Tuesday, September 12, 2017
I Finally Left a Job That Was Killing Me
So if you know me personally, you probably know that I just recently quit my job of the last 7 years. And let me make it clear.....it was FAR more than just the "Seven Year Itch" that prompted me to leave. It's been a build up of emotions and frustrations that brought me to a breaking point. But it wasn't always like that...........
The Good Ole Days
I first started with the company when I was a wee little lady of 20. It was back when the economy was shit and I had been applying for jobs for months without any luck. I was thrilled when they called me....even if it was just a crap pay part time job. After a few months of that job I got a full time gig, then about 3 months after that I got a promotion to the job I had actually wanted all along when a position unexpectedly opened. (back then there was low turnover because people stayed put and liked being there....that has since changed lol) I worked about 3 years where I can say I was genuinely happy being there. We had a tight knit crew that felt like family. The kind where we all sat together at one long table everyday like it was Thanksgiving. We were invested in each others lives, had little to no drama, and we all seemed to have each others back. If someone was behind we jumped in and helped without being asked because we knew next week they would return the favor.
Even with the management team, they may have had their issues with each other, but they seemed to support their staff. I never felt uneasy with them. As I sit back and remember those times....I think we were all pretty content with where we were at. Until........
....There was a big change in management. Some left voluntarily, some not. And that's when things FIRST started to get a little weird. I know what you're thinking...."what you couldn't hack some new blood coming in and shaking things up??" Yea, yea....we bitched about a few things, but quickly adapted to the "small" things and the focus was on what I feel were the big things. It was the way we were spoken to and berated. Even if it wasn't aimed at you personally, it was watching it happen to a person singled out because they were an easy target that wouldn't stand up for themselves. It was at this time that the negative culture was born. The once positive and fun environment quickly disappeared and everyone was collectively miserable. People were pitted against each other and everyone walked on egg shells all the time. This is when I made my first attempt to get out. Almost 4 months ago to the day I interviewed for what I now see was a ridiculous option...I was just so miserable and desperate I didn't even care what it was. I remember calculating down to the penny how much of a pay cut I could take if I had to and still pay my bills. When they told me in the interview that it wasn't going to happen (the job was COMPLETELY different than any experience I had on my resume), I remember going back to my car, calling The Boy, and sobbing for at least 10 minutes before even being able to drive away.
The Next 3 Years
A few months after this first attempt to break out, things began to calm down. The complete outbursts at employees lessened so the mind set of "maybe things will be ok now" started to creep in. Shortly after that I was offered a position that gave me a Monday-Friday schedule...something that is nearly impossible to come by in the food industry. As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance. Then just a few short months after that, I was offered another new position. I was only thrown some mere change as a raise, but I would keep the Mon-Fri schedule and get myself out of the kitchen chaos. I took the opportunity yet again.
Much like an abusive relationship, you try to forget the bad times and try to focus on the good. "Things are different now...right?" Nope.
These last few years were some of the most dysfunctional I have ever experienced. Turn over was so high we could never keep up. We were constantly short in every single area of the department that everyone was just thrown extra duties daily....then they would get bitched at for not being able to get out on time. Getting pulled to work other areas for 6 out of 8 hours of their shift for days in a row....then they would wonder why their own job was incomplete. You could never win.
Everyone around me was overworked, under appreciated, and treated like crap no matter how much harder they busted their ass. I saw people who I respected and genuinely felt were excellent workers being completely beat down day after day. Morale was at an all time low and we lost that "family" feel that we all had loved so much. People were so overwhelmed all the time that everyone sort of went into self preservation mode. You stopped looking for ways to help out your coworkers because it just didn't even feel possible anymore. If someone else was in the shit you put your head down and tried to stay out of it. The complete opposite of everything it had been before. This place certainly had a way of making loyal hard workers not care at all anymore.
Meanwhile, with my new position I got jerked around far less than them and still got my 2 days off every week. The entire reason I ever took this job was to afford me these "perks" and yet I as going home at night feeling extreme guilt for not being as shit on as my coworkers. I hated watching people I cared about being put on long stretches and left with little to no direction, while still being held completely responsible (blamed) at the drop of a dime when anything went wrong.
The same went for the supervisory staff. I know that they got just as shit on as we (the line levels) did, but just in a different way. I know it was hard for a lot of my coworkers to recognize that and they would often just get really angry with them. Not saying I didn't...I did. But I was sympathetic to their position as well. I could see how they never felt they could hold their head above water. It became a perpetual cycle of never being able to really solve any problems and just slapping a tiny bandaid on something that needed stitches (how do you like that metaphor there) I could see how they were just as beat down as us and would give up. It became about just getting through the day even if it was just by the skin of their teeth and to the detriment of their staff.
