What Was Your Worst Summer Job?

February 22, 2017
Jess Harold
Riveted Editorial Board

One rite of passage I missed was having a crappy summer job. Every May-August from high school through college was an exciting experience, whether I was working at an Argentine coffee/artisanal gelato shop (that now sells pints of their organic goodness for delivery!!) or a French bistro, I always enjoyed what I was doing. However, one character’s horrific summer job story has me thinking that maybe I was blessed. That character is Margot Sanchez, the heroine of Lilliam Rivera’s novel The Education of Margot Sanchez (be sure to check out the extended excerpt, available until March 6th!). Margot decides the best way to impress her prep school friends is to fund a new wardrobe for herself, all on her dad’s credit card. Obviously, it doesn’t go over well when her family sees the bill she’s racked up. As punishment, she’s forced to work in her family’s grocery store, putting a pretty big damper on her summer plans. Did I mention that the workers in the grocery store are kind of a nightmare?

I clearly can’t relate to Margot’s terrible summer job, can you? Tell us about your worst summer job in the comments for a chance to be featured in an upcoming community post! In the meantime, take a look at what some of our Riveted eBoard’s worst summer jobs were:


For 3 summers, I worked at a mind-numbing, jab-my-pencil-in-my-eye inbound call center for a shady, overpriced security system that I believed in zero percent. Every year I promised myself I’d get out, but every May the possibility of reading as many books as I wanted when I was off the phone kept pulling me back. I read all the Chronicles of Narnia, Percy Jackson, and Maze Runner books among countless others in that dark, cubicled warehouse, so I guess it evened out in the end.


I did data entry for a summer youth employment program. My “office” was on the fifth floor of a community center that really needed some TLC. There was dust on the windowsill older than I was and the room was so small it could barely fit three desks inside. It also only had one small window that was frosted so we couldn’t even see outside. I worked 45 hours a week staring at an online Excel grid, inputting over 100 other workers’ hours and arguing with them when their forms were filled out incorrectly (which was ALWAYS). I got three grey hairs that summer. -__-


For two summers during college, I worked as a roofer. Roofing was easily some of the most grueling physical labor I’ve ever subjected myself to! Plus, it was harrowing: for one particular job that lasted the bulk of the summer, I’d frequently find myself scaling a three-story ladder from a narrow balcony to the roof of a 50+ story building, often while hoisting a 50 lb. roll of rubber on one shoulder. In retrospect, I really have no idea why I ever put myself through it.


I was fake hired by a movie theater. Whoever was in charge never processed my forms because she was out on vacation and generally never in her office. I received the work schedule each week, but I was never actually on it cause I was never cleared to work! Maybe that was for the best…

Consequently, that same summer, I worked instead at an art/tech startup, where I painted hipster rats on the walls.


The summer before my senior year of high school, I worked at Coldstone Creamery. I’ll paint you a picture:

Imagine you get paid under minimum wage, but you’re expected to sing and dance around to old songs with ice cream-related lyrics for your tips (chip chip, hooray). You come home covered in peanut butter and chocolate syrup after every shift. And no matter how many times you shower, you can never get the smell of burnt waffles out of your hair.

BUT what better place to be in the heat of summer than a freezer filled with ice cream? And you get to take home a LOVE IT creation after every shift (almost makes up for the lack of decent tips, but not really).


Throughout high school I worked at a movie theater, so one summer I helped by covering the box office at one of the drive-in theaters owned by the company. The box office was set very far away from the screens, parking area, and concessions stands, and I had to communicate with my boss via a walkie-talkie. The whole drive-in was in a heavily wooded, secluded area, so I always felt a little creeped out to be in a small booth by myself in the dark, anxious that each new driver would kidnap me or someone would pop out of the creepy woods. Business was pretty slow, so the best part was that I got a lot of reading done that summer!

ANONYMOUS (This eBoard member prefers not to be associated with this experience)

You know when you’re in a grocery store, and you see a stray cart aaaall the way at the end of the parking lot? The summer I turned 15, I was a Cart Girl, and I was tasked to bring all the carts left in the lot, and haul them back up to the curb, where they’re easily accessible to the front door. Occasionally, I helped older folks carry their groceries to the car, and they’d give me a whopping tip of one, sometimes two dollars to set off my Deep-South-minimum-wage salary. Did I mention 80-90% of my shift was spent outside? In the muggy, landlocked heat of the Deep South? When I wasn’t sweating through my white polo—let’s be real, when wasn’t I sweating through my shirt?—I was figuring out ways to exert as little energy as possible to reach the carts that somehow made it to the complete opposite end of the strip mall, a good three minute walk from our store.

Ok guys, what was your worst summer job?

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