We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us secrets about their jobs that more people should know — and I had no idea some of these careers were like this. Here are the surprising results:
1."I worked in forensics for years. People think it's really cool because of shows like CSI and NCIS, but it's really a lot of gross scenes and burglaries, and not many homicides. We don't interview suspects, we don't have guns. We work a scene for a few hours (or a few days), and then we go home, exhausted and filthy."
"We're highly educated and trained in what we do, but we can still get pushed around by detectives who want scenes worked THEIR way — not the right way. It's nowhere near as glamorous as the shows make it seem. And we definitely don't wear heels!"
2."I work in a grocery store. We never have more in the back. Ever. If we had it, I guarantee you we would have it on the shelf. If you ask an employee if they have more of something in backstock, they will walk to the back room and just stand there for three minutes."
"Maybe more if you give us attitude."
3."I work at a home improvement place as a summer job, and the amount of times I have gotten hit on by creepy and old men is ridiculous. They think very low of you yet ask you why you don’t have a boyfriend and how they could fix it. They like to ask my age a lot, too."
"It can be a fun job at times, but the certain men that are extremely sexist, creepy, and just plain rude make me thankful it’s only a summer job."
4."I’m currently working as a student embalmer. It’s amazing how many people ask me what we do with the penises of the men we have in the prep room. No, we do NOT cut the penises off! Why would that even be a thing… The people I work with are extremely professional, and there's a level of care and respect that goes into the job."
"No more is done to a person than is absolutely necessary. We take pride in helping preserve your loved ones' memory and in taking good care of the person every step of the way. Often, the aftercare (the washing, styling the hair, dressing) takes more time than the embalming process."
—32, New York
5."I’ve been a teacher for 30 years and trying to continue for a few more years. Things were bad but manageable before the pandemic — but now everyone is burnt out. Teachers are leaving left and right, and everyone else is finding an exit strategy. Everyone who leaves makes more money with less stress. More is piled on our plate with little support, and some are at least lucky to have good principals."
"The only thing keeping us are the kids — most want to learn, but they are behind, and it becomes harder to motivate them. Sometimes, parents are allies, but you're mostly on your own. I could probably retire and then drive people to the airport half time and make more than I do now with half the time."
"I work as a preschool teacher at a daycare. I love my students. They say the funniest things, and I can't help but start laughing — but being a teacher isn't all fun and games. Early childhood education is a lot of work because these are formative years in kids' lives. and I'm often their primary influence. It's my job to not only prepare them for when they start elementary school, but for life."
"Sometimes that thought scares me, but all I can do is my best and hope that they choose to do good."
6."I've been a mammography/X-ray technologist for 25 years. There have always been rude patients, but it seems to be much worse over the last three years. For some reason, people think they can be as rude as they want to be, and we're just supposed to smile and take it. I have been cussed out using the F-word, been called terrible names, and have had a clipboard thrown at me."
"I'm always nice to my patients, and even when they aren't nice to me, I just usually get through the exam and send them on their way. Most of us really do love our jobs, but I will never understand why some people think it's okay to talk to people and treat people this way when we're just doing our jobs and are trying to help patients."
—48, New Mexico
7."I'm an airport customer service agent. Your office is two million square feet, you’re void of any micromanaging, and you're supplied with a constant flow of new friends/staff. Many people get trapped in these roles — it's what we call the golden handcuffs because of the flight benefits. Like, a round trip to London Gatwick from Canada was $78 (you just pay the tax on flights). The job itself is taxing as you work wild shifts (the airport is a 24/7 operation). But it’s a TON of fun. Each day is totally unique; I have many great stories of interacting with people at the airport — and a majority of them come from them being outrageously upset or having poor judgment."
"People literally leave their brains at the door when they fly. I had one gentleman continuously ram himself into a glass railing because he couldn’t figure out how to get around it. LOL. Believe me, there’s better. I would say this is a great job when you’re young or retired — just don’t get stuck!"