I could give you SOOOOO many examples of the dysfunction and toxic environment.....but I would never even get around to posting this. There is just far too much. I almost feel like this is doing a disservice to what really went down...and almost downplays how bad the environment is. But please....just believe me when I say it is not good.
So like I said....I got jerked around alot less being out of the kitchen....but my own set of frustrations set in. I actually really liked my new job as the purchaser and took it pretty seriously. But I quickly became frustrated with never being able to get information out of anyone in a timely matter to do my end of things. I was always having to rush because of them and ended up looking like a douche with a lot of my vendors at no fault of my own. Communication was at a zero and I would often find out about major changes through my vendor reps. They would hear about things before me and it made me look like an idiot (tnakfully they quickly caught on to the dynamic and knew it wasn't me)
Major projects would come up....like the time we took over a property across the street and I got NOTHING out of them until the day before it was happening. No guidance, no processes, no information.....nada. I was rushing around trying to make sense of the chaos while the big boss was on vacation that ENTIRE first week. I openly expressed frustration to the supervisors around me and one of the snakiest ones reported back to him that I was "disgruntled and angry." The next week when he got back from vacation he said to me "if you don't think you can handle this, do you need a new position?" I think this was the beginning of the end for me. How douchey of him to throw me (and the workers of that property) into something brand new with no guidance AT ALL and take off for a week. Then you have the balls to come back and the very first thing you say to me is insinuating that I am just not hacking it??? Are you kidding me? It felt completely disrespectful. Not to mention even after that he never showed any interest in that area at all. Getting that place to a point where it could run (relatively) smoothly came at no thanks to him. It was from us figuring it out on our own and creating a process...and yet there was no acknowledgment of that whatsoever.
I also started to feel mocked for doing my job. Just a little backstory so you can understand better. The majority of things I ordered I could completely handle on my own directly with the vendors. The patient supplements and tube feeds however, required me to go through the network purchasing department. I would put in what what I needed into a system and it would have to be approved by the big boss before it would even get sent to the purchasing department to order. He was not "approving" my orders in a timely manner at all. Orders that should have come within 2 days were coming in 7-9. I began having to hound him both over email and in person to do his part (mind you...it was just a mere click of the mouse). I got a lot of half eye rolls and annoyed sounding responses which frustrated me, but I could handle it. What really sent me over the edge was one time when I was asking about it again he said "you are ALWAYS on my back about that!!"
Oh gee....my bad! Sorry for doing my job. Sorry for not trying to run out of supplements needed for people who can't eat. Sorry I "annoy" you to do your job. Seriously....fuck me right? I'm the worst.....
I also felt mocked for keeping my eye on the budget. I had a spreadsheet that I would track everything bought and the category it fit into. When they would want me to bring in new products I would point out when we weren't making a profit on them. Or when we had caterings that used too many items not in regular inventory we would end up spending more to bring them in (say a big case that we only used a small portion of) than we would make off the entire catering. I would simply point these things out and his response always was "I don't care about the price!." Ok...that was apparent, but I felt the need to point it out so when we went over budget I had that on my side. I also heard about things he would say behind my back. He would say things like "Oh...did WHITNEY say it was toooo expensive???" (imagine that in a condescending tone and the upward eye roll emoji)
It also hit the point where you could pinpoint the exact moments he was feeling insecure about his own job. He would go on a rampage/witch hunt trying to find anything he could try to spin as being your fault. (this happened to everyone, not just me) He would NEVER say it to my face, but would walk my storerooms and walk ins and make comments about how I was overstocked etc. I would confront him and ask him if he had any issues with me he needed to discuss and of course he would say no and that I was "tripping out" for no reason. I made it clear that if he had issues with things pertaining to my job performance he needed to talk to ME about them, not walk around asking and discussing it with everyone else about it but me. Everything there felt like it was handled immaturely and completely unprofessionally.
So like I mentioned earlier, the last 3 years have been a cycle between "ehh", bad, and REALLY bad. Something would happen worse than the normal everyday and my mind would start racing about how I needed to get out. Things would then settle back into bad or "ehh" and I would think..."its ok, I can do this" Or at any point the big boss would sense I was really unhappy I would get pulled into his office to have a pow wow. They were the same thing over and over. He appreciated and "respected" me and my opinions (eye roll) blah blah blah. Basically, like an abusive relationship would try to smooth things over. Sadly, in the very early days I bought it a few times but after a while it just became white noise. I would speak my peace a little, then just nod my head until I could get out of there. I was banking on the hope that the really bad times would become fewer and further between and that I could maybe just outlast this until something happened to make things better. Quiiiiite the opposite happened though. Things continually got worse. Morale was at the absolute lowest, and the "this is REALLY fucking bad" times were now closer and closer together. I would sometimes only even be able to go a week where I felt like I could relax and just do my job.
