Not every job is a dream job, and not every job is a great job, but some jobs are just so bad that people can barely make it through their first day before they are ready to hang it up and just walk away. No one ever wants it to get to that point, but sometimes that's the way life happens.
People from all job sectors and walks of life have put up with terrible coworkers, bosses, and working conditions over the years, and a few of those people recently shared their worst stories in a Reddit thread asking people to reveal the time they picked the wrong job. All posts have been edited for clarity.
His First Day Led To A Two Hour Walk Home
“I was a gas jockey. A guy rolled in with a large pickup truck on empty and asked me to put $100 in. He watched me pump over a hundred liters and once the truck was full he jumped out and said, ‘Kid, I only wanted $10 of fuel,’ and proceeded inside demanding to only pay $10 for a full tank of gas. My boss apologized to the guy and told me the extra $90 I pumped would come off my first paycheck.
I quit right there, but since my dad dropped me off on his way to work, I had a two-hour walk home.”
Who Wouldn’t Put Their Life On The Line To Save A Few Bucks?
“My boss wanted me to reach inside a giant CNC lathe to polish a part while it was running. Usually, this is impossible because the door locks as soon as the machine starts running, but of course, they disabled the safety lock.
When I pointed out that I could just wait for the lathe to finish running before reaching my hand in there, he said yeah, but that it was a waste of time. Then I pointed out that there are tools that could do the polishing job faster than I could by hand and he said that’s a waste of money.
There was no way I was going to risk getting eaten alive by a lathe just to save the boss a few minutes or a few bucks.”
This Decision Saved Him A Lot Of Grief… And Legal Issues
“I quit a six-figure job as CFO on my second day.
It was an early stage company that was trying to raise several million in debt capital from investors. On the first day, the CEO told me that their technology didn’t work, but that they still needed to raise the capital to keep it afloat, and all this was being hidden from the investors. He wanted me to put together a quick and dirty revenue forecast that would be presented to the investors later in the week that was based on complete fiction. He told me that it was okay because the investors were accredited, and they should understand the risk involved with this type of investment.
I went home to sleep on it and came in the next day to collect my few belongings.
That company no longer exists and there was a slew of investor lawsuits within a couple of months of my departure. And by leaving, I was able to avoid depositions and other legal troubles.”
I Wonder Why He Left So Soon
“I went to Germany for a very well paid summer service job.
When I got there, the guy showed me the accommodation where I was supposed to live; it was a tiny building adjacent to his house and there was some mentally ill Italian guy living in there who the employer said would be my roommate the entire summer.
He was filthy and didn’t clean up after himself. I was supposed to sleep on a dirty stained mattress on the ground.
I politely refused to sign the contract and went back to Berlin. The employer gave me a ride to the train station in the town and kept asking me why I turned the job down. Then as I was on the train, the guy’s wife called me, asking why I’d just leave like that and what did I dislike so much.”
How Long Could You Be A Telemarketer?
“When I was 16, I took a job as a telemarketer. Not because I wanted or needed a job, but because a girl I liked told me there was an opening and I figured it was a good way to get to know her better.
When I walked into the office for the first time, I saw two rows of desks against the wall in a room about the size of a short bus. They handed me a script and said I would be selling Glamor Shots today, and gave me a little lesson about how to use the phone and plopped me down. The girl, who was on the other end of room already on a call, saw me and waved, so I felt a little more at ease.
That was before I started calling. And calling. And calling.
I think I called more people that first day than I had in my whole life. All of those calls resulted in no sales, meaning no commissions (a good portion of the compensation for a gig like that). And the hate dished out on the other end for the temerity of being interrupted for a small portion of their day would give George Carlin pause.
Later in the evening, I took at break at the same time as my friend. She took one look at me and said, ‘You’re not coming back up, are you?’
I saw something else in her look, a sadness about the expectations of future shared experiences dissipating into the black of her pupils.
I shook my head slowly, already done vocalizing rejection for the day. As I started to walk away, calling back, ‘I’ll see you in third period.’
Last time I saw her was 18 years ago.
As for the job, I lasted three hours.”
The Old Bait And Switch Tactic
“I was hired to work at a local insect farm in the office doing data entry. That was fine, I could do that and I didn’t have any actual contact with the bugs they dealt with (mainly crickets and mealworms). I went in for my first day, filled out about three hours of paperwork with HR, and immediately I was taken to a hot room with countless trays of mealworms.
My job from then on was to empty trays of worms onto a screen over a large bucket under a hot lamp, wait a bit, pick out the dead ones and push the live ones into the bucket under the screen. Excuse me? I was hired for data entry. The HR director said, ‘We think you would do well with this instead.’
I was desperate for money, so I braced myself and got to work. It was utterly disgusting and there weren’t any gloves so I was wrist-deep in mealworms until lunch time. I was gagging the whole time and couldn’t even eat my lunch. I decided when lunch was over that I couldn’t do this, went to my car, and drove home without looking back. I sent an email to HR that the job wasn’t for me but thanked them for the opportunity.
