There are way more secrets behind every industry than one could ever expect. It's like there's an entire world going on behind the cheerful, ordinary facade. The most tantalizing questions about jobs always taken for granted are finally answered in these stories. Content has been edited for clarity.
The Secret Of The Suds
“I worked for a contractor that owns a company that sells candles and soaps for eight years. There are so many fragrances that are rebranded and recolored to a different flavor. Fragrance oil is absolutely 100% the most expensive part of any shower gel or foaming soap that we made. The odds are that there are hundreds of thousands of pounds of these oils in warehouses all over the country. The company would just rebrand the oils as something else, it’s not like they are going scrap it! Also, everything that you see on the labels of shower gels and foaming soaps that say ‘enriched with vitamin E’ or ‘contains aloe vera extract’ is complete and utter nonsense. We make our batches in sizes of 40,000 pounds. In that large of a patch, there would only be about two ounces added into it. They add the bare minimum in order to have it on the label, as required by the FDA. Foaming soaps are also about 65% water, so the company makes absolute killing selling them. Finished goods don’t even get tested for vitamin E or extracts.
Just to elaborate a little more, it is impossible to test for two ounces in a 40,000 pound batch of substances. Most of the time, any sort of lab testing is just done to make sure that the right percentage of actives, such as preservatives and anti-dandruff zinc pyrithione, got added in. At this contractor, we also made Biore facial scrubs, which was such a pain in the butt. We had to work with these 200 pound drums of this macaroni-looking wax called Pureact. You had to dump it into another container, because using an automatic lift took way too long. Adding in the salycylic acid was also frustrating, because we had to mix it in with huge amounts of sodium hydroxide, which was really potent. It’s a wonder that Biore products don’t just take all of your skin off!
Before I left, we also began to produce body washes for Harry’s. It would contain lots pf potassium hydroxide and lauric acid, and that stuff will take your breath away in large quantities. We also created a lot of hand sanitizer. They were made with this extremely light powder called carbopol, which is a carcinogen. There’s no telling how much of that stuff I breathed in over eight years.”
Turns Out Thrift Stores Aren’t So Good
“At thrift stores, we don’t actually clean anything that we sell. We also receive some truly disgusting items that touch everything else on the shelf, so next time that you buy something from a thrift store, you better wash it super-duper thoroughly. Yeah, we get a lot of nasty items donated to us all the time. Unfortunately, I have met a fair amount of people who think that we wash everything in the store. I am completely clueless as to what makes them actually think that, though. We have to throw out everything that does not sell after a month. What we used to do was to throw everything that hadn’t sold for a while into a cart. We would tell customers that everything in the cart was a dollar, and people actually were pretty excited about it. Corporate didn’t want us to do that because it wasn’t a part of their official policy, though. Any glass items that we receive will go straight to the compactor. Don’t ask me why, this is exactly how corporate wants it done. They aren’t very good at running operations. They just want to make as much money as they can, you know? I feel bad throwing away all the glass items if they haven’t been sold in a month, but I don’t make the policies, I just begrudgingly carry them out.”
Corporate Breathing Down Their Necks
“I worked retail in a jewelry store for the past five years. Ninety percent of what the corporate upper management would tell us was not practical to use in the field. Most of the time, we would just tell corporate what they wanted to hear. Instead, we would carry out what actually worked for us. you can’t make sales if no one comes into the store, but you aren’t allowed to use that as an excuse with upper management. Everything in the retail world is coded. So if the reason that sales are down ins customer traffic, you would have to tell corporate something like, ‘Our area of opportunity and growth is to drive business by increasing customer outreach!’
That was nonsense. Customer outreach would usually entail one or two new people coming in that week to get their rings cleaned. We spent hours and hours on calls with potential customers in the area, annoying them and potentially even driving away business. Sometimes, we would be told to say a very specific, extremely stiff line at a certain point in the sale. This sounded okay on paper during corporate role-playing, but I never once saw anyone pull off a real sale using these techniques. Sales should be all about tailoring the experience to the customer in front of you. Using a pre-written script will only get you so far. Corporate would also go through these phases where they wanted us to get customers to sign up for company credit cards. Corporate would threaten our jobs if we didn’t hit a certain quota. Then, they would be sued for over-pressuring employees who broke regulations to accomplish the quota, so they would back down until the following year. This was an endless cycle, and it was beyond exhausting to work through. I guess the biggest retail industry secret here is that field employees usually have a deep hatred of the upper management, for good reason.”
