Because sometimes it isn’t a customer, manager, or suit making my job less bearable…
I was working five nights a week, and the person who had the other two nights quit. She gave the societally-sanctioned two weeks’ notice (and had been telling coworkers she was going to quit for weeks before that), but that wasn’t enough time for this company to hire a replacement, and they couldn’t or wouldn’t ask one of the day or evening shift workers to switch to nights.
The second option was to ask me to work seven nights a week, which they didn’t do for what should be obvious reasons.
They found a third option, though. Brenda, a cashier at another location, was working two or three nights a week and asking for more hours. She transferred here for one afternoon, so someone should show her how the store was laid out, and then she was put on the schedule to cover my two nights off.
That week, my two nights off were not consecutive. About an hour into the second night, Brenda called me and asked if I could take over for her. She wasn’t feeling well, she said. So I walked into work and clocked in, and she strolled out with a smug, nose-in-the-air look and barely a hint of thanks.
I found out later how her first night had gone – she hated the place. It was the lack of cameras, she had said. Sure, there were a couple dozen cameras covering the store inside and out, but the surrounding buildings didn’t have exterior cameras (well, maybe a couple), and out on the edge of town like we are, who knows, rabid bears or Mad Max highway gangs might devour her in the parking lot. (That last part was me slightly exaggerating.)
I was slightly resentful, but only slightly. I’ve worked with people who hated their workplaces before, after all.
Brenda called me again on the next night she was scheduled. One of her kids had been hit by a car, she said. It was nothing too serious, but she wanted to be at the hospital, and could I take that night? She’d definitely work tomorrow night – that week my two nights off were consecutive – and she’d make it up to me later.
This might have been more plausible if she hadn’t already lied to me once – or maybe not, since she’d put so little effort into maintaining that lie – but what the hell. I agreed to take the shift, and I didn’t press her on which other night she’d cover in return.
My resentment grew.
The next night, she called me again. “Hi, I’m just calling to confirm that you’re working tonight…”
When my response wasn’t what she’d hoped it would be, she quickly changed her story. “Well, the kid who was hit by a car yesterday was the one I relied on to babysit my other kids, and I couldn’t find a sitter, so there’s no way I can come in tonight. I’ll cover for you tomorrow night, I promise.”
Tomorrow night. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
I believed none of it – thinking back on it later, I realized I had no confirmation that Brenda even had children – but I knew that if I didn’t go in, one of my much better coworkers would be stuck with a surprise double shift, so I grudgingly agreed and hung up.
I then texted her before I left home:
On reflection, I’ve decided that I don’t believe you re: covering for me tomorrow nght. So don’t bother calling me tomorrow with another story – I’ll already be there.
There’s no call for that attitude. I just asked you if you could work for me tonight and you rudely hung up on me! All you had to do is say no if you didn’t want the shift. I only came to your store to help you out and maybe pick up a few extra hours.
Etc. There may have been a repetition of the “can’t find a sitter” line in there, too – I’m reconstructing her message from memory, so errors are inevitable.
By the time that shift ended I’d made a decision. I usually dislike office politics and despise the bitter, backbiting version of it in particular, but for Brenda I’d make an exception. I’d just worked twelve nights in a row and had no idea when or if I’d get one off, so I was feeling vicious, and Brenda was so broadly disrespected by then that I figured it wouldn’t be too hard for me to put the boot in.
It was literally effortless, in that the result I wanted was already happening. At shift change the store manager was apologetic, and the manager from the other store came over to apologize to me for inflicting Brenda on us.
I learned that Brenda had been pulling the same sort of thing at her other store. Mention was made of the eight-hour shift she showed up six hours late for, and she was calling out there repeatedly as well and had been for a while. The only reason she still had a job was that this store needed a night-shift cashier, and if she wasn’t willing to do that… well, good riddance.
One of the assistant managers covered the next night shift, so I could finally get some time off, and they found a second-shift cashier who was willing to switch to third shift. I don’t know why they didn’t do that in the first place, but at the time I was just glad for the improvement I got.