8."Working in veterinary medicine is emotionally draining. The worst part is the a-hole pet owners who take no responsibility for their pets. They expect the doctor to diagnose and treat their pet without spending any money, and then complain that the pet isn't improving when they declined all recommendations. The constant 'if you really loved animals, you'd do this for my pet for free' really pisses me off. You think we don't wish we could do everything for free? Your pet, your responsibility. It is EXPENSIVE to run a business."
"Vet med uses many of the same drugs and equipment as human medicine, but many are unique to animals and cost a lot to buy and maintain. Your human healthcare is NOT cheaper — you just have health insurance and are insulated from the full fees. Not to mention, we're always being blamed by pet owners because we're fully booked for weeks now and have to refer your pet out — if there's anywhere who even has availability because everyone is burning out due to low wages, emotional toll, and the abuse from clients."
"I'm a veterinarian. We are the subject of emotional blackmail on a daily basis. We only hear from distant friends and relatives when they want 'free' advice. We hear from our clients: 'You are just recommending that to pad the bill,' 'You are only in it for the money,' 'If you cared about animals, you'd do (insert expensive procedure, test, medication) it for free.' We get asked about payment plans because our clients don't quality for loans or credit cards. We get blamed all the time for complications and poor outcomes. Our job is physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially exhausting."
"So, here's the deal. If you are asking us for free advice, don't. We deserve our off time, and we deserve to be paid for our professional opinions. If you are a distant friend or a relative of a veterinarian, call us to say hi and see how we are, not just because we are some sort of free resource that you want to use. If you are angry at us for our recommendations and don't trust what we are telling you, don't shoot the messenger. Feel free to get a second opinion. But you need to realize that veterinarians typically do not recommend ANYTHING (test, procedure, medication) unless it is in the best interest of the pet. Have an emergency fund, get pet insurance, plan for caring for your pet.
We cannot care more for your pet than you do, especially financially. Veterinarians and their staff are the lowest-paid medical professionals in the US. We are probably getting paid less than your plumber. Our student debt load is the same as an MD. And our staff? They aren't getting much more than minimum wage. Last, if your pet has a poor outcome or a complication, it's not always the veterinarian's fault. This is medicine. Medicine is not an exact science. Guarantees and warranties that a pet will get better just because they are receiving medical care is not realistic. We don't wish complications and poor outcomes on any of our patients, but we get them. They hurt us emotionally just like they hurt you. Lashing out at us does not help anyone."
9."I work front desk at a nonprofit gym and love my job. I do everything from helping people with membership to cleaning the facility to going out and asking for auction items for our next event. There's also a huge need for compassion and being able to connect to people. We work with some of the poorest in our area to provide resources such as showers and childcare."
"It's a great job, and I wish more people were interested in doing it."
10."I worked as a retail merchandiser for a very famous greeting card company for years. They are a very non-environmentally friendly, wasteful company. All those unsold holiday cards and merchandise get thrown away after every single holiday. The cards never go on clearance sale. Things like wrapping paper and small gifts will go on after season sale, but whatever isn't sold is trashed, along with the huge abundance of holiday cards sent as backup supply that is never needed. At big box stores, this equals cases and cases of cards that were never even put on display for sale simply thrown in the trash."
"This is compounded by all the signage that is changed for absolutely every holiday. With all sales tracked at the registers every year, the company certainly knows the volume sold at every store. There is no reason at all that double the amount of needed product is sent to stores only to have half of it literally destroyed."
11."I manage a group home for people who struggle with mental health. It’s wonderful because the people who live there are amazing and the team of staff that works with me is outstanding — but the families of the residents are the worst. The family either thinks their loved one is the only person I’m responsible for, or they don’t want anything to do with them at all."
"Either way, if I don’t act quickly enough for a family member, I’m met with nasty language and demands."
"I work in a mental health facility on the night watch shift, and while the work itself isn’t bad (I get up every 15 minutes and check on the kids, 12–17 years old, and mark their check sheets), it’s the schedule that makes me want to quit."
"It’s hard being awake at night on my days off, too, and harder to switch my sleep schedule around to see the people in my life and do errands and such. It’s a good job and pays decently, but I’m not sure if it’s worth how isolating it is."
