Occupational Hazards

11 Nov

NaNoWriNO Day 11

Topic: What I do for a living


Credit: ENDO Gun Blog

A few years back I had a job that was slowly sucking the life out of me. My boss was certifiably insane, I was pushing paper all day, and the buzzing of the fluorescent lights nearly drove me over the edge. My cubicle offered me a beautiful view of a dead plant, and sometimes I’d get to bask in the scent of Marlboro Reds and Jack Daniels from a coworker who would stop to unload his drama on the guy sitting in the space next to mine. There were days when tying a noose around my neck and ending it all seemed less painful than that place.

I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and find another source of income. I didn’t have anything specific in mind, just something that would pay the bills and help me avoid feeling jazzed about a hanging death. Let me tell you, when you leave the range this wide open you’ll end up doing some messed up stuff.

My first encounter was an advertisement from a local university offering $500 to participate in a study. I called in, they asked me a few questions about my mental health history, and said they’d call me back. I received a call 10 minutes later. It’s never a good sign when a place that just asked you questions about your mental stability is anxious to call you back.

I went in for a screening, and talked with one of their graduate research students. She asked tons of questions relating to my formative years. As I began to get in-depth, she did the worst thing a future therapist could do: she yawned. It was not one of those little yawns where the person is desperately trying to hide it. She actually opened her mouth widely and let out a sound. I’m sorry my awkward junior high years bored you, Sheila.

She delved further into the most traumatic moments of my childhood, and then did the only thing that could trump the yawn: she laughed. She tried to cover it up by pretending to cough, but we both knew it was a laugh. As I walked out, I laughed…at how I was a walking MasterCard commercial. Gasoline to get to case study: $10.00. Parking fee: $5.00. Amusing a shrink with your trauma: priceless.

Needless to say, it was time to pursue another avenue. I saw a posting for a clinic offering big bucks to women who would donate their eggs. Perfect! I didn’t want these things anyway, so it was a win-win situation. I called the number, and got directions to the clinic which screened potential donors. When I got there I immediately noticed I was the only woman in the waiting room.

After spending 20 minutes reading a pamphlet on proper testicle care, a man leaned over and asked me if I knew I was in a sperm bank. Are you serious? They accidentally sent me to a bank where the only deposits being made were in the form of someone’s funky spunky. I took it as a sign from the universe that nobody should create a child using my DNA.

Not one to be easily discouraged, I did some research and found a lab looking for product testers. I thought it’d be a fun way to try out retail items before they reached market. Want to know what I learned? It’s not fun to get a rash on my neck from perfume. It’s not fun to have a metal taste in my mouth from an energy drink. It’s definitely not fun to grow thick hair on my knuckles from a lotion. I also learned that men don’t care for women with shaggy hands who have hives growing below their chin.

I decided I would try my hand at one last thing— movie reviewing. I found a listing for payment in exchange for rating movies on a partner company’s website. I wasn’t a cinephile by any means, but getting paid to watch films in my pajamas? Sign me up! It said my package with instructions on how and where to review would arrive in 2 weeks.

I was so excited when I got the first set of DVDs. I ripped it open to find “My Big Lebowski” staring back at me. As I thumbed through titles like “Jesus Christ: Porno Star” and “Sperms of Endearment” it became clear I was expected to review adult movies. How does one do a proper write-up on this subject matter? “I thought the score was beautifully done as was the makeup. I didn’t feel the main character, Darth Invader, was believable. Overall, I give it one out of five squirts.” Heaven help me.

Something I hadn’t considered was that every job has its drawbacks. My job as an office underling was definitely mind-numbing, but it provided a certain stability that these escapades didn’t. I show up each day, answer a few e-mails, and in two weeks they pay me. Don’t get me wrong, there were still days when I’d run my hand up and down my imaginary noose, but at least the hand I’d be doing it with wouldn’t be covered in a thick layer of fur.


A special thanks to my coworker “P” who suggested I write about this topic.

