Hostile Beguile

, , , , , , | Working | June 21, 2017

I work in a grocery store deli. We hire in a new employee, [Coworker #1], who seems nice enough and is a good worker. Three weeks later, on a Friday, [Coworker #1] calls in say she’s going to be late because she has to pick up her kids from school. It’s only the two of us closing the department that night, and the last person from the morning shift has to leave when she was meant to arrive. I shrug it off, figuring I can handle a little while alone.

A half hour passes and I start to get nervous, and slightly frustrated. In my few years of being at this job, no one has ever been this late. A total of fifty minutes passes before [Coworker #1] comes in.

In concern, slight panic, and mild frustration, I ask what caused her to be so late. She only says she had to pick up her kids and leaves the immediate area to clock in. Satisfied, I return to work and wait for her to come back.

A half hour passes and [Coworker #1] hasn’t entered the department since she arrived. I ask  [Coworker #2] from the prepared food department, who also can work the deli, to go look for her while I take care of the customers at the deli.

Eventually, [Coworker #2] comes back and says she can’t find [Coworker #1]; she’s nowhere in the back. We decide to flag down a manager and ask what to do. He uses the speaker system to call her back to the department. Ten minutes pass; no [Coworker #1]. The three of us conclude she has left the store and not told anyone. The manager says not to worry. [Coworker #2] thankfully has [Coworker #1]’s number, so she texts [Coworker #1]. [Coworker #1] does not respond for the rest of the night. [Coworker #2] decides to help me close during the last two hours of my shift, as closing the department is something one shouldn’t have to do alone. I ready myself to talk to her about this calmly tomorrow.

Tomorrow rolls around, and one of the Managers in Charge, who are manager when the official store manager is not around, calls me into her office along with the Union Representative. The MIC tells me that [Coworker #1] has filed a complaint against me, saying that my question had created a ‘hostile work environment’ and [Coworker #1] went home because of this and has not shown up for her morning shift that day. She gives me a talk about how much hiring people costs, gets my side of the story, tells me that this will go to corporate and a full investigation may ensue, and then sends me back to work. [Coworker #2] helps me calm down, as the conversation made me upset. I got in trouble for asking one simple, understandable question.

I still hang on to hope I can talk to [Coworker #1], as we’re scheduled to work together the next night, Sunday night. Our busiest day.

Surprise, surprise, [Coworker #1] doesn’t show, so she was officially fired for having two ‘no-call, no-shows’ during her first ninety days. I was a nervous wreck that I was going to close alone on the busiest day of the week. [Coworker #2] was working in prepared foods again that day and told me directly that she would help me close up, and did so. Despite all of this happening, I’m still confused. Which one of us was in the wrong?

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