Be your best self.

Why Hating Your Shitty Job Only Makes It Worse.

Why Hating Your Shitty Job Only Makes It Worse.
Carly Jacobs

On the weekend, Mr Smaggle and I went to a car shop to ask about a rubberized spray paint that, according to their website, they had in stock.

Mr Smaggle – ‘Hi! Can you show me where the Plasti-Dip is?

Sales Assitant – ‘Never heard of it.

Mr Smaggle – ‘Oh well it says on your website that you have it in stock?

Sales Assistant – ‘Nup. Never heard of it.

Mr Smaggle – ‘Oh… well why is it on your website?

Sales Assistant – ‘Couldn’t tell you. I’ve never seen it on the shelf.

Mr Smaggle – ‘Okay… thanks…

We shook our heads and went off down the aisles in search of an alternative. About ten minutes later the sales assistant came up and said that he’d decided to check for Plasti-Dip in the computer. It turns out that most of their stores stock it but their store has to order it in. We thanked him, placed an order and we were all smiling by the time we left. I detest bad service. I really do, however I also know that not many people want to spend their Saturday stuck inside an auto store selling spray paint and car parts. It was obvious from the moment we walked in that there were a thousand other things that guy wanted to be doing and he wanted us to know that. After he removed his head from his own arse and started doing his job, he stood a little straighter, his face relaxed and I could literally see him hating life less.

I’ve done my time working weekends. Every Saturday and Sunday from the ages of 14 to… well now. I’ve always worked weekends. Up until about two years ago I was doing casual home respite work in between writing gigs. I’d spend my Sundays assisting complete strangers in the shower. I’ve taught kids gym lessons on Saturday mornings. I’ve been a weekend test supervisor that required 12 hour days on a Saturday.

Did I enjoy my 6am starts on Sundays at the newsagent? Spending the better half of my Friday afternoon changing nappies on adults? Doing absolutely nothing but silently watch as 150 people complete a four hour exam? No. I didn’t enjoy any of those things but I’m bloody glad I did them because a) they kept a roof over my head and b) they all taught me lessons that make me rock at the several awesome jobs that I have now.

5 years of selling (and reading) magazines in a newsagent as a teenager inspired me to start this blog. My years of teaching have made me a pretty top notch public speaker. Hours spent fixing watches, working in jewellery boutiques and studying silver-smithing has armed me with an incredibly niche and valuable vocabulary that’s led to an ongoing accessories writing gig.

Take Mr Smaggle. When we met ten years ago, he was working at David Jones in the small appliances section. When it was quiet, he would read all the product manuals and guides so he knew exactly how they worked and which products to recommend to the customers. He has extraordinary brand and product knowledge from his years of research. He always wanted to make things or more specifically be an industrial designer. One of the things he is now working on is literally reinventing the light bulb. There’s no way he’d be rocking it anywhere near as hard if it weren’t for all those years reading product manuals in David Jones.

So the next time you’re feeling down about your job or feeling like you are wasting your time just stop and breathe for a moment. You are there for a reason. Don’t waste your time hating your job and doing it badly. Dominate it, learn from it, be the best at it. You never know what you might learn, where it will lead or who you might meet.

At the very least you’ll make your days more pleasant with a positive attitude. The successful completion of a task can provide an enormous amount of satisfaction. Car shop sales assistant couldn’t give a rats about Plasti-Dip, but spending that few minutes looking it up and solving a problem improved his day immensely.

See every day as an opportunity to learn something that you didn’t know yesterday. Even if you hate your job and you dream of something better. Roses literally grow in shit… but only if they eat it. Just remember that.

What’s the greatest lesson that you learned from a job that you hate?


  1. Luisa Munoz 10 years ago

    Great discussion you have opened here. I learnt how to be a great manager due to poor management I worked with. It also led me to my degree in Psychology and I now want to work in Organisational Psychology. All due to that poor bitch I worked for, that made mine and everyone elses life, hell.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      That’s a great point! A shitty job can teach you what NOT to do!

      • Anonymous 10 years ago

        That’s true enough, Smaggle. A shitty job with badly-behaved supervisors can also teach one how NOT to behave, either!

  2. Beck 10 years ago

    There is nothing more awesome than people who take pride in their work. Even the most ‘unskilled’ work requires special skills that not everyone can master. Working in retail, for instance, requires constant good manners and cheerfulness and I know plenty of people who couldn’t manage that.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      Exactly. Retail is really hard work!

  3. RM 10 years ago

    Thank you for this reminder. I think sometimes you can get so caught up in how much you hate your job… sometimes I think I’m doing enough by working on an exit strategy, but I should also remember to try and do my best day to day until said exit strategy eventuates.

