Most jobs aren’t quite what you’d expect. If you study to become a lawyer, you probably picture yourself making fiery speeches in packed courtrooms on the daily; in reality, you’ll probably complete some paperwork, meet with other lawyers in a drab conference room, and go home. While some journalists track down shadowy sources and investigate international conspiracies, most make a few phone calls, exchange several emails, and write out a quick 400 words about a mundane event.
However, while every profession has its secrets, some of those secrets are actually fairly interesting. Some are downright frightening—and in a recent Reddit thread, users shared some of the privileged information that they picked up on the job. We collected a few of the best responses and edited them slightly for grammar and readability.
Whatever you do, don’t assume that your food is clean.
“I work on a farm,” wrote geekmuseNU. “When they say you should wash your produce thoroughly at home, they’re not joking.
They didn’t elaborate; fortunately, other Reddit users picked up the slack.
“My farm is local, so I can’t speak to many mass produced grocery store produce, but let’s just say the cleaning process is very minimal,” wrote geekmuseNU. “Most of our veggies are just dunked in a water bath for five minutes before being crated and held for up to a week. If one falls out onto the ground, it’s just picked up and put back in the crate, no cleaning.”
“Washing hands before handling? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Most of us come straight from the fields, and we’re usually caked in gross stuff when washing or packing. The meat and eggs are handled a bit more delicately. They’re kept in separate containers in separate areas to prevent the spread of salmonella and other nasty stuff, but you’ll see workers go straight from the meat handling to the veggies.”
“Then again, most of our customers see the process as it happens and are aware of the conditions. They just like to see the produce large and locally grown. Wash it thoroughly when you get home, and it’ll be fine.”
Remember, folks: Most of your food comes from the ground. It’s going to get a little dirty, and that’s really not so terrifying, provided that you’ve got a working sink and some common sense.
“Farms and ranches are dirty places that make your food,” noted BravoMikeFoxtrot. “It’s a fact of life, not a dirty little secret that offends your sanitary existence.”
If you love books, don’t work at a huge bookstore.
Reddit user Allosaur worked at a large chain bookseller.
“So, so, so many perfectly good books get thrown out,” they wrote. “Mass market paperbacks are cheap to manufacture and get shipped out in huge volumes. For some publishers—particularly ones that put out new mysteries or romances quarterly—when the bookstore wants it off the shelf to make room for something new, it’s just not worth the cost of taking them back and finding someone else to sell [the books].”
“But they don’t want anyone getting them for free, so as a bookstore employee, I spent hours ripping the front and back covers off of books, then tearing them in half so that no one could read them later. The covers get sent back to the publishers, and the books that could have been donated to a library or school get put in a locked recycling container out back. A manager had to come back and check my work to make sure the books were not left intact.”
“I almost cried the first time I had to rip up a load of kids’ books—we’re in a city with high child poverty rates and underfunded schools.”
Ever wonder why celebrities don’t look surprised when collecting awards?
“I’m a celebrity event photographer in Hollywood,” wrote Bridow. “Most of the smaller award shows winners—shows like the MTV VMAs, Teen Choice Awards, etc.—already know that they are going to win.”
Why do the organizers tell the winners in advance? Otherwise, the celebrities might not show up.
“It motivates the talent to come to the event,” Bridow explained. “During the show, they are backstage talking with friends, and they take a seat during a commercial break just before their award is announced. The few exceptions are the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, where the audience is mostly made up of celebrities.”
We have no way to actually validate this since award shows obviously don’t promote their notification practices. Still, if you notice your favorite actor walking towards the podium looking absolutely unsurprised, you’ll know why.
Hopefully, you’re not paying extra for your text messages.
“Texting services actually require no extra infrastructure on your phone or on the network,” explained 2006diplomat. “The size of the text message is limited by the amount of carrier signal that your phone sends out normally every few seconds to notify the tower where it is, what time it is, etc., so that the network can keep your call live.”
“[If] you pay extra money for texting, it’s pure profit for the phone company. They have never added any bandwidth for texting. It’s always been there as the normal maintenance of the network.”
