FPR Blog 73: OverWorked, Under-Paid and Unappreciated. Story of an Employee.

People are working over 50 to 60 hours a week on average.

I’m not speaking of people who run their own business or love what they do. An equation with those two factors equals a labor of love. This means it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.

I’m speaking of those who do not enjoy what they do. Even those who might like their job don’t want to waste their life on it.

Working hard does not entail 60 plus hour work weeks. That’s just an abuse of one’s work ethics.

That person who never says “no” or “I can’t” or “won’t” is usually the one you see come early and stay late.

Those people that will come in on Sundays because they’ve been “asked” to by their bosses aren’t saying yes because they love the company. They are saying yes because they’re afraid to lose their jobs.

I personally know a few handfuls of people that work 60 to 80 hours a week. Some of them try to squeeze that into 5 days which is beyond unhealthy.

An employer is supposed to find the proper balance for employees to make sure that their health is intact. Health is supposed to come first because without good health work can never be properly done.

You’ll often hear that “your health comes first”, but you often ever feel it. Bosses say that all the time, but hardly any ever follow through.

I don’t just know this to be true because I hear and see 3rd parties go through it all the time. I know this from first-hand experience.

I’ve worked 12-hour shifts with only 20-minute breaks. I always felt that couldn’t be legal and it sure as hell isn’t right, but I never stood up against it for fear that I would lose my job.

So like a quiet little robot I trucked along. I can’t say I moved forward because that job and that industry as a whole is like a hamster cage. Employees are either running through the tube maze to reach another and the rest are just running the wheel. All the while we wait until the bosses feel like giving us a drop of water.

I’ve worked sick and done more than the job required. I came in on days off and have left my wife and kids at pools, parks and family functions. 

I haven’t appeared in a family photo in years.

I’ve worked my ass off. I put the job in front of everything. The most important I was loyal to the company and its management.

Then one day while doing someone else’s work I got hurt on the job.

It was a Friday evening and we were about to open the doors. It was pouring outside. The place stashed all its excess furniture in the back, outside under a scaffold. Most of the tables and the chairs were getting soaked.

I like the good lollipop I am I took it upon myself to cover it up so it wouldn’t be damaged. In the course of doing this, I fall down a sewer hole. Seems that someone opened the grate a little so the water would flow in easier and I not knowing stepped on it and fell through.

As angry and hurt as I was I still tried to finish out the shift, but I couldn’t do it. I was in pain and I was dizzy. Because of this, I missed about a week of work.

I will later go into some of the lessons I learned, but this is where I learn the biggest lesson of all…

Not one person reached out to help. It took a week for the owner to call me. The DOA put it on me to reach out to the owner and ask for some type of financial assistance and the GM just stayed out of it all together.

5 years of devoted service meant nothing to these people when it came to helping me out.

You’re probably saying to yourself that I should have sued the paint off this place, but I couldn’t. It’s not the type of person I am. I only sprained my knees, I didn’t break them. I only missed a week’s worth of work, not a month. Meaning a lawsuit would have been a scheme or an act of revenge.

I like that I can sleep well knowing I caused no one any harm, even if they had it coming.

Soon after the accident, I quit that job. It wasn’t because of the fall, though. It was over a manager who loved messing with me because he knew it made me angry. 

This guy could ruin my day in less than a sentence. 

I don’t consider myself a tough guy, but on many occasions I had wished we went to the back and fought it out because I know till this day I could crush the little insignificant cockroach that he is and always will be.

Yea, sure I’m a little bitter. I took this guys shit for 5 years. The least I could’ve gotten was one punch in the face.

Anyway, why after 5 years was a Saturday in January so different that it made me walk out before the start of a 12-hour shift? 

In hindsight, it wasn’t what he did per say. I think, excuse me. I know that I was ready to blow. I hated this person, place and everyone that came with it. I was just done. He caught me in the wrong mood and I blew up.

That Saturday morning was the last time I walked through those doors as an employee. I only came back to clean out my locker and I didn’t say goodbye to a single person. It wasn’t because everyone deserved my hatred because truth be told I did meet some good people there. I just didn’t feel like going through the whole thing or having anyone trying to make peace with the situation.

Despite the consequences I knew were going to arise from me quitting so abruptly, I knew deep down inside it was the right thing to do.

The only good thing that had come out of this job as of late were the lessons I learned.

The first thing I learned is that friendship and business do not mix. I learned that friends in the workplace don’t really exist. It’s not reality. In my experience, people are out for themselves. Most will not hesitate to stab their closest co-worker in the back if it meant a promotion or something as small as more hours.

Also, many will put business above everything. I now understand why, but it still doesn’t make it right. The separation of friendship and business is an excuse to screw a friend over in business.

I learned that true friends stay true no matter what and the ones that don’t were never your friend to begin with. If they were, that relationship diluted in the course of them working together.

