It’s 12.46 a.m. and as usual my thoughts are keeping me up. I am dreading going into work tomorrow, so much so that I feel like death would be a better alternative. I’m not trying to be funny or dramatic, these are my actual thoughts and they’re obviously not pretty or glamorous, but then again, neither is my life.
This past Saturday was probably one of the longest, most stressful days I’ve had at my job so far. Of course none of you know this because of my lack of motivation to post anything on my blog (although I appreciate my newer subbies), but I’ve recently moved to California and I was lucky enough to get a job at a grocery store not too long after.
When I got hired, of course it was one of the best days ever. I’m thinking of the steady check I’ll get every week or every two weeks, no more sitting around the house waiting for interviews, no more worrying about running out of money for food, etc etc. I was happy and excited!
*sigh* Over a month in and I have never wanted to die as much as I do now. Not since I’ve been back to California anyways. I was going to say something a little more graphic, how I really feel, but I’ll try to keep this post as light as possible.
For someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I don’t take a lot of disappointment and consistent bad luck well, and that’s what working in retail does to someone like me. The attitudes and B.S. you have to put up with on a regular basis will kill you slowly if you’re not strong-minded enough to ignore those things.
Let me start from the beginning so as to not confuse you all too much…
Last Saturday, I went in early for work, I didn’t want to but my manager conveniently caught me in the parking lot the day before as I was pushing in carts and asked if I could come in early the next day. I was supposed to work 4 hours that day but the time she asked me to come in would have had me working 8 or 9. I couldn’t remember my schedule so I agreed and immediately regretted everything. If I stand for too long my feet/ankles will ache something awful which isn’t anyone’s fault but my own, it’s a combination between my horrible shoes (I only have one black pair and that’s what we have to wear to work) and my girth (I’m working on losing weight). But I digress, I figured I can power through since I’m off the following day and maybe the extra hours on my check will motivate me enough to get me through. I can rest my feet and ankles while binge watching some Netflix shows and YouTube videos on my day off.
Unfortunately, when the day came for me to work the double, I was in a funk from the time I woke up to the time I had to go to work because I always dread coming into this job so I wake up wishing I hadn’t. But let me just say, I never take my anger out on anyone. Never. I’m good at hiding my true feelings. Sometimes.
Anyways, when I woke up that morning, my roommate was in the bathroom and since I know she stays there for quite some time getting ready, I try to think ahead and I call my job to tell them I wouldn’t be able to come in as early as I thought. Since I’m not on the schedule they shouldn’t have a problem with it, I mean I could have said no all together, but I decided an hour later than the time they asked would be okay. I can do my hair, give it time to dry, and make it to the bus stop on time for my bus.
You ever feel a tightness in your chest or like a legit elephant is sitting on your chest? Yeah well, that’s how I felt as soon as I walked through the revolving doors of my job.
My thoughts throughout the day:
What am I doing here?!
Why didn’t I just call out or tell them I couldn’t come in early?!
How many hours do I have left?!
Now I know a lot of people love spewing the usual: “Just be lucky you have a job!” “Think about the check!” “Just try to tough it out until something better comes along!” “Think of the money!” “Think of the money” “Think of the money!” “Think of the money!”
Blah Blah Blah!
You know what I’m hearing?
Get over it!
You’re gonna die here!
I would love to think about the little check I’m getting and think, “Well it’s something.” And everything is just rainbows and kittens, but that’s not how things work! Not for me anyways.
Mentally, I’m not as strong as I would like to be. I can’t even watch tv dramas without getting a hard migraine and feeling down. I don’t have this proverbial armor that wards off bad feelings and negative thoughts. My brain is so deceiving, it welcomes negativity with a hot cup of bitter tea and a comfy seat.
Shifting back to my day, after I was asked to sweep up trash from in front of the store, bring in carts, pick up trash while doing the carts, my day began to dwindle down and my spirits began to uplift a bit.
4 more hours? Cool, no problem. I haven’t taken my lunch break yet, 30 minutes of that, I come back and time will fly by even faster. I’m okay now, the customers are making me laugh, I’ll be getting off in no time, I’m good!
I take my 30 minute break and while doing that I call mother, sometimes I just like to hear her voice and see what’s going on, on the East Coast. Since it’s later back home, I don’t keep her for too long. I decide to read a little for the remainder of my break. Eight minutes before my break is over my manager asks me to do the carts and relieve the new guy who’s on the carts at the moment. Cool, it’s nine something so there aren’t as many people coming in and leaving carts all over the parking lot, plus one set of doors are closed for the day so no one should be taking carts from one side of the building. I got this!
