Starting a new job can be very stressful. Having to relearn everything, meeting new people, it's a lot. Some people are able to do so with ease, and have no issues. Others, not so much.
Workers on Reddit share their most intense "first day on the job" experience. Content has been edited for clarity.
“A Game Of Survival”
“First day teaching. I was fresh out of college in the middle of a school year (December graduate). I was hired as a long term substitute for a classroom that’d seen six substitutes in as many months. I had zero experience as a teacher beyond teaching merit badges at boy scout camp. I was hired because I had the appropriate degree, I knew quite a few other teachers, and I was willing to try. I was given a laptop, a copy of the text book, and roughly three weeks worth of lesson plans. My first class would be an English nine class. I went in the weekend before to get my classroom setup and make sure I was ready for my first day. I memorized the class roster and familiarized myself with everything I possibly could for the first day.
Class started at 7:30 AM and half the class was absent. Great. I start doing the roll and get through the list when a young lady sitting on the side next to the windows asks if she can get up to go to the restroom.
‘Could it wait 10 minutes? I know you need to go, but if you can wait 10 minutes, I’ll give you a pass,’ I said.
‘Okay. But I need to go,’ the girl responded.
Five minutes later she stands up, walks towards the door, and pukes on my laptop mid stride. I’ve had the laptop for like maybe an hour at that point….and now it’s covered in puke. We were barely 10 minutes into the first class period of my teaching career and a 14-year-old girl who I only know a name for has just puked on my laptop.
The rest of that year was a game of survival. Me vs about 90 adolescents. My liver may still be recovering.”
“No Way It Could Get Worse”
“During my senior year of high school, I worked at a historical railroad. I was the head attendant for a steam engine route that carried tourists through a canyon in the western Rockies. On my first day in charge and without a trainer, the train started a brush fire. Normally, a fire crew follows the steam engine to put these out. However, they hadn’t been dispatched that day (it was April; fire season doesn’t start until June).
The fire was spreading fast and there were homes nearby. The engine crew stopped the train, jumped off, and tried to beat out the fire with their coal shovels. There’s a fire extinguisher in each train car. I had my crew round up the extinguishers while I radioed back to the main depot. We then each took an extinguisher into the burning field.
When my extinguisher was empty, I ran back to pick up another one. As soon as I climbed aboard, I met a father holding his son in his arms. The boy was bored and had been playing with the window in his passenger car. He had removed the secondary restraint cable from the window and had been playing with the spring on the primary release. The 10-pound window in the antique 1930s passenger car came crashing down and partially severed his thumb. There was blood everywhere.
I immediately rushed them to the first aid closet in the concession car. The father set the boy on a table while I grabbed a bottle of sanitizer, bandages, and gauze. I shoved these into the father’s hands while I jumped back on the radio to get help.
The depot sent out a service truck to pick up the injured boy and his father. The service crew rushed them to EMTs who were waiting at the nearest railroad crossing. Before long, a pair of fire trucks showed up to put out the brush fire. Then the train continued up the canyon as if nothing unusual had happened.
I considered quitting that day, but eventually decided to stay on. After all, there’s no way it could get any worse.”
“Scared The Heck Out Of My Family”
“First day working in a mental hospital. We had a patient elope and had to chase him. He jumped over a barbed wire fence. I figured if he could do it, then so could I. I couldn’t. I got caught, my pants ripped, cuts on my hands, legs, and abdomen. Then once I got over I lost a shoe in the creek bed.
I met my shift supervisor wearing jeans turned into chaps and bleeding everywhere. They had me go home to change. Since I had just got a new car and I didn’t want to get it dirty, I stripped down. I scared the heck out of my family, showing up five hours early, unclothed covered in blood and mud.”
“It’s Me! It’s Timmy!”
“It was my first night on the job as the watch commander for a security / law enforcement group at an Air Station. I had been working there for about a year, but got promoted and it led to me running one of the shifts.
I had another worker that was supposed to be my 2nd in command. He had more experience than I did, but he was new. It became apparent over time that he was a major slacker and didn’t follow any rules very well. Let’s call him ‘Timmy.’
