post was no... (Below threshold)

his original post was nothing more than an off-topic snipe attack

Off topic? In a post about past jobs of politicians, a comment about the lack of a past job of a politician is off topic? Oh, I suppose name-calling is more on topic, eh?

Thanks Brian, it's a collection, paraphrased, of many of your thoughts and comments.

Oh, man. Now you're just embarrassing yourself.

Worst job: Part-time help a... (Below threshold)

Worst job: Part-time help at large daycare center- The only time I've barfed in the last 28 years (17 yrs ago) was from catching something from those kids

Best jobs: Church volunteer working with 5th and 6th graders

Election judge

Let's see here...1... (Below threshold)

Let's see here...

1) Mowing the church lawn once a week with a push mower @ $30 a mow. About three hours work in the hot sun per week gave me enough money to buy my first stereo, a pattern that so far has not been broken - sinking my money into electronics. I also mowed the pastor's lawn a couple times for $20 and was introduced to one of the funnest things ever - riding lawn mowers. It was an OK job.

2) In-home personal care for a woman with Parkinson's disease. At 17/18 I was putting her on the potty, wiping her, feeding her, dressing/undressing her, giving her medication, etc. I made a ton of money ($8.50/hr under the table) for a high schooler. Good job and learned a lot about being humble and caring for others.

3) Cleaning a dry-cleaning business every Saturday. Took me about two hours and I got $30. It was OK, but I knew when to move on.

4) Telemarketer. Well, first I did in-bound calling (they call me), which although not terrible is not that great, either. I quit that job after working there 7 months (my record) because they put me on political calling where I had to call people and tell them for whom to vote. I hated that.

5) Cashier at Wal-Mart. If I hadn't already experienced the world of telemarketing, I would've called this job the worst. The pay was not worth the BS they make you put up with. To this day I am very, very polite to even the worst Wal-Mart employee because I feel sorry for them.

Oh, and let me not forget m... (Below threshold)

Oh, and let me not forget my favorite job thus far: working in the campus writing lab over the summer. I had to help a grand total of one person in a two-week period. Basically I got paid to read. Best. Job. Ever.

Best/Worst job I ever had:<... (Below threshold)

Best/Worst job I ever had:

Working on the killing floor of a meatpacking plant for several years. I learned every job on the line from killing 400 head of cattle and 1000 hogs a day to wraping them in shrouds for the cooler....and everything in between.

It was very hard work, but it taught me to respect what hard and dirty work was. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

I too have worked many jobs... (Below threshold)

I too have worked many jobs, sometimes even working three jobs at a time just because I wanted to, not necessarily because I had to.

My worst job is a toss up between working as a cashier at WalMart, working for a satellite tv distributor who was a manic depressive, arrogant, loud and vile mouthed jerk, or working in a county nursing home for minimum wage as a CNA. Ewww, hubby just reminded me, working at a seafood restaurant was pretty bad too. I came home smelling like fish, old coleslaw, and burnt fry vat oil. Sundays were the worst because the church goers would come in. They were hateful and rude, didn't tip us, left disgusting messes on the tables, floors, and in the bathrooms...ugh!

My first job was mall checkout cashier at Rose's Department store. Not bad. Minimum wage then was $3.35 an hour and I got a whole nickel raise after 1 year. I was only 16 though so I was happy to just have money of my own. IT all went on my first car and lots of new clothes!

I like my job now at KMart. It isn't the best pay in the world. We do have benefits, even at part time, like healthcare, and 401k, paid vcation after a year, Employee Assistance, and tuition re-imbursement. I like it because it's very flexible and they will set my schedule around my kids homeschooling schedule. Pretty sweet!

Best job-Medical Technologi... (Below threshold)

Best job-Medical Technologist, working in a hospital lab (worst part was running tests on a friend's dying newborn)
Worst job: Navy training squadron in Texas (flightline/Maintenance Control). I was surface Navy (blackshoe) for 3 1/2 years before being sent to school for aviation administration. Pilots and student pilots can charitably be described as life support systems for egos. They had absolutely no respect for the junior enlisted who busted their humps to keep them in the air.

lets see...heavy equ... (Below threshold)

lets see...
heavy equipment operator
sheet metal worker
ship fitter
US Army
more ship fitter
auto mechanic for the last 28 yrs.
all in all, they all had some good as well as bad things,but, I wont trade a thing about any of them.






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