*fair warning- this post will have lots of swear words- not for the under 18’s*
I realise it’s been a minute since my last post, I got that horrible ‘super cold’ and it ruined me for an entire month.
But let’s begin back with a rant because the absolute PRIVILEGE in these articles about the ‘great resignation’ is sending me into a rage. Ridiculous pieces questioning people’s work ethic post-pandemic, with quotes from business owners whinging about how people want higher wages, good working conditions and opportunities for learning and progression. Boo Hoo.
Like it’s some fucking revelation that people don’t want spend 90% of their week in a miserable place, making money that won’t cover their rent, won’t provide for their education or families, and certainly doesn’t set them up for even a whisper of a future but when you need money, what are going to do? Well, when they fired everyone during the pandemic, an entire generation of working people went in search for the answer to that question, so no wonder they don’t want to fucking come back. Sorry but I consider nothing else but the absolute karma these businesses (in general, not my prior workplaces) deserve.
I have had some truly awful employers in the past but ya girl needs the references and doesn’t want to be sued. So I think I’ve come up with a creative solution about how I can talk about the things that were done to me, in minimum wage jobs, over the years. I started working at 15 and I have had a variety of jobs over the last 13 years of my working life and some truly horrific managers, so here we go.
To be clear, none of the stories below refer to my current place of work. For the first time in my life I am in a job that gives me nothing but joy instead of misery. I am just starting to understand how much the places of work in these stories have affected me, is it too much for strangers on the internet to know? Possibly. But none of it is a lie and I am tired of employers not being held accountable for how they treat their staff. All my friends have stories like this. All of them.
Let’s keep it simple- a list of stories, only involving things managers have been responsible for in my working life
The work place/ industry will be redacted but I assure you these stories are exclusively from my time in minimum wage positions, bar one where I had a salaried position.
So, how about I tell you about the time my manager restricted the food I was allowed, which was given free by that work place, against my knowledge, because I was ‘one of the bigger girls’. I worked 9 hour shifts – I did not find out until a temporary manager, who covered her sick day, got frustrated with me asking if it was okay for me to have XYZ for my break.
Or what about the time I informed my manager that customers were groping me whilst I cleared things up and she replied that I should not work in that industry if I couldn’t handle it and she wasn’t going to lose a loyal customer because I couldn’t ‘be a brave girl’.
Let me tell you about the time a manager found me crying, after a particularly stressful day, in a room I thought no one would come back to as we were at the end of the day and all she said was ‘Do we need to have a conversation?’ to which I replied (still crying) ‘yes maybe at some point’. She never raised it again and deferred my meeting requests to another manager.
Let me tell you about the time my manager had all four young staff members on different wages and she would bribe us with 10 -30 pence raises if would complete a task within a time frame and she would stand there and time us every shift? Because of her (not the companies) ‘don’t discuss the wage policy’, we didn’t find out until months later that we were all on different wages and that she had done this to everyone.
Let me tell you about the manager who would cut my hours to the minimum in my contract (4), if I refused to work 20+ hours during a school week, so that I felt I was unable to turn down shifts (I was very young at this one).
Let me tell you about the manager who refused to ban a customer who had physically and verbally assaulted me because, and I quote, ‘why should I get hurt for you?’. He was 6ft 3″, I am 5 ft 2″. More importantly, he was the manager.
Or what about the manager all the women knew they couldn’t be alone with, a fact which the other floor managers were aware of but dismissed it and told us he was harmless.
Then there was the manager who during a meeting where we were discussing the changes to my role after a new hire had come onboard to dedicate all their time to a task that had been one of my responsibilities up until then (yes a 4 day week position, to cover one of my responsibilities entirely), chose to use that meeting to humiliate, belittle and insult me, all while another manager sat there stricken but silent.
Or what about the manager that yelled at me on shift, call me a ‘stupid, useless, C***’? And was surprised when I handed in my notice the next day.
