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Aug 07 2017
by Jamie Su

9 of the Worst Part Time Job Experiences College Students Have Had

By Jamie Su - Aug 07 2017
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Be it during the summertime or school year, it's no surprise that most college students choose to work part time to save money and gain some work experience. I bet all of us who've worked a minimum wage paying job can recall at least one terrible situation that went out of hand at work. Although a part time job teaches you how to handle fast-paced and stressful environments, there's no doubt that there are times when utter chaos and mishaps strike the workplace, leaving you feeling completely overwhelmed and frustrated. 

On that note, here are nine of the worst part time job experiences college students have had, on condition of anonymity.

1. Having to deal with a ridiculous customer complaint about railings being "unsafe structures" at the pool.

"I'm a lifeguard so I deal with a lot of idiotic parents who like to think that their children are above the pool rules and that the world revolves around them. I once asked a mother to stop her toddler from playing on the railings in the pool so he wouldn't hurt himself. Then, the dad came in and argued with me and other lifeguards for a whole hour about how we shouldn't have 'unsafe structures' — he meant the railings — in the pool unless kids are allowed to play on them. He went on to count the number of railings as though it would help prove his point. How stupid does someone have to be to complain about a railing? I tried explaining that having railings is a provincial regulation to help people with disabilities, but even then the guy wouldn't stop. Moral of the story: People are stupid."

2. Being insulted by a customer for your supposed lack of education after making a simple calculation mistake.

"I had this pretty rude customer that insulted my education, math skills and generation saying that we don't understand simple things. I was cashing him out and calculated the wrong change, but the reason for that was that he held the other change in his hand, which of course I didn't see or know he was holding. So I messed up on the calculation because, in his perspective, I guess he thought I saw everything and thought I was stupid for not being able to calculate simple coins properly. He was old though, so whatever. Still gotta be nice to the customer, apparently."

3.  When an unreasonable customer swears at you for not giving her staff discount despite not remembering her own employee number.

"I was a new cashier at a department store and had a girl ring up her purchase. She was also a sales associate for this company at a different location who'd forgotten her employee number for her staff discount. She asked if she could go behind the counter to type it and I wasn't sure whether it was allowed but gave in because there was a long lineup. I eventually learned that no customers were allowed behind the checkout counter for safety reasons. 

A month later, this same girl came back with her mother and little brother to buy him clothes. She'd forgotten her employee number yet again and tried making me let her go behind the counter. She was persistent and said she could remember her number when she keyed it in herself, but my coworker firmly told her no. The girl tried giving me numbers to type into the system, but they wouldn't work and asked me if I was sure I couldn't let her type it herself. I shook my head and told her that I was sorry but I wasn't allowed to do that. She was furious. They left the clothes and as the girl stormed off, she shouted, 'She's just being a b*tch!' I don't know if she was referring to me or my coworker, but she crossed the line. She didn't have to be so rude about not having it her way."

4. Quitting your new job because of a mean coworker who made your shifts miserable.

"I worked in a retail store for a few months, and the main reason why I quit was because of a nasty coworker  let's call her A. A disliked me from the very start without me doing anything severely wrong. She'd say my name in a mocking way and she said it with disdain. At the changing rooms, she wouldn't lend me a hand and expected me to juggle both incoming and outgoing customers. Whenever I dropped a piece of clothing by accident, she'd give me a death glare and berate me in front of other customers. Whenever I required assistance, she'd do it extremely reluctantly or show her dislike for me blatantly. The worst part of all of this was that I had no one to confide in: My fellow co-workers either didn't see her behavior towards me as terrorizing or they were friends with her and didn't want to risk making her unhappy. Moreover, she was a long time worker whereas I was just a newbie. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer. I just couldn't take the weekly anxious checking of the work schedule to see if we would have the same shifts and I couldn't take constantly praying that we wouldn't be in the same place at the same time. That was when I decided to leave."

5. Trying to deal with a drunk customer asking you the strangest questions.

"I used to work at a Japanese restaurant and there was this one time where this middle-aged customer came in and sat at the sushi bar seat. My coworkers and I were just walking around serving sushi food and pouring tea, but whenever someone passed by him, he would stop us and ask questions like, 'Is that salmon male or female?' We'd give a very unsure laugh and walk away. He ordered sake, so he was probably drunk and tipsy because he kept smiling and pointing to different fish in a glass case with cut up sashimi. He even asked the chefs about the gender of the salmon too. It was really bizarre and just a weird and funny experience."           

6. When a fist fight, someone breaking their two front teeth and an evacuation due to a strange smell occurs in one single day at summer camp.

"It was nearing the last week of summer and I was working as a camp counselor. Everyone was already exhausted by the long summer and ready for school to begin again. This particular week had been alright so far, but there were was one week when two campers were always quarreling with each other. Right in the middle of that week, the two campers were [fighting] as usual, but one attempted to hit the other, so we had to step in and separate the two. After that was over, while playing in the gym, a camper tripped and fell and broke their two front teeth. We quickly administered first aid, while keeping the other campers away and distracted with other games. We thought it was all over for the day after the second event but were we wrong yet again. Twenty minutes prior to the end of the day, a strange smell started filling up the building and we had to evacuate everyone. Many fire trucks came and they did a full investigation of the building. A while later, the building was deemed safe to enter — a fuse blew in a generator which caused the smell — and the campers were able to retrieve their belongings. And to think that we would have a nice and relaxing day."

7. Witnessing an angry customer yell at your coworker and call him a snake for "stealing" his money.

"This one time, I was working at a fast food restaurant and one of my friends who was helping a customer got yelled and screamed at. This customer was calling my friend a snake for stealing his money and my manager had to come out and talk to him. I guess the customer thought my friend miscalculated the total cost of his food and thought it should have been cheaper than what he was charged. My manager went to talk to the customer in private to explain why his food cost more than he thought, managed to calm him down and gave him a discount."

8. Having to entertain a customer's life stories when the store is busy and you need to work.

"Probably the craziest customer I've had told me her whole life story and explained how she and her daughter don't get along. She comes in weekly and buys things and then comes back and always returns it just to talk to us! She also came in one time with a whole photo album to show us pictures of her daughter and son. Every time she comes in, she continues to retell us stories, even if we are busy. She tries to get our attention for us to sit and talk with her and just sticks around until we're freeShe would sometimes get annoyed at us, but never rude. It was more of awkward and exasperating than anything else."

9. When you think that you just got fired by your manager during the second week of the job.

"On the second week of my job at a fast food restaurant, I was working my usual evening shift. I had pressed a button on the cashier screen by accident and the cash register opened, meaning I accidentally input that a customer had paid for a meal when really no one had. This meant that at the end of the day when they would count the money they would end up short. I alerted my manager, as I was still being trained. He was upset with me. He told me to go home and so I did, hurriedly grabbing my coat on the way out. I had thought that this meant I was fired and walked to the bus stop distraught. I was really upset with myself for the rest of the day but still came back to work the next day to return my uniform and such. To my surprise, my manager asked me why I had left early the night before. It turns out it just meant for me to go on my break and [he] accidentally said, 'go home' instead as English was not his first language."

Don't worry, bad experiences during a part-time job are bound to happen to everyone because the craziest things always happen at work. All of us have undeniably faced some pretty rude and awkward situations in the workplace. Just remember to take a deep breath in and keep your composure when that happens, and don't be afraid to get help from others when you can't deal with the situation alone.

Lead Image Credit: Nickelodeon Animation Studio

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Jamie Su - University of Waterloo

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