Immediately when I got home, I went to take a shower and found some worms in my shirt pocket. I started crying.”
At Least Someone Had Standards
“I started working at a custom cabinet shop several years ago when my wife and I moved cities. I was already seven years into the industry, so I was not naive or anything.
The look of defeat on all the guys’ faces was telling and the state of the shop and wages I had been offered during my interview were the second clue that I wasn’t supposed to be there.
On the day I was supposed to start, I brought some simple hand tools like a drill, bits, and a tape measure. The boss saw me holding my tape, took it out of my hands and threw it into the garbage can, saying, ‘We all share one tape measure here. That way nobody can disagree on dimensions.’ He then pointed to this haggard, beat up tape measure on the main workbench. With my mouth undoubtedly agape, I fished my tape measure out of the garbage bin to put it back in my car, walked to the parking lot, put my tools back in my truck, and drove away.
I found a new job in a shop with a sane foreman the next week, and I’ve since moved companies again, and I’m a supervisor earning more than ever doing interesting work at a company which treats its employees very well.
I’m glad I held myself to some kind of standard back then.”
They Just Couldn’t Settle… Or Deal With The Terrible Benefits
“I was once hired as an associate for a law firm that specialized in debt collection and contract drafting on behalf of homeowners associations and condominium associations.
I wanted a lawyer job that got me into courtrooms and have high stakes in the criminal field. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out at the time. I still wanted a healthy median where I’d be in a courtroom, which I wouldn’t have in this job for many years.
The staff looked horribly depressed, no souls in anyone’s eyes and the health insurance was pretty terrible (high deductible accounts before insurance kicks in). Now, I’m a pretty healthy person, but that scares me to have terrible health insurance.
I immediately started applying to other firms, and left the job after three weeks and one day.”
And People Wonder Why Domino’s Has Such A Bad Reputation
“I got hired at a Domino’s Pizza when I was 18. I had worked at the Pizza Hut down the road for the last two years and it was a good job, but Domino’s was offering better money.
I arrived on the first day only to have my uniform thrown at me as I walked in the front door, in front of customers. I’m not talking about a light toss from one person to another. This manager literally threw my outfit from behind the counter and got me good as I was coming through the door about 15 feet away. The next thing out of his mouth was, ‘You’re not too fast, are you? Don’t make me regret hiring you. You know how lucky you are to have this job?’
With customers laughing and me not even through the doorway, I took a second to recollect myself. I dropped the outfit right there, gave the manager the bird, and happily went back to Pizza Hut.”
“I Quickly Realized The Owner Was A Thief”
“I once took a job in an industrial supply house. The owner had been asking me to come work for him during all the years we had done business back and forth at my previous employer.
My first day there, I was told that I had to work weekends at trade shows without compensation (for the good of the company), and I was expected to tithe (as in giving 10 percent of my income to his church).
The other thing I quickly realized is that he was a thief. He was overcharging clients and rebranding cheap crap as his own exclusive items.
At the end of the first day, I walked up to him and said, ‘This isn’t a good fit.’ I left there and found a better job within an hour. I never sent him another customer either.”
The Workers Were Bad But The Boss Was Worse
“I had a temp job working for a temp agency, as in, working in their office.
It turned out that most of their work involved hiring homeless and mentally ill people to serve as temporary wait staff for banquets. Basically, if you had a pulse, had access to a (theoretically clean) tuxedo, and could plate food without spilling it and carry it to a table without dropping it, you had a job. Great! Everyone needs a job!
My job was to pass out their paychecks, daily. There were hundreds of people who would show up. I was a 19-year-old girl. Who do you think they got nasty with if the paycheck was smaller than expected, or missing entirely, which seemed to be a common problem? Their pay was minimum wage, so in the mid-90s, for a few hours worth of work at $5.15 an hour, minus taxes, most of their paychecks were less than $20. I was getting screamed at for a buck or two here and there, for the most part, with the occasional entirely missing check. Given the employee base, I was never sure if they had just forgotten they didn’t work the previous day or if the boss had forgotten to pay them.
Yeah, no, not the job for me. I actually lasted two weeks, minus some hours interviewing with other temp agencies, before quitting with another job lined up, but I knew on the first day this wasn’t the job for me.
Oh, and my boss smoked in the office and had pictures of nude men on her wall, and watched adult movies (on VHS in her office) while I dealt with enraged homeless guys who wanted their paychecks.
She was shocked I quit.”
Things Got Really Bad On The 11th Hour Of This Six-Hour Shift
“I did a landscaping job that lasted one day. It was supposed to be a six-hour shift that turned into 12 hours. The truck that picked me up could be heard a mile away. The first few hours, my co-worker was driving the truck with the fuel gauge on empty before putting $20 in. In between stops, he would call the company owner who was out of town trying to scam an auction by bidding up his own beat-up truck he had listed. Later in the day, he was yelling over the phone all angry because he ended up being the winning bid and had to pay extra fees and penalties.
