I’m trying to think of a more frustrating job than Person In Charge of Putting a Positive Spin on the 2017 Reds, and I got nothin.’ Outside of the perennial highlight that is Joey Votto, they gave this person a donkey and Scooter Gennett and told him to make a highlight reel which was supposed to stretch over six months of wonders.
But as we all know, it could always be worse. We could have no Reds. Or we could be here:
When I was working as a technical and marketing writer in the corporate universe, I endured quarterly “team luncheons,” which consisted of long sandwiches featuring very sad lettuce and a conference room in which we were told what a great company we were and the many ways in which we, those of us who comprised the company, sucked at our jobs. These to-dos weren’t technically mandatory, of course, but when the send-all email hit the inboxes with a closing sentence consisting of, “The CEO looks forward to seeing all of you there”, it was clear that it wasn’t the brightest idea to be found at one’s desk during the Team Hour, scrolling through vintage Atari cartridges on eBay.
My strategy was to nip in at the absolute last second before it all began, which usually meant that all the uncomfortable folding chairs were taken and I was left—oh, gosh darn it!—to stand in the hallway next to the folding table with the lettuce, which frankly had a more winning personality than many of the office people. I braced myself up against the wall, faced the ice bucket, and was free to not feign raptures over PowerPoint clip art.
Each job carries with it tiny moments of redemption, of clarity and grace—even if it’s the ice bucket.
Selling Roses In Horrible Scary Bars
This is worse.
I know, because I did it. For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, several bars in tourist areas welcome the presence of “Rose Girls,” who sashay through the crowd with a little bit of clothing and a whole lot of wicker basket, selling flowers at outrageous prices to men who wish to flirt with, impress, or placate the women around them. Everybody loses: The Rose Girls are degraded, the men get hosed, and the recipients are bought off for less than the cost of a glass of good wine. Opponents of capitalism would do well to look to the Rose Girl.
The job got me out of the office, but it also got me into some of the worst dives on Florida’s Space Coast—some haunted, some perpetually empty, some hosting Vanilla Ice in concert. I was precisely the wrong person for the job, as it required me to talk to people one-on-one, perform mathematical calculations in my head, pretend I wasn’t chronically depressed, smile when groped, and walk in high heels without creating the acoustical impression that many, many angry horses had been unleashed onto the dance floor.
One night the black bag I used to tote the cash and change were stolen out of my wicker basket. The culprits followed me from my car, through a dark parking lot, and into a pub before making away with an entire night’s worth of stem hustling. Blessedly, they left it at that.
My psyche did not. I took many deep breaths in my petal-fragrant little car, slapped myself around a little, and changed into a tee shirt. The tiny little uniform was left in a plastic grocery bag on my boss’ front porch with a tiny little note and a great big replacement check.
I was a terrible sashayer, anyway.
Airline Customer Service People
This is much, much worse.
This is absolutely the only soul-destroying day job I’ve had the sense not to take. People. Details. Numbers. Confrontation. Homicide. I was robbed on the job, and even I know better than to put on a Delta Airlines uniform and stand in front of the businessman my boss—who was likely sleeping soundly—had just stranded in Atlanta at one in the morning by overbooking his flight.
Tired, hungry, disoriented travelers whose luggage is now on another continent have just received the glad tidings that they are facing an evening in a motel which likely features a Tuesday Crack Special. They want to cry on, shoot into, and jab index fingers at the next Official Person they see, and that person is… you. I once saw a fully armed security detail form a perimeter around a particularly raucous queue at a ticket rebooking counter.
I would rather take my chances with the haunted pub and Vanilla Ice.
Guy Who Had to Interview Bill Belichick After Super Bowl XLII
This is worse.
I thought I had analyzed every terrible job available in the free world until this position unexpectedly opened on February 3, 2008. For those of you who don’t remember, this was the 2008 Super Bowl, played between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. The Patriots were undefeated, and everybody up to and including God was predicting their victory.
The Patriots, in case you’re just tuning in, are coached by the extremely terrifying Bill Belichick, who cuts the sleeves right out of his sweatshirts and stomps about the sidelines in search of puppies for the special teams to practice on. And… his team lost the biggest game of the entire season, before an audience of over 97 million people. And… somebody had to take a microphone, and stand next to him, and ask him how he felt about it.
It was exactly the comfortable chat you’d expect, with Belichick drawing his lips in a very thin line and shooting laser death rays from his eyes. It was like the worst blind date you have ever been on multiplied by a factor of seventy billion. Whatever the reporter got paid needs to be tripled with a combat pay incentive.
This is way worse.
Reds fans have, in Redleg Nation, a support group, but where do our spouses go?
At my best, I alternate between euphoric fireworks and black hole sobbing in a one-hour period. At my worst, I make Bill Belichick look like an anime character. My husband, Josh The Pilot, doesn’t just work at the airline ticket counter– he lives with the entire mob of furious travelers, with no armed guards in sight.
The meals I prepare in the morning are carefully placed in a slow cooker, which by dinner time are transformed into room temperature chicken floating in a reproachful sea of basil and white wine, because while the slow cooker has been turned on, it has not been plugged in. My husband is an airline pilot, responsible for thousands of lives a day, and then he comes home to an unshowered wife in a dusty house who has spent the entire afternoon staring at a single stubborn paragraph and deciding that hey, Rose Girlism maybe wasn’t so bad, because that at least involved leaving the house once in a while, even if it was to get robbed. And then he hugs this mess.
Fortunately, the position has been filled.
Proud aunt Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college teacher who lives in Cincinnati, OH. Her home site, BlondeChampagne.com, has existed in at least some form since 2003, and Mary Beth has been a regular columnist with one publication or another from the age of 16. Her first book, Drink to the Lasses, was published in 2006. She currently teaches college, runs personal wine tastings, gives literary readings, and stares into the middle distance.