At least work was better for a little while.

Believe it or not, for two whole weeks, I… liked my job. And my boss wasn’t even on vacation. Although I wish she were on permanent vacation.

For several months now, I’ve been sans direct manager in the office, which puts a heavy burden on me because I have to perform a manager’s job at 1.5% above minimum wage. Finally, the long-awaited (yet dreaded, too) day arrived and my boss hired someone. Of course, she had passed over someone from the store who was more than qualified for the position, but I’d expect nothing less from her. My new manager, I’ll call her “Nancy,” boasted a two page resume, tiny font, single spaced, narrow margins. She had worked at very high levels in the company, which was a plus, since, to someone from the outside, the company’s culture can be a little… surprising.

I knew things were looking up when I came into the office on day four and she was already in the scheduling system, entering and adjusting shifts. I had been worried about how to even broach the subject of that software, let alone teach it, and here she was, using it like a pro.

I was delighted to meet someone on the same wavelength with regard to work ethic and priorities. There was no need to modulate my voice to suppress any notes of condescension towards my superior when repeating myself for the fourteenth time. There was no need to repeat or stress urgency. I have always preferred to play second fiddle, the ideal underling: shuffle in, stand at attention, await my orders, and carry them out.

The most delightful part, aside from my burdens finally been eased, was that Nancy also understood me on a personal level. Just slightly less than twice my age, she recognized many traits of her younger days in me. She saw my inherent insecurity and lack of confidence, characteristics which I work hard to hide, successfully fooling most people. She needed no time to learn the meaning of my facial expressions, laughs, and intonations. It felt wonderful to finally be understood. We had so many odd things in common, it was almost uncanny.

It was exactly two weeks after she started. When I entered the store, I noticed the alarm was still on, so figuring she was scheduled later in the day in order to close, I didn’t think much more about it. I was in the back office counting money, looking forward to the day (if you could believe it), when an obnoxious knock sounded on the door and I opened it, barely stifling a scream of horror: I was face to face with the teary face of the store manager, i.e., my boss.

“Nancy quit.”

“What?”

“She just resigned.”

“Ha ha ha!” Another one bites the dust.

“Why are you laughing? This isn’t funny.”

“Uhhh….”

Apparently, Nancy didn’t think the store was very safe (alarms were going off when they closed the night before. And maybe she heard that someone had been held up at gun point one time. That probably didn’t help.)  She didn’t want to close the store so many nights a week, and she didn’t like how my boss never closed. She had hinted here and there that the job was different than what she expected.

On paper, our store seems pretty lame. Low numbers, poor staffing, often the laughingstock. But no one expects what they find when they show up. Oh, no, they don’t. None stay for long because they burn out after six months. In fact, there is another manager right now who gave her notice two weeks before (she was kind enough to give a month’s notice). So that’s two down. But at least we still have a couple left. One time we had zero managers, after we went through a stretch in which we lost one a week. Now that was funny.

I think working two weeks, quitting with no notice, effective immediately, has to be a record, though, even for us. Pretty pathetic when you consider her sterling resume and whom she had worked for in the company. And apparently she showed up in sweatpants to deliver her resignation.

My life hasn’t changed dramatically because she wasn’t there long enough for me to have handed off many of the responsibilities. But during the short time, I felt almost—almost—blessed that something good finally happened to me there.

I didn’t realize until she arrived that for the last several years, no one has taken any interest in my development. Because I’m not on track to be promoted—I don’t want to be a manager, nor would I be selected anyway because I get too “overwhelmed,” which I define as “sense of urgency resulting in things getting done”—it’s taken for granted that I’m just a fixture in the office. I’ll do everything for you, short of wiping your ass. When you’re even slightly competent, there is no attempt to help you improve because then you’ll try to leave.

I can only think of three pieces of feedback I’ve received in the last couple of years—communicate better (my boss said this to me through an intermediary), speak up before I become frustrated (this after throwing a fit and slamming stacks of paper around), and don’t make copies from copies (I made a photocopy from a photocopy).

I actually felt a little bad for my boss. I think her tears were real, not the crocodile tears she is famous for producing when you tell her what a horrible person she is. Her job is objectively too demanding, and yet another manager quitting adds one more forty-hour job to her plate. Imagine the strain this puts on someone as stupid as she is.

Let’s face it—the new manager would have quit anyway because the honeymoon with my boss usually only lasts three weeks at the most. When I found out someone new was coming, but before I met her, I was so worried about how, as a new manager, she’d side with my boss in everything to curry favor and ruin my life. But quite to the contrary, she picked up on it immediately.

My boss: “I drove six hours to Buffalo this weekend and spray-painted some candlesticks for my daughter-in-law.”

