Off The Clock And On To The Chopping Block

, , , , , | Working | July 26, 2019

(I am a cashier at a big box retailer. Our longtime front-end manager has retired recently. His successor is a young blonde woman in her late twenties. I meet her on her first day and she seems like a very sweet and enthusiastic person, even taking an almost immediate liking to me. The next day, I’m off, and I’m shopping for my family when she approaches me.)

Manager: *smiling* “Hey, how are you doing?”

Me: “Very well, thank you.”

Manager: “Hey, do you think you could get on register four? We’re getting swamped in here.”

Me: “I can’t. I’m shopping.”

Manager: “Well, we’re really busy and the lines are getting long. I really do need you over there.”

Me: “It’s my day off! I’m not even in uniform!”

Manager: *no longer smiling* “You don’t have a choice in the matter, and I do not like this attitude of yours. Get on register four, now. That is an order.”

Me: “With all due respect, you cannot make me work off the clock.”

Manager: *now yelling* “Again with your attitude! Go to the office! Now! I’ll deal with you later!”

(I head to the store director’s office.)

Store Director: “[My Name]? What are you doing back here? Is something wrong?”

Me: “Apparently, I’m in trouble.”

Store Director: “What do you mean? I thought you weren’t scheduled today.”

Me: “I wasn’t; that’s the point! I was just here shopping when [Manager] sent me back here.”

(Just then the front end manager comes storming in.)

Manager: *screaming* “I’m sick and tired of your attitude and refusal to do as you’re told! You’re fired!

Store Director: “Whoa, whoa! Hold the phone! First and foremost, [Manager], you do not yell at anyone in this store. Second, what exactly are you firing [My Name] for?”

Manager: “I’m firing him for insubordination! He wasn’t getting on register when I told him to!”

Store Director: “Oh, really? Did it ever occur to you that [My Name] wasn’t even scheduled today, and that maybe he was just here to shop?”

Manager: “I don’t care! His job is to do as he’s told!”

Store Director: “And you essentially told him to break the law and work off the clock. You cannot fire him for refusing to do that, and even if for some reason you could, it would have to go through me and I still wouldn’t allow it.” *to me* “Sorry about that, [My Name]. You can go about your business now. I’m going to have a word in private with [Manager]. Hope your day gets better! I’ll see you tomorrow!”

Me: “You, too!”

(I left the office and finished my shopping. As I was checking out, the front end manager emerged from the office cursing out loud and stormed out the front door. When I came to work the following day, she was nowhere to be seen. I later learned she was fired that day for intentionally violating federal labor laws. It just goes to show you that sometimes sweetness and enthusiasm are only skin-deep. Thankfully, her replacement wasn’t a demon inside like she was.)

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