I went from 6.6% to 1.5% to 18.1% above minimum wage – retail & hierarchy

By Hetty; https://whothehellknows.home.blog/

If you know my story you might not believe me, but I managed to wrangle a raise out of my boss. Instead of doing yearly reviews, they’re now doing quarterly ones so that you get three extra chances to hear how much you suck based on metrics you have zero control over. She delivered my scheduled emotional abuse herself. This is what my previous review was like.  

Reviews go this way—she reads the script, asks me the prescribed questions, I make excuses, change the subject, and we go back to talking about the daily business. This time, however, I was afforded a good opportunity to ask about money because I had noticed that someone was making more than I do—someone who, well, shouldn’t. 

I asked her, “Don’t you think it’s a little silly that after nearly ten years, and half of them in this office, I make twenty cents above minimum wage?”

“Well—I don’t know why they do that.” 

Hello, I’m thinking, you’re the “they.” But I keep going. 

“There’re people here who make more than me who’ve been here less time and have far less responsibility than I do. Or don’t you think my responsibilities are worth more than twenty cents above minimum wage?”

“Well—I don’t know what people make.” 

You do now.  

“I just feel like I do quite a bit of work around here and it doesn’t seem quite fair that I make less than people who’ve been here barely a year.” All of this is said in a syrupy tone laced with menace.

“Well—I’ll ask them—but I don’t know if they’ll say yes.” 

They said yes and I got a satisfactory amount of money. But let’s not get too excited—we are, after all, speaking of one of the cheapest companies on the entire globe. 

Yes, friends, this is an achievement, a double-digit percentage above minimum wage. Welcome to retail. Abandon all hope of ever paying your loans and bills, ye who enter here.

Shortly after this, she hired yet another new manager for me (her predecessor stayed two weeks), a wonderfully decent woman, fun, hardworking, COMPETENT. We hit it off right away. She even bought me a bouquet of flowers.

Then, a former colleague calls me to chat and I mentioned her name, and to my great shock, surprise, dismay, she tells me that my boss and my new manager are “besties.” 

That’s her word, not mine (I would never use that word)—besties. 

Who, on God’s green earth, would want to be her best friend? How?! And such a seemingly good woman at that! I can’t get past this at all. We must have been on the phone for an hour and I don’t know how many times I asked her to explain how someone would be her friend.  

My former colleague: “I mowed the lawn this morning.” 

Me: “I don’t understand—why would anyone be friends with her?” 

Twenty minutes later: 

My former colleague: “How’s your fiancé?” 

Me: “But what does she see in her?” 

Curiously, she never gave me an answer. 

I was assured that my new manager will keep her in line. I will say that suddenly my boss has expressed to me several times that she appreciates all the work I do and how I run the store all by myself. The truth is that she HATES looking bad in front of people (which is too bad because she’s excellent at it).

Of course, the friendship seems to be unraveling as my new manager has only worked here for two weeks and already she’s pissed at my boss for screwing something up because she was too impatient to wait five minutes for the new one to get the answer and then blamed her for the resulting catastrophe. 

Not everyone is as lucky as I am. Our store struggles because we’re a crap store with poor staffing, low foot traffic, and few resources. Facing a huge sales goal designed to set us up to fail, our cosmetics manager motivated her team to win and we were one of only three stores in the entire region who beat 2019’s numbers, a real success. Our boss’s response? “Why weren’t you number one?”  

This manager literally cries, and let me say, it’s a mighty pathetic sight to see a 5’8 rock of a woman shrunken down into a ten-year-old girl who has internalized every blame she’s ever gotten in her life. A skinny ten-year-old girl with pigtails. Not sure why that might be the case but anyway. She doesn’t understand that she will never get the boss’s approval. She could invent a pill that would instantly make the boss lose eighty pounds and she’d still criticize you that it didn’t make her lose eighty-one. It doesn’t matter what you do. Nothing is ever good enough and the sooner a person accepts that the boss is an idiot, the sooner their sanity is restored.  

It may not seem like a big deal, and one might say, “Oh get over it,” but it’s the daily accretion of these events that wears a person down. How were the canyons formed? Not overnight.

I’m not a manager, have never been a manager, and hope never to be a manager, but I have enough sense to know that you don’t motivate people by belittling them. Obviously you can always do more, no matter how much you’ve achieved. But it’s all in how you frame that. You can tell people, you’ve done a great job, let’s keep going, let’s make a plan and build on this to be number one next time because we got this, OR you can tell them it’s not enough, you weren’t number one, you failed to do X, Y, and Z, and so-and-so on your team is deadwood and needs to be fired. Which approach makes you want to get out of bed and come to work?  

Well, neither approach works with me because I don’t want to go to work in general, but you get the point.

8 Aug, 2021

Hetty
https://whothehellknows.home.blog/

Author: Workers' Archive

Covering sensitivity at work and beyond on my website: https://samuelaliblog.wordpress.com/

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