Buying In Bulk Isn’t Worth It
“If you are someone who purchases nuts and grains in bulk, just know that those bins are probably rarely cleaned, and even when they are ‘cleaned’, odds are that they were just rinsed or wiped down to look clean on the surface. I used to be a bulk buyer at grocery stores, and when I took over, our bulk department had no cleaning logs or sanitizing procedure. The bins full of mold, as well as moth and insect colonies. Our store had only been open for five years at that point, so it wasn’t like there was enough time for people to be set in their ways and be super complacent. Even when the Department of Health came into the store, they would only spend about five minutes examining the bulk section. They would spend those minutes making sure that everything as labeled and stored properly, rather than examining the bins themselves. They were much more concerned about spoiled meat and vegetables from other departments.
One time, I was cleaning under the grates of our drink cooler, it was absolutely caked in spilled soda, hair crumbs, you name it. My supervisor asked me why I was doing this, when there were still boxes that needed to be unloaded. So yeah, seriously watch out for the bulk food areas. Also, be on the lookout for any sort of dispensers. You definitely don’t want to know what is in all the cracks and crevices…”
The Invisible Struggle
“I am a former TSA worker. Truth be told, airport security is a whole lot of theater. The TSA is constantly failing plain clothes inspections. I worked with this guy who got fired because someone showed him an ID with a picture of Mickey Mouse on it instead of their face. This employee let the person through without paying any sort of attention. You all would be completely amazed at the amount of doors in our airport protected by ten thousand dollar scanner that we prop open with magazines because we’re too lazy to get them fixed.
I got out of that industry after a couple of years. My mental health was completely shot. In order to do a good job, I had to stretch my focus in so many directions. I had to deal with the stress of the crowd. I also had to deal with the stress of trying to make sure that nobody ever got hurt. There was also so much bureaucratic red tape I had to navigate. There was the company-wide politics that people manipulated in order to advance their position. I last in that job for two years, and I had to admit to myself that I was more of a liability than an asset at that point. I just could not focus enough anymore to actually keep people safe. I don’t think that it is a job you should be involved in if you can’t bring your absolute all to it. I really do think that most agents are trying their best, but the time that it would take to properly inspect every passenger would cripple the airport waiting times.”
Quick, While They Aren’t Looking
“I worked in this department store photography studio. They were probably the company took your school yearbook photos. This company was also partnered with a popular online photo order website. Don’t come in without a coupon. There is always a coupon on the website. If you end up paying for sitting fees, that’s because you didn’t go to our website. Honestly? Don’t buy our photos. If you just do the session and say that you’ll buy them online later, it will be way cheaper than if you buy them in-store that day. Yes, even if we tell you ‘Oh, but you won’t get THIS deal online!’ It is still cheaper.
If you do buy in-studio photos that day, just buy the digital CD of your photos. You get to keep all of them instead of having to pick your favorite three or four pictures. Oh, and it is also way cheaper to take that CD to a photo kiosk and print them out yourself. Please don’t spend $400 on a couple photos that you can’t legally copy, when you could have gotten an $80 CD of ALL the photos and own the copyright to them.
Despite our attendance at school picture days, I never worked on the school photos. My guess would be that the photographer is trying to photograph so many kids in such a short amount of time, so hey only really get one shot. It is so hard to get kids, and even adults, to pose exactly as you ask and get them to look at the camera. After working at this studio seasonally, I told my management that I would not be continuing post-season. It made me feel so guilty to rush through sessions and then upselling people to buy $400 worth of photos. If my manager and co-worker weren’t listening, I would ALWAYS push the customers to the coupons and flat out tell them to get the digital CD and where to print the photos later.”
Pay No Attention To The Mysterious Recording Studio
“I’m an audio engineer. There are a few seemingly obvious things to point out. You should be cautious about studios that claim that a certain famous artist recorded there. There’s a studio in Iowa that claims that Slipknot recorded there. While it is technically true that the band recorded in that building, it was under a different owner, different engineers, and some different equipment. You are not going to sound like your favorite artist by recording in that particular space, sorry. Also, be very wary of the record label. They may offer to front the costs of your recording and touring, but you have no creative control over your sound, where you record, your tour schedule, and the label will most likely own your music. Oh, and you have to pay all the money the label gives you back to that label eventually.
If your music is terrible, then there is no amount of production that will be able to make it a hit. Also, be very wary of eye candy! Specifically, do not be fooled by big mixing consoles! Sometimes, they aren’t even used for your music. Sometimes, they don’t even function. I have seen studios where the sole purpose of a large sound board is to dupe unsuspecting musicians into parting with their money. With a recording studio, you really get what you pay for. You have to pay for years of experience, acclaimed expertise, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and software tool. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars that went into the acoustic engineering of the physical recording space alone. People who walk into established studios balk at the $1000 price tag per song, but they don’t realize that they are getting access to about a million dollars in tools, as well as an engineer who will make them sound way better than real life.”