Often times many will use friendship as an excuse to allow for an overshadowing of said relationship. “It’s just business” has to be one of the most douchebag things anyone can say, especially when you just screwed them over.

I also learned that everyone has a story only the ones they tell are complete bullshit.

I learned that the least, insignificant amount of power can still corrupt. The low to mid-level management cronies whose lives are stuck in neutral love to yield that meaningless power around.

My experience with the manager I mentioned before was a train wreck. I don’t like to look down at anyone, but with this guy, I didn’t have a choice. Standing at a little over 5-feet he had a Napoleon complex.

It’s a shame because the guy’s story should be an inspiring one.

He escapes his Central American country where he ate dirt for 18 years to sneak into this country (USA) illegally. Then he went from dishwasher to general manager in 20 years.

No education and no intellect, he now runs part of a decent sized and semi-successful company in Manhattan, New York.

Unfortunately, the rest of his life is meaningless. The truth is, he’s nothing but a slave. He works 60 to 80 hours a week but doesn’t make the money that those hours should reflect. Because of this, he is a miserable person deep down and loves to make those under him feel the same way. Keeping employees in line by dangling hours and shifts on a carrot stick, all the while favoring those close to him.

These acts are ones of a dictator, not a fair employer. The worst is the people over him who cower behind his ridiculous antics. They keep just enough distance to keep their hands clean and look like the good guy.

That was my experience with a horrible boss, but I know I’m not the only one.

I always said that I rather starve on my feet than live on my knees, but it’s not just me that needs to eat now. That’s one of the hardest parts of taking crap from someone who as a species isn't worth much. You’re supposed to be this strong father, but you have to bow down to an insect.

I took a lot of crap for a very long time for fear I couldn’t find anything else to support my family. I often found myself saying, “don’t take it personally”. Constantly telling myself that it’s part of daily life.

Well, I call bullshit on that… We allow for it to be this way because we never try to change our own worlds.

Though it was completely reactionary and even though I knew there would be severe consequences, it was the best thing that I could have done for myself. If I can’t take care of me, than I can’t do anything good for my family.

I spent that Saturday in January driving along the Hudson often pulling over to hang my feet off a cold dock. I raged, I reflected and I thought, "Oh shit". That's when I realized I was up a creek without a paddle. Even though this reality check was slapping me in the face, there was this feeling that all was going to be alright.

I was still scared to go home, though. I didn’t want to confront my wife with the reality of what is to come. Days, maybe weeks and more likely months to get things back on track and find a suitable replacement.

I have to admit that the last couple of months have been pretty horrific. I also have to admit that walking away like that was impulsive, irresponsible and selfish. This to say nothing of how weak it made me look. But, it took a lot of strength to walk away and start over. And start over is exactly what I did.

The trials and tribulations didn’t really last as long as it felt and if I hadn’t gone through them I would have been in the same boat. I’d like to say I wasted 5 years of my life in that place, but the truth is the last 2 were wasted time. 

The first was a learning experience. It was a hard dose of reality and an extremely sobering time. The place was my safe haven, my social setting. It was my church and it was my rehab. I adored this place with all of my heart and would have taken a bullet for most who worked there.

I grew up more in a few years there than I had my whole life. It wasn’t good, though. My marriage has never been the same since returning to the job after a brief absence. 

I chose a friend over the wishes of my closest family members. I chose this place over the wishes and nightmares of my own son. I was the poster boy for caught in a web.

Since then it was one bad experience after another and I could point out all the roads that lead back to the job.

So whatever the consequences, deep down inside I knew I had to change my world and I couldn’t do anything until I left that job.

Fast forward 2 months... My life is finally well balanced!

Now, I serve a purpose, not people. I deliver goods and service no one. I get paid to use my brain not my body. I have afternoons, evening and weekends to myself and my family. I have time to be with those I care about and do what I love.

Now and only now do I realize that I do have options. I don’t have to take whatever is out there. I don’t have to depend on a friend or a connection to get a job. I’m capable of so much more than what I’ve settled for in the past.

Am I still learning? Yes. I needed to completely start over. A complete 180 is all that was going to make a real change possible. For 5 years I worked nights, weekends and holidays. I slept all my days away. In order to truly flip my script I knew I was going to have to work very hard and sacrifice a little.

Our lives are never going to reflect all of our dreams, but our day to day doesn’t have to be a constant nightmare.

I think it’s time to stop the madness. We need fair practices in the workplace. We need fair wages and humane hours. We need time with our families and we need time to heal.

We the people should not have to live like slaves, working our days away and spending our nights in fear of keeping a roof.

That is not living.

We are not plants or pets, we are people. We require more than sunlight, food, and some water.

Thanks for the time...

Blog by T. Clavero for Freedom Pop RadiO