From Karens to toilet mishaps, here are Lancs students’ job horror stories

Are they character building or traumatising? You decide.


For many students, a part-time job is a key part of university life. Whilst some jobs are wonderful and can lead to amazing friendships and wonderful careers, others can come with horrible customers, poor managers and working conditions that are just not worth it. Some might say it’s character building, others borderline traumatising.

Read on with caution: you really delivered when we asked you for Lancaster students’ job horror stories.

Toilet seat horror

“I worked in retail for a while, selling all sorts of different things- including toilet seats. One day a 2-year-old put a toilet seat on her head, and it got stuck. All sorts of pulling, pushing and even lubing this kid’s head with Vaseline did not get it off. This resulted in me having to scan the kid’s head so the parents could buy the toilet seat and take her to get some tools to cut it off. They came back half an hour later to buy another toilet seat”

Now this story isn’t one you hear every day, and we cannot understand how you managed to scan the kid’s head without laughing. Just picture a kid covered in Vaseline with a toilet seat hat trying to go under the scanner! Even the thought has us cackling.

Dodgy smells

“I was returning a jumper for someone in a clothing shop I worked at, all fine but thought I could smell something funny. I didn’t think anything of it and opened the carrier bag to see if there was anything else to be returned. I was greeted by a piece of literal shit, which I still hope to god was not human- but I don’t ever want to know if it was. The jumper had to be chucked out, and if I hadn’t already handed my notice in I definitely would’ve after”

For your sake and ours, we really hope it wasn’t human shit either.

Questions that shouldn’t be asked

For your sake and ours, we really hope it wasn’t human shit either.

Questions that shouldn’t be asked

We really wish you did return them, just to hear how she left the shop without any shoes on!

Men at their worst

“I was 16 and it was one of my first ever shifts at a new job. An older man (maybe 60s) came in to buy some boxer shorts, and immediately said: “you’ll be the only girl that gets to see them love” and winked at me”

Creepy men at their finest.

“I was working behind the bar at a wedding and bent over to get something out of the fridge, to which the groom said I couldn’t bend over like that now he was a married man” 

Ew. No other way to respond.

“Someone asked for my phone number while I was working on the till. I was 17 working at a clothes shop, he said he was 25 and when I said I was too young he said I can’t be too young if I was working there” 

Louder for the people in the back please: CREEPY MEN NEED TO STOP.

And here come the Karens!

“We shut at 8 pm, it was 7.58 pm, the shutters were down and the door was locked. A woman DEMANDED to be let into the shop as it was her right and we did not close till 8 pm. She wandered round till like 8.02 pm and didn’t buy anything.” 

Okay, so this is the worst type of Karen possible. She makes your life hell for the duration of her visit, and does not do anything worthwhile other than leave. The worst type of customer.

Never work with children or animals… or food?!

“I worked an event where the kids had a food fight and then had to clear up dirty nappies from under the table” 

No job pays enough for that kind of task.

“I was waiting on this table, clearing away plates from their roast dinner, and I dropped a potato from one of the plates and it landed on a baby” 

Sorry, but all we can do is laugh. Really hoping that the parents also found it as funny as it sounds, and kind of hoping it landed on the baby’s forehead. Does that make us horrible people?

“I never learned how to properly hold the drinks tray, so accidentally poured soda water over a little boy which made him cry and an espresso martini over a woman in a white dress.”

At least the little boy was just a bit wet, because the dress was likely ruined! This one is definitely traumatising, and we’re not entirely sure we’d go back to work after this one.

“My friend was serving a main course at a Christmas party, and the DJ was playing the YMCA as we were serving. This customer did the Y, smacked the food out of her hand and covered my friend in potatoes.” 

The phrase “did the Y” has absolutely sent us, but the real question here is who plays the YMCA during food service at a drunken Christmas party? It’s a recipe for disaster.

And finally, just the worst people you’ll ever meet

“My placement has the worst, most obnoxious, racist, ableist, judgemental and micromanaging bosses. They also said some horrible things about students who attended universities that were not Oxbridge- so I can only imagine what they think of me”