Never Tell An Agent The Following
“I’m an auto insurance agent. Please, for the love of god, do not tell auto insurance agents any more than you have to. If they ask you a question, just say yes or no as a response, and simply answer the question as briefly as you can. If you go on and on about your life story, you will probably end up saying something that you don’t have to and increasing your rate. You could also inadvertently get yourself declined. We actually do want you to get your policy for as cheap as possible, so only tell us exactly what we need to know, and don’t say anything else.
Now explaining something like how you were pulled over for a ticket is totally fine, that will show up on your record anyway. But if you drive to work like once a month and usually take the public transport, don’t tell us that you drive to work at all! We don’t need to know that, and it will only hurt your rates. I have had to decline a few otherwise perfectly good people because they brought up how another person was staying with them for an indeterminate amount of time, which was honestly so awful. Different agencies will have wildly differing standards and rates, which can vary from person to person. They will look for their own niche of customers and give discounts based on different variable. This is why it is smart to call around and find out which company works best for you. A decline doesn’t really mean much of anything to be honest. You can find a good rate with another company, no sweat.”
Grandparents In Danger!
“I work in the healthcare industry, providing in-home care for elderly patients. For anyone with parents or grandparents in this situation, please understand that they could live in a cockroach-infested house and not have to move if they didn’t want to. It is not up to my company to give your loved ones environmentally safe places to live. That is up to the family. We can certainly try to persuade, but we cannot force. Why do I know this? Because I’ve been to the cockroach-infested house where and eighty-year-old woman lives. I have a mentally ill client who puts bleach in his dog’s water to ‘help’ with the dog’s breath. I have a client who never cleans his cat’s litter box. I even have a client with a caved-in ceiling. I have tried to call that in, but my company cannot do anything about it. All they tell me is that it is up to the family members.
It’s a really horrible thing because there are so many family members and friends of my clients who don’t really care about how some people are living. Sure, they will visit. But do they clean the litter box? Do they make sure that there are no cockroaches? Do they make sure that the house is stable and isn’t falling apart? Nope! They say that they care and love for this person, but they don’t care enough to make sure that they live in a healthy environment. This really worries me, because if I imagine my own mother having such a deteriorated mind and there was no one else to help her, should live in a run-down home if she was stubborn enough. It really frustrates me, because my clients do have rights, but should they have the right to live somewhere so risky for their health? It’s also quite a dangerous spot to put us caregivers in!
I’ve never been actually told by my company that I am obligated to report anything to adult protective services. They only tell me to call them, and they promise to work it out, whatever that means. They never informed me of taking anything a step further on my own terms. I have never been given the numbers for adult protective services or animal abuse numbers. I’m barely a year into this job, but I’m already so, so frustrated with this process. Thankfully, I have come across quite a number of families who care for their elderly members and thank goodness for these people! We really need more of them in this world!”
The Pain Behind The Forced Smile
“So I’m a waitress and no matter how much we insist that it is totally fine that you are keeping the entire restaurant open after we officially close, please understand that we are completely and utterly lying. We will get fired if we deviate from anything other than pure delight that we have to put on for customers. We dread the fact that you could be keeping us from going home. Please look past our forced smiles at the pain within. So yes, definitely try to close the check out as soon as possible, that would help immensely. Also, please keep the chit-chat with the server to a minimum, so we can continue doing our side work. Please try not to order or argue for food or drinks after the kitchen and bar have closed down. We are really good at instantly getting a sense of customers, so if someone walks in with an actual awareness and cares that the restaurant is closing down, that will do wonders for the attitudes of the entire staff.”
The Real Victims Of The Airlines
“I’m a former aircraft fueler. Please don’t leave your pets in the cargo area of the plane, especially during the summer or winter. They are submitted to some very harsh environments, such as belt loaders in the sweltering heat next to a running APU loud enough to deafen anyone or anything. It is terrible, and I always feel so sorry for those pets. Also, airlines will destroy your luggage. They get overloaded on luggage carts, suitcases fall off on the way to the plane, and they are left on the ground to get run over by tankers and fuelers. They even get rained on and dragged to the edge of the ramp, where they sit all night while you arrive at your destination and wonder where on earth your bags are.
