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.

I Failed

At life.

One of the goals of my school is preparing students to take a certain exam. It’s not a school exam! It’s actually a… government one? I’m unsure how to describe it without giving away the name, but it’s essentially proof someone is certified to work in the field we’re training for and is recognized nationally.

I have recently decided I am not taking it.

I have studied, and I’ve found it does no good. I can be asked a question right after I have finished reading a whole chapter and be unable to recall what the question even pertains to, let alone answer it correctly. There are practice exams for the real one. I tried one. I didn’t know the answer to any of the questions, despite reading enough material that would’ve covered it. I didn’t bother going through the whole practice test. I closed it after question 7.

We do get a certificate from the school. I think I’m going to take that and go, and try to do the best I can with that. I am not academic material. I think I figured that out a long time ago, but I assumed that’s because I hated school to begin with. I genuinely like this school and I do study, and I am still terrible. There is zero chance of me passing the real exam, and since it’s only free the first time around (school provides a voucher), I don’t exactly have unlimited chances to pass. I’d rather not take it at all, and no, I am not going to “wing it” in the hopes the planets will align and grant me a passing score. I like fairytales. I am not dumb enough to believe in them.

Supposedly, you’re not supposed to memorize material you study. That concept makes zero sense to me. Why would you study it if you didn’t want to remember it? The point of studying is to be able to retain enough information to pass whatever tests you need to pass.

That exam is also timed. Ninety minutes to answer ninety questions. Even if I had a chance of passing, the time limit would kill me.

This isn’t Disney. “Positive thinking” and “believe in yourself” does not work. I don’t think even Disney has ever been that shallow. Of course, if those things did work, “hard work” would be non-existent since everyone would be successful with no more than merely thinking of it, meaning no one would have to work for anything. Don’t people complain my generation only wants things handed to them anyway? “Think positive” seems to prove them right.

My vent is over. And so are my chances.

Never Try New Things

Really, that’s the lesson I take from this whole experience.

I talked about this in one of my previous posts, but to summarize: I took a full-time position as a sales floor associate, failed miserably, did not improve in the slightest, and as I learned yesterday, I will be returning to part-time hours on the 11th of February.

Although, one of my bosses stated it as not being able to handle the responsibility rather than failing. I fail to see what difference exists there. I’m pretty sure incapability of handling a responsibility ultimately amounts to failing that responsibility.

No, it does not feel good to know the only thing I’m good is what’s the easiest job there is at my workplace. This is like praising someone for being able to pass kindergarten while everyone else passes twelfth grade. I’m good at ringing, talking, and being punctual. Yay. I’m good at what a five-year-old can do.

One of the reasons I relate so much to Princess Luna. She knows what it’s like to be second-best. And in my case, not even that.

In the end, the whole experience turned out to be worthless. I ended up doing nothing except making a fool of myself (apparently, certain co-workers enjoy talking about me behind my back) and this is one of the times I strongly resent being an introvert. Were I an extroverted person, I wouldn’t have distaste for being a cashier and could possess the energy needed to avoid having the soul sucked out of me by dealing with several people for several hours straight.

The bright side, if it can be called that, is I am being permitted to remain on the floor and simply act as a back-up cashier, but it doesn’t change I really shouldn’t have tried something different to begin with. I wasted everyone’s time, including my own, and proved I can’t handle anything beyond standing in one place and operating a price gun. I did not expect to succeed anyway, but I also didn’t expect to not even show a hint of improvement and fall utterly flat on my face. I’m used to being slow. I’m not used to never getting past the starting line.

Ironically, another boss of mine, despite also agreeing I was horrendous at my soon-to-be-revoked position, believes if the opportunity arises, I should try again. Up until recently, this particular boss and I did not get along at all, so to come from his mouth, that’s hugely shocking. It’s not a suggestion I plan to take to heart, however. I am never asking for anything again. Everyone else can take the bigger jobs. I’ll stay at the bottom, the only place I can’t fail. Truthfully, I don’t think it’ll be long before I’m bested at even that, assuming I haven’t been already and I’m failing to be aware of it.

Too bad she can’t help with co-workers.

The Struggle of Getting Dressed?

My favorite thing about no longer being in school is not having to wear uniform. However, there’s something I just do not understand.

I’ve read some students prefer school uniforms because it takes the struggle or fuss out of getting dressed in the morning. My question is: How?

In what way is it difficult to get dressed? I was capable of dressing myself from the time I was three years old. How is it possible to be old enough to be in school, especially high school, but incapable of getting dressed unless someone tells you exactly what to wear?

From kindergarten to 12th grade, I attended four schools in total. Two required uniform and two didn’t. I had zero trouble getting dressed for the schools without uniform. There was nothing difficult about it. There was no struggle at all. I put my clothes on and I left. Easy.

Plus, if it’s really hard to dress yourself without uniform, how do you dress on days you don’t attend school? Do you wear the school’s uniforms on those days too? If it’s really that hard, I can’t imagine how you’d manage on the weekends unless you have something that requires wearing uniform on those days too. What about summer break? That has to be a strain. Perhaps they don’t enjoy summer break since uniform isn’t required?

I probably sound like I’m being sarcastic with this post, but I’m genuinely confused and curious. I have been out of high school for four years now. I’ve had absolutely zero trouble dressing myself without being told what exact clothing to wear. To my knowledge, most colleges don’t require uniform, so how do these students who struggled to dress themselves without uniform requirements handle the matter if they move on to college?

Truthfully, my biggest confusion is why anyone would want to look identical to everyone else. I couldn’t care less about fashion, but I’m not anyone’s identical twin. I don’t want everyone to look exactly like me nor do I want to look exactly like everyone else. I also found most of the “benefits” of school uniforms are absolute lies, particularly that they prevent bullying (whoever said that never dealt with bullying) and create a sense of belonging (Why would I want to “belong” to this place I didn’t choose to attend?) and unity (again, bullying disproves that).

I do know there is a fetish for school uniforms and were I talking about that, I’d understand the preference for it. But that’s not the context here. In the end, my question remains the same: Why is dressing yourself in your own clothes such a difficult task? I understand everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but this is about putting clothes on your body. Why do you need someone to tell you “put these clothes on your body” or you can’t do it?