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slides: The Notorious 8: Jobs We Hate You For Doing

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Born and raised or recent transplant, Portlanders devote much of their collective psyche to celebrating their chosen city's brilliant corners, its homegrown but cutting-edge culture, its awkward/awesome stylistic whims, and its reknowned combination of friendly and strange. But not all is well in Stumptown.

Suddenly finding themselves adults, Portland's millenials, Gen-X and Y'rs alike find themselves pitted against the ancient forces of bureaucracy, legal order and inconvenient truths. Like, you know, student loans and all that noise. Right this moment in Ptown, someone, somewhere rails against The Man, as discriminating palates and PBR-soaked sensibilities give way to the inevitable disquiet of urban angst. 

With a nod to your thirst for sour grapes and mild gripes, GoLocalPDX offers up our list of 8 types of workers we love to hate. Just doing your job? I mean, could you just, like, not do your job, this one time? 


Related Slideshow: 8 Types of Workers Portlanders Love to Hate

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Park Rangers, A.K.A. the Dog Police

My, but Portlanders love us some dogs. In fact, we're the #1 city for dog-lovers, according to the real estate website Estately.com. Yet what dog owner, confident that his pup is the super-sweet exception to the rule, doesn't bridle at the sudden approach of a park ranger intent on enforcing on-leash rules? C'mon, man, you say, It's not like I don't pick up the poop!

Portland dog owners maintain a delicate tension with park rangers charged with enforcing leash and scoop laws. But local residents confident in their dog's manners, and their own courteous sensibilities, recoil indignantly from the unpopular task park rangers are charged with.

No battle would be complete without a volunteer army. So, doggie-daddies and -mamas, check out this list of Portland establishments that welcome your pooch--provided, of course, she's friendly to locals.

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Process Server

No one likes getting sued—except publicity-seekers, the combatively litigious, and perhaps Taco Bell. When someone approaches with an envelope and asks if you’re you, odds are it’s not because you won some secret sweepstakes.

When the Portland Sheriff’s Department is unable to deliver summons, the dirty work falls to process servers, who stake out everyone from the jerk who sold you that Subie with a blown head gasket to the resentful wife who’s refusing to face a divorce. Because you know, if you can hide from the messenger, the message must not exist, right? Unfortunately, even if a process server's attempts to personally hand you summons fail, the plaintiff can still serve you by certified mail.  

But haters gotta hate. And who better to hate than the dude with bad news?

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Health Inspectors:

Much like OLCC agents (wait for it--they're #3 on our list), these Multnomah County employees strike fear and bitterness into the hearts of Portland's sizable service-industry workers--most especially its underappreciated back-of-house people.

A spot of mold in the ice machine? Kitchen drains not draining oh-so-perfectly? You know it's not your fault, but a bad Health Department review can doom an otherwise popular establishment to a scarcity of customers, in a city more preoccupied with food than your OCD friend is with unfolded bathroom towels. We know they're necessary, but few Portland locals appreciate the surprise appearance of their local health inspector. Until, of course, they make convenient fodder for compulsive Yelping.

If you're feeling nervous before a first date, or maybe just a bit ornery, check out this database of Portland restaurant health scores.

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Bill Collectors

Whether it's the fourth call today from your credit card company or the fellow slapping a 3-day water shutoff notice on your door, bill collectors have one single-minded, detestable mission: to separate you from your hard-earned (or hard-pilfered, or hard-...withheld?) cash. More and more of us are struggling. Over 28% of Oregonians owed back utilities, 28% had credit card debt, and a staggering 40% had medical debt, according to a report by the Oregon Food Bank.

And we haven't even mentioned the nightmare reality of many a college graduate: the pervasive and ballooning student loan. Portland State University seniors racked up almost $23,000 in loan debt, on average. 4 out of 5 students behind on their loans never completed their degree.

But who has time for studying when you're busy avoiding all those bill collectors' phone calls?

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As the recent election recedes from our memory, so too does the onslaught of folks on the corner with clipboards and petitions. But when elections are looming, few can avoid the awkward discomfort of dodging their overly friendly greetings, suspiciously earnest enthusiasm, and seeming obsession with shaking hands. 

One canvassing company, DialogueDirect, makes a profit each time you sponsor a malnourished third world child. Others are nonprofits, like Grassroots Campaigns, which lobbies for a varying array of progressive causes. Which means pony-tail-guy’s professed passion for reproductive rights today might become tomorrow’s sudden deep love for Mother Gaia. When Portland's savvy citizens are already bombarded with demands for our time, our money--for our very minds--canvassers can seem like one more talking head to avoid.

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OLCC Agent

When the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, our state's monopoly on alcohol and one of Oregon government's most lucrative departments, drops in for a visit, it’s usually not to pat you on the back for selling all that booze. Infractions like over-serving alcohol or failing to check an ID range from $200 to $1500—and that’s just for the server. It's no surprise, then, when the OLCC walks in, service employees and management alike bristle, whispering warnings to each other as if Mother paid a surprise visit and you’re only pretty sure you put the bong away.

Further fueling the rage, disputes with the OLCC are initially arbitrated by an administrative law judge, but final decisions are left to the Liquor Commission itself--unless you can afford a costly petition to the Court of Appeals. Its morality and power rooted in the far-gone Prohibition era, the OLCC faces increased calls to limit its power.

We know the OLCC isn’t literally the Gestapo. But for many amongst the ever-swelling ranks of Portland’s service industry workers, encounters with the OLCC feel about as warm as a 3% tip. 

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Predatory Tow Truck Driver

Sure, the sign said “Kinko’s Parking Only,” but the coffeeshop was right next door, and you were gone, like, six minutes—only to find your car, along with your hopes to have a decent day just for once, about to be hauled away into the murky depths of impound lots and spiraling storage fees.  

Companies like Retriever and Sargent’s towing (among others), contracted both by commercial landlords and the City of Portland, are notorious among Portlanders for their aggressive towing tactics. With a minimum tow fee of $115 and storage rates of $24 per day, its easy to see why their drivers are special targets for the malevolent ire of Portland locals and visitors alike. 

Pro tip: According to the Oregon Department of Justice, “If you are present at the time of the tow and the hookup is not complete, the tower must release the vehicle at no charge. If the hookup is complete, they may charge for a hookup fee, but not for the price of a tow.” So if you see a tow driver halfway into hauling away your cherished V-Dub, hustle up and get it back!

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Parking Enforcement Officer

Nothing ruins the joy of actually finding a parking spot more than returning to your car to find yourself $39 in the hole. An overtime meter ticket, just $16 in 2006, has more than doubled in 8 years. With Portlanders shelling out $7.5 million on parking violations last year, it’s no wonder we glare with resentment at those three-wheeled misery-machines. (Couldn’t they just repurpose the fleet as ice-cream trucks?)

Pro tip: once a parking officer has issued a ticket, it becomes property of Multnomah County Courts, and can only be contested in court. Which means no amount of begging, pleading, screaming, or threatening the life of his first-born (seriously, you shouldn’t do that) can possibly lead to the officer changing his mind and dropping the ticket.

Your only recourse? Take pictures and take it to court—which, naturally, can sometimes last a few minutes longer than you think, so just this once, you might consider taking the bus downtown. Because getting a parking ticket while fighting a parking ticket isn’t quite the ‘irony’ Portlanders are aiming for.


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