    From crappy hospitality jobs, I learned how to make a great coffee, juggle 30 things (physical and circumstantial) at once and handle a customer complaint as gracefully as possible.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      There’s nothing like working in hospitality to teach you to multi-task!

  4. Orion Blastar 10 years ago

    Look taking pride in you work is wrong. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason. It turns one into a jerk or douchebag. Hate is also wrong. Love your job? Nope love your customers and meet their needs. If you love your job then you become a jerk or douce bag again. Common sense says if a customer asks for a product you never heard of, look it up on your computer first before telling them you don’t have it in stock. Common sense, so rare these days that it is a super power.

  5. BedreviterLars 10 years ago

    I read two paragraphs after the dialog, then I couldn’t take the bold anymore.

  6. Tony Austin 10 years ago

    What I learned from a crappy job is that it was my fault for hating it and that by hating it I was no longer professional at it.

  7. anony 10 years ago

    too bold; didn’t finish

  8. dan garfield 10 years ago

    its very distracting that sentences are randomly bolded in this article. please consider changing your stylesheet.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback, I’ve run some extensive experiments with the bolding of key sentences (posting with and without, at different times etc) and the bolding style came out on top for social engagement and sharing of articles. The font is a touch thick for bolding and it’s on my to do list to change.

  9. Taylor 10 years ago

    The second to last line really struck me. “Roses literally grow in shit… but only if they eat it.” Great ending.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      Thank you! I’m glad you could read it… what with it being in bold and everything. 🙂

  10. Maddi 10 years ago

    This post is really great. I just got my first job a few months ago, (I’m 15) and so many of the people I work with are complaining. That little roses lesson might be my new motto….. X

  11. ladd 10 years ago

    The bold is cool. Not everyone has to have the same style

    • Someone 10 years ago

      Not about style. It’s about readability. Couldn’t finish it either,

  12. Cat beloverly 10 years ago

    I totally agree … All of my jobs, crappy or otherwise gave me some skills and I did my best to find out what those skills were at the time and look at the big picture. We are the sum of our experiences and not just the good ones!

  13. CollegeDropOut 10 years ago

    Every day working a shitty job I told myself that unless I did well at school, I’d be working these kind of shitty jobs forever.

  14. Brian Takita 10 years ago

    I just read your bold text. I couldn’t read the rest. It seems to have gotten the gist of the article across 🙂

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      That’s the point. 🙂

  15. Harlow 10 years ago

    In my teens I worked at Maccas as a barista for the McCafe. I got the manager from Hell who was too cheap to train his staff properly and too cheap to hire more than one person to work the cafe during peak hour. My second day on the job I was given a tome with recipes for frappes and told that my job would be to serve customers, make coffee, prepare cheese toasties and do the dishes. So at 6am there would be 20 scary men in lycra with their helmets under their arm angrily tapping the floor and hissing while I struggled to do the job of three people!

    The lesson that I learned from this experience? ALWAYS smile and be KIND and UNDERSTANDING to the people who are working at places like Maccas and other shitty jobs! They are doing a crap job, it’s highly likely their manager is a dick, and if it means waiting an extra few minutes for your coffee – suck it up princess.

    At the same time though, there is nothing worse than rude staff. As a customer you should never be made to feel belittled or uncomfortable by a staff member, and if you do then it is absolutely necessary to complain because chances are this is happening to others. The Woolworths I do my groceries had some really rude and unpleasant staff and it made grocery shopping horrible. It’s true – I could have done the shopping in another store a suburb over. But why should I? So, I wrote a letter to the management naming and shaming the employees, going into detail about every single aspect of their rudeness. A few weeks later I got a letter in response and shortly after that half of the rude employees disappeared. The rude ones who remained were no longer rude.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      God yes! People are so much more willing to wait longer if you smile, apologise and let them know they are next.

  16. David 10 years ago

    What a bunch of whiners… oh, the text has some BOLD bits… end of the fucking world.

    Anyway, had a crappy job. Worked at subway, not so bad I guess as management was ok, but I found that smiling and being nice is enough to totally make someone’s day. Happy people make other people happier, so a bit of it comes back around to you.

    They fired me in under a month, though, never did get a why out of them. I think I sucked at making subs.

    • Anonymous 10 years ago

      Sometimes, however, if a job is really that s**tty, it’s best to simply take oneself out of the situation, even if it means not having any work for long periods of time. I know I had to do that once, and I’m better off for it, imho.

      • Author
        Smaggle 10 years ago

        I mean if the job is completely horrendous and you’re miserable then definitely make changes but in the mean time it won’t hurt to have a positive attitude.