If your departure is delayed, ninety percent of the time the fueler is the blame. Look out the window on your right side if it is a small plane, left side if it is a big one. If there’s a truck sitting under the wing, we are the reason you’re late. Sorry about that. I don’t have insider knowledge of the airlines beyond my station, but I would advise against checking pets if you can help it. I would recommend not taking them at all if you can’t keep your pet with you on the flight.”
No One Knows This Job Exists!
“I’m a fossil replicator, and apparently the industry secret is the fact that we exist! So many people are blown away to learn that most fossils they see in museums are replicas. I work primarily with replicas of teeth and claws for gift shops and individual purchase. I make the molds, pour the casts, trim the plastic, and hand-paint hundreds of teeth and claws a week. Plus, we have a growing line of scale-model skulls that are very fun to work on! I came into this position on accident, actually! My previous job was falling apart due to this year being as nightmarish as it was, so I had my eye open for other opportunities. I saw an online post that this place was hiring and figured, ‘What the heck, can’t hurt to try!’ and tossed my hat in the ring. They liked me and I got the job a week later. Funnily enough, I actually have no background in paleontology, but I do have a background in art and social media management. They were toying with the idea of getting into social media more, so they liked the idea of having someone who could both help with making the replicas and also eventually helping them grow their social media presence.
If it is something you or anyone else would like to get into, my advice is to study anatomy, especially skeletal anatomy, in as much nitty-gritty detail as possible. Study dinosaurs and dinosaur adjacent animals, and start getting to know companies that do fossil replication. As for the best replica I’ve personally made, I love working on our 1/8 scale model T. Rex skulls! They’re just a lot of fun to work on all day, and holding a Rex skull in your hand is just delightful. So real stuff does get mounted, but there’s just also a lot of good reasons to use replicas. There is the weight of real fossils, the fragility of real fossils, and the rarity of real fossils to consider. Usually, museums will say on the signs what is real and what is replicated, or they will have someone you can ask if you’re curious. Even most mounts of real fossils will have some parts that are replicas, due to how extraordinarily rare it is to find every single bone from any given animal. A lot of fossils are also very fragile and wouldn’t stand up to being mounted. Plus that is solid rock, it is HEAVY! Yeah, so all of this is surprisingly uncommon knowledge! But once you think about it, it’s like, ‘Oh, okay, yeah, of course most of them are replicas.'”
What Really Lands Ya The Interview?
“I work in Human Resources for a federal department. If you put the words from the job announcement about what you need to qualify in your resume, you’ll almost always be considered as qualified. We search for those words instead of reading an entire resume. Now let me be clear that we at HR will continue to scan the resume for similar experiences and words, and not totally discount the entire resume immediately. After over ten years in human resources, you learn what you’re looking for and how to do it. Some people in HR are more strict than others. I know some people who will totally disregard a resume if it isn’t using the exact same wording as the job post. Each vacancy announcement tells you what experience is required to be qualified for that particular position. If you copy and paste that into your resume, you’ll be golden! If you also copy and paste the assessment questions to your resume, there should be no reason why you wouldn’t be qualified.
So what you want to do is update your resume to reflect that the job posting lists as required experience and assessment questionnaires. But only put down what is actually true, because if you falsify your resume and get caught, no one will want to hire you. In case you want to be a federal employee, you would also want to apply only to vacancies open to the public, unless you meet any special hiring qualifications listed in that vacancy that give you the eligibility to apply.”
What Really Goes On At Kennels
“I managed a boarding and grooming kennel for eight years. Our secret is that the employees actually do love your pets too, including the difficult ones. Most of us realize that they just miss their owners. I have spent so much time in my position weeping when pets died, comforting dogs with separation anxiety, and spending hours off the clock with a boarder who needed to be rushed to a vet’s office. But some pets are just plain nasty though! Keep in mind, there is really nothing that we haven’t seen before. We are used to separation anxiety and can recognize it in a pet on sight. Often, those pets will get a little extra attention. Does your dog stop eating? With the owner’s permission, we will hand feed your dog or mix in some wet fod or broth, whatever it takes to keep your pet healthy and happy until you can return. No one who works at a kennel is in it for the money. The pay is laughable, and most places don’t really have any benefits. The employees work there because they love animals so much!
When it comes to aggressive dogs, it really depends on the kennel situation. Often times, lots of places with have a setup where we can lift a shoot and let the dog go outside while we clean and put down food and stuff. Ideally, we won’t have to approach such an aggressive dog. We also recognize the difference between a downright aggressive animal and one who is dashing out because of fear. Definitely give the staff members a heads up if they aren’t already aware of a dog’s aggression and fears. But also, your dog can sense your anxiety and that might make the dog more scared, so treat them kindly. Good luck, dog owners!”