A couple confessions:

  • This obviously isn’t a post about what I’m currently doing for a living. I don’t want my employer stumbling across this post and kicking my ass to the curb. If my employer is currently reading this I just want you to know I SUPER DUPER LOVE MY JOB AND YOU GUYS ROCK AND PLEASE DON’T FIRE ME.
  • This is a repost of an article I wrote for Expats Post earlier this year. Technically this is cheating, but I had a pretty big thing I needed to do today and couldn’t sit down to write. Forgive me?

NaNoWriNO Day 10

NaNoWriNO Day 12

57 Responses to “Occupational Hazards”

  1. Smaktakula 11/15/2012 at 10:05 am #

    It’s nice sometimes to have things put in perspective. I’ve had some shitty, soul-draining jobs, but often, I didn’t realize how badly I hated them until I left.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2012 at 1:34 am #

      No kidding. One of my previous jobs was good enough while I was doing it, but looking back at it now, I’d rather dance on a street corner for tips than go back there. What a pit.

  2. calahan 11/13/2012 at 11:56 am #

    Haven’t done the dvd reviews, but did participate in a mental health study. I was just screwed up enough to earn a few hundred dollars. Go me!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/13/2012 at 2:47 pm #

      Did your therapist yawn? If not, do you have any tips on how to stay interesting while talking?

      • calahan 11/13/2012 at 2:48 pm #

        She did not yawn, but simply wrote down answers robotically. It was an interesting experience, but it was nice a few months later when they called me back and I no longer “qualified” because I wasn’t depressed.

        • Jen and Tonic 11/13/2012 at 2:53 pm #

          Damn you and your happiness.

          • calahan 11/13/2012 at 3:50 pm #

            No kidding. I ended up losing money!

  3. Lyssapants 11/12/2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Yarg. Whenever I hear another horrible therapist story, I feel compelled to apologize for some unknown colleague’s shit-tastic job of tainting this field for clients and for all of us shrinks who actually care about the work we do.
    I recommend visualizing yourself in a safe place…with a basketfull of eggs…the yawner is in sight…and assault charges don’t exist.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/13/2012 at 2:15 pm #

      You’re a shrink? Oh man, I hope you haven’t been analyzing me based on my blog.

  4. becca3416 11/12/2012 at 11:34 am #

    The grass obviously isn’t always greener on the other side. I related to this post Jen!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/13/2012 at 2:13 pm #

      You’d think it would be, and then you realize there’s just as much shit fertilizing that grass as well.

  5. writerwendyreid 11/11/2012 at 5:41 pm #

    Darth Invader…hehehe…I would prefer to watch that over the original Star Wars trilogy. 😉

  6. Fern DeVilliers 11/11/2012 at 5:33 pm #

    One thing I’m glad you are doing – writing. You make me laugh, and with my crazy family, I need that. Who cares if you cheated. You are still the shiznit. 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:26 am #

      Your stamp of approval makes me feel better about my lying, cheating ways.

  7. Aurora HSP 11/11/2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Loving your real and funny tonic! 🙂

  8. saradraws 11/11/2012 at 3:54 pm #

    I thought this looked familiar! I’ve read it before! Which makes me feel awesome for being such a devoted follower.
    Still funny after all these years.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 12:50 am #

      You may be my #1 fan. This entitles you to an autographed headshot of me for your nightstand.

      • saradraws 11/12/2012 at 4:26 am #

        This girl can dream. True fact: I have the little notebook yo usent tucked into my underwear drawer, right beside my bed. I never misplace it, but I also always forget to use it since I don’t keep a pencil there too. Still, a little J&T to keep me company.

        • Jen and Tonic 11/13/2012 at 1:50 pm #

          A little J&T goes a long way. I hope Clown doesn’t get jealous.

