Whether it's serving up fast food, working in retail, or an old-fashioned desk job, low-wage employees deal with a lot of nonsense on the daily that makes them question their career choices.
These encounters, however, were totally beyond the pale. No amount of money is worth what these workers had to put up with! Content has been edited for clarity.
No One Could Be Next To Her Without Gagging
“There was this really short, really obese woman (think flesh colored oversized beach ball) who would come into the local grocery store that I worked at when I was in high school and she always smelled just awful… Like sewage mixed with garbage and drowned in expired milk. You couldn’t go within 25 feet of her without gagging. I still feel kind of bad for her to this day, honestly.
Anyway, she comes in the store one day, grabs her cart to lean on, as usual, and starts shuffling to the other side of the store. About 15 minutes go by and I’m realizing that I can still smell her repulsive scent almost every aisle I walk down, even after I just saw her 15 seconds ago and walked away in the opposite direction. I wasn’t the only one either, the cashiers and the manager could all smell her almost constantly, but none of us could figure it out, until she approached the register to cash out.
Turns out, this lady had the worst case of diarrhea I have ever seen or heard of to this day. I guess she thought her multitude of poops were only farts and she just pooped all down her pants and out her shoes and left a trail all along the store, complete with her shoe prints, which tracked in spots where the leakage was minimal.
My (usually cool) boss tried for a half hour to get me to clean it up, threatened to have me fired, and have my hours cut, etc… I told her go ahead. I’d rather get fired from a minimum wage job than clean some lady’s gross poop trail. She caved eventually and cleaned it herself.”
“Don’t Bother Firing Me; I QUIT!”
“Many years ago, I worked in a tax/financial services office in California. The boss would routinely not show up and go surfboarding, etc. He was unmarried and had no kids. My oldest 2 girls were little and in daycare at the time.
One day, they called to say my oldest was running a temp of around 102 and to come pick her up. When I told my boss I needed to leave he proceeded to throw a hissy fit, told me I couldn’t leave and I need to get my work done. We had no clients and there was another girl in the office at the time, so I told him I was leaving, I had no choice. He screamed at me for a while until I stomped out and slammed the door so hard I knocked a picture off the wall and broke the glass.
When I got home the phone was ringing, so I picked it up and said, ‘don’t bother firing me, I quit’ before he could speak. He then made the mistake of telling not to expect a paycheck. I called his lawyer/friend and explained if my check wasn’t ready on payday for my hours worked I’d proceed to the labor board and file a complaint. He said he’d take care of it.
Payday my check was there. The boss made himself scarce.
I had a wicked temper in those days. I’m more likely to put up with crap now because bills.”
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
“I worked retail and worked night fill as assistant manager. The assistant day manager thought he was god’s gift to women.
During stocktake (when both night and day staff are in store), he walked in and tried to force himself on a night fill staff member. I pulled him off her, got punched in the face and chest multiple times. I then filed a police report.
I’m male, this was about 8 years ago. I’m 6’4 he was roughly 5’10, at the time I weighed close to 150 kilos (I’m Australian) or near 350 pounds. He weighed near to half of that. I have often thought that maybe I should have pounded him into dust the moment I saw what was going on, but the lack of a criminal record on my part makes me happy to have not done so.
I was later written up for not ‘escalating’ the incident to upper management instead of reporting the sleaze for assault to the police. I flipped them the bird and told them to bug off. I was really tempted to deck the dude on the way out, but instead went and filed a second police report for assault (on myself) and got him fired by regional management who some how knew nothing about this whole thing until the police called them.
Technically I was dismissed unfairly and the regional manager did offer my job back at a slightly higher rate once the whole thing blew over but I was done with retail at that point and decided to go back to university.”
All This Labor For $10
“I’m 16 and last week my neighbor offered me 20 bucks to tear a bush out of his yard. Obviously, I’m broke, and need school clothes, so I jumped at the chance.
There were a couple of those moments with this 15-foot-tall monster of a bush. But the one that stands out the most was one the worst times of my life.
After I cut all the branches off the tree, it was basically a stump, and the stump was packed with remnants of dead branches and their leave-like things. It basically looked like a dome of dead tree stuff. And this dome, was absolutely covered with spider webs. Now I’m not really scared of spiders, I don’t like them, but I’m not scared of them. So I say forget it, and decide to just rip the spider-dome apart with hands. BAD CHOICE. As I rip into this spider web, thousands of baby spiders start just spilling out. They were climbing all over my hands and arms, and ended up crawling all over my body, because the wind ended up blowing hordes of them at me. So yeah that was pretty horrible…but that’s not the end of it.
