Missing Him

At my job, two co-workers I am friends with, one of whom is a manager, recently began dating. Granted, I’m not sure how long “recently” is, but to the best of my memory, about two months or so. He had a crush on her and the day he planned to finally ask her out, she (the manager) did it first. It’s a cute story, and I genuinely hope things work well for them. At the same time, I’d be a liar if I wasn’t a little bit envious.

Not because I want to date either of them, but because I wish I had the privilege of seeing my boyfriend as often as they see each other. Make no mistake. I absolutely adore my boyfriend and have eyes for no one except him, but the thirty miles between us across our neighboring states kills me inside at times. To be blatant, every time I see a couple together, I think of him and wish we could be together at that moment. I know it could be worse. He could on the other side of the country or on the other side of the world. That we can see each other the one or two times a month we manage to is a privilege in itself. But that truly doesn’t help me miss him any less.

I know there is such a thing as too much time together. That applies to us too. We’d probably kill each other if we had to spend every waking moment together. But I’d rather have too much time together than not enough. At least, we could avoid each other for a few hours or days if we were getting aggravated and make up later.

My co-workers, when they have shifts together (this particular manager does not make the schedule), will share their lunch break with each other. When she has to be on the floor, he’ll usually work with her and they’ll talk about whatever they please as they do returns or clear the floor area. Or if she’s counting out at the register to close them down for the night and we have no customers in line, they’ll chat together as she counts and he’ll walk her to back as she carries the register drawers (policy is that two people must walk with the drawers, though of course, she doesn’t let him in the cash office). I’d give anything to have that with my boyfriend. Perhaps it’d get old after a while, but again, we could avoid each other until we felt better. Really, I’d give anything for us to live in the same town, let alone have the privilege of working together at a job.

I feel bad for being envious of them. They are my friends, after all, and friends should not be jealous. I am truly happy for them since they are both sweet and funny people, and they don’t get angry if an employee talks to the one who’s the opposite gender (we had a couple at work before where the woman harassed me because her boyfriend, who was my boss and hers, would have to speak to me or I’d have to speak to him). I feel like I sound unappreciative of my boyfriend, which is not the case at all. I’d certainly rather see him only twice a month than not have him at all. I took off Fridays so if he’s not scheduled, we’re almost guaranteed to have that one day of the week together for a few hours (though I do have to work this coming Friday, and he has to work on the next, so that won’t really go into effect for two weeks).

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Absence also makes the heart break and causes it sorrow. I want what my friends have: the privilege of being a couple who can share their job. I want the thirty miles between us to be a 30 minute walk between us. I want being apart to be an option more often than it is mandatory.

I just want him to be here.

Forty Percent Off Your Life

I had a rather harrowing experience this past Friday, which was Black Friday, to be specific.

Black Friday is always hellish when it comes to retail. Since I was working in a mall, I expected much more traffic. It was a bit more stressful than at my previous job, where there were never Black Friday sales to begin with, but I was managing to deal with it.

What I did not expect was to almost lose my life that night.

There was a shooting at the mall in a store on the lower level. A huge crowd suddenly stampeded into our store in a panic, and all of my co-workers ran toward the back. I don’t recall if I heard gunshots or not. I assume the immense fear and anxiety is to blame for the unclear memory. But I will never forget hiding in our backroom, scared for my life, wondering if we’ll get out, wondering if we’ll get home.

We hid for around twenty to thirty minutes. Some of my braver co-workers peeked outside the door every so often. The store’s shutters were down, so no one could enter. Eventually, police came and led us to one of the mall’s emergency exits, which was luckily right across from our store. We all ran. I got as far away from the mall as I could and call a relative to pick me up.

Minus the one person who was shot, no one in the mall was hurt and the mall was shut down for the night. The victim wasn’t critically injured, so he/she will hopefully have a speedy recovery.

It goes without saying I was shaken up, as were a lot of my co-workers, especially those of us who hadn’t worked in in the mall prior to this holiday season. One of my co-workers who’d been there for a few years tried to comfort me by saying that mall has a shooting every year (a few minutes of Google searching proved her correct). I have no idea how that’s supposed to be comforting. The mall was up and running the next day like normal, but most of the mall’s workers did not come in the next day. Neither did I. Some people can handle, but some can’t, and I don’t believe violence, and the risk of losing your life, should be part of a retail job, of all things. We didn’t sign up for that. Personally, if I’d known that mall has a shooting annually, I would never have applied. I’ve done active shooter drills at school, and I was still in no way prepared for that.

