Work Like A Boss, Get Paid Like A Serf

, , , , , , | Working | August 7, 2020

One of my first jobs is at a local bakery department inside a supermarket. After a couple of months, the manager is badly injured on the job in a way that winds up needing surgery and rehab, so she is out for a very long time.

None of the other women in the department want the extra responsibility, so I end up handling schedules, sales, orders, etc. It’s very stressful and it means I’m always on the 5:00 am shift doing extra work, and the assistant store manager makes a big deal of saying how much she appreciates it, and how much of a lifesaver I allegedly am, every day. 

After a few months of this, one of the other department heads pulls me aside and tells me that, per company policy, I am actually entitled to an extra dollar-fifty every hour I am performing the duties of a manager. Looking it up, I see he’s right. Like most young people making minimum wage, that extra buck-fifty means a lot to me, so I go to the assistant manager about it. 

Contrary to how she’s acted — as if I’m a hero — to date, suddenly she becomes cold and combative. First, she insists I’m wrong, even when I show her the employee handbook, and then tries to argue that I don’t qualify, which I very much do. Naively, I am shocked by her abrupt 180 from how supportive and appreciative she’s been.

Finally, she angrily says, “It’s not even a big deal! It’s just a dollar-fifty! That’s nothing!” 

“That’s an extra twelve dollars a day for me,” I reply, “and almost fifty dollars a week. Nearly two hundred dollars a month. That’s my heating and my telephone bill, easy.” 

She scoffs but relents, and she makes a big deal out of making me fill out paperwork requesting the extra money I am owed, acting as if I am being greedy and unreasonable the whole time. Thereafter, she was very chilly and snide to me. It really opened up my eyes to how too many managers regard their employees as valuable until they know their worth, though I have been fortunate in the years since to work with some great managers and senior staff elsewhere. 

When I left the company to move away a few years later, still “temporary acting management,” I learned that they were just planning to have one of my coworkers fill in as manager rather than hiring someone, so I made sure to tell her about the extra money. She was very surprised and said nobody had mentioned anything to her. Hopefully, she followed through. 

Let this be a lesson, folks; always stand firm and don’t let yourself be guilted out of what is rightfully yours. You deserve it.

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