Types of Job That Will Destroy You: The Cog

Any of you could wind up in one of these jobs, at any moment, without realizing it. The shitty jobs I’m about to describe aren’t specific positions or industries — they’re situations. Some of you — hell, maybe even most of you — are already in one of them.

The thing is, when people try to think up the worst job possible, most of them go right to shit. As in, “It could be worse, you could be shoveling shit somewhere!” or “At least we’re not working in a sewer! In shit!” But that type of job isn’t as bad as you think — you actually get used to the smell of poop, the same as you acclimate to a job where you work in brutal heat or bitter cold.

But these jobs below? They’re the ones you never get used to, where the longer you do it, the more it eats away at you. So let’s take a moment to say a prayer for ..

#5. The Cog

Also Known As:

Endless, mindless repetition that could just as easily be accomplished with a machine.

I’m not just talking about boring jobs here — most jobs are boring. Starbucks is boring, but at least the drinks are different from customer to customer, and you can practice making designs in the foam. No, I’m talking about a task that takes five minutes to learn, must be repeated five thousand times a day and never changes. You stand in one spot, you perform the same task, over and over and over.

For Example …

You’ve watched one of those “how stuff is made” type shows, where they visit a factory like this one where they make tasty brownies. And while the job of the “pour the brownie batter into the pan” lady looks boring …

… there is still a fun and satisfying aspect to it. She probably has to worry about the consistency and temperature and amounts of the batter, and she gets to watch her empty pan turn into a bunch of delicious brownies, and she can pretend she’s Willy Wonka.

But then at the very end of the assembly line are the poor fellows whose job is to just stack the brownies into boxes:


Their faces say it all.

All day long. The same number of brownies in every box. An endless stream of boxes that never, ever stop. Even in an automated world, the workforce is absolutely full of these jobs — it’s still cheaper to make a low-paid human pack boxes than to buy an expensive machine.

Now, some stressed out CPA with a hectic office is reading this and saying, “Shit, I’d love to be the guy who puts those little blue stickers on the bananas at the Chiquita factory. That’d be like a vacation to my ulcer-ridden ass.”

Bullshit. It’s like thinking being stranded on a desert island would be a nice break from the daily grind. It’d be peaceful for about an hour, and then you’d start to go insane. Your brain is a supercomputer containing an entire universe of wonders and creativity, and you’re going to make it stare at a row of chips for eight or 12 or 16 hours at a stretch? Oh, and it’s a failure-only job. If you do it perfectly, no one notices. But if you fuck up and the chip tube loader jams, you catch hell.

And when it comes time to ask for a promotion, or to look for a new job, what do you tell them you did? What skill did you learn? How did you better yourself? What job does this qualify you for? What interesting stories do you have to tell when you get together with friends? You’d start looking at that flow of chips and imagining the best years of your life flowing away, one Pringle-shaped moment at a time.

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