Otherwise titled “Why I Quit”.
Yes folks, I finally quit my job. And while I am not going to mention the exact company I had been working for (for obvious reasons, though some of you know and perhaps some will be able to put two and two together if they live in my area and are familiar with the company…) this post is going to be an airing of grievances, of sorts. For the sake of trying to avoid trouble, though, I am simply referring to them as “Company” in this post and any specific people discussed I have changed them to random, made up names.
I started with Company in late 2017, several months after moving here from Pittsburgh. It was only part time but it seemed an ideal job for me. I enjoy baking and cake decorating so being a cake decorator in a grocery store seemed like an awfully good fit for a job. I worked in the local store, and while it had some negatives, it was overall a job I very much enjoyed. I loved the people I worked with like family, after a while, and while work sucked simply because it was work, it was perfectly tolerable. Getting along with my coworkers so well really helped, as I knew we were basically a no drama crew who would have each others backs and always helped each other in every way we could.
Fast-forward to about mid year 2019 and one of the other locations of Company stores was looking for a full time decorator. I did not want to leave my local crew. I did not want to have to make that drive every day to another town. But it was more money (only slightly once increased fuel/car maintenance waa factored in) and full time, which I needed. It was a heartbreaking decision to make but I chose to take the full time position.
It did not take long for me to regret this decision. I went in under the impression I was going to have a couple part time decorators to help me keep up with everyday things. I did have one, Leslie. But she was new to decorsting and only got about 12 hours a week, and for several weeks when she was supposed to be helping me with cakes they would instead have her baking and/or packaging cookies and such. Everything cakes fell soley on my shoulders. When I complained about this to store management, I was brushed off and told as head decorator that is my job, everything cakes is on me.
Eventually Leslie started to actually learn basic cake stuff to be of minimal help to me. But still, everything was falling to me. I was expected to fulfill custom orders and maintain 200+ “everyday” items in the display cases and sales floor freezer alone, not including how much was supposed to be kept in the department freezer aa backup. Also the layout of this department had me working alone in a small station up front while whoever else worked hidden by the walls in the back. This meant I was the one who had to stop to help literally every customer. Having to keep stopping all the time meant orders that should have taken me 10 minutes to finish would often take 40 minutes to finish. Days when I had 20 or 30 orders or more were nothing but stress and rushing. My coworkers in back often worked out on the sales floor filling displays and whatnot but they were rarely there to assist customers. I was frequently alone in the department, and could not even ask for help when I needed it. I was usually also the one to answer phone calls. I was the only one who would take time to put clean dishes away. I always washed my own dishes, and others would leave theirs behind and I often washed those as well because if I did not do it nobody would.
One coworker, Mike, was chronically, significantly late. It more often than not worked out to where I was the only one there and not allowed to leave till he showed up. The problem here is that I had to stay late waiting for him. Oh but Company does not allow overtime. So I would have to come in late (making more stress the next day, trying to get things done on time with a late start) to “make it up”. Not allowed to leave the department unattended so not allowed to leave on time, any plans I had needed to be changed or cancelled, I got home late etc. It was awful for me. Any other employer would have fired Mike months ago for this behavior. But did he ever get into any sort of trouble at all for it? Of course not.
I was so stressed out, more than once I was in tears begging store management to please give us more hours and hire me at least one more decorator. This was NOT a one person job, as much as they want it to be. I was consistently told “You don’t have the hours, you won’t get the hours, it just is not going to happen so you need to deal with it”.