The bigger question to me, however, is why any sale is worth violence, let alone the loss of someone’s life. I’ve read about Black Friday violence. I know about the crazy crowds that trample each other, that fight to get what’s on sale before it runs with no regard for who they hurt. I know it’s been going on for decades now, but that only makes it worse. The USA is supposed to be the greatest country, correct? How are we the greatest when all it takes to reduce us to the behavior of savage animals is a discount for things we most likely don’t need? Why are workers expected to deal with the resulting violence, that could potentially spell the end of someone’s life in some cases, such as mine recently? Why is this just accepted by us?

I do not care how preachy I sound when I say this: No sale is worth someone’s well-being! No sale is worth their life!

It’s no wonder to me now why retail has such a high turnover rate. Note that outside of pharmacies and grocery stores, retail is not exactly an essential service. Yes, we need clothes, but we can by without spending $25 on a shirt. Seriously. I’ve bought very pretty and long-lasting clothes for cheaper. That’s not to say I don’t think people should be able to indulge themselves, but you won’t die without them. For the fact it’s not an essential and it’s, for the most part, an easy one to learn, I do understand why it pays so little (I’m not of the opinion minimum wage workers don’t deserve a livable wage because no one deserves to go hungry, but that’s another topic that’s been beaten to death), but if risking your well-being and possibly your life is going to be part of the job, it needs to start paying a lot more. And no, “time and a half” doesn’t cover it, and not stores give that anyway.

Though I may not have a choice, if I can help it, I will not work at the mall again. Yes, a shooting can happen anywhere, but that mall’s an annual target and all it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If that were to happen to me, everyone would cry I shouldn’t have been there (in fact, my boss at my other did put the blame for the shooting on me for that very reason). I don’t think I’m paranoid for wanting to avoid it, knowing its history of previous shootings. Just because businesses are willing to trade lives for sales doesn’t mean I am.

Off my soapbox I go.

Jealousy

This is probably the pettiest post I’ve ever written for this blog, and if it’s not, I’m scared to search through my archives and find what is.

The gist of it is: My boyfriend makes more money than me and I’m mad.

Yeah, that’s it.

Okay, that’s not really it, but most people wouldn’t read beyond that. If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re willing to, so I’ll explain.

It’s not him personally. It’s that the only reason he makes more than me is he lives in a state with a higher minimum wage than the one I reside in, and we’re both paid only $2 above our states’ respective minimum wages. The cost of living is higher is in his state, but our living situations make that factor irrelevant on both sides.

I suppose that doesn’t make how I feel better. He doesn’t make the minimum wage laws, and I’m certainly not trying to insinuate he shouldn’t make a livable wage (I am very much in favor of raising the minimum wage nationwide; no, I don’t think having to work a low-skills job means someone should be unable to afford food, clothes, and shelter). My frustration is when it comes to our personal situations, the only reason he makes more than I do by chance. He happens to live in a state with a higher minimum wage than me. He works hard – I’ll never deny that – but I work hard as well, and knowing that is what sparks the jealousy to begin with.

Since I am the worst person at hiding my feelings, he knows this and I unintentionally made him feel bad. Of course, he shouldn’t feel bad, but I could’ve said nothing and he still would’ve figured it out (note: he’s very good at sensing something’s wrong with me; where and when he picked that up, I’m also clueless). I confess I also feel bad because when I was the only of us making money, he felt guilty I paid for most of our outings and constantly insisted on paying me back, despite my protests he doesn’t have to (thankfully, he hasn’t tried to pay me back for all of that; paying for our outings wasn’t a loan!). I’m happy he does have a job and he is making money, especially since his self-worth was crumbling before he was, but I’m bitter about the reason he makes more than I do.

I guess in the end, almost everyone has something that gives them an edge, even a tiny one. Now, if I could only find mine.

Something Old, Something New

Something red, something… silver!

I started a new job yesterday. I won’t work with them again until after next week because I must finish this upcoming week at my old job. It’s still a clothing store, but smaller and much more expensive! My old job turned me into a shopaholic, but I will not shop at my new store! Too pricy! The first day went well, though. Everyone’s super nice, nothing too hard, and I got all the on-boarding done. So many manuals! I am still employed with my old job, but as an on-call employee. I confess part of that is, despite all my complaints, being my first job makes me somewhat attached to them. That, and how I like so many of my co-workers. Having a heart sucks!

One of my bosses told me this recently: “Don’t burn a bridge.”

Putting aside the hope that bridge has two sides, I have to wonder how often bridges have been burned to say that. I certainly didn’t want to leave on bad terms, but I know a lot of people just stop showing up or quit that very day. I (unintentionally) gave them only a week’s notice instead of two, partly because I had no idea how transitioning to on-call works, but they didn’t hold it against me. I’ve learned anything can happen, so for all I know, I could go back to them as part-time someday (if they let me), so I very much don’t want to that bridge to become ashes.

