We’ve all had one: The worst job ever! Did you work the canneries in Alaska? Scrub toilets in Podunk? Sling hash in the college cafeteria?
Please use this page’s comments section to tell us about your worst job ever. It’s likely someone has had it much, much worse . . .
Driving a long stretch of black road,
then east down gravel, dust swirling
behind my ‘59 Chevy Impala which sat
six weeks in the garage of the man
who taught automotive mechanics
at the teachers’ college after it broke down
less than a mile from where I bought it.
Heading for a job of day-labor,
summer of ‘67, on the corn, beef
and hog farm belonging to Clifford’s
father, grandson of a Swedish farmer
who came to the Midwest looking
for a cold winter climate and discovered
the sauna of Iowa summers.
Wires punctuated with black birds,
each farmhouse, silo, windmill and barn
set back from the road in the isolation
of a country whose prairies and woods
were plowed into endless straightened fields
of mantis-green crops. Clifford leading me
across the yard and the wide parking area
of cars, pick-ups, tractors and feeders
to a bull pen a foot thick with dung,
handing me a pitchfork and a shovel
and smiling, see you around four o’clock,
before he walks past the barn and climbs
into the air-conditioned cab of a combine.
Standing in black wading boots borrowed
from the mud room off the front porch.
Bending and straightening over a crumpled
rectangle of sunlight cast from an open doorway
onto a dark floor of hay and excrement.
A windowless room, heat and ammonia
closing in under July’s heavy cellophane,
lunges toward me, even now, thirty years
on the other side of a glacier-flattened acreage
a half a mile from a twisting muddy river where
I scraped a ton of shit from a concrete floor.