Company is very into “show”. They did not want me to be a cake decorator. They wanted me to be an entertainer. I was supposed to do all sorts of stuff for “show” every day. As if I had all the time in the world for it. There was a game of sorts I was expected to do, basically musical chairs and the winner got free cake. We also had giant “candles” thst if customers wanted to “blow them out” we had a whole routine we were supposed to do. We literally had a binder with pages of instructions of how to craft our “character” and with specific phrases we were supposed to use to answer various questions a customer may have for us. We had to do the chicken dance, y’all. Grown ass adults, trying to get their work done, were/arerequired to stop what they are doing periodically… to do the fucking chicken dance. If you do not know what the chicken dance is… https://youtu.be/l5sIspLfmXM
Company has a very stupid policy of not requiring any advance notice for custom cake orders. Their thinking is “literally everyone else requires notice and we are better than that”. All this does is lead to an entitled attitude in the customers. How is it fair to other customers who planned in advance, for me to not finish their cake on time because I had to drop everything to make a cake for someome who just walked in wanting one right this instant? How is it fair to me to have other things I need to do, but I can not get to them because I have people coming in or calling in last minute orders? Everyone else requires notice because custom cakes take time. It is incredibly stupid to not require notice.
I was supposed to get one 30 minute lunch and two 15 minute breaks each day. I got the lunch but never the breaks. I asked store management if there was anything we could do to ensure I, as well as my coworkers, got those breaks as I felt it would be a greay help for my mental health to be getting those breaks. I was told “just make time”. That is not a solution.
In addition to this, Company is all about “culture” – they handle any problems with “the customer is always right” which is an awful way to do business as often the customer is in fact wrong. They do routine mystery shops in which the employees are graded for how well they engage the customers and to ensure we are addressing specific things during the interactions with them. They want us to spend at least 2 minutes with every customer. The thing is, though, the interactions with real, normal customers do not always warrant 2 minutes or even all the things the mystery shoppers look for. And when you are one person trying desperately to get custom orders done on time and keep up with literally everything else in the department… you are so stressed out that all thr “culture” crap goes out the window. I consistently did poorly on the mystery shops for one reason or another. When reviewing one of them, I saw the mystery shopper LIED about our interaction. I pointed this out and asked why should I get in trouble when they were dishonest. “That is what the report says and we have to go by it.” I questioned why it was just autpmatically the employee at fault and why it was never a possibility that maybe the mystery shopper was not doing their job properly and pointed out interactions with normal customers just do not go that way. They did not care. It is up to the employee to be perfect by mystery shop standards at all times, basically. Increased sales did not matter. Creating happy, repeat customers did not matter. All that mattered was that stupid mystery shop. I was written up twice for poor scores and was asked to make a decision – either step down to part time or leave, because clearly this was not the right role for me to be in.
Store managers also, more than once, tried to use my relationship status to get me to work on my days off (“You don’t have kids or a husband or even a boyfriend, are you sure you can’t come in?”) or participate in social media things they knew I refused to do. Company is really pushing social media right now and want pictures of employees on facebook for everything. (“Come on, we put your picture on facebook maybe we’ll get you married off!”) I told them when that started, I was not ok with that and do not ask me to participate because I absolutely will not do it.
Because all that is not enough, add to this my department manager had a problem with me because of a misunderstanding about a guy I liked and did not know she was secretly involved with but did not even want a real relationship with so she gave me hell in a passive aggressive way at every opportunity she could… and the department co was her best friend… it was not the best environment, to say the least.
I had so many meltdowns over the past few months since taking that full time position. I would come home from work, get in the shower, and end up sitting on the floor of the shower absolutely sobbing till the water ran cold. I would wake up and literally be sick to my stomach over having to go to work. It was awful. It was killing me.
So back to that having been asked to make a decision. I did what I needed to do, and lined up another job. I turned in my notice. They did not get a full 2 weeks but did get 10 days which is close enough. Legally speaking I could have just quit. But I was trying to be courteous and not leave them in a total bind right before Valentine’s Day. They would have deserved it… but I chose to give them what notice I could, what notice the new employer was ok with before they had me start as they wanted me to start asap.
Today I start at that new job. I am a little nervous – it is a *huge* change in multiple ways. But I feel good about it. I think it will be ok. I think it will work out well for me.
I am totally relieved to be free of Company. I was actually smiling while I drove home after my last shift there on Friday.