12."I work as a cashier/secretary at a car dealership. Please for the love of god, stop bringing in large stacks of cash to buy a car. For those of us who don't have a money counter, it makes our job extremely stressful. It also holds up the line because we have to count it by hand."
"Please, if you have that amount of money, take it to the bank and get a cashier's check in exchange. Checks are much easier to work with."
13."I work for my small town’s florist, and I kind of hate it. People assume all we do is 'play with pretty flowers all day,' but it’s actually more complicated than that. We have to deal with rude customers who think they’re entitled to get flowers for dirt cheap (no pun intended). Honestly, most of the things we make are for funerals (like the standing sprays, fresh flower baskets, etc.), but for holidays like Valentine’s day and Mother’s day…let’s just say we don’t get much sleep for the entire month leading up to those."
14."I'm an emergency responder. Going to the emergency room by way of ambulance will not automatically get you seen by a doctor. You will be triaged, and if you're not in need of immediate care, you will be dropped off in the waiting room with everyone who drove themselves to the ER — only now, you have an $800 ambulance bill."
"I've been a paramedic for about 15 years. I spend most of my time being verbally abused, threatened with violence, or dealing with the homeless. My job mostly consists of social work with the occasional life-threatening event that we're called to. Some days, I really feel like I’m in my own episode of Reno 911!, so I laugh — a lot!"
"However, there's the dark side of work: We see human suffering, destruction, and absolute chaos and have to live with the memories as well."
—Anonymous, West Coast, USA
15."I'm a barista. Most of us love when people ask for suggestions or want to try something new and fun — we want you to enjoy whatever it is you order. Also, just like a bartender, we have our regulars that we really get to know. I went on vacation last month, and when I got back, my regs said they were worried that I was sick because they didn’t see me."
"It’s a hard job, my feet always hurt, and something in the store is always broken, but the people who stop, have conversations, and ask about your personal life are what makes my job worth it. And I’ve got a boss that believes in living wages — means a lot."
—21, New York
16."I work in retail asset protection. Yeah, we really do take it personally when you steal from the store, and you make it worse with your lame excuses, or when you ask if you can pay after we catch you!"
—56, North Carolina
17."A paralegal does 98% of the lawyer's job. Most Lawyers are narcissists whose only love is counting how much money they make. They have no sympathy for their clients — it's all an act. Paralegals have their client’s best interest at heart and form real bonds with their clients."
"My boss told us he didn’t owe us anything. Well, I don’t owe him the $4 million I made him so far this year on my own. So ungrateful. If I did not work in this field, I would have the happiest life ever!"
"Paralegals are not assistants. Most paralegals are long-term, certified professionals. Be nice to them when working with attorneys; they control many things and can single-handedly torpedo your transaction, or worse, your litigation."
18."Working in IT is really glorified customer service. I'm not performing amazing feats of computing to solve your issue. 80% of the time, your issue is fixed by turning it off and turning it back on. In addition, IT specialists are glorified Google search experts. ANYONE can work in IT if they know how to do a proper Google search."
"Finally, most of the time, we don't know what caused your issue. All we care about is if it's fixed."
19."I used to work as a phlebotomist in Beverly Hills. Let me tell you — the people from this town are as snotty, mean, and delusional as portrayed in movies and video games like GTA V."
"These people demanded that they be served quickly without any regard to making appointments, bringing their insurance information, or doctor's note. They would get mad, threaten us, and sadly, at times get physical. My coworker was nearly assaulted, but thankfully, she dodged the cup of pens thrown at her. The company itself was crummy, too. The healthcare system is sh*t because WE made it sh*t."
"I’m a phlebotomist, and a lot of people seem to genuinely think we’re absolutely clueless about the tests and just simply stick people with needles (easy, right?). In all actuality, most of us are incredibly knowledgeable in test use and application. Also, sticking sharp objects into people for the sake of acquiring a sample takes YEARS to master (six to seven years minimum)."
20."I’m a college athletic coach. Despite what most people think, you don’t actually play your sport all day or during your free time because there's so much other work to be done when trying to create a system of personal, team, and athletic growth for 18- to 25-year-olds. Also, the vast majority of college coaches make well below six-figures, so all this talk about how money is misguided to coaches really only applies to about 100-200 coaches in the whole country across all sports!"
