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Memory Lane: A Few of the Worst Summer Job Stories Ever

We’ve all been there. Old enough to work but too young to get an interesting or decent-paying job. But we need the money and the experience, so we’ll take just about anything. And “just about anything” is exactly what some of us get. Enjoy these stories from survivors of summers past.

Camp Counselor (aka “Herding Brats”)

“I spent a terrible summer as a kitchen and maintenance worker at a summer camp for very rich kids in New Hampshire. The work was hard, the pay was low, and we slept in a wooden shack a bit like the ones the prisoners are kept in from the movie ‘The Great Escape.’

The kids were all total spoiled brats — although to their credit they became much more normal and mature by the end of their nine weeks at camp. We asked them what their parents did, and their answers were, ‘My dad is an investment banker,’ ‘My mom is a lawyer,’ ‘my dad owns a hospital’ and so on. Except for one kid. He just said, ‘My dad used to make pens.’

We only realized a couple of days later the kid’s last name was Sheaffer.” – Jim E.

Door-to-Door Salesperson

“I decided to sign up for a door-to-door sales job. They brought me out to Pennsylvania, where they were currently located, by Greyhound. They had me stay out in a wonderful hotel. It was amazing. Only to figure out I would be walking the streets from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. No breaks, no lunch. Working on commission, which was only like 20% for each bottle you sold, with only one day off a week. My first pay check was $50.00. All I could afford to do is wash my clothes. After working 78 hours that week, I had only made a measly $50.00.” – Malaysia C.

Porn Shop Cashier

“I spent 2 months working as cashier in a seedy porn shop. After being trained on a till I was given an instructional DVD about “Baton Fighting” and told to watch it when it was slow. The reason was, of course, that we had a selection of collapsible batons and a tactical flashlight hidden under the counter. Apparently a previous employee had been stabbed during an overnight shift and suffered nerve damage, so now all new employees had to train to be [superheroes]. I realized I had to make some serious changes in my life.” – Jimmy A.

Perfume Girl

“My task was to stand in the shopping centre promoting Estée Lauder’s Beautiful – a potent mix of rose, ylang ylang, tuberose and sandalwood that Lauder felt answered her desire to ‘create a fragrance that made every woman feel she was the most beautiful woman in the world’.

I did not feel very beautiful. I was, after all, wearing regulation pink lipstick and someone else’s navy blue blazer, standing in a small northern shopping centre attempting to spritz passers-by with clouds of unwanted scent. It was a lonely time. No one ever wants to talk to a perfume girl. Even the other perfume girls ignored me. At lunch, they sat around a table in the staff canteen, gossiping and painting their lips, while I lurked nearby reading the complete works of Chaucer and eating slices of toast.

By the third day, I could no longer deny that I was having some sort of allergic reaction to the perfume. There was a red patch beneath my nose, bumps on the inside of my wrist, and each day I went home with a gnawing tuberose headache… The rash only added to my odd appearance. I never really looked the part: a wan, flat-chested figure standing in the shadow of the escalator, my over-painted face wearing the pained expression of a teenager whose shoes might not quite fit correctly, red-nosed, messy-haired, feeling for all the world like a sad, scented clown.” – Laura B.

Beach Lifeguard

“I worked as a lifeguard throughout high school. One summer, I started working solo at a new beach across town. My second day on the job, I showed up and found that someone had smeared dog poop all over my lifeguard stand… At least, I hope it was dog poop.” – Anonymous



About the author

Sophie Huss is the Global Director of Talent Acquisition & Training at Arkadin HQ in Paris. She has many years of in-depth experience in strategic and operational Marketing & HR in international environments. Fond of new technologies and digital transformation, Sophie uses her strong competences in digital marketing and lead generation to drive Human Resources (HR) to the digital world. In Digital Recruitment, that means employer branding, lead generation techniques applied to talent acquisition, central in-house talent acquisition organization, hiring processes, and deploying new HR Internal Systems, such as an Applicant Tracking System. For Learning & Development, it means developing onboarding and learning paths by job families, and deploying a Learning Management System (LMS) and global training programs. Building the Digital Workplace around the three pillars of Lifestyle, Workspace, and Tech Services is central to her philosophy, in order to transform and streamline Arkadin’s candidate and employee experience and lifecycle.

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