The Green Study “Worst Job I Ever Had” Contest: 2nd Place

canstockphoto45980502nd Prize from The Green Study “Worst Job I Ever Had” contest goes to Elyse at FiftyFourandAHalf for a job where no one would have blamed her for the rat poison in her boss’s coffee. For those of us who have had office jobs, this story rings a little too familiar. Perfect for a Monday posting, n’est-ce pas?

Disclaimer: Do not put rat poison in your boss’s coffee. Especially if it’s a temp job.

A $75 online donation to the American Red Cross has been made on her behalf to her local Red Cross Chapter.

The Gray Zone

by Elyse at FiftyFourandAHalf

The elevator doors opened and I stepped out into a Dickens novel.

No matter which way I looked, left, right or ahead of me, everything was gray.  The walls, the carpets, the moldings.  The windows were miles away, down past the hives of gray cubicles.  Gray faces, owned by the modern-day weavers, rarely looked up.  Bob Cratchit appeared to hunch over every desk.

It was the first day of my temporary secretarial job at a huge insurance company.

A man dressed, of course, in a gray suit, met me at the elevators to lead me through the maze of gray cubicles.  He was to be my boss, but was annoyed that it was too early for anyone else to lead me to his office and the desk I’d be sitting at for the week.  He walked four paces ahead of me; I wondered how many steps behind this prince I was expected to walk.

My desk when I got there was covered in full heavy boxes. Heaped every which way precariously.

“Ummmm, can you give me a hand moving some of these so that they don’t fall on top of me?  They’re pretty dangerous looking.” I asked my new boss, Gerald.  Gerald looked at me, turned his back and went into his office.

Muttering to myself, I picked up the most precarious box to move it to the floor.  Naturally the phone rang.


Gerald got up from his desk and stood in the doorway.

“You’d better answer that by the third ring,” said Gerald, watching me struggle with the box while his phone rang on his desk.  “Otherwise my call will go to voice mail.”

I stared at him over the top of the box I was hauling.


“That was the second ring,” Gerald said.

I struggled to get the box situated on top of another on the floor.  It was heavy and crushed the top of the lower box.


Then the phone went silent.

“What sort of a temp are you?  You just let my phone go into voice mail!  Can’t you even answer a telephone?  That’s your job!”

I stood back up and stared at Gerald with my jaw clenched.  Tongue bitten.  Patented “you are such a fucking asshole” look plastered all over my face.  Then I sat down without saying a word, shaking my head.

I managed two days with Gerald, before I politely picked up my purse and left.  Gerald looked shocked.  He reported me to Personnel as incompetent, lazy and sullen.

I reported him as an asshole.

Only one of us was right.  I worked various temporary shifts at that company for about a year while looking for a real job. Never again was I sent to work in the Gray Zone.

Gerald didn’t last quite that long.  Apparently I wasn’t the only person who thought he was an asshole.

Congratulations, Elyse! Be sure to check out her blog.

Here’s some more straight and funny talk:

Hey Doc? Lighten UP!

Home for Christmas

French is Dangerous

22 thoughts on “The Green Study “Worst Job I Ever Had” Contest: 2nd Place

  1. Great story, I can so relate to this, Elyse. My favorite line…”I reported him as an asshole.” There must be an asshole union of some kind because I’ve worked for too many for it to be a random occurrence.


    1. Thanks Honie, isn’t it amazing just how many assholes there are in positions of authority. I’m pretty sure they are unionized. Thankfully, I’m working for someone who is decidedly non-assholic. I hope youa re now too.


      1. Oh, I stayed at my share of them. And generally I can deal with assholes (or put them in their place). It was the gray that got to me most. That and looking down the gray corridors of hundreds of people hunched over their desks. Lives of quiet desperation indeed!


    1. Gerald WAS an asshole. But he was middle-management, which is where, I think, all bullies end up. The folks at the top worked in another part of the building. When I got my first assignment there, the HR person all a-twitter said “Elyse, they want you in the Wing!” as if I were going to Buckingham Palace!


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