Occupational Hazards

Credit: Endo Gun Blog

A few years back I had a job that was slowly sucking the life out of me. My boss was certifiably insane, I was pushing paper all day, and the buzzing of the fluorescent lights nearly drove me over the edge. My cubicle offered me a beautiful view of a dead plant, and sometimes I’d get to bask in the scent of Marlboro Reds and Jack Daniels from a coworker who would stop to unload his drama on the guy sitting in the space next to mine. There were days when tying a noose around my neck and ending it all seemed less painful than that place.

I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and find another source of income. I didn’t have anything specific in mind, just something that would pay the bills and help me avoid feeling jazzed about a hanging death. Let me tell you, when you leave the range this wide open you’ll end up doing some messed up stuff.

My first encounter was an advertisement from a local university offering $500 to participate in a study. I called in, they asked me a few questions about my mental health history, and said they’d call me back. I received a call 10 minutes later. It’s never a good sign when a place that just asked you questions about your mental stability is anxious to call you back.

I went in for a screening, and talked with one of their graduate research students. She asked tons of questions relating to my formative years. As I began to get in-depth, she did the worst thing a future therapist could do: she yawned. It was not one of those little yawns where the person is desperately trying to hide it. She actually opened her mouth widely and let out a sound. I’m sorry my awkward junior high years bored you, Sheila.

She delved further into the most traumatic moments of my childhood, and then did the only thing that could trump the yawn: she laughed. She tried to cover it up by pretending to cough, but we both knew it was a laugh. As I walked out, I laughed…at how I was a walking MasterCard commercial. Gasoline to get to case study: $10.00. Parking fee: $5.00. Amusing a shrink with your trauma: priceless.

Needless to say, it was time to pursue another avenue. I saw a posting for a clinic offering big bucks to women who would donate their eggs. Perfect! I didn’t want these things anyway, so it was a win-win situation. I called the number, and got directions to the clinic which screened potential donors. When I got there I immediately noticed I was the only woman in the waiting room.

After spending 20 minutes reading a pamphlet on proper testicle care, a man leaned over and asked me if I knew I was in a sperm bank. Are you serious? They accidentally sent me to a bank where the only deposits being made were in the form of someone’s funky spunky. I took it as a sign from the universe that nobody should create a child using my DNA.

Not one to be easily discouraged, I did some research and found a lab looking for product testers. I thought it’d be a fun way to try out retail items before they reached market. Want to know what I learned? It’s not fun to get a rash on my neck from perfume. It’s not fun to have a metal taste in my mouth from an energy drink. It’s definitely not fun to grow thick hair on my knuckles from a lotion. I also learned that men don’t care for women with shaggy hands who have hives growing below their chin.

I decided I would try my hand at one last thing— movie reviewing. I found a listing for payment in exchange for rating movies on a partner company’s website. I wasn’t a cinephile by any means, but getting paid to watch films in my pajamas? Sign me up! It said my package with instructions on how and where to review would arrive in 2 weeks.

I was so excited when I got the first set of DVDs. I ripped it open to find “My Big Lebowski” staring back at me. As I thumbed through titles like “Jesus Christ: Porno Star” and “Sperms of Endearment” it became clear I was expected to review adult movies. How does one do a proper write-up on this subject matter? “I thought the score was beautifully done as was the makeup. I didn’t feel the main character, Darth Invader, was believable. Overall, I give it one out of five squirts.” Heaven help me.

Something I hadn’t considered was that every job has its drawbacks. My job as an office underling was definitely mind-numbing, but it provided a certain stability that these escapades didn’t. I show up each day, answer a few e-mails, and in two weeks they pay me. Don’t get me wrong, there were still days when I’d run my hand up and down my imaginary noose, but at least the hand I’d be doing it with wouldn’t be covered in a thick layer of fur.

 

Other original works by this author can be found at Sips of Jen and Tonic

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About the Author:

Jen and Tonic was classically trained in the art of guzzling a beer in less than fifteen seconds. She is single-handedly responsible for creating the David Hasselhoff empire, and destroying Dustin Diamond’s career.
On the weekend she enjoys wearing pants with elastic in the waist, arm wrestling small children, and skinny dipping in her neighbors’ bathtubs when they’re not home. She has struggled for years with being overly badass, and scientists are currently studying her in an effort to figure out how one person can be so awesome. View My Profile

  • http://www.tiredofpreviews.com Katy Kern

    Oh Jen, can I tell you how grateful that I have not been asked to review those type of movies..wait, I have been…damn!

    I don’t miss sitting in an office, pretending I am awake and happy to be there, dealing with uptight bosses and people I would normally never associate with…when I do think of those times, “Office Space” pops into mind and I smile and look for my red stapler. :-)

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      You’ve been asked to review those types of movies? UM, I don’t remember reading THOSE posts ;)

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      • http://www.tiredofpreviews.com Katy Kern

        And you never will ;-)

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  • Cher Duncombe

    Jen, there is one good thing about structure and a job. It paves the way to wanton freedom of writing and being unstructured. No shrinks, no trial meds and no porno galas! Just think of your job as a temporary filler until your real life calling (writing) has opened the door. ;)

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      I’ve always said that the jobs I’ve taken have motivated me to do anything BUT those jobs. Writing is obviously at the top of that list. As you said, everything I do until then is just filler.

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  • http://itsalwaysfriday.blogspot.com/ Bill Friday

    Jenny,

    Since you always think I’ve led the most interesting life, let me recount for you some of my most interesting employment choices…

    (1) Taking $300 as an “exercise guinea pig” during my college days as an Exercise Science major. Duties included riding a stationary bicycle during increasing maximal intervals… while breathing CARBON MONOXIDE GAS… to simulate maximal exertion during urban athletic events such as Olympic Marathons. The Doctor who administered the test said it was the equivalent of running for 2 hours behind a ’63 VW Beetle. Life lesson… someone in their 20’s will do damn near ANYTHING to keep from “working” for a living.

