Work and Play

Stories about the daily grind of work.

Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: #5 Dumpster Divers

The day to day machinations of the retail industry as told by insider, Brian Brehmer. In the latest in his series, Brian recalls some of the brilliantly bogus refund claims brought about by the infamous ‘Dumpster Divers’.

How to Sell Wine

Not everyone who drinks wine has any idea what the fuck they’re drinking. I sell wine and these are the things that piss me off about the job.

Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: #3 Stealing

Apart from the obvious crime of stealing employee time, Brian Brehmer, retail worker extraordinaire, talks about the weird and wonderful acts of theft that he has seen while working in retail.

Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: #2 Returning Condoms

Brian Brehmer is back with another crazy tale from the world of retail. In this episode, a female customer attempts to breach store policy by returning some condoms.

The Joys of Field Testing Agricultural Equipment

Our resident factotum, Brian Brehmer, opens up the oeuvre of his work experience. This time he recounts the inherent joys of working as a field tester for agricultural machinery firm, Briggs and Stratton.

Retail Tales with Brian Brehmer: #1 Eleven Years of Selling Shoes at Kmart

Brian Brehmer tells the inside story of 11 years of selling shoes in that most American of institutions, Kmart. Expect exploitation, pointless management, poor pay and a nod to the death of an American ideal.

Land of Eternal Thirst

Bisbee, Arizona. Leah Mueller talks of family, loss and going back to what you have always known.


Nick Sweeney returns to Talking Soup to bring us a story of a job working with disabled children. Fundraisers, misunderstanding, unbearable ignorance and the misuse of the word ‘rewarding’, ring any bells fo anyone?

Broken Saturday Night

Wet, half-sober, tired and bored. The meaninglessness of Saturday night for a disillusioned thirty-something.

The Battle of the Heart Over the Mind

Life is full of changes, and with younger folk are ever-more trapped in a cycle of work and rent, Fulvio Milesi joins us to give us his take on leaving a job that appealed to the mind, but not the heart.

Carpet Fitter’s Christmas Rush

Brian King, who has worked in the flooring and carpet-fitting industry for 30 years, joins Talking Soup to talk about the Christmas rush for carpets and flooring and the toll it takes on the workers.

The Stabbing Factory

He slashed at me a few times – I can’t say for certain how close he got, but when you can feel the air move because of the swipe, the blade is too close – but mostly he stood in place making these hesitant jerking jabs. He kept saying, “Come on, I’ll stab you.  Come on”, as if it were somehow my responsibility to move closer to him.  Perhaps that’s the way things work, I don’t know, this was my first knife fight, and frankly it was a bit unfair, I didn’t have a knife.

Inside the Canine Head

But the metamorphosis deepened, and I became the most frightening apparition of all: the man who really was a dog. All human perspective was gone now. I was a tall dog standing on its hind legs, teetering close to traffic. This was serious. I could bolt into an oncoming car, or nip a passerby in my confusion. I looked around me at the world of people, orderly for them but incomprehensible to me.

The Old Copenhagen Shipyard Blues

The inside of a new 80.000 ton bulk carrier was to put it mildly, a very religious experience. To go from the coffins of Castle Dracula, in driving snow, with a temperature hitting minus 25 Degrees, into a vast silent cathedral-like environment, had a profound effect on me. It was a place of bright bright lights and dark dark places. I suppose, with the scaffolding and the hanging lights it could also have been mistaken for some enormous Egyptian tomb excavation.

The Hangover

I sit up in bed with my hand over my eyes. The shards of sunlight, shining through the open window and the scream of a scooter from the street below make me wince. Through my fingers the black and white poster of the singer Morrissey looks down on me with pity from the bedroom wall. I return the look with remorse and regret.

Folk Music is Dead with Laurence Rivers

Folk music, formerly the prerogative of ale-swilling beardies, is now cool, a bit like smashed avocado and Swedish backpacks. What happened to the old scene? Where are the pork scratchings? What happened to ‘Dirty Old Town’ gurgled into a pint glass for single figure audiences?

Confessions of a Bad Waitress

I am a bad server. A very bad server. And I do not enjoy my job at all. But I make money and I won’t be doing this forever.

Kensington and the Russian Billionaire’s Daughter

My old company were the masters of web hosting hyperbole. One of our most famous internet magazine ads listed everything as free, except the price. Free hosting, Free web space, free domain name, free email address, all of which begged the question; if everything was free, just exactly what was the punters paying for?

Searching for Thrills

It’s a typical Saturday night at the Java Jive. The bar is a Tacoma institution, a one-time home to two pet monkeys appropriately named Java and Jive. The monkeys are dead now, and so is your marriage. You’re singing karaoke because you’re trying to forget everything. You’re a lonely 41-year old single mom with two kids and a decaying house on the north end of town, and you know what it feels like to have your thrills vanish. So you’re singing your lungs out, and some guy bites your foot.

Noir the Savior

Senior year my mother did two months for larceny. That August she tried walking out with two carts full of groceries. I lived noir. I managed a story that became my first published in the school magazine. She was still in prison that October when my birthday rolled around. I woke up at three-thirty in the morning and read James Thompson’s Snow Angels until I left for the bus.

The Strange Case of Derick Johnson

For some reason, my first instinct was to assume that Derick Johnson was a figment of Nick’s imagination or a sort of creative in-joke between some of the players. The name, I observed, sounded like a character from Mad Men. I imagined a dapper fellow in his mid-thirties turning up to play, with a short glass of scotch on the rocks in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

Do You Remember Friday?

Do you remember Fridays? The indescribable feeling of utter joy that signified that thankfully school was over for another two days. The misery of sitting in a classroom against your will was to be alleviated and replaced with the respite of resentment from parents who didn’t know what to do with you. Yes, Friday was a fine time. Friday represented hope a brief, fleeting window in which anything was possible and the misery of school, with its press-gang style education was exposed for what it was, finite.

Show Me Your Teeth

Mouth open as he presses cold metal against each tooth. Leaning over me, he recites codes I don’t understand to his assistant. When it’s over, he smiles and tells me, to my surprise, that I have good teeth. Good, straight teeth. It means more to me than it should. I tell myself he says that to all his patients. Within reason.

Children Are The Future

People claim to hate their job, many people do and those who say they don’t are either lying, or worse still, the most unimaginative imbeciles that our sick society has created in its desire to consume. I fall into the first category of hate, pure and simple.