Lunchtime Poll

Lunchtime Poll: We Work Hard for the Money

Happy Wednesday! Today’s lunchtime poll wants to know all about what  you’ve done to make money. 

Of all the jobs you’ve had, which job was your favorite and which was your least favorite, and why?

My favorite job is freelancing, by far. Sure, there are hassles with taxes and hunting down money, but I like making my own hours and I really like working in my very comfy clothes. Usually with unbrushed hair. It took a long time to make what I made in my old career, but now that I’ve been at it for four years, I have a good reputation and clients seek me out, instead of the other way around.

My least favorite job was in fast food. I worked for a tiny, independent hot wing restaurant with delicious food and terrible management. I was in my early twenties, and still a full-time student, and my immediate supervisor was a sixteen year old asshole. She stole from the drawer, which she then made me count, so I had to pay back the shortages from my paycheck. She made me scrub the toilets 10 times per shift. She dropped food on the floor and served it to people.  I didn’t last very long, I think I worked there until my first paycheck. Which, I might add, was for like eleven dollars because I had to buy a pair of $50 branded polo shirts and cover the asshole’s thievery.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

13 replies on “Lunchtime Poll: We Work Hard for the Money”

Worst job: My first job was answering phones/staffing the office at my former church. 2 hours in the evening or 4 on Saturdays, with at most 1 or 2 calls per hour and almost never any visitors. And a phone system that dropped calls roughly half the time I tried to transfer them to other lines or voicemail. Also the saddest work moment of my life, when I got the call that a beloved figure in church life had only a few hours left to live and needed final rites.

Best job: My internship last summer, running a giant rummage sale for a social justice YMCA. I got to collect furniture from community members and departing college kids, play furniture Tetris trying to fit it as tightly as possible into several semi trailers, then organize a giant sale in my university’s Stock Pavilion. Which translates as “got to hang out with and meet really cool people at the Y, which is the nonprofit love of my life.”

New contender for best job: My job that I have been in for 3.5 weeks, which involves selling chemicals & equipment to help businesses save water & energy. Will be in training for 6 months, but I never would have dreamed that sales would make me so happy.

Other jobs, because lists are fun:

Intern at a Chamber of Commerce

Energy audit curriculum writer for a green business organization

Career services at my university

Lighting operator for a community theater

Cashier at a grocery store


I like my current job the best so far (NICU RN) though I must say making slime with kids at the local science station when I was a teen was pretty fun.

Worse job was either my first job as a nurse or my summer spent promoting Kum & Go gas stations.  The latter was so needlessly stressful.  I began grinding my teeth that summer and haven’t stopped since. And the jokes got old fast.

Worst job: writing for 3 different ladymags on a freelance basis. I was bending myself over backwards to suit their tone and audience, and the editors still kept dumbing everything I wrote further down, because it still sounded too cerebral. Also, two of them just treated me shittily: going back on negotiated terms, limiting what I could review, one actually neglecting to inform me my services were no longer needed.

Best job: writing for a lad mag on a freelance basis. I had some reservations, sure, but they weren’t obnoxious or anti-feminist, and they never ever had a problem with my writing or sense of humor, even if I included “big words” sometimes. And I got shitloads of great free books besides pay (the ladymags made me recommend mostly dull, crappy books and I had to fight to keep any to myself – even though I was the one negotiating with publishers to get promo copies). Also, good feedback from the readers. The magazine sadly went under with the economic downturn.

Other lowlights were stints as an archaeological dig worker, scraping mud away from around medieval sewage ditches and the skeletons of dead nuns, or washing broken animal bones and broken pottery; and being a sales clerk at a sad, lonely art gallery with a deranged boss.

Best job: Running a summer riding camp at my horse trainer’s barn.  The summer after graduation, my trainer offered to let me work as a camp counselor at his summer riding camp.  I didn’t realize until I started was that he meant for me to run pretty much 100% of the day-to-day activities.  During the first week, I wasn’t even sure that I was getting paid until he handed me $200 in twenties (a TON of $ to me at the time) and told me “good job”.  Honestly, I would have done the work for free, because there is nothing more fun than teaching a group of enthusiastic 5-13 year-olds how to ride and care for horses for the first time.

Worst job: Schlotsky’s Deli.  On a gap year from college, I was desperate for money and needed a job – any job.  So, I put in an application at the local Schlotsky’s, and was treated to an interview where the manager, a sour-faced middle-aged lady wearing an enormous diamond-studded cross, quizzed me about my church attendance.  She also asked me about my living situation, and when I told her I lived with my long-term boyfriend, informed me that if I worked for her I’d need to “eventually show her I had more respect for myself”.  At the end of the interview, she offered me a job at exactly minimum wage.  Since I was pretty hard up, I took it (totally hating myself for it).  The first day, my register came up slightly short  by, like, $2 or $3.  After telling this lady, a few minutes later I found her money clip on the ground and handed it back to her – I’m 100% positive she “dropped” it near me as some sort of honesty test to prove I didn’t steal from the register.

The next day, a local temp agency called me with an offer to work the phones at a local car dealership for double what I was making per hour.  I jumped on it, and never darkened the door of that deli again.  The woman left me a scathing voice mail message, telling me I “should at least have the decency to come tell me you quit in person!  So ungrateful!”  I just laughed and figured that hey, for minimum wage, you get what you pay for.

