My First Job...

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A couple of weeks after my high school graduation, I decided to get a job. I was 18 years old, excited to start college and I thought my first act as an adult was to work. My mom didn't force me (thankfully) and she actually decided against it, knowing that working while taking classes full-time would be tough. But once I applied and was interviewed, she was on board. My first job was at a Payless ShoeSource store that was close by. There was another girl, Chloe*, that got hired at the same time I did. She seemed cool whenever I would see her.

Apparently, the first three months on the job is a probation period...to see if you can really handle it and blah blah blah *insert eye roll*. My training consisted of me working at another location with this cool dude named AJ*, who was attending a local university for engineering. Some days, it was tough working shifts longer than four hours. I'm a plus-sized girl and all this weight ain't helping. 

Not only did I walk down the aisles to make sure things were in order but I had to climb ladders...in the aisle...sometimes while customers are near me. It didn't help the fact that I'm clumsy and afraid of heights. Boy, that was the worst. To go up and down the ladder because of inventory or sometimes customers would want a pair of shoes from the very top of the shelf, even though pretty much every pair has been tried on before. My manager at my original store would try and explain that to customers.

One thing I didn't like was that if no one was in the store, there MUST be something for you to do. AT ALL TIMES. You can't lean against the cash register counters and relax a bit. You have to make sure that most if not all the shoes on the floor in the aisles had to be put away. Hey, I get it. The store needs to looks nice and presentable, but I can't make the store look any more presentable if the cleaning supplies like the vacuum or the generic brand of Swifer doesn't do the job! That's one thing I didn't understand. Some of these retail companies make so much money but can't send over a catalog filled with great appliances to order. Then again maybe they don't since some of them are going out of business...

Anyway, back to the store where I was doing my training, AJ was a keyholder and worked a ton of hours even though he was part-time. So one day when his manager, who had just went on maternity leave, didn't schedule enough people, we had to close the store just so both of us could take a break. I didn't want him to get in trouble but I couldn't manage the register on my own since I really didn't know what I was doing.

Another time when he was on break and it was just him and I in the store with maybe one other person, I was trying to complete a customer's transaction and gave her the wrong change. There was no way I could go back in the register, so I was glad she decided to buy something else to help me out. She understood and was very patient with me when I apologized so many times.

Back to my original store, when I was at the register and a customer changed their mind about buying a product, I would hit the VOID button to void the transaction (make sense right?). I did this a couple times and it wasn't until a few days or so later that my manager told me I couldn't do that (like I wish I would've known that ahead of time!). Obviously, I didn't know much and AJ couldn't teach me everything but he definitely did the best he could.

He gave me tips on how I should schedule my time when coming to work depending on what time I get out of class. Yup, that's right, you give them a time (and this could be at any store) and they'll try and schedule you either at the time you get out or 15-30 mins afterwards...f*ck where you go to school and how long it takes you to get to the store. But oh wait, you can't be late!

Anyway...when I asked my manager for anything, like time off (which I only did once) or maybe a transfer to another store, the automatic answer was NO. I was originally supposed to work during the week, getting maybe one Saturday off and every other Sunday off. Did that happen? Nope. So when my boyfriend's (at the time) mom was having a birthday dinner and said I needed to be there,  I asked my manager and the first words that came out was "No...well maybe you can." When I started school, my manager was scheduling me for more hours than during the summer, and I had suggested that maybe I should get transferred to AJ's store since it was closer to my school and he needed help. My manager said no.

I'm assuming she didn't want to hire any more people...oh and Chloe pretty much was fired. She had to work at two stores and missed a Sunday at our store. So when it was the busiest day for us and she was scheduled to come in, she wasn't there. I'm not even sure if they called her and told her she was on the schedule (but that's none of my business).

Sometimes, it seemed like I was the only one doing stuff, at my original store. If I was on the ladders and customers needed help, there was no one to be found and then I would have to ring them up. Or if I was on the ladders and my manager or coworkers were at the register, I would be the one to still help the customers. My manager wasn't the nicest person, she was very rude to customers and sometimes they would come to me and complain and I would apologize to them for her. She was also rude to me...

You have to wear good shoes while working at Payless and my grandma had bought this shoes that were consider "athletic" but they were like clouds on my feet. I couldn't wear them at the store because of the company's policy, so my manager recommended me the store's brand of work shoes...which hurt like a b*tch. And because of this, I was working really slow since my feet were hurting so much. My manager pretty much threatened me, saying that neither I or Chloe (when she was still there) wouldn't be working there long. I begged her to let me change shoes and when she did, she noticed that I was working A LOT faster and took her comment back. "Maybe it was just the shoes" Like no sh*t, Sherlock.

Eventually, I had to quit. Not because of the shoe situation or her being rude to customers, but because not only did she made a racist comment to a customer about some product from another store (which her mother and I had both corrected her...my manager was in her 40s) but she insinuated that I had been doing sexual acts with my boyfriend recently...all because I couldn't squat to close the gate during closing time since I had bad knees because I'm plus-sized!

She said this in front of my other coworkers, laughed and high-fived one of them (which I didn't find out till a month later). And apparently I had a mark on my neck that I didn't even know about. Could've been a hickey, could've been a bruise. I'm still not entirely sure. I felt completely alone and when I caught an attitude but tried to keep it to myself, she asked "What's wrong with your face?" I didn't say anything and she allowed me to leave. So I made a complaint to corporate (after talking to my mom about it several times) and because I knew that she would retaliate against me (even though management is not supposed to) just like she did when I corrected her about the racist comment, I quit before she could get the chance to do anything.

I understand that it's necessary to have a "thick skin" working in the private sector of the work force but that shouldn't excuse management or higher-ups from treating their workers like sh*t. The pay wasn't worth it. Ya know, I heard that customers were bad but TBH they were the best part of my day. Sure, not everyone was peaches and cream but they were better than my manager. I found out that corporate did talk to her and that she was on strike two, but from a friend who worked at another Payless, my manager was there two years later. I'm not sure if she's still there but I've only been in Payless once since I've quit...and I know for sure that it's been one of the best decisions I've ever made.

*Names changed
Photo credit: Google