The Best Worst Job

Dorm Crew. I don't know about you or Dean Lewis, but the first thing that used to come to mind was--why? Immediately following this mental imperative are images of gunky toilets, fungus, overflowing trash bins. And, if that failed to repel, there is always the idea of unknowingly entering the room of that cute guy in your Justice section with you wearing foul-smelling rubber gloves and a splattered apron and then finding out that his shower sends off one of the world's absolute worst odors. I must admit that I shared the sentiments of my roommate, who wondered, "There are other jobs. Why do people do that?"

After extensive research, however, I have discovered the reason. The answer, as I have humbly learned, is that people like and want and (even) enjoy it.

Harvard does a pretty good job of leveling the financial playing field. When I embarked on this column I had no idea which of the people I know work on Dorm Crew. So I sent out a random spam email asking for current or former Dorm Crew workers to the roomies and about 10 other people. I told them that I was calling for an end to Dorm Crew.

The response: an overwhelming number of pro-Dorm Crew responses. The reasons included: "Dorm Crew: because 1600 on the SATs don't mean jack here" from John D. D'Amore '02, Dunster House Dorm Crew captain. "The work was pretty good," from David K. Kessler '04 who did fall clean-up at the beginning of this year. "Many titans of industry had their start working Dorm Crew," from Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68.

This positivity went on and on. Who knew that cleaning bathrooms at school was so popular? I understood that Dorm Crew was a nice option for students who needed the money. But I always considered it by far the most distasteful job on campus, hence the fact that it is one of the highest paid despite its flexible hours and its lack of required skills and training. After all, who wants to clean up someone's dirty toilet seat and then have to sit next to him or her in section?


But, the people don't lie. For the past few years I have done Dorm Crew wrong. It's not that bad. But this leads to another question: "If cleaning grody bathrooms after a bunch of lazy college students isn't bad, what is?" New mission in mind, I went to the logical place: the Student Employment Office website,, to find the absolute worst job possible.

Here are the top four:

4. Office Assistant to the Wrestling Coach, location: the Wrestling Office. Pay: $8.50. The best of the worst. Perhaps if you're a Rock fan you might end up really liking this job. I'm sure the wrestling coach would have all kinds of tips on how the Rock could improve his astoundingly acrobatic eyebrow lift. But for the rest of the world: Do you have any idea how wrestlers smell?

3. Student Caller for the Harvard School of Education. Pay: $10 an hour. This job actually pays more than Dorm Crew which cannot be a good sign. It involves calling and calling and calling old alumni and asking them for more money so that Harvard can become rich rich rich! It only last a few weeks, which is most likely the only reason the phrases "going postal" and "going to hell" haven't been replaced by "going to fundraise."

2. Sleep Laboratory Technician. Pay: $9.00 an hour. For less than what Dorm Crew pays you, this job allows you to spend your nights and early mornings monitoring people performing sleep deprivation experiments. Not only do you not get to sleep, you also have to prevent other people from sleeping. A friend who did this over the summer reports that most of your night is spent prodding people.

1. Tracing Assistant for Widener Library. Pay: $8.60 an hour. This is the grand prize winner of the bad job battle. According to the listing, the tracing division of Widener Library is responsible for finding lost and misplaced books. The job requires "some heavy lifting," at least two languages, each from a different language group" (Slavic, Romance, etc.), "ability to work independently" and "attention to detail." This is the only job I can imagine that would take someone qualified enough to run a small country with dual national languages and pay them the same as the guy who works in the wrestling office. I wonder, does the library inform applicants that it is a college tradition to take one book in the library and put it somewhere else?

I also found a job posting by our friend Mr. D'Amore for a "Wet Worker" in Dunster House. "Jobs are available immediately, so respond now and you can start very soon," the posting promises. Maybe I will.

Christina S. N. Lewis '02 is a history and literature concentrator in Leverett House. Her column appears on alternate Wednesdays.


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