*WARNING* This might be a long read. Continue if you have some time to read my semi-rant!
I’m currently writing this no more than 30 minutes after I quit my job. What’s worse, I had only worked there for about two months. But can you still call it a job when you’re scared of your boss and constantly feel on edge while working?
Back up to a couple of months ago. I had just graduated from university and was desperately searching for a job. So far all I was finding were dead ends or jobs that were looking for people who had 3+ years of work experience in the field of journalism (which I had none since I just graduated).
I was starting to look at retail jobs, when I received a call from a local clothing store. It happens to be one of my favourite stores ever. I had previously submitted my resume to the store months earlier when I noticed they had job openings. Jump to a week later and I was hired for a part-time position at the clothing store. I was over the moon excited. I thought it was a dream come true to be working at one of my favourite places to shop.
This was my first retail job. Granted, I’ve worked at a bakery back in high school, but I had no previous experience in retail. It was a rough start. I had to learn how to fold clothes a certain way, which I honestly enjoyed because it helped relax my constant anxiety. Unfortunately, between folding clothes and asking customers if they needed help, that’s all I did for 3-3 1/2 hours. I to this day have never been trained on the cash register, and didn’t know when that would happen. From what a co-worker told me, there was a girl working there for over a year and she still hadn’t been trained for bra fittings.
The biggest thing I had to get used to was staying on my feet constantly for 3 – 3 1/2 hours a shift. Which at first was difficult since I have a knee that catches up if I stand in place for too long or am on my feet for too long. But that’s no big deal, my body and knee eventually got used to standing for long periods of time. I also enjoyed talking with the customers, making jokes and helping with anything they needed. I was in my zone because I love communicating with others.
It turns out my biggest problem was going to be my boss. Matilda (name changed for privacy reasons) was really sweet and nice at first. I felt very welcomed by her when I first started working at the clothing store. We would gossip to each other whenever there weren’t customers in the store and she would give me tips on how to fold clothes better, etc.
It all changed about two weeks ago.
I was working on the Friday before Canada Day, and our store was having a sale. It was me, my boss Matilda, and two other co-workers who were working at the time. I had to work 3 1/2 hours that day. (P.S. – I only work 1-2 shifts per week, at minimum wage, for only 3 – 3 1/2 hours a shift, with no benefits, which I realllllly needed since I was going to be off my family’s health insurance soon).
I had gone in to work that day with a headache. I took some Advil before I left home because that usually took it away. But about half way through my shift, the headache was turning in to a migraine. It was about 5:20PM, and my head was pounding. My boss had just come out from the back of the store with her purse. Looking back now I should have kept my mouth shut. I told her that I wasn’t feeling too well with a migraine and that I might have to leave soon.
Her whole demeanor changed. Her eyes narrowed as she huffed and said, “Well, can you at least wait until after Amelia* gets back from her lunch break?” (Amelia, (named changed) hadn’t even left for her lunch break yet mind you, and her break was for an hour) I said sure, and asked when she would be going. My boss replied that she could go on break any time now. I said ok and went back to folding clothes and helping customers.
About 10 minutes or so later, there were only about 3 customers browsing the store and I had already told them about our sale. As I walked by the front counter, my boss stated, “Well you might as well clock out now.” She glared at me the entire time. I thought that I could leave after Amelia came back from break, but Matilda said, “If you need to go home then clock out now and just leave.” So I did.
By this time I was already starting to get upset from her tone of voice and demeanor towards me. (Note: if you haven’t read about it before, I have an anxiety disorder. Also, my boss KNOWS about my anxiety disorder because I disclosed it to her earlier.)
Matilda was already complaining to one of my co-workers about me leaving. It felt like high school again. I clocked out and grabbed my purse from the back room and started to leave.
As I walked by Matilda, she suddenly stopped me and asked to speak to me in the back room. My nerves shot from 0 to 100 when this happened. Something inside me said, “She’s going to yell at you.” So I followed her to the back room and waited for the worst to happen. It basically did.
She started by asking me what was wrong with me. I retold her how I had a headache and it just got worse to a migraine. Then she began to emphasise about how unreliable I was being and uncalled for this was for me to leave work early on a day that we had a sale. That she understood when people get sick, but they were depending on me and I was letting them down. This basically turned in to a huge guilt trip towards me to the point that I was sobbing and in tears as she continued kicking me while I was down (metaphorically). She continued on by saying that because of my anxiety and my problem with my knee, maybe this fast-paced job isn’t right for me, etc.