I’ve had a really typical natural career progression starting as a movie theater worker (no cash registers – math in my head – wanted to die) then on to:

Ear piercer

TCBY yogurt artist

Pet store clerk (best hands down.  One of my job duties was socializing rescue cats before we put them up for adoption.  “Kells – go hug that cat for an hour!”)

University Parking Ticket Writer (to answer your questions: No, I did not sleep well at night and Yes, I hated myself daily.  also worst job ever)

Juvenile Chemical Addictions Counselor (what I actually went to school for)

Professional Mommy (turns out I’m not suited to be a SAHM – props to you all who can do it)

Front desk clerk

Research Administration (help researchers get federal and private industry funding for their projects)


Implementation Specialist at a super-cool software company.

So yeah, pretty standard really.

Sooo many jobs. I started working when I was 5, and started a business selling rocks door-to-door. So I’ve done a bunch of varied stuff in the past almost 40 few years.

The worst jobs I had would be: the two-minute stint at a Claire’s where they only scheduled me for the day I told them in the interview that I could not work, and then said I’d be fired if I didn’t show up (they also didn’t tell me they’d taken me off the schedule on the day I showed up to work); fast food (it generally is horrible, isn’t it?) where I also occasionally had to dress up like a Pound Puppy and a Smurf; Shoney’s, where I had to host/wait/bus for people that thought that, since they ordered a buffet, I shouldn’t get a tip for the drinks I brought, plates I took and brought, desserts I made and brought, etc. To add insult to injury, they ‘lost’ my paycheck (for that whopping $2.17/hour) and never paid me for the two weeks I was there. I was lucky to get $1/hour on average, but one table of two truckers just got coffee (which meant I just had to give them a carafe and cups and check on them once or twice) and left me $5 – more than their check. That at least was one of my favorite all-time moments (plus it meant I could afford to eat for a couple of days!).

Some of the best: cage dancing, because I loved going out to dance anyways, but then I got paid for it and didn’t have to wear anything other than my usual garb; being a regional manager of a music store chain; driving exotic cars to different dealership locations when I was homeless; and the first six-figure gig I got, where I was constantly travelling.

Now I have one job that was cut back from full time to maybe-I-get-a-few-hours-a-month, and they didn’t pay me my last paycheck yet (grr), but it’s kind of cool forensic stuff. I’m also doing a freelance gig that will hopefully lead to more freelance gigs, because I don’t think I can swing having to be in an office again. I am fully onboard with the unbrushed hair and comfy clothes; and since I do mostly Web/design/eLearning stuff it’s usually easy to work at home. The only thing I miss is the (paid) travel. If I can find a job I can do remote that has to travel sometimes, I’d be in heaven!

Favorite job:  well, my current job is really my favorite (professor).  But along the way, I’ve had lots and lots and lots of jobs, and my favorites would probably be 911 dispatcher and Starbucks barista.

Worst job:  secretary for a lawyer who worked a lot from home, so I was basically just supposed to sit in his office and…do almost nothing.  I was young and too scared to ask if I could read, so I wrote a lot of letters so that I would look busy, but there was HARDLY anything for me to do.  And no internet (this was awhile back).  I wanted to claw my eyes out from the boredom.  If I had that job now, I’m sure I’d find lots of things to do, but because I was so shy, it was AWFFFFFFFFFFFUL.

Favorite job, grip for a small commercial film company. It was my job to set up cameras and lights, then take them down and move them. Other duties included, getting lunch for the rest of the crew and keeping the camera man awake during a very very dull interview (that ran way long).

Least favorite: Target cashier. They had their money in the til backward. the twenties were on the right and the ones on the left. This was so mindlessly aggravating to me who had worked as a cashier other places. They also had stupid timers on the registered that rated your transactions as good or bad. Really arbitrary stuff could throw you into bad ratings. Have to call to check a price? Lady decided to count out her change? Register refusing to scan a bar-code? I lasted a month.

Ohh, this is my favorite! I can’t wait to read other people’s responses!

Let’s see:

shelved books at a library

cleaned bathrooms at a Mexican restaurant

modeled for art classes and individual artists

cocktail waitressed

breakfast waitressed at a place that was always out of eggs (?!?!)

asked people in malls to do surveys (pity these people)

taught undergraduates

wrote copy for catalogs selling unusual underthings for older ladies

proofread a lot

edited greeting card lines

wrote greeting cards

wrote direct mail copy

worked as creative manager in advertising

um, there’s more I think


wrote poems! I’ve gotten paid a little before for publication :)

wrote romance novels

wrote press releases and filed newspaper articles

worked at a bakery (briefly–I was fired)

clerked at a used clothing store

clerked at a high-end southwestern clothing store

clerked at a store selling Mexican crafts and decor

worked at McDonald’s

We’ve done 4 1/2 and 1/2 of the same things! (I count two halves because I taught stuff, but I only taught undergrads when I was 11 (long story), and I wrote catalog copy for something else.) But I also have modeled for artists and classes, done survey taking, proofread, and wrote direct mail copy (and for other stuff, like infomercials, shhhh!)!

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