I get off of my break, I relieve the new guy from the carts, he’s grateful because he’s about to take his break.
I bring in as many carts as I can but I avoid one side of the building because it’s pretty dark and shady. The shady part of the building is on the same side as the closed doors so no one’s over meaning no one to hear my scream or help me if something happens. The area where I work is pretty shady in general; people like to park their cars in the parking lot and just sit there doing who know’s what. There was apparently an incident earlier that day where a man was causing a problem of some kind outside of the door and a woman came in to complain about him, that’s all I saw and I didn’t ask many questions. So like I said, I now avoid the shady side of the building thinking and hearing from a co-worker days earlier that the morning crew will get them in the morning. She doesn’t like going over there either so I’m not alone.
But, always wanting to be the best employee I can be, I wanna at least try to bring every cart in to make my co-workers lives a little easier, and I want a cart free parking lot. I decide to ask the security guard if he could walk to the dark side of the building with me really quick while I grab the carts.
“No, if I leave someone will steal.” He says.
Sir, people steal with you there. You only stand in the front of the store, you’re pretty much a greeter at this point. I’m not asking you to go to the ends of the earth with me but cool, I’m not gonna beg you to do your job, I’m not paying you after all so if you don’t wanna go with me then guess what? They’ll stay where they are until the morning.
So I get the rest of the carts that are in the “safe areas” of the parking lot and go back inside.
2 more hours left. We can do this! We got it fam!
No time after walking back inside my manager asks me to get the trash from the registers and the front area. Cool, I go on the hunt for some gloves and I finally find some in the bakery. They’re closed so I’m sure they won’t mind if I grab a pair. I go back to the front of the store and get on with my new task. Moments later, all of the trash cans are empty leaving me with a cart full of trash bags. I go to let my manager know.
“I’m finished.” I tell him.
I kind of knew what his response would be but I figure maybe I’m wrong, there’s no way he would tell me to go to the dumpster on the side of the building to throw this heavy as eff bag away, maybe he’ll tell me to leave it somewhere for someone else, preferably a man, to take it around to the dumpster behind the store.
“Take it to the side.” He replies.
*sigh* There it is, exactly what I did not wanna hear.
I look him in his eyes and ask. “Is anyone gonna go with me? It’s dark outside.”
“Ask the security guard.” He says.
Here we go with this. The security guard doesn’t wanna do his job! The security wants to stay in his little corner inside the store. The security guard is useless!
But I ask anyway thinking maybe he wouldn’t mind doing this since the dumpster isn’t too far away.
I catch the security guard walking in the middle of the store hoping his attitude is a little better.
“Can you walk to the dumpster with me?”
He’s walking away from me with an attitude pretty much saying no. I couldn’t understand what he was saying as he was walking away but ‘no’ was what I took from it.
Okay, like I said, I’m not begging anyone to do their job. I tell my manager the security guard doesn’t wanna go. He calls the security guard to the front but I didn’t stick around to see if he actually comes. Instead, I go back to my cart of trash and try to think of a game plan but I get nothing. Like I said, I wanna be the best employee I can be, no matter if I hate the job or not. But what I won’t do is put my life at risk for a billion dollar company that won’t even spend money on a janitor. So as I’m standing there waiting to hear the game plan from my manager, a co-worker of mine walks by. We’ll call her Miss Daisy, older white woman with glasses.
“Hey Briana, did you get the carts on the side of the building? I saw a bunch over there.” She pretty much answers her own question but I reply anyway, to be respectful.
“No, I’m not comfortable going over there. It’s really dark.”
She seemingly gets an attitude. “Well you know who they’re going to send over there at 2 a.m. in the morning, right? Me. Do you think that’s fair?” With a sardonic smile. Clearly she wasn’t amused and neither was I. Nor was I patient enough for this conversation.
Umm, first of all. Why in the world would they send you, an old lady, out there to push carts at 2 in the morning when there are men here who can do it in seconds?
Secondly, it’s cool if you are comfortable with going over to the shady side of the building, but I’m not. We’re two different people and I’m not risking my life for a tiny check or for you. If you don’t feel comfortable going over there then don’t, but don’t get an attitude with me.
Of course I didn’t say all of that because I have respect for my elders.
Instead I says, “The people in the morning will get them.” At least, that’s what I was told.
“No, they’re going to get me to do it because I want the hours.” Was her response while pushing her cart of “go backs”(items customers decide they don’t want or can’t afford at the last minute and leave at the front of the store for associates to take back later) by.