Meanwhile, the job was backbreaking and the heat of the sun was killer, all for $9 an hour. Every couple of hours, we would run to the local auto store to try and exchange a single socket for a different size because my coworker was going to fix the brakes on the truck we were limping along in. The brakes were metal on metal worn out and we were pulling a massive three-ton trailer loaded with lawn machines.
The day ended when we hit the 11th hour and it started pouring rain and lightning crashing close by. Now my brilliant co-worker decided to jump on the highway with this truck and trailer. When we got up to speed, I asked how he was planning on stopping? That transitioned into the question of whether the emergency brake actually worked or not. It turned out that it did work, but we found out as we came to a stop six inches from the car in front of us after a 300ft brake/scare of a lifetime.
After being dropped off, I said forget it and that I wouldn’t be back. In the few conversations I had with the other teams, I found that all but one of them were new within the month and most were in pretty bad places in life at the time. To make a bad situation worse, it took me three months of threats and back and forth to squeeze my pathetic pay for the one day out of the owner.”
They Knew Something Was Wrong About That Place
“In 2008, I got hired on as an assistant store manager for a Subway. I went in for five hours of training, and all the employees were giving me these looks that said ‘Dude, run.’
So after five hours, a whole bunch of red flags started flying in my mind and I couldn’t figure out why beyond the looks I was getting. I made up some story about getting a better job offer and quit on the spot.
About a year and a half later at a different job, I ran into one of those employees and we chatted for a bit. They told me that the general manager was a creep that harassed everyone that worked there – guy or girl. Eventually, he got caught and fired.”
“I’m Not Proud Of That Night”
“I was a paperboy for the Chicago Tribune for one night about 10 years ago. I had to show up at 2 am and then spent three hours bagging up hundreds of newspapers. I hit the road at 5 am with a pickup truck completely full of newspapers, bed and cab. I was supposed to take the hand-drawn, photocopied map and deliver all of the newspapers.
By 7 am, I had managed to only deliver three newspapers (the area was out in farmland country) and couldn’t make sense of the map. I ended up having to call the guy that hired me and apologize that I was in over my head. He sighed but understood; he told me to come back to the warehouse and drop off the papers.
I got back, but no one was there and the building was locked up. I had to pile up a few hundred newspapers in the parking lot, and then I left.
I’m not proud of that night.”
The Pace And Lack Of Structure Got To Be Too Much
“I have worked in tech my whole career – from tiny startups to ‘name brand’ companies with massive campuses and all the perks. A few years ago, I had to quit a job after they decided to not move my group to San Francisco as promised (I was driving over two hours each way and it was not sustainable and moving was not an option). I ended up taking a job for a small family run business that was successful but it was like another world.
The owners had no idea how to run a company in terms of weekly meetings, goals, and reports. There were no project deadlines, or budgets, or even plans for what needed to happen next. The technology they used was non-existent and their website was thrown together by a brother, and the sales team was managed by a brother-in-law. Everyone bickered and many just left midday to go pick up kids and maybe didn’t come in for a few days because they were feeling worn out.
When it sank in by the end of day one – I felt like crying and running out of the building. It was like I was in Dunder Mifflin after being at Google and could see after all the attempts to woo me and the plans they wanted to make, that they were never going to evolve into more than what they were. And if you weren’t family, you really didn’t get to enjoy the lax hours and pace. Really messed me up. I gave them a year as promised and tried to set up reports and meetings but I could feel they were laughing at me, and eventually just started looking for work and spending time online.
I likened it to working at a very successful family restaurant that had dreams of being a national franchise. What worked as the single location business – the relatives not showing up but finding another cousin to cover, the lack of process beyond some basics, and a complete lack of interest in changing because ‘we worked like this for 35 years’ was the exact reason they could never become that franchiser – which is all about standardization, and process, and consistency at scale.
No analogy got through to them. They bristled at anything that seemed like a restrictive change – a budget, sales quotas, employee reviews, consistent branding guidelines. And yet all they could talk about was how big they were going to get once they went national.”
(PL D) He’s Still Having Nightmares About This One
“I was about 20, recently coming off an injury and a 2-year long recovery where I had to have reconstructive surgery on my knee and wasn’t aware how out of shape I had gotten in that time. I got a job with a carpet cleaning company and they had bought me the shoes and uniform they wear. On the first day, the first house we went to, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. When the guy training me told me he usually does an entire house in an hour a half and we’d been there four hours already, I knew I’d never make it.
I had to tell him to call the boss and tell him come to get me because I couldn’t even make it through the rest of the day, seeing as he had at least two more houses to do that day, two of which had been rescheduled because we were so behind. I got back to the office, handed my uniform over and just flat out told the guy I was sorry, but this job wasn’t for me and I apologized for wasting his time. He was upset but thanked me for admitting it and not being a problem for months to come.
I told the wife that I got fired because my driving record wasn’t clean from a ticket I got because I was so embarrassed. I still jolt to wake at night thinking about that one sometimes.”