Hell Week …. Embracing the Suck

Drown-proofing.

This week, I’ve finally experienced some form of burn-out at work.

May has started with a weariness I didn’t expect, especially after the high of the end of April. This week, from the 3rd to the 9th has been one of bizarre lethargic shifts, lack of athletic prowess and a low-energy vibe running throughout the entire experience.

My lack of fighting spirit resulted in multiple days where time seemed to stretch on forever, and even now as I write during my shift, on Mother’s Day, this 4 hour stint at work has dragged on for what seems like infinity. I suspect if I die and am sent to hell, and I’m not a very religious guy, my personal hell would designed around a sheer lack of speed and efficiency. I would go mad with insanity at the pace in which life seem to drag on forever.

But let’s avoid giving the ruler of the underworld any more ideas.

This week has served as a crucial reminder to me to get a move on with my life. The conditions at my retail store has deteriorated to such a level, that I am now desperate to quit, instead of sticking around for longer.

It all started on Monday, when out of the blue, without any real warning, there was a call to consolidate stock across the entirety of Victoria and relocate excess stock found in one store to another lacking it.

This meant that I, on my own, had to pack over 100 different SKUs (stock keeping unit) into boxes and have them individually sorted for 13 different stocks across Victoria.

I was given until the EOD (End of Day) Tuesday to accomplish this task.

24 hours. Solo. 7 hours per shift, and still having to serve customers, up-sell, get membership and tell customers about promotions.

I was not given any extra help, because my staff were unable to come in on such short notice and that is not how my company operates.

They took items away from my store, that I knew would sell and boost my sales numbers if they had stayed. Now, instead of being a highly productive and profitable store, it would suffer due to the lack of stock. They had leveled the playing field, so that instead of several good stores, we were now all equally shit.

I was livid.

They were asking the impossible, demanding the ridiculous and cavalier with their care for staff. I knew my area manager would never order such an unreasonable request. It had to be higher up.

I immediately voiced my complaint to her in the weekly meeting. She was diplomatic and hinted that it was upper management’s fault.

I gave a very strongly worded complaint to the head of HR. It was ignored for 2 days before they came back to me. The answer was corporate bullshit, barely apologetic and served only to irritate me further.

I ended up pushing my physical limits in my shift of Tuesday to finish the job. EOD Tuesday meant that surely they would pick up the huge stack of boxes I had made by that very night right? What was the point of putting such a ridiculous deadline if it wasn’t urgent?

To my incredulity, they didn’t bother to pick it up until Thursday evening. I was extremely unhappy. I talked shit about the company to my group of friends I had made. I complained and whinged to other managers. One of them was sympathetic and had been vocal in her defence of her staff. The answers she received back showed her the true colours of upper management.

“We don’t care about the morale of your staff. My boss told me to get it done and so now I’m telling you to do it.”

She was so shocked and embittered that she decided to hand in her resignation. They didn’t even thank her properly. Just wished her well on whatever next journey she would take on.

She is the manager of one of the flagship stores in Melbourne. An invaluable asset. An incredibly hard worker, with the ability to turn any store around into something special. She had inherited the flagship store when it was in utter shambles and doing remarkably poorly. It was she who stabilised it, molded it into something neater, fuller and more profitable.

She was let go without a second’s thought. As if, someone of her experience and work ethic would just come along and take over her role with ease.

I couldn’t believe it. This was bordering on the ludicrous. Verging on the very edge of lunacy.

This corpo style of swapping out people like tools was like an anathema to me. In all my years of being a leader, I had always prided myself on looking after my people. I would treat all my volunteers, from newbies to veterans, with all the same care and loyalty. I liked to inspire people to follow me.

I didn’t see them as tools. I saw them as important friends and people that helped me achieve something special. I would never swap them out if they didn’t want to quit. If they left, I would say no hard feelings and accept it. If they stayed, I would reward them and make sure I looked after them.

My retail store offered neither of these experiences.

All these revelations occurred on Wednesday as I walked around the store, oddly despondent and lackadaisical. It was like a getting hit with a emotional hammer. I had kind of enjoyed my new role as a manager. It was difficult and tough, but I thought I was doing alright and that the company kind of had my back, despite the hardships.

I couldn’t be more wrong. Even worse, the flagship manager actually used to run my store that I had inherited. Upper management, upon hearing I was willing to accept the role, had forced her to move onto the current flagship store. She didn’t have a say in the matter.

To dump guilt atop of the righteous anger I felt … honestly broke something inside of me. I thought she was willing to move, that she was ready for an upgrade to something with even more responsibility. But now, it turned out, I had forced her aside and now she was quitting …

The shame I felt, lasted throughout this entire week. It threw me off my usual exercise routine, off my athletic ability in my weekly friendly game of badminton, off my diet and off my overall energy levels.

Only this part of me, the writer inside, continues to be strong, channeling all my emotional distress into something creative and therapeutic.

To top this entire shitty week off, my obsession with Formula 1 races was ruined by a man who keeps on winning and dominating the sport, in a dominating car and whom the world keep singing praises of constantly.

Having said all of this though, I do feel a bit better. The major lesson I’ve learnt from all of this horribleness is that I need to get a move on and finding a job in the events industry which is where I want to stay for the rest of my life and career.

It is in events that I became something of a leader and innovator, and where I can really help my friends and raise them up with me.

I cannot wait to quit this damn job in a couple of months and wash my hands of this terrible management style.

Somehow, no matter the job, I will always be displeased with someone from up high giving me orders.

Perhaps I really do have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

I will always be the odd one out and disobedient and vindictive towards authority.

Associate it with arrogance … define it as defiance … name it non-compliant .. hell, indicate it as insubordination but I’d rather go down swinging than blindly obey orders.

Especially when they don’t make sense and they come from a person who I don’t respect.

I’m a recalcitrant sonvuabitch … and I’ll die that way, being a pain in the ass than meekly accepting my fate.

I’ll take the whole world on, if I think it is wrong.

That is the only way I can come to term with how much things suck. By being headstrong and unruly.

I’ve been here long enough … it’s time to make a move and get the hell out of Dodge.

~ Damocles

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