Of course, there are fixed costs to consider; while phone companies might not pay anything extra to send your “lol, idk” texts, they still have to pay to set up the network in the first place, and for the most part, they’re allowed to charge what they want. With that being said, if your provider claims that you need to pay extra because you’re stressing the network everytime you text your mom, they’re lying (and you’ve got no reason not to text your poor mother—do it right now).
According to Reddit user Static74, that’s also somewhat true for fiber internet services.
“Bandwidth is not a scarce commodity like they want you to think it is,” they wrote. “It is all about profit margins and oversubscribing the network.”
“Does this honey taste weird to you?”
“About half of the imported honey on the shelf is really rice syrup illegally transhipped from China through another country and relabeled as honey,” wrote Aspergillus01. “The only testing the FDA has for this is effectively meaningless.”
To be clear, that’s not legal—but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. After the U.S. Commerce Department applied a heavy tariff on Chinese honey imports in 2001, imports from other companies spiked suspiciously, leading to investigations that commercial beekeepers refer to as “Honeygate.” In 2013, three U.S. honey producers filed a class-action lawsuit against those allegedly fraudulent shippers.
Much of that honey was actual honey, but as The New York Times noted in 2015, “Some of it was not even real honey, but a mix that included corn and rice sweeteners.”
For consumers, there’s an easy solution: Buy local honey. It’s better for the environment, you can easily trace its source, and most importantly, it tastes better.
Some charities aren’t exactly helpful…and that’s perfectly legal.
“I worked for an international Christian charity in a third-world country, and now I work for a Fortune 500 company,” wrote a Reddit user whose account has since been deleted.
“Pretty much all that money raised goes to the upper management. The CEOs of charities live as lavishly and expensively as the CEOs of the stereotypically big ‘evil greedy’ mega-corporations that we all love to hate.”
“[There are] dozens of charities where less than 5 percent of the money raised by donations actually went to the cause [the charities] were claiming. In some cases, it was even zero percent. And all legal.”
“Unlike the big greedy corporations, charities aren’t scrutinized as thoroughly by regulations, oversight, governments, etc., as exemplified by Bernie Madoff’s whole thing. Charities also have armies of naive volunteers doing the real grunt work for next to free. At least in a big greedy corporation, you’re usually getting paid for your work.”
“Basically,” they continued, “don’t just throw money at charities and be all happy that you’re making the world a better place. Do a lot of research first.”
Fortunately, that’s pretty easy in the internet age. Tools like Charity Navigator allow donors to view breakdowns of charitable organizations’ budgets, so you can make sure that your money goes where it’s truly needed.
Rethink your approach to telemarketers.
“Don’t hang up on telemarketers,” wrote schleppylundo. “If the dialer program they use works like mine, that just puts your number back into the database. If you don’t want to be called again, just say so. We’re required by law to comply.”
They note that some telemarketing companies don’t follow the rules, so asking to be placed on a do-not-call list might not work every time. Still, it’s your best bet for finally stopping those annoying calls.
“We are a very small company—like 15 employees total—and we only call people who’ve given out their number on various forms of debt relief inquiries online to see whether they’re actually interested in talking to the companies concerned (again, not us), and to collect a little more specific information about the potential customer’s situation for the salespeople at these companies. As a result, we’re expected to make around 10-15 leads a day, so if a caller isn’t interested in the service, we move on pretty quickly until we find one that does. It probably does work differently at firms that are actually making cold calls to sell services directly.”
Another user noted that certain companies aren’t legally required to follow do-not-call list regulations. Reddit user ibukisama worked at a telemarketing company that performed surveys.
“[My employer] was exempt from the do-not-call list,” wrote ibukisama, “as we were ‘educational/state-funded’ calls, regardless of whether our surveys were either of those. We had a [script to read to] everyone who claimed we were breaking the law that explained why we weren’t.”
Before you ship that precious item, grab the bubble wrap.
One user (whose account has disappeared) claimed to work for a major shipping company. Their job involved packing items for customers.
“Writing fragile on your package means nothing,” they wrote. “Your package will get thrown around, dropped, and beaten up; if it is breakable, then according to our guidelines for properly packaged items, it needs to withstand 1000 pounds of pressure and a 4-foot drop.”
