I don't want to work with the public anymore.
December 18, 2007 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Jobs for people who hate people? For most of my life I have been working in sales and/or customer service. I am completely burned out and seeking to get into a new line of work with minimal public contact. What are my options?

I've been working since I was fifteen (I'm in my early thirties now) and almost all of my jobs have been customer service oriented. I was in sales for a long time and last year I transitioned into the hospitality industry (I'm front of the house.) I can't take it anymore. I hate the public and I hate customer service. Just getting out of bed and going to work is an ordeal and I think I'm about to break.

I would really like to move into a new line of work that involves as little contact as possible with the public. I want something solitary. It doesn't even have to be stimulating. It can be physical or sedentary. I don't care as long as it's as far away from the public as possible. It should be something entry level as I don't really have any experience outside of sales/service. I am planning on going back to school soon so it doesn't have to be something that turns into a lifelong career. I just need to make some money to live on while I contemplate the rest of my future.

What should I look into? And how should I explain to potential employers why I am looking into getting out of service-oriented jobs? Somehow I don't think, "well, I regularly fantasize about icepicking customers in the face" would go down well during an interview.
posted by LeeJay to Work & Money (26 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
posted by caddis at 6:58 PM on December 18, 2007

Warehouse work. Data entry. Cleaning crew in an office park or similar (avoid houses and hotels).

You may have to explain to a temp agency, but just say that you're entirely burned out on customer service. They'll have seen it before.
posted by dilettante at 7:00 PM on December 18, 2007

Solitary entry-level jobs I've had:

Phone book delivery person. Possibly you could work some other kind of delivery, and only talk to the recipients for the most part.

Warehouse. I did some inventory stuff, and I put price tags on merchandise.

Dish room at a dining hall. You talk only to other dish room employees.

Data entry.

Check with a temp agency when you have a few things you think you might want to do. I also did some temp work like organizing files in offices, and no one knew who I was so they only talked to me to tell me what to do.
posted by veronitron at 7:01 PM on December 18, 2007

Driving jobs. Food delivery involves surprisingly little customer contact, and equipment (car/computer/etc. parts) delivery involves even less.
posted by gally99 at 7:04 PM on December 18, 2007

Become a writer. maybe find a shack somewhere. Work on your manifesto.
posted by CrazyJoel at 7:06 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Accounting and computer programming seem to have been invented for those who hate human interaction.
posted by rokusan at 7:07 PM on December 18, 2007

Second data entry.
posted by pompomtom at 7:09 PM on December 18, 2007

Any sort of menial assembly line unskilled labor work you can think of. Mine was a bakery, show up at 6am, mix and throw dough into bagel machines for 8 hours with the same six people every day, go home. They hired the most ridiculous freaks and turnover was high.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:30 PM on December 18, 2007

Transcription. I had a job back in college where I transcribed therapist's notes on their sessions with patients. They mailed the tapes to me and I mailed the transcriptions back on floppy disk. I did all the transcription from home.

I only talked to the company about payment issues, which were infrequent.
posted by aerotive at 7:33 PM on December 18, 2007

I used to work for a company that provided housekeeping services for luxury time share condos. I worked alone and would come in after the owners or guests had left, and clean the place from top to bottom. The money was surprisingly good (better than most of the office jobs available to me) and it was a decent work out if I really hustled. Best of all, I hardly had to interact with other people. I've also worked cleaning restaurants and office buildings after they close. Both also offer solitude.
posted by pluckysparrow at 7:38 PM on December 18, 2007

Customer service does not equal dealing with people. Hating customer service does not equal hating people. You're burned out on working bullshit jobs. Bullshit jobs that don't include working with the public are equally soul-crushing.

Wait a week, and then ask this question: How can I find a job that lends me some measure of autonomy and allows me the freedom to act as an intelligent adult and allows me to take advantage of my intelligence and special talents?