I was having a migraine lady. There was nothing wrong with my knee and my anxiety does not go in the way of my work/job.
I thought she was going to fire me. I assured her I loved my job and this was just a one time thing with my migraine. She then focused on how I was late for work (by two minutes.) This is the first time I was late for work ever. I even called her to let her know I would be late and she said it was fine. But she seemed to like to rub it in at that perfect time.
I was still a blubbering mess as she finished off by saying how she was supposed to be done work at 5PM but now she would have to stay late and tell her family to go on without her to their trip and she would have to miss out on the trip with them. The icing on the cake. She then dismissed me with a, “I’ll see you next week.” So I left the store, sobbing hysterically with tears running down my eyes. Customers either stared outright at me or tried to look away as I exited the store.
I sat in my car for 10 minutes crying before I called my mom on the phone and told her what happened. I wanted to quit right then. But I didn’t. Because I needed the money. I really thought long and hard about what happened. I agree that it sucked that I would get a migraine, but I can’t control that. Advil obviously didn’t help. But I really felt that she was very cruel and belittled me as if I was mentally handicapped or unfit in general. I felt that she should apologize to me. But I never said anything.
I told my family and a couple of close friends what happened. One of my friends was so mad about what happened that she wanted to go give my boss a piece of her mind haha.
Jump to that Wednesday. I was in for work and it was only me and Matilda working. She didn’t bring up last week and neither did I. The shift passed fast, with me being wary the entire shift and feeling like I was walking on eggshells. I felt like she was scrutinizing me the entire time. As I left work that day I stopped and apologized for leaving early the previous week and how she missed out on her family trip. She said it was fine and that she was just a little late for the trip, and left it at that. I chocked it up to her just being in a bad mood last week.
Since then, I started looking for other jobs. Because 1) I can’t live off of 1-2 shifts a week that may also end up getting cut, 2) I didn’t feel comfortable working at a place where the boss was insensitive and kicks you when you’re low, and 3) I realised I would be going nowhere with this job. No benefits, no healthcare. The only people who were fully supported by the job was Matilda and the other higher-up supervisor Lizzie (named changed).
So I started surfing the web for new jobs, and family friends told me to apply for this desk job at a local shipping company. I did, and that same day I got a call to go in for an interview. I had the interview last week, and it seemed to go very well. They called me today to go in and fill out a criminal background report, and I happily did. I’m excited for the possibility of being hired at this job. It has more hours, more money, and the possibility of moving up the job chain fast. It’s perfect. From an inside worker, they’re 80% sure I’m going to be hired.
But working at the clothing store was still a heavy weight on my mind. So today I quit. I was so afraid of my boss that my mother actually went to the store with me as support. I walked in and there Matilda was. She greeted me, and when she was without a customer I told her that I was quitting ASAP because I was going to be looking for a new job with more hours and better pay. If I wasn’t watching her I wouldn’t have noticed the look of annoyance and anger that showed.
She was pissed but kept a cheery voice and said, “But of course you’re still going to be working here for two more weeks right?” My stomach dropped. No, I didn’t have to, I could quit right there, but it was just morally right for me to work for 2 more weeks. But I was still so pissed off at her and upset for how she’s treated me that I said no, I was done right there. My mom lied and added that I would be starting my new job this week. Matilda pressed the issue of trying to make me work 2 more weeks, saying that it was “customary”. After us having to tell her 3 times no, she said “Well for future reference, this is uncalled for and customary to work 2 more weeks before you quit.” She then made me write it out on paper that I was quitting just in case it didn’t look like I “abandoned” my position. As I was writing the letter my anxiety was at 20000. But I stayed calm on the outside. Matilda asked one last time if I was going to work this weekend, where I shook my head no, and finished writing the letter. She still continued to glare at me, so my mom stepped in and said, “No, she’s done today.”
Matilda just smiled and said, “Well, I was trying to talk to Katherine herself about this.” She then started typing on her tablet, most likely deleting me from the store’s forum and letting other co-workers know that I quit. I finished writing my letter and placed it beside her. She never looked at us, didn’t say good-bye. So we left. I cried 10 minutes later, my anxiety was so pent up in myself. It feels like a weight has been lifted. I have no regrets quitting. I hated working for this woman and hated the environment she brought to the store. I was so scared today I even had my phone on record in case she said anything overly rude to us. (It is legal for me to do that, in case anyone was wondering)
Crossing my fingers for this new job!
P.S. I’m typing this in a hurry because we have guests over tonight and must prepare supper and clean the house. If anyone has any questions about this situation, feel free to comment.