So about 1 am, Timmy decided he wanted to run a security drill. No big deal, just gotta brief dispatch and get a safety observer posted so that no one thinks it’s a real event going down. He wants to just cross the red line of a restricted area on the flight line. He doesn’t want to brief dispatch because he doesn’t want them to announce we are going into a training environment – this always led to the guards being more alert, obviously, as they knew something was going down. He wanted to sneak in and plant a box by one of the planes then announce the drill.
I argued with him for a while, and finally he went back to his email or whatever he was doing. About 30 minutes later one of the guards in the F-16 area pipes up on the radio ‘Dispatch this is I have an intruder in my area – he’s carrying something and not stopping.’
I was in the office with another guy and he gets this panicked look on his face and said ‘Where the heck is Timmy?’ The radio piped up again with ‘Dispatch, , I’m taking the shot.’
Immediately followed by ‘It’s me! It’s Timmy! Don’t shoot don’t shoot!’
Yeah, my first night as supervisor and this bonehead almost got shot because he wanted to be sneaky.”
“I’m Not Sure If You Guys Are Aware”
“I was brand new and stocking some things in the store, and my coworker (who was kinda still new) was operating the tills. The Manager went to go to the washroom.
This like, typical lady with the I-want-a-manager haircut walks in and says ‘Um… I’m not sure if you guys are aware of this, but there’s a truck on fire in your parking lot.’
And wouldn’t you know it, the thing was on fire.
I bent the bracket trying to yank the fire extinguisher off the wall and eventually put the guy’s truck out. Five minutes later, the manager exits the washroom to a busted wall mount, a missing employee, and a pickup truck covered in white powder.”
“Wasn’t Sure If That’s A Daily Occurrence”
“I was 17, first day on the job at PetSmart. It was hot as heck outside. My boss ran in the door carrying a limp Australian Shepherd. He screamed at me to go get ice from one of the nearby restaurants. Some awful human had left the pup in their car to go grocery shopping. My boss disappeared into the Banfield at the back of the store, and throughout the day I kept an ear out to hear if the dog would be okay.
At the end of my shift he finally came out, tears still running down his face, and fuming mad. The dog did not make it. I spent the rest of my shift trying to hold it together but eventually ended up quitting. I wasn’t sure if that would become a daily occurrence and didn’t think I could handle it.”
“I’m Learning English”
“Got a job at Sony First day, flew to Tokyo Before I left, I went to a map store and got a Tokyo street map book. At the time, I believed it was a terrible book, because none of the streets had names
I volunteered to be navigator for our group, using the map book. I managed to find most of the places we needed to go, but it was hard
We were standing on the street. I was looking at the map book, trying to make sense of it.
A Japanese dude came up and said, ‘I’m learning English, can I speak English to you? Would you like to hear the inaugural address of John Fitzgerald Kennedy?’
He then proceeded to recite it with a Boston accent. Methinks he memorized the sounds of the words from a recording.
He then asked, ‘Would you like to hear the inaugural address of Ronald Wilson Reagan?’
I said no, we just need help finding a place
He then proceeded to tell us his master plan. He wanted to learn English, move to the USA, become a lawyer, get elected to congress, change the constitution to allow foreigners to be elected president, and be elected president.
I responded, ‘Uh, you should know that two kinds of people that many Americans hate are lawyers and politicians.’
He gave us directions to our destination, and we thanked him Later, I learned that the map book I used was the official map book of Tokyo, used by cab drivers. I also learned that Japanese streets don’t have names.”
“We Got Sent Home”
“A guy was killed on site on my first day. Unfortunately, no one found him until the next day so my second day was a bit crazy. We actually got sent home.
Working in an open cut coal mine. An engineer went to look at an old pit and fell over the wall. Fell about 45 meters landing in shallow water. He managed to swim to the edge but died there on the edge. Because it was an old pit nobody went there, and his wife was out of town for the night so she didn’t raise the alarm until the next day when she realized he never came home.
They found his car still idling at the top where he fell from.”
“It Seemed Wrong”
“I was hired to work in the university admission’s office at my college. Any graduate student could work for university admissions, but I was still surprised they picked me, a masters’ student in the clinical counseling department. A lot of men and women applied for the position and in the end, only three were selected. Needless to say, I was ambitious and overzealous during my first week. Every first year freshman survey submitted I poured over, rather than just entering the numbers, I paid close attention to the responses. There were hundreds of these papers, maybe even close to a thousand.