I thought that I hated people, back when I was a waitress in high school. Now that I have my own company that allows me to interact with people as an expert, I find that I absolutely love people. If you find your niche, you'll love people, too.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:42 PM on December 18, 2007 [5 favorites]

I asked that question a while back (here) and got some great answers. What I actually did was to start running an online shop from home. So far - so good. Human contact is minimal (actually, it's probably a little TOO minimal) with the downside that start-up is slow. I'm looking for casual transcription work to pad things out - when the local uni gets back I may pick up some proofreading stuff from the International students.
posted by ninazer0 at 7:43 PM on December 18, 2007

Thank you for the responses so far everyone. I was thinking of checking out a temp agency and looking for data entry work. Is there any way to stress that I would prefer JUST data entry or will they send me out for receptionist stuff too?

I've also considered commercial cleaning so I'm glad to hear recommendations for that.

CrazyJoel - if it weren't for these pesky bills, that would definitely be an option. :)

aerotive - any advice for getting started with transcription work? I've heard it can take quite some time and the right contacts to get a position that actually pays the bills.

freshwater_pr0n - That's probably where I'll end up in the long run. I don't actually hate people and I know that I could do quite well in a position dealing with the public where I felt valued and didn't have to deal with so much bullshit. In the short run though I just need to get OUT, you know?

ninazero - thank you for pointing me to that previous thread! I should have searched the tags better.
posted by LeeJay at 7:58 PM on December 18, 2007

Looking back at the thread ninazer0 posted, I can nth the science lab bench work. The solitary aspect of being a lab rat is exactly why I got out that field- I need human interaction with social people in my job or I go insane.

Dishroom's a good one, though your coworkers may sometimes talk endlessly to you about nonsensical stuff. Or serious stuff.

Data entry can be good, but be careful you ask beforehand. Some of the data entry people I know go to meetings and do end up working on the customer end of things. Not the norm, but it does happen.

Major retailer have nightshift people who unload the trucks and stock shelves. Pretty mindless and relatively antisocial work. Well, the people may be social, but the work, particularly when restocking shelves, is typically solitary.
posted by jmd82 at 8:03 PM on December 18, 2007

jmd82 - lab work actually sounds really interesting. Are there entry-level positions (that don't require schooling) I should be keeping an eye out for?
posted by LeeJay at 8:36 PM on December 18, 2007

I used to work as an assistant in a university library's archives department, and I loved the job because it was so solitary. Because it was a closed stacks, I would retrieve books and collections that had been requested by patrons. But I had next to no actual contact with patrons. Most of my time was spent "processing" collections --- going through massive agglomerations of papers accumulated by this or that influential person, and organizing them into categories and files for use by scholars. The job was so quiet that, if I had pulled an all-nighter on a paper, I could stretch out on a table in a back room and take a nap, with near-certainty that nobody would disturb my nap.
posted by jayder at 9:01 PM on December 18, 2007

When my retail jobs used to get me down, I fantasized about being a high-rise window washer.
posted by ZeroDivides at 9:11 PM on December 18, 2007

Night watchman is the canonical "leave me alone" job if you ask me.
posted by chairface at 9:51 PM on December 18, 2007

I'm a temp, and I started temping after a string of 'real' jobs dealing with coworkers who sucked or as a teacher (the ultimate crap customer service job if you're not right for it). I told the agency that I wanted a data entry job, I wanted to be behind the scenes because I'm interested in being behind the scenes, I wanted to NOT deal with customers or phones, and I wasn't interested in/comfortable with being a receptionist or a secretary. And I feel a lot better about myself doing the kind of work they get for me--I only deal with coworkers, and even then, if I want to be asocial, that's fine. I just do my job and get paid, and it's not exciting, but it's not soul-crushing like other jobs were for me. I've been at it for about a year and a half, and I would consider getting a 'real' job again because I've had all those hours without anyone pestering me, just plugging away, to think about what I think I'd like and what I know I don't. The temp agency should be perfectly happy to work with you, and if they're not, you know what? Get another agency. They do a service so you can do a service. It works both ways. Good luck!
posted by monochromaticgirl at 10:13 PM on December 18, 2007

aerotive - any advice for getting started with transcription work? I've heard it can take quite some time and the right contacts to get a position that actually pays the bills.