  9. Bill Friday 11/11/2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Okay, if you can cheat and repost something for NaNoWriNO, then I can cheat and repost my comments from the first time…

    Since you always think I’ve led the most interesting life, let me recount for you some of my most interesting employment choices…

    (1) Taking $300 as an “exercise guinea pig” during my college days as an Exercise Science major. Duties included riding a stationary bicycle during increasing maximal intervals… while breathing CARBON MONOXIDE GAS… to simulate maximal exertion during urban athletic events such as Olympic Marathons. The Doctor who administered the test said it was the equivalent of running for 2 hours behind a ’63 VW Beetle. Life lesson… someone in their 20′s will do damn near ANYTHING to keep from “working” for a living.

    (2) Working as a janitor in the LAX hub of FedEx. No occupational hazards you say…? Well, it taught me the state of 21st century race relations in the United States, as in, you would be amazed at all the manor of racist shit folks (of all races… about others AND each other) talk when you sweep and collect trash around them while wearing sunglasses and a beanie… and they all assume you speak as much English as every first-year Guatemalan immigrant you work with. Just sayin’. Life lesson… people are PEOPLE, as in FLAWED, and in need of further ENLIGHTENMENT… like me.

    (3) Working as a high-priority courier, and getting a call at 2 a.m. to meet a team of doctors at a local area hospital to pick up the liver, 2 kidneys, 2 corneas, and heart of a perfectly healthy corpse that had died within the last 2 hours after a fatal traffic accident, so that said organs could be put on 6 separate flights to 6 different parts of the country, so that 6 different people could start living their lives all over again… because of the death of a total stranger. Life lesson… this life doesn’t last long enough to WASTE its LESSONS.

    Now you need to write something that will allow me to tell my CHUCK NORRIS story!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:25 am #

      Oh, but you forgot that I TOTALLY gave you a reason to tell your Chuck Norris story. Did I not set you up during our radio show together? BOOM. I may be the best friend you’ll ever have. Just sayin!

  10. greeneyedwreck 11/11/2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Forgiven this made me laugh… Even after a particularly difficult weekend… Thank you Jen xx

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:25 am #

      Sorry to hear you had a bad weekend, but glad this could put a smile on your face. Hope things are on the up and up now.

  11. Storkhunter 11/11/2012 at 12:42 pm #

    This is why I hate therapists. I went to a therapist once and she had this look on her face like she was thinking “hmmm, what should I make for dinner tonight.”
    Jen, I forgive the repost, it’s new to me, and if you have other old posts lurking somewhere in the basement, feel free to bring them back up. I haven’t seen them yet and you is funny girl.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:24 am #

      Maybe I’ll dig some old things out of the archives 🙂

      I’m sure therapists get sick of hearing the same things over and over, but if I was making that kind of money, I’d listen to anything. “Oh, so you had a hard time pooping today? Tell me more!”

  12. GiggsMcGill Jill 11/11/2012 at 11:08 am #

    I forgive the repost – because this is hilarious and new to me ^.^ I’m actually really sad that you didn’t donate eggs because 1) your genes should totes be spread around, and 2) I would ask what it was like and whether it’s worth it? ^.^
    Also – did you end up writing reviews? Because they probably would have been loltastic and I’m sure the company would have paid you a ton for them! And then made you their star editor!! =D

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:23 am #

      I never ended up doing it, but I know someone who did. She really needed the money at the time, but not she struggles with not knowing the child who may have been conceived using her DNA.

      I never got to write the review. Sadly, I was REALLY uptight back then. Obviously I’ve pulled the stick out since then.

  13. aliceatwonderland 11/11/2012 at 10:39 am #

    What is your job now? The fabulous one. 😀 I had an evil boss at a former job (not the one I have now for the few who might know me please don’t fire meee. This is why I’m anon.) Would have said she was a minion of Satan, but frankly, she wasn’t smart enough. Sometimes I would really like a cubicle – I like being closed off from, you know, peoples and stuff.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:22 am #

      My job is digital marketing. I actually like the boss I have now, she’s really nice. It’s just a very professional company, and probably wouldn’t appreciate me associating myself with them when I say things like “penis helicopter” on this blog.