That’s when I read one survey that just didn’t sit right with me. She spoke in a pessimistic way, only of the past and present, almost as if there were no future plans for herself. Keep in mind this was an entry survey seeing what goals or aspirations they had for the upcoming year. It seemed wrong. I notified my supervisor (who I had only known a few days), and he allowed me to contact her to meet one on one. What I thought might be a ten-minute meeting with the student turned into five hours.
Turns out she had been planning on killing herself that semester. I stayed with her in the office until her parents were able to drive over from the next state. She dropped out and got the help she needed. A year passed and the department kept me on as a grad assistant again. I found myself going through the same student surveys when I got a knock on my office door, and there she was. Ready to be a freshman again. I pretty much ugly cried as professionally as I could, and it further cemented my desire to be in the field of mental health.”
“I Hear It’s Your First Day”
“It was 2006 or 2007 and I was working summer stock as a master electrician in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The run ended on Thursday night, and I drove home on Friday morning. Friday afternoon, I was offered a job in Maine for a 3-month run of a show. They wanted me Monday morning. I hadn’t even washed clothes yet so I asked if I could start Tuesday. After some back and forth they relented, and Tuesday worked.
So Tuesday at 6 am I left south Jersey to drive to Maine for a 7:30 performance. I arrived at around four, dropped my gear and personal stuff in the apartment provided, and walked to the theater. After signing some contracts and talking to the stage manager, I find out that Mel freaking Brooks is in the audience that night. See what had happened was Friday morning, the master electrician and the board op for the show quit. When they called me I had I no clue of this. Anyway apparently Mel brooks likes to scout out any theaters that are going to run tweaked or rewritten versions of his musicals, and this theater was a possibility.
Friday morning, the director and technical director realized they didn’t have anyone experienced for what was basically the biggest performance of their career. That’s why they relented and accepted a Tuesday arrival. If they had been straight with me, I would have shown up Monday with bells on. During the meeting with the stage manager and director, I reassure everyone as long as the stage manager calls a good show and tells me when to hit cues, we will be fine. Any issues that arise during the performance technical or electrical I can cover. Director is happy, and goes to meet with the cast to calm them down. They all knew who was in the audience. Stage manager blankly looks at me and tells me, ‘This show has been running so long, and the last guy wrote all the cues that I haven’t had to call the show for over a month.’
My simple response is, ‘Well, we are all in big trouble.’
After some back and forth, I asked to have a copy of his prompt book (good stage managers always have a spare if something happens to the first) and I will call my own cues and run it by feel. So about 15 minutes before doors open, I’m running through about 200 lighting cues trying to take a mental snapshot of each and praying to whomever would listen to get us through the night. Three hours or so later, curtain came down and the show from a lighting standpoint was passable. My timing was close enough that unless you knew what you were looking at, you wouldn’t notice.
After a smoke and a deep breath I was asked if I wanted to meet Mel Brooks. First thing he says to me after I introduce myself is ‘I hear it’s your first day here.’
I started laughing immediately and relayed the story to him. He laughed then asked me my favorite movie of his was. He was pleased when I said Robin Hood: Men In Tights just because it’s not the standard answer.”
“I’m Not Getting The Joke”
“Was volunteering at a hospital in high school in the cardiology ward for kids. I get introduced to the nursing staff, and one of the nurses takes me into a room with an infant that had recently had heart surgery. Told me to hold her and pat her back as she was just fed.
I sit down, she hands me the baby and I start patting her back. I’m not super comfortable holding the baby, as it’s the only baby I’ve ever held that wasn’t family. She leaves me and tells me to hit the red button if anything happens.
Things are going great. The baby is comfy on my shoulder and I’m thinking there’s nothing to it. After about 10 minutes of this, all of a sudden the baby starts convulsing! I freak out, thinking the baby is having a seizure and hit the red button like crazy. The nurse comes running in and asks what’s wrong and I tell her that the baby is having a seizure! She swoops in and grabs the baby takes a look and starts laughing.
I’m getting the freak out sweats and this the nurse is laughing? I’m not getting the joke. The nurse then explains to me that the baby had the hiccups!”
