The Worst Job in the World
I’m going to tell you what I personally think is the worst job in the world. Perhaps it’s best to call it the job I would have right before I realized I had nothing left to live for. It’s this job right here:
What do they call this job? Sign waver? Potential target in Death Race 2000? Least valuable member of the team?
I can only assume they give this job to people who suck at making pizza. And you’d have to really suck at making pizza to be kicked out of a Little Caesars kitchen.
If you suck at making pizza that bad, they put you out on the street and make you wave around a sign so passing motorists will think “man, I haven’t had any cheap, shitty pizza in a while. Sure, I just ate an expensive lunch on my company’s dime but for only $5.00, I can buy a large pizza, eat half a slice and give the rest to my staff. I’ll look like the most generous guy on the planet!”
While this ploy might work with Donald Trump, I don’t know if it works for anyone else.
So some poor dude is standing out on a corner freezing or baking his ass off for little to no benefit. At least that’s what it looks like to me. Maybe Little Caesars sells dozens of extra pizzas every time they send one of these guys out on the street. Maybe it’s because people think “oh thank god that asshole isn’t making pizza right now.”
It looks like a shitty job to me. But you know what has occurred to me lately? There’s a job that sucks just a little bit more.
You’ve probably seen these people at nearly every off ramp in America. They stand there with a sign just waiting for someone to toss them a buck or, in this guy’s case, a quarter. If you’re like me (and a lot of people are), you try to avoid eye contact so he doesn’t come any closer.
Most of us probably think of him as a mooch. We figure he’s got a cell phone (he might) and a house (he might) and he makes a couple hundred dollars a day (he might). Or maybe we figure he’s only homeless because he’s a drunk and anything you give him is just going to buy his next bottle of booze (it might).
But I’ve been thinking…his job sucks just as much as that Little Caesar’s sign waver. If it’s ten degrees below zero, he’s out there. If it is in the high 90’s and humid as fuck, he’s out there. He doesn’t even get free Little Caesars pizza. Which, let’s face it, is probably a bonus.
So what if he has a cell phone and a home? He’s standing on a street corner watching a bunch of people in Suburbans ignore him for several hours every day. Holding a cardboard sign. And he clearly hasn’t bathed or shaved in weeks.
If he’s pretending, he’s super committed to the role, don’t you think? He’s probably not getting laid on a regular basis. Unless his wife is into smelly, dirty, unshaven guys.
If she is – go him! He clearly found a true life partner.
And what if he’s just using the money to buy booze? OK. He’s an alcoholic. He’s dying slowly and the only happiness he finds is in a cheap bottle of malt liquor. Also, he has to spend the day standing on a street corner to get enough money to pay for his malt liquor.
I guarantee his life sucks worse than mine. The worst day of my life was better than the best day of his.
For many years, any time I went to an event at the Target center, I would see a guy playing violin in the skyway.
He wasn’t very good. There was a reason he played in the skyway near the Target center.
Every time I walked past him, I would think the same thing. “This dude spends a lot of time playing the violin. You’d think he’d get better.”
And I’d look in his violin case. There would usually be around five bucks in change. People had tossed him a couple of dimes or nickels or quarters or – if they were real assholes – pennies and kept walking.
And I thought “you know – it doesn’t matter how good this guy is, his arm must be pretty sore after playing out here for a couple hours. For five bucks in change.”
I’d toss him a dollar. Which is still pretty cheap. But it beats a fucking nickel.
Every time I walk past a street performer, I give them a dollar. Because I’ve been a street performer. I get it.
For a long time, though, I’ve driven past these guys on off ramps and mostly ignored them. I’ve made excuses of every stripe. The light is about to change. It’s too much trouble to reach into my pocket. He probably does just fine doing this so he doesn’t need my help.
But I didn’t think about how much what he’s doing is something I don’t want to do.
He knows what most people think of him. He knows.
Most people feel sorry for that asshole with the Little Caesars sign. We don’t feel sorry for the homeless dude with the sign. Because we assume it is some sort of scam.
It has finally occurred to me that it doesn’t matter if it’s some sort of scam. Unlike a street performer (which most of us ignore) he doesn’t even have a skill. Other than writing “god bless” on a piece of discarded cardboard.
Maybe he could make money doing something else. I don’t know. Does it really matter? He’s standing on a corner asking for money because just like the rest of us, he needs money to live.
Let’s say this guy is standing out there for four hours. The light at his corner changes about every sixty seconds. That means every hour, he has sixty opportunities to make some money. Based on personal observations, I’m guessing he might get some money about 10% of the time. Or six times every hour.
Let’s be generous and assume he averages $5 every time someone hands him money. Which he probably doesn’t.
So that’s $30 an hour. Which isn’t bad. Multiply that by four and he makes $120 for four hours of work.
He also gets sunburn. Or possibly frostbite.
I wouldn’t stand on an off ramp for $30 an hour (which is probably a lot more than most of these guys make). So who am I to judge the guy standing there? His backstory doesn’t matter at all. He’s doing something I wouldn’t do.
For one thing, my wife is definitely not into dirty, smelly, unkempt guys.
A few months ago, I decided that if I saw a guy on an exit ramp and I could give him a dollar, I would. A dollar isn’t very much. I usually have a few extra bucks in my pocket.
Logistically, I can hardly ever do it. If the light is green, I can’t stop. If the light is red, I’m sometimes so far back that he’ll doesn’t get to me in time. Maybe I’m turning right instead of left.
Based on my limited sample, I’ve been able to give out a dollar a week. That’s $52 a year. I can afford that.
Hell, I can afford twice that.
The dude in front of Little Caesars has a shitty job. But at least he knows he’s getting paid. And he’s getting free “pizza.”
Being homeless is way shittier than working at Little Caesars.