      • aliceatwonderland 11/12/2012 at 4:51 am #

        Yeah, I might be arrested for all the times my blog has been found with “buttplug” and “sexy pony pics”.

  14. Madame Weebles 11/11/2012 at 10:00 am #

    Gold, Jen, Gold. It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? It could always be worse. Did you feel like Dorothy when she clicked her heels and said “There’s noplace like home”? Also, I sympathize about your experience with that stupid future “therapist”—my own therapist has occasionally yawned while I’ve been talking, and even though she always says “It’s not you, I promise!” (she has two young children), it always makes me think, “It’s me.” So then I go home and write new material to make sure I kill it at my next session.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:21 am #

      I should have done that! Just walked in confidently and said, “Look, yawner. I’ve got a few new bits I want to run by you. A horse walks into a bar…”

  15. isawbobdylaninaspeedo 11/11/2012 at 9:51 am #

    Sometimes its good to go to the other side of the fence…poop in their yard, swim in their pool….then as you said…you see yours isn’t so bad. So right about bad in every job…good read Jen!!!

  16. Love and Lunchmeat 11/11/2012 at 9:03 am #

    I remember doing some of this stuff in college, getting like $20 for an hour of my time, with questionable results. At one study I was actually paid for looking at palindromes. Another time I got a couple hundred bucks to be in the Detroit Auto Show. I later saw myself on the news which made me a little nervous; I had skipped classes to go. (It was a live commercial for the Ford Aztec.) No psychiatric histories though, and Sheila never laughed…

    I remember reading in the campus newspaper about egg donations. A lot of people actually would request a certain type, usually either by degree or IQ, occasionally something like eye color. Some of it would get a little designer baby-ish. I can’t believe they directed you to a sperm bank, especially given the demand for eggs from smart girls.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:19 am #

      You got paid to look at palindromes? I hope you wrote something like, “I’ve tried looking at it both forwards and backwards, but I can’t seem to spot the difference.”

      I knew nothing of egg donation at the time, but knowing what I know now, it is a HUGE oversight. I think it was one of those rare occurrences. The universe intervened and was like, “UH, NO. This is not happening. No more of her, please.”

  17. Dani Heart 11/11/2012 at 8:16 am #

    I forgive you Jen. My inspiration seems to have deserted me. lol

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:17 am #

      I think the elections took it all out of you! I think it drained all of us, but especially those like you who were really involved in it.

  18. Cathy Ulrich 11/11/2012 at 7:28 am #

    You’re forgiven for a repost. I’m glad you did as this was priceless. And as a healthcare provider, I hope that graduate research student either got her shit together or went off on her own search for a different job, cause that wasn’t the right place for her…

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:16 am #

      I’ve wondered what happened to her. Looking back, she probably had a full-time job and was going to school, and I vaguely remember a picture of a child on her table. Maybe she was just really tired? But yeah, I can’t imagine being able to yawn while my boss was talking during a meeting. Get it together!

  19. Christopher De Voss 11/11/2012 at 5:37 am #

    I really like Darth Invaders work. I disagree with your review.

  20. speaker7 11/11/2012 at 5:00 am #

    I don’t want to seem like that dick therapist, but I laughed really hard at this. No yawning. Your job should be writing because you is good. You is good. Take it from me, I write good.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:14 am #

      I would let you laugh at me. I might even pay you $100/hr to do it. Have you considered a career in therapizing?

  21. kelsgonebush 11/11/2012 at 4:12 am #

    I went to a counselor recently to deal with the whole having a baby OMG situation 😉 .. I sacked her after a few sessions – looking at the clock repeatedly is bad enough but the straw that broke the camels back was when halfway through my last session with her she asked to read my newspaper ….. Awkward … ( I bloody hope she’s just rude and I’m not actually that boring !! Lol ) Xx

    • Jen and Tonic 11/12/2012 at 1:12 am #

      She asked to read your newspaper?! That’s a whole new level of bold!


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