Lessons You Only Learn at a Terrible Job

4 min read
Lessons You Only Learn At A Terrible Job

You have probably had at least one terrible job in your life. Perhaps your current job is a terrible one. (Keep hope alive; things will improve at some point.) The pain may be physical or emotional or a combination of the two. While it seems like the world is ending while you’re going through a terrible job, but you will eventually be able to say, “I learned some things on that job.” Read on for more on such pithy thought patterns.

Some People Can’t Get Good Jobs

Some People Can't Get Good Jobs

What brings people to rotten jobs? There are economic reasons. Often, it’s other factors. Some just have no connections. Consider all the good things in your life right now. Did knowing someone help you get that possession or position? It’s unclear if a lack of connections is the cause or the effect.

Also, it’s hard to land a good job when you’re too socially paralyzed to circulate your resume. Lack of confidence or social skills can leave you with the jobs that will hire anyone and not care if you’re as socially inept as an aardvark. You can spot these people. You think, “Wow, (s)he is too smart to be working here.” You are probably right, but the lack of social skills or connections have them where they are.

Workers Aren’t Paid Enough to Offer Good Service

Workers Aren't Paid Enough To Offer Good Service

You know how angry we all got when the pandemic started, and all those celebrities started singing and lecturing us about how to act from their Fort Knox-style mansions? That’s how angry we get at people who gripe and complain about not being treated like royalty by service workers.

Think about it from the worker’s point of view. The worker is earning minimum wage only because it’s illegal to get paid less. The business owner is fully aware that 50 percent more people are needed in this establishment to treat all the customers properly. Still, he’s not about to spend that kind of money so you get served properly. And the worker you’re mad at might be doing the work of three people because the other two people decided not to show up for work today (and since the place is already understaffed, this person then is probably doing the work of five people). So we strongly advise you to consider what’s going on outside of your little bubble before you yell at someone for not mistaking you for the British royal family.

The Job is Rotten Because the Boss is Rotten

The Job Is Rotten Because The Boss Is Rotten

Let’s talk about bosses some more. Bosses, especially bosses in chain restaurants, can be despicable people to work for. The employees you are interacting with probably work for an owner that lives in another state or country, and if the restaurant turns a $1 million profit and an auditor finds he could have made $1,000,000.01, the owner will fire everyone and hire a bunch of rookies, because money is the only thing he cares about. So the poor employees on the floor are already on high-stress alert just for walking in the front door. Most rotten jobs are less about the customers or job description and more about what motivates you. If you know that you will get zero appreciation from who pays you, it will be much harder to provide good service. But you will learn more about what constitutes good and bad leadership in this situation than you ever will reading books about leadership (written by “leaders” who learned about “leadership” by reading other books).

If you do get stuck dealing with a rotten employee, that person is rotten for the same basic reason – “I’m here for what it will do for ME!” That’s why employees need to be as good to other people as possible, even if the environment sucks.

It’s OK to Have a Rotten Job

It's Ok To Have A Rotten Job

You know when you’re just sitting down to dinner or after-dinner amusement the phone rings and you reluctantly answer it only to find out it’s some telemarketer wanting you to take some insipidly stupid phone survey? Once you hang up in anger, you move on to what you were doing before the phone rang. Of course, that poor soul that called you is trying to earn enough money to survive to the point where (s)he can get a better job.

Those jobs are referred to as “disposable jobs” because, as the name implies, those workers can easily be fired. Otherwise, many of us would still be mopping floors, bagging groceries, cleaning bird cages, or working jobs of similar ilk. These jobs do teach you things, even if they are bad things – what a horrible boss is like, getting paid less than what it takes to live on Earth, or what “terrible working conditions” truly means. You also learn a lot of good things – a solid work ethic, how to treat people well, and developing a personal vision (I’m getting out of here as soon as I save enough/qualify for something better/etc.).

As long as the world is filled with imperfect people, there will be jobs that are imperfect – even severely imperfect. But what you learn on that job can carry you far into the future if you apply it appropriately to future work.