Don’t Panic; Just Attack

, , , , | Working | January 8, 2019

(I’ve been out of a job for a while due to depression and anxiety issues. Things are getting better, so I apply for a job as a picker for an online supermarket. This company is mostly run by young people who give space to starting adolescents to succeed in the market, no matter the background. I get the job and find out newbies are being put on “flow” duty, meaning that instead of picking orders, as the job description said, I’m stocking crates and the like. That works fine for me, but the crates are quite heavy and the stress level is high. One week in, I’m put on crate supply. This means I have to fill up a big trolley with crates, put it in an elevator, let the elevator go down while I take the stairs down, and unload again a level below, climb back up the stairs, and repeat. People from four different departments are nagging for crates, and I do what I can — on my own — to fill their demands. I feel the anxiety building up but I’m too busy to catch a break. At one point I feel like I’m about to burst, and I ask my department manager, who is quite a stern-looking woman, if there is something else I can do.)

Manager: “What do you mean, you need something else to do? Why can’t you just do your job?”

Me: “I’m terribly sorry, but I’m doing a job that is meant for three people, on my own now, for the last two and a half hours. I’m at the end of my rope here. Can I please go back to filling duty and swap with someone else?”

(Filling means putting plastic bags in the crates. She huffs but agrees, muttering something under her breath about laziness. This adds to my insecurity and I feel tears welling up. I struggle to get a plastic bag to fit over the edges of the crate. The manager comes to stand beside me.)

Manager: *very condescending* “What? Is this too difficult for you, as well?”

Me: *shaking* “Again, I am so sorry. I sometimes get panic attacks and… and… I’m sorry; I have to go take some medicine for it. Excuse me.”

(I bolt to the break room to have a panic attack and take my meds. Unfortunately, I’m not the only person there, and soon enough I’m surrounded by concerned coworkers. I’m sent upstairs to the boss.)

Boss: “I’m so sorry to hear you are having trouble keeping up. I know what it’s like; I used to have panic attacks, too. It’s a nasty business.”

(I’m getting my hopes up; if he understands what it is, he must know how hard it is to keep a job, and will, therefore, show some compassion, right?)

Me: “It’s just the stress of the first week, I assure you. If I can maybe get the rest of the day off, I’ll be fine.”

Boss: “I don’t think you will be. We can’t really use someone like you on the floor. It holds up the production line. I’m sorry, but I have to let you go.”

(Well, so much for compassion, and way to add to the anxiety!)

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