"Lastly, remember when you are begging for your favorite team's coach to be fired only because of wins/losses, you’re about to put their family and their staff's families out of jobs. That said, for those who break rules or are bad mentors, absolutely relieve them of their duties."
21."I work in dry cleaning/laundry. Even though we have cleaning products for laundry that aren't available to the general public, we *cannot* guarantee that we'll get out what you put into your clothes. Not only that, but some stains will NOT show up until after the garment has been cleaned. Rayon, acetate, and rayon/acetate blends are notorious for having things show up after the first cleaning."
"Also, fancy buttons. If you want to protect those, the only way to guarantee they'll survive the cleaning process is to pay an extra fee to have them removed before cleaning and sewn back on after. Otherwise, we can't promise they'll be okay, despite any precautions we may take. The same thing applies to sequins or any kind of beading. Complaining about the cost of dry cleaning is pointless. The employee working the counter doesn't set the prices and not only are the chemicals expensive — they start at around $60 a gallon last I knew — but dry cleaning is labor intensive. Someone has to put tags on all the garments so that they get back to the owner, someone else checks for spots and cleans them. and a third person presses them — and then, the same person who puts the tags on probably has to match them up to the invoice, remove the tags, and package them."
"Laundromat attendant (night shift) here. People always assume that the staff is supposed to clean up after them, which upsets me since they often can easily pick up after themselves. Children are also not well supervised by parents, who routinely pay more attention to their phones than to their rampaging kids — which leaves me in the unavoidable position of trying to rein in Tasmanian devils for the sake of peace and before they hurt someone."
"The two biggest gripes for me though are people who intentionally ignore or disassemble the barriers we put up to keep people off sections of the floor we mopped — and then walk over them to get to machines that are out of order and then seem mystified and upset when they are told the machines aren't working. There are also the people who come in just for quarters and nothing else. I’ve been harassed and threatened more times than I can remember by people who feel they have some kind of right to rip off turn-key operations and the people who work at such businesses to get money to do their laundry elsewhere."
22."I work in a child support enforcement office. Everyone assumes I can *force* people to pay child support. But, in reality, if someone doesn't want to pay, they aren't going to pay. No threat of suspended licenses, purge payments, jail time, criminal charges, etc. is going to do anything."
23."I'm a registered nurse in population health. After years of working at the bedside, getting abused by patients and their families, I made the switch to a role with minimal stress and the ability to work at my own pace."
"I spend most days working at home in my cozy clothes, calling people to remind them they are due for their yearly wellness checkup. It’s cheaper to pay for preventative care than emergent care. I have a daily productivity goal that is usually met by noon if I choose to knock it out all at once. I like to take several mental breaks throughout the day, so it takes me a little longer."
24."I work in a museum at a restaurant/cafe. The hosts and my colleagues are very nice, but the customers can be real a-holes. I’ve had a guy threaten me because I couldn’t get him what he wanted, a woman taking a picture of me because I 'looked bored.' It’s a lot of stress and long days. I developed a slight depression because of all the negativity I received."
"Still, it’s fun, but stressful."
25."I work in HR, and I love it because it's all about people. But it can actually be very lonely because I’m interacting with people all day. Each day, I’m an advisor, coach, or counselor/therapist. It’s my responsibility to listen and provide support when people share their vulnerabilities, like admissions to job performance flaws or reacting badly to situations. I have to keep all of this information confidential while I plan the next party, knowing it won’t meet everyone’s unreasonable expectations."
"I get that HR can and sometimes deserves a bad rap, but most of us care. I care A LOT. Just know it’s a lonely job."
—37, New York
26."I am an occupational therapy assistant who works with the geriatric population. I love helping people to become more independent in things like dressing, cooking, and hygiene again after being hospitalized for one reason or another. But the pay is sh*t. Burnout is all too real, like with most healthcare jobs in the US."
"The productivity rate is ridiculous for time spent with patients vs. not. And they want us to group patients more now that the payer model changed. I just got out of a transitional care unit job and into a home health job. While this company is better and super transparent for healthcare, I still feel I am worth way more than what they pay me."
