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.

Seen and Heard

I’ve talked about this before, using a different phrase, but after working in retail for some time now, I can’t help bringing it up again.

“Children are meant to be seen, not heard.”

The sentence ignites a great amount of irritation in me. I won’t repeat myself because I went into plenty of detail about why the similar phrase, don’t speak unless you’re spoken to, is outdated and makes no sense. But this one feels even more so.

Although it’s short, after the time I’ve already spent working in retail, if there is any age group that should be seen instead of heard, it is adults!

The majority of the customers are pleasant and most transactions go normally with zero trouble. Of the problematic customers I have had, however, I’ve never had one who was a child. Neither have my co-workers. When my co-workers talk about the trouble they have with customers, they are referring to adults.

That’s not to say the children are always angelic. Of course, I hear children cry and occasionally throw temper tantrums. Or they touch things and don’t put them back correctly. I won’t deny that behavior is annoying.

But it pales in comparison to the adult who yells at me because I can’t do their return due to lack of any proof of their purchase (receipt, phone number, and/or sale tags). It’s nothing compared to the adults who frequently come to the register at closing time with a large amount of items for purchase, layaway, or both. It’s not children who leave the aisles a mess, with clothes and trash strewn across the floor (our toy aisle is tame in comparison to any other area!).

The worst thing a child has done to me directly at my register? Chatter. Yes, the “worst” experience I’ve ever had with a child at my counter is them sparking up a conversation with me. How dare they speak to me, an adult, when they haven’t been addressed?! Actually, I’m glad they do. They’re quite cheerful and tend to be the bright spot of a long shift.

In fact, the only times so far I’ve heard children continously cry are when they are tired or otherwise uncomfortable, and they’re usually small children (under three years old). I remember one particular small girl who was wailing so loudly, she could be heard throughout the store the entire time she and her family were there. My curiosity got the better of me and when they came to my register, I somewhat jokingly asked if the little one was having a bad day. Her mother flat out said she was tired and needed a nap. Is it the child’s fault she’s not being permitted to sleep? Who isn’t cranky when they’re being kept awake?

Now, I do not at all think children should be treated like adults, and in general, adults are more mature than children. I do believe that. But this concept that a child shouldn’t be allowed to speak solely because they are a child isn’t one I’ve seen to have much merit to it.

If this also refers to interrupting adults when talking, again, that should apply to everybody. Interrupting someone is rude, regardless of your age. I don’t want to be interrupted by a 30-year-old any more than I want to be interrupted by a 3-year-old.

Warning: May Offend

That’s a tag that may as well be put on everything these days.

Before you get your pitchforks, hear me out. Yes, I know genuinely offensive things exist. There are some things I’m offended by, so I certainly can’t say nothing is offensive. However, I’ve noticed some people seem to actively try to be offended. I respect that different people are offended by different things, but what I cannot respect is when people are offended by things that truly have zero to do with them.

I’m talking about a person’s personal preferences and no, not matters like who they prefer to date. I mean things like what TV shows they like and what foods they can’t stand. That kind of stuff.

Seems silly to get offended over such a thing, doesn’t it? Why would what someone likes to watch on TV offend anybody? But it does. I talked about this a little in my post about death threats, but even without death threats, people can be very vicious. I’ve talked several times about the mess a fandom I was previously part of has become because of a rift between fans who prefer the older seasons versus fans who like the new ones. But why? Why does anyone have to give an explanation for liking or not liking something beyond “I like/dislike this”, and have their reasons deemed to be the right or wrong ones by other people? In short, why are people’s personal preferences about trivial things put on trial?

Is it even possible to have an explanation for everything someone likes or dislikes? I like strawberries above all fruits, but I can’t tell you why. I have no idea. I just do. I don’t like the color gray. No idea why. I just don’t. Why are fairies my favorite mythical creatures? Why do I hate snakes? I have no clue or explanation for any of these. However, they’re how I feel and that should be enough. Yet, for some people, it’s not.

Even if “offended” is too strong a word, these people are still getting mad someone does not have the same likes and dislikes as they do, or that they’re not keeping quiet about it. Why should they? I know the whole world isn’t the USA, but to my knowledge, the internet is for everyone to freely and openly express themselves. Why should someone have to be quiet or censor themselves in a certain way (not tagging a post, etc) because someone else can’t deal with seeing things they don’t agree with? I walk out in public and see multiple things I don’t agree with, but I can’t tell anyone to stay home because I don’t agree with something I see of them. The internet is hardly much different.

If someone wants to talk about or give reasons why they feel a certain way, that’s fine, and they should understand they’re opening themselves up to criticism if they publicize it. But making someone feel they have to explain whatever feelings they have, especially over something as insignificant as entertainment media, is little more than being mean-spirited. At the end of the day, it’s how they feel and those are their personal preferences. They’re called “personal” for a reason. Personal is defined as: “of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else” or “of or concerning one’s private life, relationships, and emotions rather than matters connected with one’s public or professional career“. In other words? It’s. Not. About. You. It’s only about them and their feelings.

I believe anyone who’s angered because someone doesn’t like something they do, and further angered if it’s for reasons they don’t agree with, or vice versa, needs to take a cue from my favorite queen.

“Let it go, let it go!”

Because, really, someone’s personal preferences do not affect you. Their personal preferences are about them, not you. Remember, everyone’s entitled to free speech, and that right doesn’t end because you don’t like what they have to say.

And if it really and truly does bother you so very much, here’s a nifty idea: try a blog! Then, you can control who speaks and who doesn’t on your space. That suggestion tends to get people mad, but it’s more productive than complaining about seeing things you don’t like in spaces you can’t control.