What is this conversation? Why am I here? What are we doing right now?
You’re arguing with me for not getting the carts on the side of the building yet when I say the people in the morning can get them (once again, from what I was told) you tell me no they’re gonna get you to do it because you want the hours?
I don’t have the energy to fight this battle so I let her walk by no longer caring to try and stay on Miss Daisy’s good side. I’m not getting paid enough!
So fast forward moments later and the security guard agrees to walk me to the dumpster. Yes! Finally, let’s get this over with.
We walk around to the corner of the building and I began my cautious stroll up the side of the building towards the dumpster. Why are the lights on the side of huge buildings always so dim! Are they eco-friendly lights or something?! Make them brighter!
As I’m pushing the cart I notice a man on the side standing beneath one of the tall street lights. Now I’m extra nervous because WHO IS THIS MAN?! I’m mad nervous but I have the short security guard with me so I should be okay, right?
As I’m walking, I’m halfway to the dumpster I notice there’s a gate in front of the dumpster. I turn to inquire about this and do you know the security guard literally stops and says, “Go ahead it’s right there.” and walks back into the store!
So what do I do?! I leave the cart where it is and power walk back to the corner of the store, the strange man says something but I don’t stop to ask if he could elaborate. I have plans for my life, I don’t wanna die tonight!
Before the security guard makes it back inside I yell, “Where are you going? I’m not going by myself.”
He waves an arm dismissively and continues back inside the store.
“I am not getting paid enough to work with these people.” I say not caring who hears me.
I follow him inside and he tells me the man on the side of the building works in the store and I’m like, well who is it? He says the guy’s name as if I should know. I still haven’t been taken around to get properly introduced to everyone like I was supposed to in the first week. Here I am a month later still learning people’s names and their roles as well as my growing list of duties as a bagger (I haven’t even been trained, I’m literally learning as I go).
I stop and think, remembering the strange man on the side of the building having an accent like one of the stockers who works at night.
That must be him. I thought.
Long section of the story short, I give up on the security guard who was a cool dude up to this point and I walk over to my manager and tells him the gate is closed. He says to just leave the cart on the side. I go back to the side of the building and realize it is in fact the stock guy standing beneath the street light. I ask him if the gate is closed even though I already knew the answer and he informs me that there’s an opening in the gate where it looks like someone kicked it down, most likely homeless people trying to get to the dumpster to collect bottles.
See, what I’m not gonna do is haul two big things of trash through a broken down opening in this gate. So I leave it on the side like I was told and go back inside.
This night can’t get any worse! I think. It just can’t! There’s no way.
I’m helping a cashier bag because that’s pretty much the part of my job description I’m actually sure of. My manager is at the neighboring cash register.
“Briana, can you go clean the men’s bathroom?”
I turn around pretty sure I heard him wrong. I wasn’t paying attention after all and fatigue and the pain in my feet has me on a slant, I can barely stand.
“Clean the men’s bathroom.” He says again.
“Clean the men’s bathroom?” I ask, hoping I heard him wrong, again.
“Yeah.” He replies.
“Clean the men’s bathroom?”
…………………………..What is my job description again?! I might have to go back and reread a few things.
Wanting to be a star employee I do as I’m told figuring maybe he just wants me to take the garbage out of the trash can like I did earlier. I don’t even want to do that because I’m sure the garbage can in the bathrooms are way worse than the ones at the registers that are just housing old receipts, wrappers, and water bottles– and surprisingly an empty wine bottle, but that’s none of my business.
I walk to the bakery section once again to grab some more gloves and make my way to the back of the store thinking of all of the ways I can get assaulted in the men’s bathroom by either one of the drug addicts that frequent the store and sometimes the bathroom for some privacy while they partake in drug activity, or a crazy customer.
I make it to the restroom area and upon arrival hear the toilet flush in the men’s bathroom. I patiently stand to the side and wait for this man to finish doing his business. I hear the water running and then the hand dryer and hope I will not walk into deadly fumes (i.e. poo stench).
I hear the door of the bathroom open and recognize one of the customers I greeted earlier exiting. An old white man with a cane.
Stopping in front of me he informs me, very concerned, “There’s a bunch of blood in there. It’s all over the floor and wall. It looks like they tried to stop the bleeding with some tissue and it’s all in the trash can.”
I thank him and he goes about his business.
*sigh* At this point I just stand there and I think………….should I quit tonight or should I put in my two weeks?
