Be Thankful You Dodged That Bullet

, , , , , , , | Working | May 2, 2019

A few months after finishing my degree, I decide to apply to some seasonal retail positions to help pay the bills while looking for more permanent work. One well-known department store invites me for a phone interview. It goes very well, and the employee offers me a 20- to 25-hour-per-week sales position on the spot.

When we talk about availability, she tells me that the regional store I’ll be working in isn’t asking seasonal workers in this role to come in on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day; as long as I can come in on Black Friday and December 26, that’s fine. In fact, if I’ll be traveling, she can even make a note on my file that I want to work later shifts on those days! I was hoping to visit family a few hours away on Thanksgiving, so I say that’s perfect, and she puts me down as available anytime between ten am and midnight on Black Friday. I also tell her that, for religious reasons, I would prefer not to work Saturday mornings but can work every Sunday and Saturday afternoons if needed, and she assures me that is fine and she will make a note of that, too.

The training itself consists of six hours of watching instructional videos, 50 minutes of silently watching a busy cashier handle transactions without talking to me, and 10 minutes of the cashier actually training me. I am a little nervous that I won’t be prepared for the job, but as it turns out, I don’t have to worry.

Schedules are handled in an online system. When I am getting set up, I notice that Saturdays are listed as a “must work” with no option for me to make myself unavailable, even for a few hours. I ask one of the office managers and she says not to worry, and that once I am assigned to a manager, they will be able to alter it. I will “definitely” have shifts on the schedule before Thanksgiving — about three weeks away, at this point — and when I arrive for my shifts I will be assigned a manager.

A week goes by. The website says that all employees should now be scheduled for their entire holiday season, but my calendar is still blank. I call the office manager and she says the website was wrong; schedules would be up by Tuesday, and the schedule will only cover the next two weeks. On Thursday, the schedule goes up. I am scheduled for only one shift in two weeks, and it starts at four pm Thanksgiving Day. There is supposed to be an option for me to advertise the shift for other employees to pick up, but it isn’t working. I call the office manager again and explain the mixup. She says, again, that more shifts will definitely be added to my schedule, and that the option to swap shifts only comes up one week before the date.

The Friday before Thanksgiving, I still can’t swap that shift and my “20- to 25-hour-a-week” job still has me scheduled for only eight hours in two weeks. Annoyed, I call the office and tell the second office manager — the one who answers the call — that I would like to quit effective immediately. She asks for my name, which I give, and the name of my manager. I tell her I never got one, and she says, “Okay, thank you,” and hangs up.

Five weeks later, I get a call from the original office manager. She says, “Hi, [My Name]. Are you available to pick up a shift this week?” When I tell her that I quit over a month ago, she asks if I signed any paperwork. I tell her no one ever asked me to. She says, “Okay, thank you,” and hangs up.

But hey, I made $48 from my training shifts that they never asked me to pay back, so I guess it wasn’t a complete waste of time?

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