I think the biggest change, however, is I’m paid bi-weekly instead of weekly now. That’s undoubtedly going to take some getting used to!

Empathy

A human emotion that’s apparently very hard for some people.

I have four bosses. There are two I absolutely admire. I will keep names private, but I enjoy working with them, even on stressful days. They are never less than radiant – constantly full of sunshine – and what I’ve noticed lately is, no matter how stressed they are, they never stop being kind and empathetic towards those of us beneath them. Despite they have more power and authority over us, they still talk to us and listen to us. It’s to the point I will only come in extra if it’s one of them who calls me and I’m able to say yes.

There was recently one night where I was frustrated and not feeling good at one. One of these two I admire was the closing manager. She had a headache the entire night, yet she noticed I was aggravated.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

Me: (lying) “Oh, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Me: “It’s nothing, really.”

“Well, if you want to talk, let me know.”

Somehow, my night got a lot better after that. I have spoken to her before when I needed help and she’s never failed to solve it. In one case, she undid another manager’s giant mess. I have no idea what keeps these two managers able to put themselves in our shoes, but I hope they never lose it. The level of empathy they have and their ability to never lose it under any amount of stress are things I aspire to possess someday. Were I ever to leave my job, voluntarily or not, I would come back every so often solely to help them out if I thought it made even a small difference in the night for them. I’m not kidding. That’s how amazing they are as managers. Few people can do what they do.

Speaking of few people, the other two of those four bosses? I would’ve left a long time ago if the empathetic two I spoke of weren’t there. The other two have no emotion that doesn’t regard business. I guess that happens over time. I’d get more help from talking to a brick wall than talking to either of them. They only listen to what they want to listen to, and they decide from their own bias and personal ideas who’s right and who’s wrong, regardless of who truly is. One in particular enjoys exaggerating, unable to differentiate between “toss” and “slide”, and loves to blackmail and to make threats. Heck, one of my co-workers (who is older than him!) outright considers him an idiot, and I think stopping at “idiot” is generous. Both of them love to make assumptions, I suppose because taking an extra few seconds (sometimes literally only an extra second) to know what really happened is too strenuous. Heaven forbid anything serious happen at work because they could only be counted on to make the matter worse. I no longer hold respect for either of them (yes, I genuinely did think highly of them at one point, not that it matters), and the bridge has been burned to the ground and into ashes.

Granted, I feel slightly more tolerant toward one because he seems more naïve and lacking in memory than having any real malice. He did, for example, permit me to leave a shift early with no question for why I’m asking, though it’s likely he’s forgotten by now. His naiveté can be painful, to say the least, but I’ll give him half credit for never threatening me. That, sadly, doesn’t make him any better than his assistant, should he be needed for something the empathetic managers can’t do. I prefer not to talk either of them anymore because it’s fruitless. An “open-door policy” is only useful if it actually helps. I wouldn’t be surprised if there have been incidents where they wrongfully penalized someone and never apologized because, well, we’re just drones to make the store money. Who cares what they do to us? In fact, in my case, there has been at least one such incident – a different manager pushed me to mental/emotional breakdown, enough I couldn’t process my thoughts and wanted to hit my head on a railing, and I had to leave for my own well-being – but they already decided I was the monster in that situation, so anything I said fell on deaf ears. I would’ve accepted the penalty for leaving without permission, but for heaven’s sake, just listen!

Interestingly, the two managers who haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be at our level have had breakdowns. One recently told me she went in the back and cried after she had deal with a hellish customer because she was so stressed out and tired. The other admitted to having similar moments and she used to see a therapist to help her stress. In a way, it makes me hate that they can relate. They are too kind, too good, to be given hell like that. At the same time, maybe it’s part of what makes them empathetic. They deal with it, they know we deal with it, they know we break down and lose our stability, and it’s unfortunately a normality of the job, despite their positions being far different from those of us on the floor and register (especially the register; there’s a reason I was desperate to work on the floor). I suppose the two managers lacking in empathy have been managers for so long, they don’t remember what that feels like and they can no longer. I’m not saying I want everyone to be breaking down – of course not – but to still be considered valid. If the empathetic managers can still remember we’re human, why can’t the other two?

All of the above said, the one thing that officially made my last shred of respect for the latter two managers crash and burn is finding out they’re cowardly. They can yell, threaten, and take sides to their hearts’ content, but they could not tell me to my face they thought my performance with a certain aspect of work was low. I had to find out through my own questioning and, still, not much was said about it. They just kept moving me elsewhere, I suppose under the assumption I’d be too stupid to realize something was suspicious. Assuming I’d be slow to figure it out would make sense, but not that I never would. Weird. I’d think people with such a callous outlook toward anyone beneath management would be more than to tell someone they suck. I take more offense to thinking I can’t see through a trick.