    (2) Working as a janitor in the LAX hub of FedEx. No occupational hazards you say…? Well, it taught me the state of 21st century race relations in the United States, as in, you would be amazed at all the manor of racist shit folks (of all races… about others AND each other) talk when you sweep and collect trash around them while wearing sunglasses and a beanie… and they all assume you speak as much English as every first-year Guatemalan immigrant you work with. Just sayin’. Life lesson… people are PEOPLE, as in FLAWED, and in need of further ENLIGHTENMENT… like me.

    and…

    (3) Working as a high-priority courier, and getting a call at 2 a.m. to meet a team of doctors at a local area hospital to pick up the liver, 2 kidneys, 2 corneas, and heart of a perfectly healthy corpse that had died within the last 2 hours after a fatal traffic accident, so that said organs could be put on 6 separate flights to 6 different parts of the country, so that 6 different people could start living their lives all over again… because of the death of a total stranger. Life lesson… this life doesn’t last long enough to WASTE its LESSONS.

    Now you need to write something that will allow me to tell my CHUCK NORRIS story!

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      This proves you HAVE led the most interesting life. There are other jobs you’ve had (which I know about) that add to this opinion. YOU KNOW I’M NOT WRONG.

      And yes, I shall get to working on something that lets you tell your brilliant Chuck Norris story.

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      • http://itsalwaysfriday.blogspot.com/ Bill Friday

        Agree to disagree… agreeably.

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  • http://thetrumpetsummons.blogspot.com/ Larry Conley

    Jen,

    A superb tale superbly told.

    There are people who seemingly live smooth, untrammeled lives. They are born into secure and loving homes; they go to the best schools; they have marvelous careers and launch model families.

    I wonder if they have any clue as to what they are missing.

    As the phrase goes, If we are going to laugh about this someday, why not laugh about it now?

    As ever, thank you for sharing this wonderful anecdote.

    Larry

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      “I wonder if they have any clue as to what they are missing.” No, I don’t think they know what they’re missing. And you know, I don’t think some care to know. I have a friend who does data entry all day long out of her home. All she does is enter information into a computer for 8 hours a day, and she LOVES it. I would surely have bitten a bullet by now.

      Glad you enjoyed!

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  • http://castlehearttimes.blogspot.com/ Dani Heart

    That was pretty entertaining… glad I could live vicariously through you. smiles. I cannot even imagine reviewing adult movies. wow. LOL fun read. :)

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      You’re too much of a lady to review adult movies ;)

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  • http://www.momsarefrommars.com Janene

    To be honest, Jen, I think you had a knack for those porn reviews. ‘One out of five squirts’? Classic! I, too, had a job that I loved in the beginning until it turned into a not-so-fun place. It sucked. Luckily, I found another job.

    I hope, one day, you find yourself with a job you really like. If not, at least you’ve got your crazy cast of blogging friends to help lift your spirits and laugh along with your (hopefully not too much) pain.

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      I think all of the stupidity surrounding every job I’ve ever held will make me very appreciative the day I can finally quit and write full-time. Sure, I’ll be a crappy boss to myself, but at least I’ll allow pajamas in the workplace.

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  • http://www.garrycrystal.blogspot.com/ Garry Crystal

    I can totally relate to this post. I’ve done some jobs in the past where I just couldn’t face going into that sheer boredom hell hole and my sick days would continually increase until I was taken into a meeting where the boss said, “According to your sick day history you are due another sickie on Monday and the following Friday” One of the best ‘money for old rope’ jobs was when a woman approached me in a pub and asked me to attend a meeting at her house for which I would be paid. Turned out to be an advertising campaign and a group of us sat around drinking beer for a couple of hours and discussing the free drinks plus we got paid for it. If only that was a full time job.

    Send me the details of the porn reviewing job, that sounds like a winner. Five squirts for this article.

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      Getting paid to drink sounds like the best job EVER. We need to put our heads together and figure out a way to make that happen.

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  • http://www.firkroy.blogspot.com/ Dan LaFollette

    Jen, Ya know working for other people just sucks, no matter how you slice it. My problem has always been I’m a lousy ass kisser. I have no idea what I will do next for others but I am determined to keep pounding away at a keyboard until it barfs up some money.
    After all of the stuff I’ve been littering cyberspace with lately I can only wonder what some would be employer might think if they Googled my name :D

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      I can totally relate to the part about being a lousy ass kisser. I don’t have it in me to pretend I like a person when I don’t. I can certainly be cordial and friendly, but I won’t get wedged right up there in their cheeks like that.

      Your employer would think you were AWESOME if they googled you!

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  • http://www.examiner.com/business-strategies-in-national/gillean-smith Gillean Smith

    Jen…Wow!…I continue to wish more people wrote like you. Gillean

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      That is one of the greatest compliments I could receive. Thank you so much :)

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  • http://www.lamentsandlullabies.wordpress.com Sara

    Jen, you make me feel like I’m not so alone in the flourecently lit universe.

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    • http://sipsofjenandtonic.com Jen and Tonic

      No, there are MANY more of us. We’ve got to stick together!

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  • Anya Pham

    *sigh* I think about this a lot these days. What kind of work can I tolerate or (dare I?) even enjoy without feeling like all I do is sell my time to the highest bidder? If I could produce my own food and energy, I’d spend a lot less time stressing about work.

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