What about the manager who would not give me shorter shifts, nor allow me to sit (this role involved standing all day) or give me sick days, when I sprained my ankle?
What about the workplace that would not allow me to have water with me, during a very active cleaning task, for three to four hour periods on shift? In an environment with no air con.
How about the workplace where management created a culture of not taking your breaks, arriving early, finishing late and, when you were found to be having your LEGALLY MANDATED BREAK, said things like ‘must be nice’ and ‘I just can’t leave work half done but good for you’.
Or how about the place where I received calls and texts from management frequently, anywhere between 6am to 11pm, despite not being on call, not being in an urgent industry, whilst I was the lowest paid member of the team.
Then there was the time a male customer shouted ‘tell me how many boys you’ve fucked’ at me continuously for an hour, before leading the other male customers in a song serenading my body. I was alone. Management were within hearing distance. He then waited for me in the carpark with a crowd of his pals.
Let’s not forget the workplace where I was continually pulled into a meeting ‘for being a neg’ and told to smile by male management staff members, despite the fact it was not a customer facing position and my job performance (and that of those around me) was unaffected by my ‘neggyness’.
Or what about the manager who would not let me work in the quiet back office, while a person with dementia who was waiting there (cannot elaborate without giving away the job) screamed for help for 6 hours straight (she had carers with her but was very disorientated). This happened over several different days.
Then there was the one who would not let me reduce the activity levels of my job whilst I was suffering from a (officially diagnosed by a physio) trapped nerve in my back, which caused electric pains to run down my leg non stop.
And then let me tell you about the manager who told me openly, in conversation, that she had hired me because she thought I was a ‘pushover’ and that she was really disappointed that I had a backbone and could defend myself and colleagues.
Let’s not forget the one who swore at me when I handed my notice to him. (context- this is a different manager to the one that called me a c*** one).
Or how about the workplace that gaslit me, overloaded me, physically and mentally destroyed me, all the while claiming that I simply had time management problems and that I should be ‘grateful for the experience’. Managers were aware the whole time. Managers actively created this environment. Managers did not act, despite several meetings I asked for to address the problem.
Most importantly, let’s not forget that this list is not complete. These are not all the stories I have of things that have been said and done by management to me.
This happened with me being very aware (because I had to be) of UK employment laws and company policy. This happened despite that and please know that I did not go gently into these conditions, I did not accept this mistreatment and yet it happened time and time again.
Now I will acknowledge that those in management are people too and I am largely unaware of the pressures they face from those above them, so I’m not trying to villainize them as a group of people. I just think there is an assumption that the public will treat you like crap but there’s not an understanding that those who’re supposed to have your back and supposed to be managing the whole thing, also generally don’t treat their staff well. If you’re in a workplace with high turnover, I would start at looking the culture from the top down, as 90% of the time, there will be a person in management, or a policy (or policies) in place that are enforced by management, which is causing this mysterious wave after wave of people leaving.
But while we’re on the subject, I need you to bear in mind that this list does not include the mistreatment retail staff receive at the hands of their customers. I have been spat at, physically, verbally and sexually assaulted by customers. Customers have waited for me outside my place of work, sometimes for hours. Customers have expected me to still be of service to them outside of my workplace and grown irate when I politely refused.
This type of behaviour has gotten progressively worse in the ten (ish) years I worked in customer facing/ customer service positions. I’m sure it’s pure hell post pandemic.
And if your response to all this is to shrug and think, ‘well, clearly it comes with territory so why would they work in it if they can’t deal?’
That is exactly the point, my guy.
Why would they?
If you made it to the end, congrats, that was a long one. Back to our regularly scheduled bookish nonsense after one more serious one next week.
Oh yeah. I think the typical working model hasn’t been the best, and it took the pandemic for us all to realise that there are different ways of going through life. Great post here. Thanks for sharing!
Oh for sure, I think the first three months of the lockdown I was just in a daze recovering! It’s definitely shifted my perspective on what I’m willing to take from an employer.