Shifting Away From A Decent Human Being

, | St. Thomas, ON, Canada | Working | July 20, 2017

(My grandmother had gone into the hospital at Christmas time and in early January we get the news that she has late-stage pancreatic cancer, and probably only has a few months to live. On my next shift, I go to talk to the general manager about it.)

Me: “I just found out that my grandmother has cancer. She’s in the hospital and they’re saying that she probably won’t have more than a few months. When that happens, what do I do about time off to grieve and go to the funeral?”

General Manager: “I’m sorry to hear that. The government does mandate bereavement leave, but only to immediate family members, so a grandparent wouldn’t count. But don’t worry, [My Name], when the time comes, come to me and I’ll help you get the shifts covered so you can have the time you need.”

Me: “Thanks, [General Manager]. I really appreciate it.”

(Fast forward to late March, and I get a terrible voicemail from my father asking me to call him back. I can tell he’s upset, and I just know that she’s gone. I leave one for him, but in case that’s not the problem, I head to work. I’m doing my best, but half my mind is on that voicemail, so I’m really not doing a great job at getting the store opened. Ten minutes after the doors open, my boyfriend comes in and he doesn’t even need to say anything. While he’s consoling me, I can hear the shift manager switching my till out with someone else’s and counting it off for me, and telling my boyfriend to take me home. I have a day off in between, so when I come in:)

Me: “Hi, [General Manager]. I assume you heard from [Shift Manager] that my grandmother passed away the day before yesterday.”

General Manager: “Yes, I heard she sent you home and covered your shift. She shouldn’t have had to do that. That is your responsibility.”

Me: *somewhat taken aback* “Yes, under normal circumstances, but the death of a family member can hardly be called normal circumstances. Either way, I came to ask for the help you promised me to find a replacement my shift for the day of the funeral, which is [date].”

General Manager: “But my stag do is this week. I don’t have time to be calling around for you; you’ll just have to do it yourself.”

Me: *speechless*

General Manager: “Oh, and I have a write up here for you leaving early the other day. It is not our responsibility to fill your shifts; you need to do that yourself. You’ll have to sign it.”

Me: *finally finding the power of speech* “Nope, not signing that. I refuse to sign a document that says I was in the wrong for having to take the time to grieve for my grandmother. And you’re seriously not going to fill my shift for me? Considering how understaffed we are, who am I going to find to replace it?”

General Manager: “Not my problem. And if you don’t sign it, I’ll have to take it up with [Owner]. We may have to let you go if you’re going to be insubordinate.”

Me: *balls up fists and walks away*

(I luckily did find some coworkers who were decent enough human beings to take the shift for me, for which I was immensely grateful. The kicker: I looked up bereavement a while later when another family member passed, and grandparents are absolutely included in bereavement policy, so she was required to give me three days off. She did take the write up to the owner, who made her destroy it. I’d like to say it was because he was a decent human being, but sadly I know him better than that. It was because my father was influential in the community, and he had political aspirations. He went on to serve for eight years as our federal representative, to my disgust. A week after my grandma passed, I got my acceptance letter for college and spent the next six months working at that place and silently reminding myself, every time they aggravated me, that my time there was limited by when I started college.)

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