How Can I Help You?

The Worst Job I Ever Had

This is the first in our ongoing series of the worst/weirdest jobs


the dirty side of soap — photo by Keith Williamson from Flickr

What job gives you the hands of a desert wanderer, the complexion of a newborn, and the ability to knock out anyone in close range with your overwhelming scent?

Being a soap pusher at LUSH – that ever-pungent fixture on the British high street (and across the US)!

I was an apron-clad LUSH employee for about a year; it was my first gig after college. I’d just moved from ultra-liberal Seattle to bible-thumping Texas, and nothing brings out the crazies like an edgy bath store.

One of the store’s best-selling products is a bath fizz cheekily called ‘Sex Bomb.’ (It’s named after the Tom Jones song of the same title.) What with its implications of nudity and naughty bits, we had constant complaints about this product amongst those chastity-belted customers who had found themselves in their own personal hell.

One afternoon, a mother approached with her teenage daughter.

“EXCUSE ME,” she snapped.

“How can I help?”

“This product over here,” she pointed to the ‘Sex Bomb’ sign “. . . this should NOT be in public view. My daughter’s just seen it – she’s seen the ‘S’ word!”

Trying to stifle my laughter, I apologized. The daughter cowered behind her mother. I could tell by her embarrassment she had known the meaning of sex for several years. They eventually left without purchasing anything.

My time at LUSH didn’t last longer than a year. As an employee at LUSH, our own dirty ‘S word’ was our Secret Shop, a process by which a mystery shopper (aka a spy hired by the store) comes in and acts like a customer so they can rate their customer service experience (and report back to company headquarters).

As in life, this person will either love you or hate you, and it’s your own crappy job that’s next for the guillotine if it happens to be the latter.

I’ll never know who our secret shop customer was, but they definitely were not pleased with their customer experience — I failed the store’s first Secret Shop. When they told me, I slumped behind the counter amongst the bath bomb dust, forgotten glitter and bubble bar chunks and cried: LUSH does well in bringing out the hysterical child in all of us.

I didn’t get fired for that incident, per se, because I was too “valuable” to fire during the holidays (the Black Friday shift required coming into work at 2AM). In the end, though, I was let go, which was probably a good thing because it was time to move on. I was about to embark on my last-ever extended trip to the UK (before moving there for good) during a VERY long-distance relationship.

The experience wasn’t a total wash, though. I’ll always miss my fellow LUSHies – my colleagues were the best part of the job. Even the worst customers didn’t deter me from loving the products – keeping my shelf stocked today is quite a bit more expensive than it was then!

—    Amanda is a twentysomething Yank in the UK, part-time creative, part-time desk worker.

Send your own tale of your weirdest/worst job to graduatesinwonderland at gmail dot com.