Well at the time I didn't have any qualifications other than being able to type fast and having some good recommendations. I was paid pretty well out of the gate, $10/hour and that was many years ago. Regarding contacts I found out about the job through a family member who knew they were looking for someone. You'll have to make your own luck on that.
posted by aerotive at 10:22 PM on December 18, 2007

I work nights on a office building's cleaning crew and it's almost the best job I've ever had, besides farm hand, which also featured very little human interaction. Granted, my CV includes restaurant host, clerk in pron shop, restaurant manager, and a total of three days split between two call centres, but the autonomy and solitude of my present job can't be beat. Like dilettante said, avoid hotels/residential facilities - people's propensity for disgusting behavior is directly proportional to their amount of perceived privacy, and rather than apply to a contractor outfit, I suggest you try to get hired directly by a building's administration. A maintenance staff position usually means better pay and a more structured work environment.

Good luck, and see you at the next People Who Hate People Party meeting!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:52 PM on December 18, 2007

I was there. I was SO there. Worked as an English teacher in China for four years. My students were decent people, I'm sure, but near the end it just got to the point where if I had to answer ONE more question about Micheal Scholfield...

And so I did the only logical thing that I could: I took the Mandarin I'd picked up, alerted everyone I knew that I am now a translator, and I haven't looked back once. If you've got the editing/writing skills, which being in your industry might give you, or if you know another language, you could definitely pursue that line. I am treated, at the very least, like a knowledgeable expert in almost any company, which I very rarely find any need to keep, even though I'm just a twerp who learned to decode squiggles. It's always a huge ego trip getting a job and seeing my work getting published and put out. I love it and wouldn't have it any other way. It's a great existence if you really, truly Hate People.
posted by saysthis at 12:38 AM on December 19, 2007

Are there entry-level positions (that don't require schooling) I should be keeping an eye out for?

I did the job-search thing for science research 3+ years ago, but I do recall there being positions where all you needed was a GED to work in the lab setting. They'd typically have some kind of "entry level" or "training" headline in their posting. Unfortunately, I don't remember much beyond that.
I would take a look on monster.com to see if there are any postings for just a HS/GED education.

Also, do you have a college education at all? That would help to get a job where they expect to train you. A degree of any sort says, "Hey, I am teachable!"
posted by jmd82 at 6:52 AM on December 19, 2007

I knew a guy who made a shitload of money cleaning operating rooms after surgeries. He only worked night shift on the weekends and made enough to cover all his bills. Obviously, he had a strong stomach and not much of a social life on Saturday nights.
posted by desjardins at 9:34 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I used to have a job where I talked to a lot of delivery truck drivers. Many of them told me that their favorite part of the job is that they work alone. (Driving a truck pays pretty well, too.)

And once you've got the experience to transition into long-haul trucking, you've got a job where you can easily go days at a time without talking to anybody but truckstop waitresses. Sounds perfect for the anti-social types.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 10:28 AM on December 19, 2007

I read about what you hate, but didn't see anything about what you like! I hope you don't feel alone in this situation. Thousands of us have been in your boat and have figured a way to capitalize on the sales and service strengths you must have accumulated by now. I had several careers and either burned out, couldn't go higher up the ladder or just tired of making other people rich while I spent 5 days a week on planes, taxis, hotel rooms and boardrooms.

Ever think about building a new career doing what you like? How about a career where you can earn money and build equity at the same time? What if you received all the training and lifetime support you probably need to operate your own new business. There are costs associated with any decision you make for the future, but I'm going to bet there's hundreds, maybe thousands of opportunities you've never even heard of. If being your own boss has ever entered your mind, we should connect.
posted by David Sword at 1:29 AM on January 10, 2008

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