Nancy: “Ah, so you—”

“How is your training going?”

“Well, I spent yesterday at N. Store and we went over a typical day in the life of—”

“What does that mean?”

“Ah, well, we—”

“I’m cold. Good thing I’m wearing my jean jacket.” My boss exits the office.

Nancy watches the door for a moment. “Did I miss something?”

“Nope,” I reply. “That was a completely normal conversation with her.”

This is just a silly conversation, but there were many other things, of more consequence, that seem to have been regarded as abnormal.

So it’s just me and my boss again, like old times, old times being three weeks ago. I will never have any respite from her, and in fact I believe that someday there will be no one left but me and her.

41 thoughts on “At least work was better for a little while.

  1. I can’t believe you made a copy of a copy. Where does it end? Next, you’ll be making JPGs from other JPGs.
    I had to read your post twice to make sure you don’t work where I used to work. Our record was three days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I include all employees, then I have had people quit their second day of training or even never return after the first. I love when I call them and they hang up when they hear my voice. Actually, I believe I did have someone go to lunch and never come back.

      And yes, I have done some ungodly things with JPEG’s.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One time a new guy–first day–rode with me on the job. It was a terrible day. I told him not to judge the job by that day. He didn’t come back. He called our boss and said he wanted to work in “a more sophisticated environment.” My bad . . .

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Now there’s a book in that, along with the liminality photos… A sort of Twilight Zone episode. The mall slowly going dark, no one left but you and her…dealing with the grumpy makeup counter “I’m sorry you can’t return that because you rubbed it all of your face” to the husband at “everyday” jewelry deciding on which $100 bracelet that’s marked down to the fat lady toting around an armload of size 4 evening dresses and a very large purse… in half light or display counter light…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re actually half right. Last year when the stores were closed for two months, she still had to go to work and be completely alone in the three floor building with only the backup lights on. She was literally the only person who had to go and she barricaded the doors with merchandise racks and cages.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh man! At least you can joke about it. Be positive in all this, it will work eventually. No negatives please. I want you to get a good chance a good job a good everything. Be positive from heart, mind and soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Positivity helps, telling me I can do this. I’ve gotten so used to having no help that I have proof I can do it alone because I’ve done it for months now. I don’t lose as much sleep over work as I used to. I just do my best when I’m there and try not to worry. When I straighten out some health issues, I’ll be in a better position to look elsewhere. Thanks for always encouraging me.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Whoa, not serving her full notice must mean she really wanted to book it out of there. And in some way, you’ve proven to be more than resilient if you’ve stuck through it this long. That just means you have the will to do anything else you want in life. Am rooting for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Stuart. It seems I do have a bit of resilience in me somewhere, otherwise I couldn’t be the only one left. I wonder if my boss’s heart would break if I walked out on her too 🤔. I must stay strong for her. 🙃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Eh, I don’t think you owe your love and undying loyalty and devotion to someone who pays you 1.5% above minimum wage. She probably would fall apart, but that does not have to be your problem.

        I am happy you got two weeks of liking your job and sad that those two weeks are over.

        Any chance of finding out where “Nancy” is working now and applying for a job there? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, JYP, how could I not give my love and undying devotion to one such as she? On the other hand, there may have been a smidgen of sarcasm in my comment. When I was out for two weeks because of covid, I was happy because I didn’t have to deal with her. Imagine being so disliked that someone would rather be infected with a feared global pandemic virus rather than see you.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Sometimes I think life is like a well-equipped salad bar with everything in it–good and bad. You pick. The only caveat is that some days, they are out of garbanzo beans and those bacon sprinkles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry–that must have sounded a little too cryptic. I was thinking of positive thinking. Fortune passes everywhere, as the Duke Leto said in Dune. But you have to be looking for it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right, we need to look for it. I’ve always been a glass half empty girl, and usually look for reasons to drain the glass further. I was going to say that when I show up at the salad bar, nothing very good is left, but I see you wrote “well-equipped,” and I know that the right thing is to look for the positives, because there has to be some, somewhere, I hope anyway. And I do have lots to be grateful for.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Damn. I had the same problems once working in the produce department. I kid you not, I had not one, not two, but THREE Mikes who were 1.) Dept manager 2.) Asst Dept mgr and 3 ) ex-dept mgr. Each of them gave me instructions, each of them all different. I lasted one year. It was hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ruler of the hell feels most comfortable in the heat. The store has one functioning air conditioning unit right now–which covers the offices–and she had it turned off because she was too cold. Meanwhile, employees are on the verge of passing out.

      PS. Hope things are going well for you.

      Liked by 1 person

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