"I work in a care home for the elderly, in management. Before I started there, I thought that care homes stank, were full of miserable bed-bound people covered in pressure sores, death, and staff who didn’t care. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the whole thing, especially the staff. Turns out, carers getting paid badly is the reason your loved one gets such good care. No one would do this over better pay unless they really cared about older people. I’ve worked in care for five years now. It’s like a big family, and everyone is so well looked after and respected."
"I have a degree from a university, and it means absolutely nothing against what my care assistants are capable of. These people are amazing and deserve way more recognition than they get."
"When I was working as a caregiver for an assisted living facility, I would always hear, 'Oh you wipe asses for a living?! Gross! I could never do that!' But in all honesty, when you take care of people who can no longer care for themselves, it’s a way bigger job than just some minor dirty work. Sure, I help people to the restroom, and when I get that age, I hope I have someone who can help me, too. And be compassionate about it. They are people, too, and if you take the time to ask them, you might find out a ton about their lives."
"I had more friends over the age of 75 than I did my own age. I got to care for some fascinating people and be there for them as they made their exit from this world. I'm so happy I had that job."
27."I've grown up in farming for most of my life. People picture factory farms and assume farming is all on a giant scale. I spend hours inspecting fences, keep a mental note of fecal samples from the animals to monitor health, and have to make sure hooves, fur, and wool get trimmed regularly... It's a ton of extremely detailed work that takes a good eye and sharp mind — not just rows of machines that do the work for us."
28."I'm a medical editor in pharmaceutical advertising. The people in pharma advertising are often times people with wonderful creative skillsets but want to earn more than traditional advertising currently offers. Many employees try to add some creative spins to those commercials that have taken over the airwaves, but clients push back due to the potential for astronomic fines. Those wild, long side effects that take up 75% of the TV commercial annoy us as much as the audience, but the FDA requires it."
"The pharma ad agencies tend to pay well, but turnover can be as high as 55% in a year recently due to stress, disorganization, lack of understanding across departments, rigid creative constraints, and intense publication regulations. But I personally love it since it combines my love of reading, editing, and medicine, and I found an incredible agency to call home after freelancing for a few."
29."I work for a small college, so I don't know if this is the same at bigger universities, but you can almost always get your application fee waived. All you have to do is ask! We give out waiver codes at the drop of a hat because that money is insignificant if it means we can get someone to enroll."
"For anyone aspiring toward a higher education, attend an open house or contact the admissions office and see if they can waive your fee. You'd be surprised how many times it works. And don't worry about giving us a sob story. We've heard it all. Just be nice, and we'll probably hook you up."
30."As a receptionist, I have to serve the public but without the safety net of actually being face-to-face with the person. There's a huge lack of humanity and decency when dealing with people over the phone. The best advice I can give to people is to remember that the first live person you're able to get in contact with is usually JUST a messenger. I know it's harder to tell now with so many automated systems, but the first live person you can get on the line is usually just there to direct your call and probably has no say or way to actually help you other than connecting you elsewhere."
"Also, receptionists cannot make their bosses and coworkers just appear because you have a problem. If a receptionist connects you to a line where you get someone's voicemail, it's not the receptionist's fault, and you should just leave a voicemail. If you insist on calling the operator again to leave a message with them, please just be polite about it. I promise we want people to take your calls and get just as mad, if not more, on your behalf!"
31."I'm the director of operations for a former professional-athlete-turned-entrepreneur. Everyone thinks it's all fun and glory, and you get to travel across the world, hang out with celebrities/athletes, enjoy all the nice things in life. But it's really adult babysitting, managing someone’s everyday decisions, operating multiple businesses, making people not look bad, and being available 25/8 for emergencies like therapy sessions, needing to have a party at 11 p.m., or them wanting you to fire someone just because they woke up on the wrong side of the bed."
"Overall, it’s not a bad gig if you can handle the fast pace and the kooky personalities. You basically get to do whatever you want, but you're also always the 'real adult' in the room, and everyone knows that at the end of the day and seeks approval from you."
Did any of these job secrets surprise you? What are some unexpected or shocking things people should know about YOUR profession? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.