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Submariner -- for both hardest and favorite.

Julie in Boise

I worked as a dishwasher/bus girl in a U.S. Bureau of Mines cafeteria near Pittsburgh the summer before I started college. That was the hardest physical labor I've done for money.

My other school-era jobs - and one I took right after my 1982 college graduation during a tough job market - involved retail work, mostly at discount stores (Gold Circle, McCrorys, Woolworth) and a lumber yard (Busy Beaver). I mostly worked the cash registers but also did stock work. I never minded this sort of work; I'd go back to it today if I had to, but preferably at a union or employee-owned shop.

My least favorite job? I worked two telemarketing jobs during school, one pitching newspapers, the other seeking donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. That was tough work, even circa 1980. I can only imagine how much more difficult it is now, in the era of caller ID and cell phones. I guess it wouldn't be as bad working at an inbound call center.

My toughest professional job was a short stint I held in early 1984 at a company that published several magazines on Long Island, NY. I thought it was going to be my dream job, reviewing concerts and movies in the NYC metro area. And then my first paycheck bounced. Never a good sign ...

My favorite-ever job is the one I've had since 1991: independent writer. After almost a decade of working for daily papers, I made the jump in late '91, and I haven't looked back. It's frequently tough to find enough work - which is why I'm happy that tomorrow, I start a full-time equivalent gig (my longest ever) that'll last through 2008. I'll be launching a new online organizing effort with my all-time-favorite client, the Study Circles Resource Center. After several years of intense partisan political work, this mostly 9-to-5 small-d democracy gig will be a welcome switch indeed.

Julie in Boise

Bubblehead, you are the soul of brevity!

Adam Graham

Worst jobs: Fast food. I'm a veteran of Arby's, McDonalds, and Taco Bell. There was also the heart breaking job where right out of college and right after getting married as a poor newlywed I was hired as a reporter by a scurrilous publisher and never paid. Yech!

Best Job: Current one. While it's not the job of my dreams, I'm treated well and I have some flexability to other goals. While at some point, I'd like to be a full time writer/podcaster, somebody's got to pay the bills.

Julie in Boise

Adam, it sounds like you and I have that evil publisher experience in common. I'm glad you survived that.

Irwin Horowitz

My toughest job was during a summer break from MIT back in the mid-80s when I worked as a busboy at a resort hotel in the Catskills (NY). It did however, lead to one of my all-time favorite one-liners. It seems that during one mid-week that summer, they served German apple strudel for dessert one day and Hungarian apple strudel a few days later. One of the guests at the table I was serving asked about the difference. I replied "oh...about 300-400 miles" :-).

Tara A. Rowe

Worst jobs--fast food. Kentucky Fried Chicken throughout high school and then Jake's Over the Top the summer I graduated from high school. Nothing like coming home at the end of the day smelling like grease-filled chicken!

Tara A. Rowe

Oh and favorite--I'm pretty fond of the gig I have now as the soul responsible for the cataloging of the Stallings Congressional Collection. Politics every day, with the peace of being in a library. Doesn't get much better than this.

David Erin Anthony

My worst job had to be as a dishwasher at a family restaraunt. Dirty and poor pay. Its funny when you look back over the array of jobs held. Besides a dishwasher I spent time as a maint. crew at Chapman Dam State Park in PA, Night stockman at a grocery store, disk jockey. That coupled with my years in the Air Force and years doing technical support and now I am just about to transition into that geeky high school history teacher....hows that for range??


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...the Marine Corps.

Adam Graham

Julie, yeah I survived thanks to my last loan from the Bank of Mom and Dad.


The most physical/labor intensive jobs - farm work, topping corn, picking cherries, etc. I worked one summer for Bird's Eye in Nampa 'inspecting' pearl onions and throwing splotches of spinach into boxes.[all during high school, btw] It took a good 20 years to even endure the SMELL of spinach, let alone onions. I'm over that with both. I've been very fortunate. I received an education in the military not long out of high school that has actually served me well in my professional life in radiology and medicine, including the present.

I would NEVER - EVER work in fast food (unless starving, truly). It's incredibly labor intensive. It's one of the reasons I am unfailingly polite to store clerks, fast food workers, waitresses, waiters, etc., I like people but apparently I'm not really a "people person" so all it would take is one oblique comment or someone snapping their fingers - and that career would be over.


Sometimes I reflect on the jobs I had and I'm wondering why I'm still alive. I grew up a farmboy and nothing really compares to it for exhaustion, danger or satisfaction. Digging spuds, loading grain bins, moving pipe in thunderstorms, hauling rock, all in Idaho's beautiful and merciless outdoors.

Waiting tables helped pay for beer in college. Several years on BLM fire crew which was probably the most exciting. Many months insulating houses in the Wood River Valley, that sucked.

But the all time worst job was working one season in a spud warehouse loading hundred pound sacks on pallets to load into train cars. Everyone else there was on work release from jail or soon would be. Did wonders for my upper body strength though.

All these jobs helped pay for formal (University) and informal (travel) education. Now I practice law. Jury's still out on that one.


Best: working as a field organizer this summer to end the War in Iraq.

No worst. I enjoyed every job in some shape or form.

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