I Said No Today

This week has been pretty hellish at work. There’s been too much to do and not enough people to do it. My manager has been stressed out, which in turn puts me in a not-so-great mood. Oh, and my availability isn’t being honored. Again. Needless to say, morale is low.

Since the new store manager arrived a year or so ago, we’ve been facing what I can only think of as an austerity approach. My manager has ended up having to stock the department by herself, even though that was supposed to be a temporary thing. She’s also been told not to combo-schedule people from early mornings to the sales floor for most of the week, which makes it hard for me to get the hours I want/need. Whenever there’s a shortfall in another department’s stocking ability, it seems that ours is the one that gets picked from.

This has resulted in the lack of any significant safety margin, meaning that things are stretched so thin that if anything goes wrong, the results could be catastrophic. Need to do a big move and stock a bunch of product? Choose one, because you can’t do both with one set of hands! It’s also making it difficult to keep up with tasks like organizing valuable merchandise for pickup. After all, it’s kind of hard to spend a significant amount of time off the sales floor if your usual help isn’t there.

Couple these with the fact that there seems to be at least one key person on vacation all the time and you can see how exhausting work would get. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being given impossible tasks and not enough time to complete them.

Which brings me to the title of today’s post. Normally, I’ve been happy to stay and work extra hours when asked; my meager paycheck can definitely use the boost. But I’ve been feeling less and less helpful lately (being forced to work during the few times you’re unavailable, having it implied that it’s your fault it’s not being honored, and being generally overtaxed does not exactly instill company loyalty). So inevitably, I was asked to stay a full eight hours today. But whereas my usual response is something along the lines of “I guess I can stay if I need to,” today I actually said “No.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty big deal for me. Normally I’m all too eager to please others, often to my own detriment. I also could have used the money (not being combo’d did a number on my hours this week). But I decided that my mental health was more important than any benefit that the company might have gained from my presence there. After all, I can’t make their problems (under-staffing, etc.) my problems. That sort of thing is way above my pay grade.

So what have I been learning? I’m coming to realize that working retail is not the two-way flow of loyalty I naively assumed it was. If you let them, the company will take and take and take until you’re nothing more than a desiccated, lifeless husk. They don’t care about you. To them, you are nothing more than a meat popsicle, a cog in the machine that prints them money.

And if they’re not going to be loyal, then I see no reason to be either.