Assistant Manager, Manage!

, , , , , | Working | March 23, 2021

During college, I work part-time in a bakery within a grocery store as a bakery clerk. My job is to pack and label all of the food, clean, and serve customers. When I initially start working there, my coworkers and manager are great. I am good friends with our union representative. We all get along and the bakery runs smoothly. It isn’t my chosen field, but I make a few friends with the other clerks and get to eat any food that is unsellable.

Shortly after my two-year mark, a new assistant manager comes to our department for training. She is a little older than me and overall seems like a really sweet woman. We are told by our manager that she will be, essentially, an “acting manager” to learn to run her own department. He will be supervising her actions but allowing her to take the reins. If there are any issues, we are told to come to him.

During this initial period, I am promoted to Assistant Cake Decorator and will be undergoing training to become a full-fledged Cake Decorator eventually.

It takes two months for the assistant manager to completely piss off the entire department in a few different ways.

She changes the schedule on a whim. I will take photos of the schedule when posted and come in at 7:00 am, only for her to yell at me and say I am scheduled for 8:00 am. It’ll turn out that she changed it THAT morning. She does this to me and everyone else.

She consistently jumps in to “help” different areas and leaves a mess afterward that she doesn’t bother to clean up, such as leaving the baking desk full of flour, spices, or unproved dough. She helps “decorate” cakes and then leaves the frosting open and her counter covered in it, and leaves any cakes not done out; procedure is to put them in the freezer. We have to throw those cakes out because no one knows when she just leaves them.

Any time someone brings up procedure or asks her questions, she asserts that she is the manager and that this is the way to go, even if it is completely different from the store’s procedures and things that coworkers with over thirty years of experience have been doing properly.

She often disappears with my manager, especially when it is busy or we have deliveries. I have to refuse them because I can’t sign for them; we then get yelled at for not having enough stock.

My manager does nothing to rectify the situation, and if we go to him with the issues, we are told he’ll fix it. He never does.

During my time as a cake decorating assistant, I meet another girl — [Coworker] — who is actually going to culinary school to be a cake decorator. She is younger than me and this is her first job, so she doesn’t quite know how things work. She often comes to me for advice.

One particular day, she comes into our area almost in tears. I ask her what’s going on.

Coworker: “I’m heading off to school in two weeks, so I put in my two-week notice to [Assistant Manager], and she told me that they wouldn’t accept it because this week would count as week zero, and then I’d have to work two weeks after that. I’ll be back at school that third week.”

She starts crying, saying that she’ll have to quit, and she doesn’t want to do that for her first experience, especially since it is the only place she can use as a reference.

On top of that, we work for a union. If she leaves on bad terms — i.e. quitting — she will never be able to work for another grocery store bakery. She is devastated.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of two weeks’ notice working that way.

I offer a hug, she takes it, and I tell her that’s some big cow poop. Since I’ve worked there long enough, I know the store manager fairly well. I check to make sure [Assistant Manager] isn’t around, and I pull [Coworker] to [Store Manager]’s office.

Me: “I’m only here to support [Coworker], but this is an issue you should know about.”

I encourage [Coworker] to tell her story. Through tears, she tells him everything that [Assistant Manager] said, and I can see his face darken rather quickly. He assures us it will be taken care of and thanks us for our time.

A few days pass before I see [Coworker] again, but when I do, she pulls me into a big hug. She happily tells me that they accepted her two-week notice and everything is good; she’ll be able to leave and come back if she ever wants to work for them again.

Over the next few months, half of the staff quit, and one of them gets injured due to [Assistant Manager]’s careless planning. I don’t remember exactly why they move [Assistant Manager], but they do and it is a glorious day.

So much so, I end up speaking with our Union Representative about it. I update him on all the things going on and tell him about my promotion. He doesn’t like the scheduling changing, but he raises an eyebrow when I mention my promotion and pulls out his tablet.

Union Representative: “You’re not listed in our database as an Apprentice Cake Decorator.”

Me: “What do you mean? I was offered the position months ago, and I’ve been training since then.”

Union Representative: “You said you were promoted when [Assistant Manager] was here?”

Me: “Yes.”

Union Representative: “Let me do some digging.”

Later that day, my manager and [Union Representative] came to me privately while I was cleaning and explained that [Assistant Manager] had never submitted any paperwork toward my promotion, so I never got the appropriate raise. To the company, my promotion never existed, and now the company owed me backpay. The “training” I received as an Apprentice Cake Decorator wasn’t official at all; the last six or so months didn’t count toward any kind of apprentice program.

Turns out, [Assistant Manager] did no paperwork for the department at all. Everything was in shambles and [Union Representative] was furious. They eventually offered for me to go into the program officially, but I told them that by that point I was already seeking employment elsewhere. I ended up leaving about a month later for a job in my career field. 

It took them six more months to pay me my backpay, and when I went back to the bakery after that time, the entire staff had been replaced.

Related:
Manager, Manage! Part 5
Manager, Manage! Part 4
Manager, Manage! Part 3
Manager, Manage! Part 2
Manager, Manage!

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