I had piled up all the cut branches, and they weren’t spruce or pine, but they were that kind of bush, and they had a really sweet smell to them. I liked it, but I wasn’t the only one who liked it. A freaking gang of yellow jackets (hornets) really liked it too. About 5 of them were all hanging out by the branches, which were only a couple feet away from me. I, stupidly, tried to make them leave. Yellow jackets don’t like being told what to do. I ended up getting stung 3 times. Once on the ear, once on the arm, and once on the leg. That wasn’t fun.
After about 32 hours of work in two days, I had finally gotten down to the bottom…except one problem: the trunk and roots of this tree weighed about 400 pounds. So after struggling and struggling, I got two friends to help me lift it into my truck, and out of kindness, gave them 5 bucks each.
So all in all, I got attacked by a nest of spiders, stung 3 times by hornets, worked 16 hours, and busted my butt for 10 dollars. That was a big ‘I didn’t get paid enough for this crap’ moment.
That’s One Ball Pit You Don’t Want To Get In
“I witnessed someone’s literal ‘I don’t get paid enough for this crap’ story.
I was at a ShowBiz (similar to Chuck E. Cheese) for a relative’s birthday. All the kids were running about having fun, playing games, etc. Suddenly there was a commotion around the ball pit. Turns out some kid had a serious case of diarrhea, like a Hershey-squirt blowout, and it was all over in the ball pit. The little plastic balls were all covered with a thin film of booty butter.
I’m across the room from the code brown near the counter where you trade in tickets for fake mustaches and Laffy Taffy. The manager told this teenager he needed to get to the ball pit right away, and was trying to hand him a mop. Not sure what a mop would do in this situation, but I digress.
Anywho, the teen was not having it and loudly said, ‘Nah bro, that ain’t me,’ and strolled out the door and into the sunset.”
“I Just Subjected Myself To A Serious Health Hazard for $7.50 An Hour”
“I worked at a well-known chain ice cream place. Minimum wage. The drains that consume all of the dairy and fruit from the ice cream scoopers had been clogged for a WEEK before my manager decided to do something about it. There was gray, smelly water all over the floor behind the counter. She called the plumber, who showed up like four hours late to fix this drain.
Well, let me tell you, friends, when he opened up that grate and scraped off the first layer of muck, it was like Hades itself had opened up from this drain and had viciously lashed about searching for souls to claim. The plumber immediately sat up, trotted out to the front of our building and vomited profusely for a few minutes while my coworker and I ran to the back room.
We called the manager and asked if we could go ahead and close the store for the night so that no unsuspecting customers had to be subjected to this foul decay as they walked in. She refused and also told us it couldn’t be that bad and that we needed to stay and serve. We were also not allowed to leave the store to buy medical masks across the street.
I sat there, constantly nauseous, waiting for time to pass. FOUR FREAKING HOURS pass and we could finally close down. We got another call, informing us that we are to stay another two hours until the manager could get to our store to ensure the plumber did not harm any store property. I left that night with the knowledge that I just subjected myself to a serious health hazard, without safety equipment, for $7.50/hr.”
The Injuries Aren’t Worth It
“I work as a ‘zombie’ for a paintball place. We dress up in tattered and bloody clothes, to simulate us being zombies. There are about 100 zombies that charge, scream, and crawl at the customers (the humans).
The customers are the humans, they choose to either be in a group of 5 on a slow moving trailer, or a group of 15 on foot in a field. They get paintball weapons with 3 clips each. There are no rules for the humans other than don’t shoot another human.
We (the zombies) are however not allowed to wear any padding other than masks, no crotch protection, no throat protection. And let me tell you getting shot in the upper thigh hurts more than getting shot in the throat or crotch, it paralyses your legs for about 4 seconds, causing you to drop to the ground on your face. And since the humans basically have no rules to follow, they walk up to you and shoot you in the face, crotch, back, and legs when your on the ground ‘dead.’
Getting paid $12 an hour seems great when your seventeen, but the scars and bruises I get everyday are definitely not worth it.”
That’s Not My Job!
“When I was 17, I was working at the local skating rink after their ‘skate and dance’ where all the raunchy middle school girls and freshman/sophomore high school boys would grind on each other to bad late 90s/2000s hip hop.