Granted, you could always just buy the insurance—but according to the user, those capital claims departments will do whatever they can to avoid paying out on insurance claims.
“This is why you go through USPS and do Registered Mail,” wrote St_gulik. “That s*** is safe.”
St_gulik works in the jewelry industry, where lost or damaged items are a particularly prominent concern.
“We send items valued at $10,000 or more in the mail through USPS,” they wrote. “Never lost a one. Customers and some businesses will send us stuff via [other shipping companies], and they lose stuff constantly.”
Why? Well, the package address indicates that it’s going to a jewelry store; do the math.
“Go U.S. Postal Service,” they wrote, “They’re not joking about rain, sleet, and snow, and they have felony law supporting them.”
The trick is to use the aforementioned USPS Registered Mail service.
“This is a special [service] that only the USPS offers. Every single person who touches your package must sign for it. The package has to be sealed in a very specific manner and then stamped all over along every single seam to make it impossible to be opened without evidence of said opening.”
“While not completely foolproof, it sets a very high bar for anyone wanting to steal the item, and if that package did go missing, the employee handling it had to sign for it. Not to mention, the USPS doesn’t want to know what’s inside there, and most jewelers insurance already covers mailing items of high value, so we specifically never buy insurance for our Registered Mail items. By listing ‘no value’ with the post office, we lower expectations that there really is a $10,000 ring inside that large box.”
Carnivores, you’ll want to take notes on this next one.
“I worked in a butcher shop for quite some time, and there’s some basic misconceptions and confusion on stuff out there,” wrote AgentUmlaut.
“This one is less of a secret and more simple truth: When you’re at a meat section of a grocery store, many places try to push the black Angus beef under the guise that it tastes better and is of higher quality. It’s also usually more expensive than regular stuff.”
“While black Angus is a distinct breed, unless you’re a head chef, butcher, or purveyor, a person generally will not be able to tell the difference between Angus and regular [beef].”
“You can taste the difference when you’re eating different grades. ‘Prime’ is a better quality than ‘choice’ and ‘select.’ Prime, obviously, is more expensive, while choice is what you will see in most stores. If your options came down to choice Angus and choice regular, you’re basically going to pay much more for a minor difference if you go with the Angus. However, prime regular will be a better quality than choice regular.”
The tips don’t end there.
“It’s a very costly (and kind of stupid) move to ask a butcher to grind you tenderloin for burgers. If you’re spending all that money for such an expensive cut, you’re better off cooking it as a filet mignon cut and going with that. It’s a super lean cut and will not really taste anything special in the form of a burger.”
“To hop off that, if you’re at a restaurant and they have Kobe beef burgers, don’t go for it. Obviously, the taste of Kobe beef is held in high regard, but you’re not really going to experience any of the blend of texture and flavor if the meat has been ground up into burger meat. Hell, the restaurant might just give you a random mixed percentage of fat and beef and call it ‘Kobe beef.’”
The medical industry has plenty of nasty secrets.
Reddit user Hopecat works in hospital finance.
“Most facilities provide discounts on your hospital bill if you ask,” they wrote. “For example, they’ll offer uninsured discounts, prompt pay discounts, and ‘charity care.’ At my previous employer, the charity program just required you to state you could not meet your basic needs and still pay the bill—then, they wrote the entire balance off.”
“My current employer requires proof of income, but it’s similarly generous if you’re poor or if the bill is a large percent of your income.”
The pharmaceutical industry isn’t quite so forgiving.
“Many drugs get developed that work perfectly well at treating relatively rare diseases,” wrote another user, whose account has been deleted. “But then, they don’t get taken to market. Due to the small number of affected patients, the cost of getting them approved by the various regulatory agencies negates any possible return on investment.”
“Therefore, many large pharmaceutical companies—at least here in the European Union, I could name names, but I’d rather not—just sit on compounds that we know damn well could vastly improve the lives of many thousands of people. But bringing them to market isn’t cost effective. F***, I hate my job sometimes.”
If it’s any consolation, random Reddit user, we hate your job, too.