This Is NOT Normal
My work environment has been a major talking point for me in the last couple years (my instagram followers know lol) Nearly every family gathering the topic came up. At first people like my father in-law would say things like "well you get that everywhere you go." Or... "every job has it's ups and downs." Believe me...I get this. I am Rita Realistic here. I understand that a job will always be a job. You will always be frustrated at something and things will never be smooth sailing. I get it. But after 7 years of being there it was becoming abundantly clear that things were never going to get better. As I would tell my family things that went down at work they would all be shaking their head in disbelief. I've sat in the kitchens of each of my siblings and sobbed more times than a person should about their job. It became even more clear to me when they would look me dead in the eye and say, "Whitney...this is NOT normal. We need to get you out." If outsiders were saying this, I felt it must be true.
I became open to the idea of leaving about a year ago. The problem though (or not) was that I was adamant that I had to be leaving for better and not just leaving to leave. I wanted to maintain the same great Mon-Fri schedule. I didn't want to take a step back or to the side...I needed to go up.
I completely own up to the fact that I don't deal with change well. At all. I would find myself thinking things like "I know this place is shitty but at least I KNOW this shit." The thought of going somewhere else and being just as miserable but in a new and unknown form of shit was terrifying to me. Well meaning friends and family would send me TONS of jobs but I only applied for a handful because I was adamant and not just taking anything just to get out. The job itself needed to also be the right fit. I knew at some point I might be willing to, but right now I was going to hold out for better.
I'm a Bitch
Hindsight I can now clearly see that that incident where we took over that other operation was when I really began to disconnect and change as a person. I started to truly hate who I was and how I felt when I was at work. My stomach would turn the closer and closer I got to work on my drive in. As soon as I walked in the door I was hit with waves of sadness, frustration, and anger. Sometimes before anything had even happened. I started to see things in myself I truly hated. I was snappy and impatient almost all of the time (some deserved it, some didn't) I was never NOT complaining...EVER. I just felt like a miserable bitch. I started coming home at night and crying to The Boy about something I had said to someone that day. How they had asked me a question and I started to raise my voice. Not AT them per say, but about a situation surrounding the question they had asked me and their response was " Oh WOW" with a look of shock on their face. In the moment it didn't bother me, but minutes later as I sat alone at my desk it began to eat away at me. How I hoped they realized that it wasn't about them but this place and situation, but all the while feeling extreme guilt for even getting angry at all. It wasn't their fault. But this was just one of many incidents where I just didn't feel myself. I felt like I wasn't the kind person I know I can be. Not saying I can't be an impatient and snappy bitch on my own....totally can! But this was far too often and over the top. The fact that it was spilling so far over into my home life too was not good. I stopped being able to check it at the front door and became consumed with the anger, frustration, and guilt from each and every day.
I ended up asking one of my coworkers if he felt like 2 different people in and outside of work and he said, " YES!! I'm actually a nice person outside of work" The reason I asked him specifically is because I had already sensed that in him. He's a nice guy, but much like me he spent the majority of his days angry and snappy. I never held it against him in anyway or even gave it much thought until I started seeing some of the things he posted on social media. He sounded like a completely different person. Happy. Grateful. Enthusiastic.....quite different from the person I saw everyday lol We had a short conversation about it that brought me great relief. It was nice to know I wasn't the only one who felt this way
My Breaking Point and The PERFECT Timing
Back in July my best friend told me about the PERFECT job opportunity. It was so perfect I couldn't even believe it! I quickly applied and the waiting game began. Just a mere 4 days after this, one of the worst situations at this place to date began to unfold. I won't get too detailed...it would make this already long novel into a week long read. Also, it's not my story to tell (errm....cept I already told it in real time on Instagram lol whoops!) Even though it was not happening to ME directly, it broke me as if it was and I was completely invested in trying to get this person justice. Without details the long story short was the big boss did something completely unethical that cost a coworker of mine a great job opportunity. As if his interference wasn't bad enough already, he lied about it through his teeth to HR. HR per usual was basically useless in trying to handle the situation, along with other people up the chain that were contacted as it felt like nothing was being handled. They stopped answering the persons attempts at contact and it just felt like they were trying to make the whole situation go away so they wouldn't be in a big mess. To me it felt like something lawsuit worthy if he had kept going.
As he did with me, he pulled this person into the office and tried to "make nice" by saying he never meant for things to turn out this way. That he would be happy to help him in the future...even offering up the possibility of my job when I left (mind you, my notice was not in at this point nor had I even told him I was looking elsewhere. Someone had just opened their big mouth about it. Yet another example of his unprofessionalism that he then "pow wowed" with me over when he heard it pissed me off. Again I was "taking it all wrong" according to him)
The whole situation was completely wrong and I was broken hearted at how it was now obvious to me how corrupt the entire place is going up the chain. I had held out hope before that it was just our department that was so dysfunctional and unethical....but this whole ordeal made it clear that it was deep rooted and so that meant it would never get fixed. Nobody was going to come in and "save" us because they were just as backwards.
