This isn’t a retrospective article, in fact it’s actually an article I am writing about my current job which I have been working at for around a month now. So I figure now is a good time to talk about what’s been going on, what I like(?) and don’t like and talk about how I’ve been trying to live my anti-work principles as much as possible.
To start with: The core of the job sucks just like any other job I’ve held.
Being autistic and introverted, I’m not a fan of constant interactions with customers and generally having to ring them out for products I feel no special connection, much less investment, with sucks. I don’t like working in retail, I don’t like having managers or people above me in some sort of hierarchical position of power. That makes me feel nervous and generally insecure in my position, I don’t exactly play nice with authority, have you noticed?
The pay is OK. It’s better than my last job by about $0.50 or something like that. The hours are okay (around 20 hours a week) and the actual hours I have to work means that I get the least amount of customers in the day after a few hours of sporadic flurries of customers. These are all sort of the “meh” qualities of the job, not particularly bad but not good either.
But the good? It’s surprisingly (sort of?) there and isn’t just a few standalone features.
For one thing: I have a really cool co-worker.
She’s snarky, talks about how much she hates the job, constantly makes me laugh or smile and she’s just really nice to be around in general. I think she’s one of the most straightforwardly good co-workers I’ve had in a while. Last night she told me she had “literally been walking in circles within the store” for a few hours. When I quipped about how “unproductive” she was being she responded with some throwaway comment about how she’s usually better than this (she isn’t). And I work with this co-worker every time I come in because I’m her backup that she previously didn’t have.
So she’s in a better position to get stuff done and be a lot less stressed because of me which gives us a pretty good note to start off on. We also both happen to like corny jokes (including puns!), dogs and sometimes we talk about nerd stuff too.
In general, she’s been a very positive element of my work experience. Someone who had previously worked there had sent a Christmas card that had a remark that said, “I sure don’t miss the job, but I miss the people I worked with!” and I could see myself saying the same for this person.
But here’s one of the best (and most amusing) parts: The management doesn’t give a shit.
Oh, sure. They’ll talk nicely to customers, do their best to meet customers needs and so on. But they clearly don’t like their lives or really want to work there. All of my managers (up to even the store manager!) have made disparaging remarks (or spoke in disparaging tones) about the store. One of them said they wished the cooler would explode so we could go home earlier during the (ridiculous) 12 AM Christmas hours we had in December. Another said that they wish a car would go right through the side of the building so we could all take a few days off.
Little things like that.
Little things also like:
- Quietly viewing customers as a nuisance
- Constantly putting off a given daily task (doing returns, putting tags up, cleaning)
- Having a hot chocolate social in the middle of my shift (seriously, and we had cookies too!)
- Generally viewing work there as a chore and only worth doing if we must
- Viewing meetings that tell us to “work harder” as eye-roll worthy
And on and on.
One of my managers (who I won’t name) is fantastic at being a slacker. In the past few days she’s literally thrown away stacks of new sales prices and gotten annoyed when others didn’t. She’s also generally just given customers whatever sales they want from the seasonal aisle just so we can get rid of the stuff.
To be clear, I have four bosses.
There’s a shift lead, an assistant manager, another assistant manager and a store manager.
The SM (as I’ll call him) is the only one who takes anything seriously. I’ve unfortunately just started working with him but my first shift with him wasn’t too bad. He was pushy about me doing returns but he didn’t yell at me or get huffy, he just reiterated the importance of it. Which, yeah, was annoying but it certainly wasn’t the worst thing I’ve dealt with.
The managers had some sort of collective meeting recently about how the holiday season went and what we can improve on. And apparently for as long as my shift lead manager has known, they always talk about how the people at main (the main register) aren’t working enough. We’re reading, messing with our phones, staring off into space, whatever.
I asked my shift lead about it and she couldn’t have had any more disdain for it. She said it’s a meeting and a resolution that they seem to have every year but it never really goes anywhere. And it’s something that (apparently) they care about less and less as time goes on.
Normally I’d say managers are overreacting…but they kind of aren’t.
I worked the holiday season and it was filled with many portions of just doing nothing. Looking very busy but not actually doing anything was a hallmark of the store for a few weeks in December. On my third or fourth shift I decided I would start bringing books and within the span of December I pretty much finished three books. It’s been incredible but my managers don’t care about me reading so long as I take care of customers, make sure main looks habitable and do the basic duties assigned to me (returns, restocking cigarettes, adjusting nearby aisles, etc.)
But even that is often a joke and it’s not very well enforced. Within a day of a co-worker (sadly the one I like so much) trying to get me to do more, the actual enforcement of this (as you’d expect) has been pretty poor. Managers (and my co-worker) either don’t care or don’t care enough to actually be bothered to enforce their roles. Which is great for me!
I think that’s a lot of the basics of why this job is probably my best worst job. It still sucks at its core but many of the outer edges (management, co-workers, hours, pay, etc.) don’t suck nearly as much as they could. So I can generally get through the day (it’s often a 6 hour day which is about my limit anyways) and feel alright after. Maybe I’ll be tired for another half-hour or hour once I get back but that’s not uncommon for me with these sorts of jobs.
I was worried that they’d actually enforce the resolution of the meeting. And maybe when the SM is around I’ll have to be slightly more cautious but overall I am trying to be hopeful that it’ll work out in my favor. If it doesn’t and they (somehow) start trying to enforce it then I suppose that would take a lot of the “fun” out of the job.
But I wouldn’t be surprised, that’s what jobs do.
Take the fun out of even the best of shitty situations.
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