5 AUG - 2022
I’ve always loved to work. So much so, that I would skip class as well as parties - to work.
I started babysitting at 14 years old, which quickly turned into a nannying role. In year 13, I signed out of school early and picked up another job while finishing my exams.
I’ve worked in retail, in beauty, in hospitality, in both small businesses and in corporate. The one thing I have to say about all of them, was how shit my managers were.
For a while I thought I was the common denominator (before I knew what gaslighting was). Every job I took ended up with me resigning because I couldn’t quite handle the way I was treated. Was it me? Was I really the asshole?
Well, that’s for you to decide. Here are a few of my experiences over the years. As much as I’d love to name some of these places, I’m afraid they’d probably sue me or something (not that you can sue people in New Zealand), so we’ll just have to use our imaginations.
Image: An Organised Life
My First Experience with Retail
I had no retail experience, and limited work history aside from nannying (and working for my parents, but that never counts). All I wanted was to work in retail, and have a second income stream on the weekends. I was finally given the chance to work at a homewares & gift shop in Newmarket (which has since closed its doors). I was stoked and extremely thankful for the chance to prove myself.
That experience took a left turn pretty quickly, as I soon realised a lot of the other staff were unhappy too (some became my close friends - we bonded over the experience). We were yelled at, given completely random shifts, and accused of stealing (to be fair, it turned out one girl was).
The final straw for me was a fuck up with my leave. I took a trip to Bali, stating when I would return to NZ and when I would be in for my next shift. Those dates were mixed up and I was scheduled to work a shift at a time I’d be waving to our Sydney friends. I received an email documenting how ‘useless I was’ and that I’d never take other people's shifts when needed. I sent back the proof of the shifts I’d covered over the past 6 months and quit while in the back of a taxi en-route to cocktails by the pool.
A Second Shot at Retail
My PTSD from a shitty retail boss had worn off and I decided to give it another go. I found a Sunday shift at a shoe store local to me. I love shoes, so surely it was the perfect fit? I was punctual, made great relationships with the clients and ended up being one of her top sellers when I only worked one day a week. Similarly to my first retail job (caused by my need for extra cash to facilitate my shopping addiction) I was always the first person to take extra shifts if someone was sick.
Then came the pandemic. We closed (obviously) and waited till we could open the shop again. My boss at the time, let’s call her Mary, sent us all a text to let us know we wouldn’t be opening the first two weeks after the lockdown ended as she wanted to do a stocktake, and add a few upgrades in the store. Sweet - I drove down to see my best friend in Tauranga for a few days - only to receive a text message two days later informing me I would need to be at the shop at 9am the next day (a Sunday).
What followed was a barrage of texts and aggressive calls telling me how useless I was (sound familiar?) and how dare I go away when I was rostered on. I’m petty, so I screenshot her texts and threw them back in her face. Safe to say, I never returned, and had my brother drop the key off.
Beauty isn’t Always Beautiful
Finally a real job, I thought. For context, I completed a marketing degree (a.k.a expensive piece of useless paper), so got myself a role doing social media and digital content for a B2B beauty company that later, very prematurely, launched a magazine. Sounds awesome, right? The perks were flowing in - invites to PR events, an endless supply of media samples and beauty products.
What you didn’t see behind the glossy photos, was me up at 4am in the lead up to the launch, loading content onto the website because my manager hadn’t been prepared, carrying bags of flowers and decorations to a venue for the launch event all by myself (boss nowhere to be seen) and collapsing into a pile with no thanks, post said launch. Honestly, that’s the shortest version.
I was yelled at for honest mistakes (super minor - no one died), called at 9pm to listen to the manager/’editor in chief’ cry down the phone, and when I took two days off to look after my very sick friend, I was harassed until I drove back to work. For a few moments, I brushed it off, probably because of what you see in movies like ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ but that’s not how it should be. I should never have been treated that way.
This is really a story of a manager who was under prepared, and inexperienced, so took their anger out on the staff - which ultimately sank the ship. Although I’m probably not over this one, I learnt a shit-tonne and now my CV has a whole lot of random things on it like “co-ordinated magazine launch” and “advertising sales”
How did this one end you ask? I was changed from an employee contract to just a contractor. So one Friday, after all the staff - yes 100% of them - quit for the aforementioned reasons of inappropriate wailing, mistreatment, after-hour harassment and sudden contractual changes without notice, they assumed I would take over all of their roles, I waited until 4:55pm and sent them a goodbye email.
Hospitality Might Not Be for Me?
It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do post beauty-breakup. Did I want to go back into full time work? Did I want to freelance? That’s how I found Chatty Chums - I reviewed products and tools and worked on its social media while continuing with my OG job of nannying. After a few months, it was time to go back into a full-time role - where I stumbled upon a social media role in hospitality. Awesome gig - travel, great benefits, fabulous staff discounts - SOLD.
However, like most of my experiences, it didn’t take long to go sour. FOR-FUCKS-SAKE how could this be happening again? I put up with being called ‘replaceable,’ yelled at over Zoom for things that weren’t even in my control, and just downright made me feel like I wasn’t really part of the team.
I wasn’t being pushed, I wasn’t learning anything, and I definitely wasn’t enjoying myself - that’s when you know it’s time.
For me, it wasn’t at a particular point in any of these roles where I decided enough was enough. It was more of a build up that led me to a breaking point. Honestly, writing this (even in short story form) has made me realise how much I put up with, and how much I’m sure other people put up with too. Is it that we’re too afraid we won’t find something better? Or is it that change is worse than being comfortable?
I recently resigned, again, and I’m moving on in the hopes that what was presented to me in my interview is the real deal - and not just flashy lights. I’m nervous that I’m making the wrong decision, and worried about the change that’s about to come (and the commute), but change is a good thing right?
I’ll keep you updated.