Today’s assignment: Describe the worst job you’ve ever had
Sometimes you hear about people who start working somewhere when they are 15 or 16 or 17 and stay at the same working place until they go on pension. I couldn’t do that.
I’ve had many different jobs over the years, as a cook, a guide in a museum, the friendly voice at a telephone switchboard, in a call center, as an accountant, as a teacher, as an IT-specialist in a community center and at an assembly line in a plant that made tabs for dishwashers. I’ve made and packed ice cream and I’ve been a baker in a plant that produced pita bread.
The work I’ve done the most over the last 30 some years is translation. To begin with I translated into German, because I was born and raised in Germany and studied German at university, but over the years, since I live in Denmark, Danish became my native language and now I translate from Dutch, English, German, Norwegian and Swedish into Danish.
Being a translator is a very lonely job though, and whenever I can’t stand being alone any more I find myself an odd job where I have some colleagues, and when I get tired of the work or the routine or of having others dictate what I have to do, I get back to translation.
Most of my studies took place while my daughters were small and because I was a single mom since they were 1½ and 3½ years old, I had to work quite a lot to make ends meet.
One of the odd jobs I had for about 10 years was rather unusual for a woman I guess, and I wouldn’t say that it was the worst job I’ve ever had; I was pretty much my own boss and I made really good money, but I got extremely dirty doing this job.
I don’t remember how I got into the business, but a man, who owns many, many houses here in town needed somebody, who could go into his flats after people moved out and remove, mostly wallpapers, but also loose ceilings and floors.
The easiest way to remove wallpapers is to use steam. You can get a machine for that. You hold it against the wall and work your way from a point at the ceiling and down to the floor, move your ladder 20 centimeters to the left, work again from the ceiling to the floor and continue till you’ve been all the way round and all the walls are stripped.
Sometimes the wallpapers removed easily and I was able to finish and clean up a flat in one short working day, and sometimes it was hard and I had to come back several days, but still, I made good money.
I don’t think that there are many women who would do a work like this though. Sometimes I met people I knew on my way home from work, and they didn’t recognize me, because I was so dirty. But still, I wouldn’t say that this was my worst job. I don’t think that I ever had a worst job.
Somehow every job has its good sides. In this job I didn’t have to use my mind. I could let my body do the work and think of whatever I wanted or I could listen to music or tapes with stories (this was before the time of mp3s). As a translator I cannot do that. During a translation my mind is occupied by somebody else’s thoughts, and being able to think my own thoughts while I work sometimes seems like a wild luxury.
Imagine how it feels to say yes to translate a book for instance. It is a large book and you know that you will have to work on it for maybe a month or two or three, and after a few pages you find out that you don’t like the person who wrote the book. And you realize that you will have to think the thoughts of somebody you don’t like for many hours every day for however many months. In comparison to that it’s not so bad to get dirty on the outside.