One particular night while talking to the person it happened to, they basically told me it was over and they were done fighting it. I was sickened that once again (reminder that there is more stories than I could ever tell) these people were getting away with murder and I just couldn't take it anymore. I repeated to The Boy over and over in between crying and pounding tequila "I need to get that job. I NEED to!!"
Onward and Upward
After a month of waiting, then multiple interviews....I was offered the job. In this moment I was so happy I had held out for better, because this will truly be better in every sense. More money, an exciting new project/position I feel fit for, and a dream schedule that simply CANNOT be beat! In that moment on the phone the weight of the world felt lifted from my shoulders and I was fighting back tears of joy while almost yelling into her ear with excitement. This is EXACTLY what I needed and at the most perfect time....when I was feeling hopeless (seems appropriate for me to add in that right at this time when the above incident was unfolding, my husband had been laid off from his job abruptly. So you can imagine how much stress I was under and how unhappy I was)
Crazy enough, right as I was applying for all this so was one of the supervisors. We ended up putting in our notices a day apart from each other, him going first. After he put it in he told me he had actually gotten a little emotional. He asked if I did and I said no. His response was basically "wow" and how that showed how much this place had broken me down to be so disconnected. We reflected on how just 6 months earlier a person who left cried while putting theirs in and they were OPENLY miserable and wanting out for a while. They had been there less than half the time I had, so my lack of emotion spoke volumes. I was just DONE.
I worked through my notice and my last day was quickly approaching. Because of peoples days off I had been saying goodbye for the last 3 days or so I was there. I didn't get emotional with any of them at all.....until...HER.
One of the cooks came up to me and said "If I don't see you tomorrow I just wanted to tell you good luck and thank you" I barely held it together long enough to make it to the bathroom before I started sobbing. Some of you lucky people got to see the ugly cry face in real time on Instagram. lucky!! lol
The funny thing about her was that we weren't close at all. Not even a little bit. She had been there maybe a year and our interaction was minimal. But as she so genuinely wished me luck I was hit with the guilt of how I had treated her. I had never been purposely or directly "mean" to her, but I can 1,000% own up to the fact that I was impatient with her.. When she would ask me questions I tended to be very short. When I explained things to her my voice was not in as kind of a tone as it should have been. This eats me up inside like you wouldn't believe. I hate that that "version" of me is the only one that she ever got to know. As much as this pains me, it was a great reminder of why I was leaving. I needed to leave before I lost myself completely. Before that became my personality and demeanor all the time. As much as that moment hurts me and I still tear up now just even writing this, I am also so very thankful for this moment of clarity. It made me realize that the lack of emotion in leaving up until this point was ok, because in the end I was getting emotional for all the right reasons. I'm not dead inside yet and I desperately want to be a better person. I can't do that there.
My best friend suggested I talk to her and apologize for being impatient with her, but I knew I would not be able to get through it without crying and she would probably just think I'm a nutcase considering we never spoke about anything besides quick work related things. I am truly hoping that the way I talked to her bothers me more than it did her.
The next day when it actually came time for me to clock out for the last time and turn in my badge, I did so without any tears. I was so ready to put this place behind me and dive straight into everything that has scared me for the last 4 years.
Again with the guilt...I feel guilty over leaving some people behind. I know I have to do what's best for me, but I can't help but feel emotional about some of the people still there. Those who I know get treated like garbage because they can't effectively defend themselves. Those that I fear are "stuck" and will never get out for various reasons (pay, experience, benefits, age etc)....only to live out a numbers of years of their life in misery. I want better for them just as much as I want better for myself. I don't know why I feel such responsibility for their well being and feel so deeply about it, but I do. I am still trying to work through that. I don't where I am supposed to draw the line between letting go and freeing myself of that stress or feeling like I need to do something about. I'll keep ya posted....
I am currently taking time off between the two jobs to relax, recharge, and mentally move on from the last 7 years. I start next week and can't wait for this new chapter. It has been a long time coming.
I am most excited to be in a more positive work environment where I can get back to being me. I am ready to kind again. Ready to have challenges but not CONSTANT frustrations. Ready to like myself again.
One last thing...The Boy always says this and it is absolutely true! Management is what makes or breaks a place. People will stick out a job they don't absolutely love if they feel theyare supported by and trusting of their superiors. And vice versa....I liked my actual "job" and would have stayed and done it for years had it not been for the leadership of that entire network
If you made it this far...thank you! I know it was a long one and believe me, it could have been even longer. (like the supervisor that is a legit pathological liar, the secret deal made with an employee to tell HR things in a good light about them, how none of the equipment ever works...oh there is lots!)