Despite George Costanza’s countless shortcomings and flaws as a human being, fans of Seinfeld tend to have fond memories of him. In fact, for the better part of a decade, he was America’s favorite short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man. Based on the show’s co-creator Larry David and played by Jason Alexander (who turns 56 today), the character was a walking contradiction, with bouts of self-loathing and overconfidence, oftentimes simultaneously.
Throughout the series’ nine-season run, which is now available for streaming on Hulu, Costanza had 11 different jobs, 12 if you count his assumed second stint as a sitcom writer for NBC in the finale. A majority of them were rather short-lived, such as the time he lucked into a hand-modeling job, or the time he was fired as a bra salesman while leaving the interview on the same day he was hired. But others, he was in it for the long haul.
One particular quirk of George’s employment on the show was that none of his jobs seemed to have anything to do with the previous one. From sales rep to bra salesman to parking attendant to assistant to the traveling secretary, you’d be hard-pressed to find any sort of commonality from one job to the next. In fact, the only thing they had in common with each other was that he was pretty much a nightmare employee in each and every one of them. And that is what made him George.
From his years as a real-estate agent at Rick Barr Properties, to whatever it is he did at Kruger Industrial Smoothing, here are all of George’s worst moments as an employee.
Real-Estate Agent, Rick Barr Properties
Have you ever tried to poison your boss? Well, George has, so even though this list is chronological, the time he was fired as a real-estate agent for slipping a mickey in his boss’s drink would still have made an easy top choice.
When George received an office memo telling him that he was no longer allowed to use his boss’ private bathroom, it sent him over the edge, and he quit in classic fashion. Going out with guns blazing would become a common theme for George in later episodes, as we’ll get to later. But here, he stormed into his boss’s office and gave a speech that probably everyone has dreamed of one day having the guts to do themselves. “Look at you. You think you’re an important man? You are a laughingstock. You are a joke. These people are laughing at you. You have no brains, no ability, nothing!”
Of course, later, he realized that he had no other job lined up, which sent him into a panic as he and Jerry discussed his potential prospects. “How about sports? I like sports.” “In what capacity?” “I don’t know, what about the general manager of a baseball team?”
Clearly, his decision to quit had not been well-planned. So, George returned to the office the following Monday and acted as though he hadn’t quit and that his tirade from the previous Friday was just a joke and not to be taken seriously. His boss wasn’t buying it, however, and George proceeded to get dressed down in front of the entire office. Later, George would ruin his chances of ever getting his job back by slipping his boss a mickey at a company party. As you do.
Parking Attendant, Sid’s Parking
Poor George. While in-between jobs after his epic resignation/firing from Rick Barr Properties, he tried to make a quick buck filling in for Sid as a neighborhood parking attendant. As Sid himself would say afterwards, the job should have been simple. You move cars from one side of the street to the other. It’s as easy as putting on a pair of pants. But, unfortunately for George, a Woody Allen movie was filming nearby which distracted him and caused him to crash into an ambulance. It took only one day for George to practically destroy Sid’s rather lucrative parking business, as well as to hold up production on the movie.
Reader of Manuscripts, Pendant Publishing
After Elaine got George a job at Pendant Publishing, George immediately ruined things by sleeping with the cleaning lady in the office after hours. When confronted about it by his new boss, Mr. Lippman, George once again gave a speech for the ages, offering a defense of his actions that I personally still use to this day whenever I do something wrong. “Should I not have done that? I tell ‘ya, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone here had said anything to me when I first started that that sort of thing was frowned upon…”
You have to admit, it was a solid defense for someone who was put on the spot like that. Granted, it didn’t work, but I’m not sure anything would have.
Bra Salesman, E.D. Granmont
Measured against the degree of George’s other office blunders, his harassment of Miss Granmont while waiting for an elevator in “The Sniffing Accountant” might barely register. However, being that the event took place immediately after the interview that most-likely assured him the job, only to watch him piss it away mere seconds later, it needed to be included. Also, as George’s parents pointed out later, who goes around feeling someone’s material? It IS insanity.
Assistant to the Traveling Secretary, New York Yankees
Lasting for nearly three years, George’s employment with baseball’s most-storied franchise was easily his most successful run with one job. Of course, that also means there was more time for his insane office shenanigans. When they’re listed off in a quick, rapid-fire sequence, the things he did while working for the Yankees are really quite remarkable. It had to be an omen that the reason he was hired in the first place was because he had the nerve to verbally berate George Steinbrenner for all the questionable personnel moves he had made in the past. But from there, things only got worse. Ready? Okay, here goes (takes deep breath): He made Danny Tartabull late for a PBS pledge drive due to a road rage incident with a stranger, he got the Yankees to start losing after switching to cotton uniforms, he gave his administrative assistant a raise without the authority to do so (while engaged in office coitus once again, I might add), he got accused of being racist by a co-worker, then got that same co-worker fired and stole his job, he left his car in the parking lot all night so it looked like he was the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave, he had a contractor build a bed beneath his desk so he could hide while taking naps during work hours, he wore Babe Ruth’s old uniform during a board meeting and proceeded to spill strawberries all over the front of it, he drove around the stadium parking lot while dragging the World Series trophy behind his car, and, of course, he was Body Suit Man. I think that just about covers it. I apologize if I missed any.
Sales Representative, Play Now
Even after everything George did as an employee of the Yankees, an argument could be made that it was his stint with Play Now that showed actual signs that he had an undiagnosed social disorder. Pretending to be handicapped in order to get preferential bathroom treatment is simply not something a person would do who is not borderline sociopathic. I’m not saying it wasn’t hilarious, but it was certainly insane.
After it was discovered by his boss that George wasn’t actually handicapped, he was asked to leave so he and the company could go their separate ways. But because George had a one-year employment guarantee, he wasn’t about to leave all that money on the table, not to mention dental insurance. So, he stayed, and the not-so-passive-aggressive fighting between he and his boss began.
Position Unclear, Kruger Industrial Smoothing
Once again, George acquired a job under false pretenses. First, he had to fool his new boss, Mr. Kruger, into not figuring out that they had crossed paths years earlier in an event known as The Boombox Incident. But once he was in, the company was in such disarray that he was able to go “hog wild.” Around the holidays, he created a fake charity in order to get out of having to give out Christmas gifts to his co-workers. He called it The Human Fund: Money for People. For a man who grew up having to celebrate Festivus, I can’t say I blame him.
You could make a convincing argument that the efforts George went through to avoid doing work were more strenuous than if he had actually focused all his time and energy into his actual jobs. But that would have been boring. And, of course, we might never have had the pleasure of getting so much joy out of a deeply flawed, yet wonderfully hilarious character.
Honorable Mentions: Computer Salesman at Costanza and Son, where he exaggerated sales figures; Sales Representative at Sanalac, where he showed up to work without being told he actually had the job. He probably wasn’t Penske material and he CERTAINLY doesn’t have what it takes to be my latex salesman.