Making You Go Docu-mental

, , , | Working | September 12, 2017

(I work at a craft store as a stock person. A truck comes in at three am and we have until nine am [when the doors open] to get things put away. Each person usually gets a section of the store to work on. Mine is in framing, a total of ten aisles of product, some of them itty-bitty to go on individual pegs. Everyone else only has two aisles. I am usually alone with six u-boats [think of narrow, flatbed carts, piled as high as you are tall with boxes]; everyone else gets two or three. My manager storms over and loudly berates me where my coworkers can hear her.)

Manager: “It shouldn’t take you this long to put stuff away! We’re going to be hiring seasonal people soon, and if they end up working circles around you, then you won’t be working here anymore!”

Me: “[Manager], I have double the workload of everyone else, and five times the distance to travel.”

Manager: “I don’t want to hear excuses. Next time you have a shift, I’m going to watch you to see how you can do better.”

Me: “All righty then.”

(The next shift, the manager has totally forgotten. I call her to observe. She tells me to sort everything into piles [which is how I always do it anyway]. I call her again when I finish that. She says she’ll be right over. After two minutes of standing around doing nothing, I give up and go to put the trash in the compactor, halfway across the store. I come back to my department and wait some more. And more. After ten more minutes of standing around, doing nothing, the manager shows up, barely glances at the piles, and says…)

Manager: “Good job. That’s all I wanted to see,” *walks off*

(My eye develops a twitch. A friend of mine says I should invoke the Three D’s of Retail: Document, Document, Document… because this looks like trouble. My next shift, the manager shows up again. She walks up with a slow, menacing pace, puts her hands on the counter between us and leans forward in an intimidating manner.)

Manager: “You have four u-boats. You have an hour and a half to get them all done. If you are not done, I will send you home and put someone on the section who will get it done more quickly.”

(I’m stressed now. I have to go into hyper drive. I throw empty boxes in a huge pile on the floor [at her command], sort things, and take things to each of the aisles at a dead run. Where I usually slide product where they belong in the proper slots, now I have to jam them in haphazardly. Products break, and have to be swept up and taken to the damaged bin. Ten minutes to my deadline, my stuff is put away, and I’m scrambling to put away my overstock.)

Manager: “See? You’re done!”

Me: “Actually, no, I’m not. I’m still putting my overstock up, and I was unable to bring anything down from our overstock to fill the holes.”

Manager: *visibly hesitates, then says* “But you’re done putting stuff away!”

Me: “Yes, I suppose technically I am, despite not being able to do my whole job.”

Manager: “But you’re done! Aren’t you proud of yourself? You should be proud of yourself!”

(I am not proud of being bullied into haphazard work and still only getting a third of my duties done. I am then sent to another section, again at her command, leaving a huge mess for someone else to have to clean up after me. Yet another shift comes by, and my manager drags me off the floor and rips into me.)

Manager: “I don’t know what we’re going to do to make you work faster, [My Name]. You should have been able to put all your stuff away, put up your overstock, and bring extras down to fill the holes. What can we do to bring down the time it takes you to do your job?”

Me: “I don’t think you can. I already said that I have double the workload of everyone else, and five times the distance to travel. If you could assign a coworker to help me with the workload…”

Manager: “You know what, all I’m hearing out of you is excuses. It’s the holidays; we’re going to be hiring 20 new people. I think you need to go home and think about it. Next week when you come in, I want you to either have a list of things we can train you on to do things better, where to put you where you CAN be effective, or you need to tell us whether this company is right for you.”

(I was silent and absolutely stunned. Had she seriously just told me to work off the clock?! I had been documenting from start to finish, so now it was time to bring down the hammer. I called the company hotline and listed everything; unreasonable demands, hostile attitude, toxic work environment, and the demand that I do a work-related project off the clock. At this point, I was done; if I got fired, I didn’t care. The company jumped like it had been stung. I was contacted by a local bigwig within a week, and I handed him my documentation, so that he could read everything. He spoke a lot of soothing, pretty corporate platitudes about the company working like a machine, and how much corporate wanted everything to be nothing but happy rainbows, and that if I HAD worked off the clock, he would have moved heaven and earth to make sure I was paid for that time. But after looking over my documentation, he sweated a few bullets and promised me that I would be kept anonymous, but that they were going to take care of the problem. To be fair… he told the truth. My manager left me alone from then on, only talking to me to give me directions and send me on my way. There wasn’t a single peep out of her about my speed for the rest of the time I worked there, until I moved and had to quit.)

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