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Not Volunteering Yourself For Abuse

| Working | November 27, 2013

(Having decided to volunteer at a local shop that sells clothes for charity, I meet with the manager to find out what I’ll be doing while I’m there. She is very cheerful and upbeat and we get on well. We go through all the normal stuff about fire drills, what sort of clothes are good enough to be sold, prices, etc. Then I agree to start the next day. As my shift starts at 12:30, I decide to go to get a sandwich. I bring it into the store room where the clothes are sorted before going on sale or being thrown out. It smells pretty musty in there. But, as there isn’t anywhere else to sit, I start to eat my sandwich after opening one of the big side windows wide open. The manager comes into the room.)

Manager: “New girl! Hey, you, new girl! Come here! Now! I know you’re in here!”

Me: “I’m here.”

(I walk over to her with my sandwich in my hand.)

Manager: “I just wanted to tell you about a change to the—”

(The manager breaks off when she sees the sandwich in my hand.)

Manager: “You can’t eat in here. I told you that you have to eat outside the back door. Have you forgotten that? I only told you yesterday. Are you stupid or something?”

Me: “You didn’t mention anything about food yesterday so I thought I’d eat here.”

Manager: “You can’t eat here as you’ll make the clothes smell horrible. What are you eating, fish? It smells dreadful in here now! How dare you ruin all the clothes for the shop? You’re so selfish.”

Me: “I’m eating a plain cheese sandwich by an open window. And it smells pretty bad in here already.”

Manager: “Oh, I don’t come in here myself. That’s for you people who do all the menial tasks. Besides, it’s always smelled musty, ever since I started working here.”

Me: “Well it can’t be me who made it to smell so bad if you say it’s always smelled this way. I’ve not even started my very first shift yet!”

Manager: “Well, I’ll let this go as you’re new but if it happens again I’ll have to fire you. And that won’t look good on your CV, will it? Stupid girl!”

Me: “You know what? I’m going. I don’t have to be called names and insulted.”

Manager: “You won’t get this month’s pay cheque if you walk out. It’s in your contract!”

Me: “I’m a volunteer. I didn’t sign one and I don’t get paid.”

(I collect my bag from the corner and walk out through the shop. The manager shouts after me.)

Manager: “Stupid b****! I’ll make sure you never work again!”

(About a month after this happened I got a call from the same shop. A new manager had taken over and wanted to see if I could come back to help again. She had even set aside a space for people to have lunch in away from the clothes. She also told me the previous manager was fired right after I left for being abusive and rude to the customers and staff alike.)

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