Sadly This Story Is A Copy Of So Many Others

, , , , , , , | Working | August 15, 2019

Several years ago, I was working in the copy shop of a national chain retailer near my hometown. However, my long-distance boyfriend and I had decided to make things more short-distance, and I asked if I could see about transferring to a location closer to him. My store manager said he had talked to the manager of the store nearest him, and that they would be happy to have me, and would even make me a full-time worker, whereas at my current store I was only part-time.

The fact that they ostensibly hired me without even talking to me should have been my first red flag, but I had never transferred jobs before and just assumed that that was normal. After moving in with my boyfriend, I went by the store to meet with the manager. When I asked when they wanted me to start, they asked if I could start the very next day. Again, should have been a red flag, but after a long move, making money right away sounded good to me, so I accepted.

When I came in the next day, the general manager took me aside and told me that I “might see some things that weren’t right” in the department, but that I should just be sure to keep him updated and it would be fine. Now I was finally starting to feel a little uneasy, but I really couldn’t afford not to have a job, so I shrugged it off.

When I finally started working in the department, I found a supervisor who was overworked and frazzled, and a staff that was at best barely competent and at worst lazy and an active detriment to the job. The supervisor was friendly with me, but she was definitely nearing the end of her rope, and I think she knew the managers’ true plans for hiring me, even though at the time I still didn’t.

That came only a week or so later, when they offered me the supervisor’s position. Afraid that I’d lose my job altogether if I said no, I accepted.

The months after that were Hell. The former supervisor and the only other worker who actually cared both quit, which I couldn’t really blame them for, but it left me understaffed with useless employees in an incredibly busy copy center, as it was the only one in a thirty-mile radius. The other managers clearly had no idea how dire the situation was, as it became apparent to me that they thought the former supervisor “just didn’t try hard enough.” Meanwhile, none of them knew how to work the copy center, so were of no help to me, and would get onto me if I forsook even the smallest of my closing duties in favor of getting the unending backlog of orders finished. 

Add in nonsensical policies — for example, the fact that it was my job to clean out the bathrooms at night because “they’re right next to the copy center” — and two months in I was at the end of my rope. I didn’t even really get “days off” because, in spite of not being salaried, I would get calls at home constantly from my workers because they didn’t know how to do the very basic functions of their jobs, in spite of my repeated attempts to train them. All of my reports to the GM were met with “just make sure to write them up,” which did nothing because all of the write-ups just went into a folder in my department that never got looked at, and my workers knew it. Oh, and if I even approached my allotted 40 hours, I was sent home early, because God forbid I make overtime.

The one light at the end of the tunnel was that my GM had promised me that I would get final say on the new workers that he swore he was trying to get in. Then, one Friday he pulled me aside to give me “good news.” They had hired me some new workers, whom I had never met, in spite of promises to include me in the hiring process. I asked if they had any experience in print centers. Nope. None. The “good news” was that on top of all of the plates I was already spinning, I would also have to train completely green workers, who, regardless of work ethic, would be albatrosses around my neck for at least another month before they could even potentially pull some weight.

The next Monday I woke up. I thought about going into work, to the mountain of jobs my useless coworkers wouldn’t have touched, or worse, done entirely wrong and wasted product that I would have to replace. I thought about the incoming new workers who I would somehow have to find time to train between fixing mistakes and being screamed at by customers. And I promptly burst into inconsolable tears.

My boyfriend, who had been watching my mental decline over the last two months — who the week before had seen me wake up to answer my phone, so disoriented from lack of sleep that my legs actually gave out trying to get to it and I still answered it — calmed me down, grabbed my cell phone, and told me that I had to quit.


And I did. I believe my exact words on the phone to the morning manager were, “Hi, um… I’m not going to be coming in today… or ever.” It was like coming up for air after almost drowning. I instantly felt a weight lifted off of me. The GM called a few minutes later to try and talk me out of it, but I was firm. I just couldn’t do it anymore, and nothing was going to get me to set foot in that copy center again.

I struggled to find another job for a while, but after a while, my boyfriend and I both found jobs in a larger city, and we were preparing to move. Literally on our way out of his hometown, we stopped at that same store for a desk, the first time I’d been there since quitting. Almost the entire staff I remembered was gone; the only person I recognized was one of the computer techs, who I remembered as one of the few competent staff, and he was now a manager. I wasn’t overly surprised.


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