One night in particular was really bad. I needed a garden hose for a few of these kids who were going above and beyond grinding. After dealing with that all night, I had to clean the bathrooms.
In the boys bathroom, a used rubber floating in the toilet…after an event that was 17 and under only. So that was great. I’m not sure where that occurred, but first thing the following morning (Saturday) was supposed to be a gaggle of small children all over the building for public skate an birthday parties, so that was so gross.
In the girls bathroom though…some soul sucking evil teenaged witch had smeared menstrual blood all over the stall doors and mirrors. She flung a tampon against the wall so it stuck.
I went to my manager, who was a 300+lb nasty swamp beast who hated me, to tell her about how bad it was and that I wasn’t going to it. She told me it was my job to clean it up.
I quit. They literally didn’t pay me enough for that crap and I went and found a real job the next week.”
The Night Shift
“I worked an overnight shift in a service station (gas station for you Americans) when I was 18.
At around 2:00 AM, just after I’d finished restocking the chocolate aisle and taking in the latest delivery of magazines, I settled in behind the counter and started flicking through the latest gaming mag, when two large groups of kids turned up outside in the parking lot. Something set them off and they started beating the absolute crap out of each other. It was over almost as quickly as it began, so before I could get to the phone to call the cops, this kid is literally thrown right through the glass doors.
He stands up holding his face and starts bleeding profusely from his head. He stumbles over to the counter and just moans at me incoherently, bleeding all over my freshly stocked Mars Bars and Snickers rack. I hit the button to unlock the toilet and tell him to go to the bathroom and get some towel while I call the cops/ambulance. He takes his hand off his face before turning around and HIS FREAKING EYEBALL FALLS OUT OF THE SOCKET and just hangs there by the nerve.
Keeping down my dinner, the ambulance/cops turned up and took the kid away and took copies of the security footage. After it all died down and everything went back to its eerie quietness, I went down the back to the toilet to clean up. It was like a freaking murder scene. Blood literally everywhere. I did my best with the mop and bucket I had. I put up an out of order sign and waited for the 6:00 am shift to turn up.
I gave my notice the next day. Forget that.”
Minivan Or Mobile Trash Dump?
“When I was in high school, I spent my time off working at a car detailing place operated by the school. I spent a few years there, making just above minimum wage at the time.
As I was working one day, they brought in this mid-90s minivan in for cleaning. At first glance this just seemed like another job, but as you got closer to the van, you could tell something was off. It looked brown, but in reality, it was a white minivan, though it hadn’t been that color in years from the look of it.
Once inside, I almost threw up from the smell. I have no clue how someone could have driven this van here. There was dirt and mud and leftover McDonald’s everywhere, and some other random food that appeared to be decomposing in the floor mats. I figured I could just get a face mask and some gloves and push through it.
When I went in with our strongest carpet cleaner and touched the carpet and it was slimy and green, I nope’d the heck out of there and just put in my two weeks. Forget that.”
“I Guess You Could Say I Had A Pretty Crappy Valentine’s Day”
“I used to work at the local Dunkin’ Donuts, one of the busiest in my area. It was Valentine’s Day, which made the day a little extra busy/hectic. While working the register I got a whiff of what smelled like a vomit inducing fart. I thought it came from my manager, who was standing next to me. Five or so minutes go by, and we heard an elderly lady yell, ‘Oh geez, did someone have a dog in here?!’ in a very frightened voice.
I walked over to investigate what in the world this woman was talking about and found a nice, fresh pile of elephant sized poop in FRONT of the bathroom. My manager looked at me and went, ‘Grab the mop.’ While trying to keep in my vomit, I mopped up this liquidly poop pile leading into the bathroom.
Some old fart walked out of the bathroom with poop all over himself and went, ‘Sorry for the mess, sonny!’ and handed me a $5 bill. The inside of the bathroom looked like a murder scene, only if you substituted blood for diarrhea. I definitely did not get paid enough for that crap. Guess you could say I had a pretty crappy Valentine’s Day, too.”
“You Want A Sandwich, You Pay For A Sandwich!”
“I worked in a deli at a grocery store. We did cheese and meat slices and sandwiches, other food, etc. One day in the busy lunch rush while making people sandwiches, someone asked for a type of meat on their sandwich that we usually don’t use, it isn’t in our pre-cut selections we make right before the lunch rush. ‘Ok,’ I said, ‘I’ll go slice some.’