      • Anonymous 10 years ago

        There are essentially three ways to respond to a nasty work situation, and the sort of “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” or the “Go along to get along” philosophies aren’t necessarily and always the best philosophies to cultivate. One has to take into account his/her own psychology. Abilities to handle given a given situation really do vary from individual to individual, and people generally respond in ways that they feel are best for their own overall well-being.

        The three ways of responding to a nasty situation in the workplace are as follows:

        A) Becoming part of the system.

        B) Making one’s peace with the system.

        C) Taking oneself out of the situation altogether.

        I’m not ashamed to admit that I chose Option C; to take myself out of what not only had become a really unbearable situation, but because the department had wanted to s**tcan me, and I felt that leaving with my dignity intact, thus buying time and piece of mind, and saving lots of wear and tear on my nerves was better than staying in what was on its way to becoming a really humiliating situation.

        The company’s behavior, not to mention my supervisors’ behaviors, were beneath contempt, not only towards me but towards everybody in my department. Three people including myself, filed grievances against our supervisors and two out of the three (myself included) ended up leaving.

        So, I went back to school, learned a new skill, spent more time on stuff I love doing, and have been doing what I love doing since. Our department was outsourced later on, as it turned out, so I ended up jumping off of a sinking ship, which I was more than glad to do.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      That’s a lovely attitude and I agree. Happiness is contagious.

  17. Carla 10 years ago

    Totally agree – I have had a whole bunch of shitty customer service jobs, and what got me through so many weekend shifts as a teenager and uni student was the good feeling I got from helping people, from solving problems, from being productive, etc etc. Stacking shelves is boring as shit and I would go insane if I had to do it my whole life, but you can’t tell me looking back down an aisle of perfectly stacked shelves doesn’t give you some satisfaction (or maybe that is just the neat freak in me!).

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      Oh man I totally get that! I used to spend hours lining up the lollies at the newsagent. I still sometimes straighten the chewing gum at when I go to get my papers on Saturday.

  18. LuluHughes 10 years ago

    This is a sensational post and I couldn’t agree more. Well done!

  19. Nadine 10 years ago

    Great article. I love my job ( nurse) but please refer to nappies as pads.
    Babies wear nappies, adults have pads.
    You may not understand the significance until a loved one requires them, and you see their embarrassment when you use the word nappie.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 years ago

      I’m so sorry I meant to reply to this ages ago! I am aware that adults don’t wear nappies (worked in special needs schools with teenagers!) and I considered using the word pads but I didn’t think most of my readers would understand what I was talking about. I absolutely understand the significance of the word and it’s a great thing to remind people about. 🙂

  20. Amber-Rose Thomas 10 years ago

    Great article, but I came out of it with only one complaint.
    Why can’t I buy Mr Smaggle’s lightbulbs NOW?! I want loads. 🙁

  21. I’m the same as you…always worked on weekends (or during the week) at not so fun jobs. But it’s true, you do learn stuff. But not liking your job doesn’t make it ok to give bad service. There are plenty of jobs that don’t include customer service…just do one of those instead…

  22. SS 10 years ago

    Didn’t even notice the bold–just the gorgeous writing! In fact, I love the bold and I love this blog–you always crack me up. This was a fantastic post. ~A reader from Canada

  23. Bryan 10 years ago

    Just read this! I ended up in a field in which I had no intention of entering. I think I could learn to really like it if I didn’t dislike(to put it nicely) most people here. I’ve never had an issue until I came to this job. Trying to figure out if I should stay or go…

  24. JessB 9 years ago

    Oooh, I just read your end of year/ new year post, and came back to re-read this one. I think I really needed it: I’m feeling super negative about my job at the moment, due to a lot if changes being made that we the workers have had no agency in, and which we are all sure will backfire terribly. It’s clear that at least year will be a time of total chaos, as all the changes start to settle down, and I just can’t handle that. I don’t work well in chaotic situations anyway (or at least, not in chaotic situations that I can’t tame), so I’m looking for another job. BUT I need to stay positive and effective at work in the meantime. I think I’ll try and take some time off, if I can, but also keep in mind the points you’ve mentioned in your article- working this job is paying for the roof over my head, and everything I love. That’s not too bad.

    Also, I didn’t mind the bold at all.

  25. Old Gal 9 years ago

    That you have to solve your own problems, and the “Human Resources” department is really there just for show, and to benefit management and protect them from….. well, you.
    That keeping your mouth shut is a wise and valuable asset.
    Never to hesitate to get more and better education.
    Using the direct and honest approach is disrespected. People want to hear lies.
    Keep people OUT of your personal business.

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