“Made Me Lose My Lunch”
“I work in hospital security. Once I started full time, they specifically put me on this watch because I had been pretty successful so far as a part-time guard.
First day, I’m on a 1 to 1 watch for a severely autistic female, she’s pretty cool, and she needs a shower, no big deal right?
Because of the extent of her condition, she was completely unable to clean herself, and on top of that because she was known to get aggressive during showers (it’s a lot of stimulus and autistic individuals are prone to getting overwhelmed). So, I needed to physically restrain her during the shower.
So we get things sorted and I’m in the shower completely gowned up, nothing prepared me for what I was about to see and smell. She was completely covered in excrement and also happened to be on her menses, creating a horrifying mix of pee, poop, and blood that had to be washed from her by the helper. While I, a 5’8, 130lbs female was restraining a 5’2, 250lbs female while the helper is literally just scraping poop off of her.
I’m used to bad smells, I had been working part-time for six months at least twice a week in a hospital. This, made me lose my lunch. I threw up in the respirator but had to finish the call with tears in my eyes because if I had let go, the patient would have clawed the helper.
So we’re finally done, I ripped off all of my PPE and I still can’t get rid of the smell. There’s various bodily fluids all over my boots and pants and at that point I almost went home sick after losing the rest of my lunch throwing up in a trash can. But, I toughed it out and just dealt with it. It’s at that point I noticed my gloves had been torn and that I had been scratched pretty badly.
Because my patient was locked in a room 99% of the time, I got to walk around freely in the unit when she was in her room. One patient, who we’ll call ‘Beth,’ hated security, and got agitated just at the sight of a guard. She was 6’1 and 200lbs of solid muscle, she had broken a guard’s nose and was known to become hostile pretty easily. I was a bit cautious around her just because of her history, but talked to her like I do any other patient. But, I completely messed up when I took a single step back.
She flipped the heck out, no warning and swung on me. I had never dealt with a patient acting like that and immediately tried to deescalate, but she just kept hitting me. Once all of the nursing staff was locked in the nursing station (all of the patients were locked in their rooms in that unit, only 1 patient could come out at a time), I locked myself in as well and called a code. While I was waiting for backup to arrive, she picked up the chair I had been sitting in and threw it directly at the glass walled nursing station, thankfully it just bounced off but it’s still terrifying.
Once back up arrives she had to go in full restraints, next thing I know I’m up on the hospital bed using my knees to hold down her shoulders while I’m trying to keep her from biting my coworkers.
Finally, everything is done and over. I spent the next 6 hours of that shift wondering what the heck I had just gotten myself into.
Two weeks later my hand is inflamed and pretty infected, went to the doctor and had sepsis from the scratches on my hand. I still have permanent scars on my left hand from that.”
“What The Heck Just Happened?”
“First day of my EMT clinicals, and I’m sitting in some parking lot really excited for my first call with a 911 out of Los Angeles. I was waiting for about two hours and we finally get a call. It’s a unknown, so we end up getting to this residential in some neighborhood and we’re the first on scene, cool no problem. I’m the first one through the door while the two other EMT’s get the stretcher and code kit following behind me. I’m standing in these peoples living room who I’ve never met before and outcomes this guy holding a blue three-month old girl and I just stood there frozen. Can’t really describe what it felt like, but I can tell you it shook me to my core for a second.
My training kicked in and thankfully the more experienced EMT’s took control, and soon after the Paramedics showed up and ran the code. The baby didn’t end up making it. Whole call lasted about 15 minutes probably, but felt like an eternity. Huge respect for the Paramedic who lead the call that day. Telling a mother and father that their baby isn’t going to see her first birthday has got to be the worst part of the job. Took a lot for me not to cry, and all I had to do was stand there and try not to get in the way. Watching the mother pull the incubation tubes out of her lifeless daughters nose will probably stick with me for a while, along with how pretty the little girls’ hair was.
It was brown and surprisingly long for someone as young as her. It seemed crazy to me how we were just supposed to continue our day after that, and pretend everything was ok. I remember ordering food at a fast food joint no 30 minutes later thinking What the heck just happened?
Before I knew it I was on my way to the next call. Just gotta suck it up and continue working I guess. I was 19 at the time and I like to think a lot of me grew up that day. Huge respect to all men and women in EMS who suck it up every day and put the patient first.”