With all of the crap I’ve had to put up with tonight, my checks aren’t even enough for me to afford a decent room. I’m renting out a pullout sofa bed in a living room of an apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for this uncomfortable sofa bed and my amazing temporary roommate, she’s from the East Coast as well and as sweet as can be. I’m grateful for finding her when I did because everyone knows how hard it is to find a place in LA for the low.
But what I’m not grateful for is this job. I know that sounds petty and ungrateful but there’s no way I can be grateful for something that makes me feel this low. Something that makes me question, is living really worth it at this point?
After standing there, pondering what my next move will be I decide to see how bad the scene is. It can’t be that bad, the man used the toilet after all.
I open the door and there’s legit blood everywhere. Not pools of blood but big splatters of blood on the floor, on the wall, on the baby changing station thing, in the sink, the trash can is full of bloody tissue, there’s tissue on the floor. It’s just a mess.
Listen, when I say my own blood boiled, I was heated! I was this close to throwing my hands up and walking out of there, eff a two week notice.
I walk out of the bathroom and the concerned customer is there and he apparently did a little investigating of his own, pointing out blood splatters that went from the bathroom to a few feet away. I didn’t follow the trail. I was entirely too pissed to care that much. Plus I had a feeling who the culprit was so there’s no need for an investigation. He’s long gone (not in dead but out of the store). I saw him earlier and I noticed a bunch of blood on his forehead. He looked to be a homeless gentleman.
I thank the man once again and walk to the back of the store with very heavy/painful feet and an even heavier heart. Earlier, I kept hearing my manager call another manager over the intercom, a manager I happen to like, but I did not see her all day that day. I figure she must be in the office doing some paperwork or something. I knock on the office door, no answer. I walk around to the other offices, empty. She’s gone. Beautiful.
I decide to just get this over with so I walk to the front of the store, grab the mop and go back to the bathroom and mop up the blood. I take some tissue and clean the blood from the changing station and sink, using hand soap. I’m sure I was supposed to use some other chemicals to clean up blood but guess who’s not trained to clean hazardous waste? So I don’t know, I’m just doing the best I can with what I had at my disposal. After cleaning what I could see not bothering to be thorough because I could feel my emotions coming to the surface. I place the wet floor sign inside of the bathroom, return the mop, ditch my gloves and scurry to the employee’s women’s bathroom upstairs. I call my friend who I was, earlier, messaging about my horrible day and I broke down. I’m a rockstar so I try not to cry that much but I felt broken this day. No cracks or scratches, I was all the way broken. The realization that I needed this job is so heavy on my mind.
I have no dependable family in LA so it’s not like I can stay with someone while I find another job. I probably won’t even have a place to stay come July 21st so I don’t know what my next move should be. I hate this job and these headaches, but I need this job. I talk to my friend for a few more moments before hanging up, not feeling any better but knowing my manager is probably going to be calling my name any moment now. I make sure my eyes are absent anymore redness and I leave the restroom. As soon as I walk out of the bathroom I hear my name being called over the intercom to come to the front.
I get to the front of the store and my manager asks me if I “did it”? Obviously he’s asking if I cleaned up the blood he failed to inform me of from the men’s bathroom.
I nod my head and give a simple, “Mhm.”
I’m sure he’s sensing my attitude so he tells me to take my last ten minute break.
“Break?” I ask, feeling a migraine coming on. “I get off at 12.”
If they ask my to stay until one I’m walking out of here with both middle fingers up. Eff. This!
“It’s okay, just take your last ten minutes.” He says.
Cool, I ask to borrow his keys for the office because even after working here for a month I still don’t have a punch in number. Go figure.
I go to the back to sign the maintenance form so I can get ALL of my hours, I grab my backpack, buy a Gatorade (my mouth was dry the entire day), request a lyft and I fled. My lyft was 2 minutes away, I usually wait inside and take a little pressure off of my feet but eff that I don’t wanna be in this place or see any of these people’s faces any longer. I’m waiting outside tonight, I’ll just sit down when I get in the car.
I’m telling you right now, if Miss Daisy or anyone complains to me or about me to my manager tomorrow, all bets are off. As much as I don’t want to go back, Baltimore is two plane rides away. I’ll go back and think of another game plan. I’m honestly just ready to live a life where I actually look forward to waking up in the morning.
What I’m not ready for with going back home is the disappointment I know I’ll feel and all of the questions I know I’ll get. After four years of wanting to come back to California I can’t go back home defeated because I couldn’t make it work. I can’t.
So unfortunately, this post doesn’t have a happy ending. I’m still up at what is now 4.17 a.m., I have to get ready for work in a couple of hours and I don’t even know if I’m going to make it through another day at this place……
Until next time.