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Davis, California

Friday, March 1, 2024

Pants Optional

Summer is rad – totally, way rad. Everyone wants to have the perfect summer. There are songs and movies and poems written by 13 year-old girls about it. You know that summer has hit when the Facebook statuses start gloating about it. 48 hours later, everyone is whining that they’re bored.

It’s a reflection of the more realistic scenario, the one in which you end up at home, run into everyone you hated in high school, and find your mom yelling at you to take out the garbage, remember your curfew (remember those?) and get a job.

Yes, the summer job from hell. It’s kind of a rite of passage for any young American. Like Dirk Diggler, you spend your days slaving at menial tasks, all the while believing that you were meant for something better. Whether thatsomething betterinvolves the porn industry is all up to you.

Those of us who didn’t score a sweet internship kissing up to the Governator or get their parents to sponsor a trip to Bora Bora are already behind on the job hunt front. People seriously start filling these positions in March. It’s crazysauce. It’s pretty sad getting turned down from a bagging job at a grocery store and realizing that you, a student at a Top 50 university, are apparently not qualified enough.

Employers know how much their jobs suck, and like any salesman, they try to play up the duties with little gimmicks. You’re not a fast food slave, you’re a sandwich artist! Hiring posters promise exciting opportunities, flexible hours and competitive rates. This usually translates into cleaning up puke, working on Saturday nights, and getting maybe a quarter more than minimum wage. Plus, there’s the added bonus of having a sadist for a boss and criminally insane sociopaths for coworkers.

Even the mildly glamorous jobs probably suck. People assume that lifeguards just get to work on their tans and yell at the occasional idiot, but it probably doesn’t seem like all that and a bag of chips when they find themselves performing CPR on an obese 11-year-old.

As a minimum-wage employee, you get to experience life as the scum of our existing society. You live solely to serve whoever walks in off the street, even the gross people. There’s nothing like walking into work, making the mistake of picking up the phone, and being yelled at for half an hour by a pissed-off customer.

While I can’t say I’ve had the worst jobs in the world, I do think I’ve covered my bases to some degree. Food service, the ninth circle of Dante’s retail inferno, data entry, and file room prisoner were probably the worst. I also had the privilege of washing you people’s sweaty towels at the ARC and even stumbled upon a wet jockstrap on the job. Finders, keepers!

No matter how much these jobs blow, everyone should have one before they graduate from college. They give you a line on a resume and you can surely exaggerate the importance of your role. Heck, you might as well just go all the way and say that if it wasn’t for you, the biotech industry wouldn’t be where it is today.

The same monotony and repetition that causes you to literally feel your life slipping away should also serve as a reminder of why we’re all here and reinforce your need to succeed. This, of course, is theoretical; I find myself slacking as soon as I get back to school, but that doesn’t mean that the idea hasn’t passed through. It should also make you glad that you get to escape that joint at the end of the summer while your fellow minions are stuck there for all eternity.

Hopefully, it should also encourage you not to be a flaming douche to people who have sucky jobs and not be one of those assholes who gets up in a waiter’s face because you didn’t want ice in your water. Remember what it was like.

I would imagine that it’s just not the same at the top if you’ve never seen the world from the bottom, so traveling by helicopter and having a golf course on your estate will only be sweeter if you have a cool story to tell of the godforsaken job you worked one summer. Maybe you’ll luck out and meet a hot blonde somewhere on the side. Even after the summer ends and she’s long gone, you’ll always have that herpes to remember her by.


MICHELLE RICK has yet to find a good crappy job to slave away at this summer. E-mail her at marick@ucdavis.edu to share your worst job experience.



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