I let my teammate I was working with know I’d be right back, they continued making sandwiches for other people. I sliced the meat and, of course, they asked for cheese that wasn’t on the usual list too. I sliced that up, got back over to the sandwich making area, put on their toppings, and started to ring them up. They stopped me and said, ‘No, no. I didn’t order off your menu there. Just ring me up for the meat and cheese.’
Of course, that’s about $2 compared to $6 or $7 for a sandwich. We argued for a moment, loudly enough for all the other people in line, and my teammate to hear. I glanced at my teammate, who had been there longer than me, for help and they gave the tiniest of head shakes. So I looked right at the customer and said, ‘You want a sandwich, you pay for a sandwich!’ and threw the nice neatly wrapped sandwich in the trash can behind me, and shouted, ‘Next!'”
They Take Ketchup Packets Very Seriously At McDonald’s
“I was a manager at a McDonald’s and I got screamed at by our district supervisor, mid shift, for putting two too many ketchup packets in a bag through the drive thru.
Forget. That. So I put in my two weeks and waited to pull off my dramatic exit.
The end of my two weeks notice landed on a day that the district supervisor came through the drive thru on a weekly visit; he pulled up, ordered his food and I got it ready. But when he came to the window, it wasn’t his bag of food I passed out the window to him – I gave him a bag full of nothing but ketchup packets. He came in asking, ‘What the heck,’ fuming and stomping around all angry.
I just said, ‘I’m outta here’ and walked out.”
Taking His Job Duties A Little Too Seriously
“My first job at a popular fish fast-food joint, I was idealistic, wanting to do well and eager to prove myself as a hard worker (mostly to myself, that part is kind of important). I basically dropped stuff into huge vats of oil all day long, removed with tongs, placed in warming area, repeat (repeat, repeat, eat little fried bits, repeat, repeat, more fried bits, repeat, etc). The closings regularly took us into the wee morning hours (~2 am) due to the fact that the entire floor and surfaces get coated in sooooo much oil all day long and required major scrubbing/cleaning daily.
Three weeks into this and I’m getting sick of 2:00 am closings. I decided it wasn’t for me, especially since those late nights weren’t good for me as a sophomore in high school. I found another job at a toy store in the mall, same pay, no late nights. So, I put in my two weeks notice.
So, it’s one of my last nights on shift. A gentleman comes up to the pay area and notifies the lady at the register that the men’s toilet is backed up. This place was staffed mostly by women for some reason, and this fateful night was no different. Thus it fell to me to address the issue.
So, I head into the bathroom and assess the situation. We have a toilet completely befouled and un-flushable due to a First-Encounters style mound of crap just chillin’ over the hole, soaking in the crap-water from someone else’s attempt to flush it down. Seriously though, the construction of this turd-monolith HAD to be a group effort, it was insane. Another flush would likely dump foulness all over the stall/bathroom. I don’t need to describe the smell of agitated soft poo-mound, do I? Totally gross, but I sucked it up. I mean, this is what happens when one has a job, right?
So, I go to grab the plunger…and I can’t find it. I head out and ask the ladies if they have a plunger or know where I can find one. The look they gave me should have told me to run. One of them headed to the back to grab something. When she came back, she handed me, with a straight face, some of those industrial strength looking yellow rubber gloves. No words were exchanged, this was simply my fight or flight moment.
The conclusion is that my misguided, idealistic sense of responsibility prevailed over common sense and the toilet was unclogged. I will spare you the more visceral details.
Crappy situation, eh? Though I guess I emerged a somewhat wiser person and I keep that little moment tucked away whenever I think of the value of a dollar or ever get frustrated at my job.”
He Got Out Of There As Quickly As Possible
“About 10 years ago, I spent a summer moving from temp job to temp job while on summer break from Uni. One of the jobs was in a cereal factory where they made cornflakes for supermarket owned brands. When I arrived after being sent by the job agency, they struggled to find me anything to do, but as the factory was on a ‘cleaning day,’ I was given a screwdriver and a hammer and told to hack away at the cereal build up in a big pipe that I could only get to through a 10cm x 10cm access flap.
It was hot as heck in there because all the extractors were turned off due to the cleaning. To top it off, there was a leaky water pipe above me that periodically dripped searing hot water onto my shoulder. I still have a scar from where it burnt me.
Anyway, after about an hour, I’d had enough and decided that being paid minimum wage, minus the agency’s cut, wasn’t worth it. Literally walked straight out, got in the car and bailed without saying a word to anyone.”