Them Old Workplace Blues

| Feb 22, 2016
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Why does the workplace have to be such a dehumanizing experience for me and many, many others? Why must we be exploited for corporate greed. Why do we subject ourselves to it? Survival, is why.

I have been pondering these questions a lot lately. Today was another tough day at the “office.” I work at a big box retailer. The one who thinks they are just so damn cool and hip. Maybe they are, compared to the other one, with their smiley faces and their suspect and pungent clientele. But, they are definitely not cool to their employees. Especially recently. Cuts have been made. Sales were apparantly slow. The shareholders are probably grumbling. So, what does that mean? Of course, they must crack down hard on the peon employees trying to eke out a living at barrel bottom wages. They MUST be the problem. Those slackers must be whipped into shape and be made to work more “efficient.” They must learn to do more with less, move faster, work harder. But, of course…for the same wages.

I, for one, am sick of it. Our store is in one of the most affluent areas in the Bay Area. People drop $700 regularly without even a flinch. All of those housewives hauling around their precocious kiddies in their Land Rovers and X5s throw down the Benjamins while their husbands slave in the Land of Tech that is Silicon Valley. Our store floats between the number 10 and number 15th busiest store in the entire country. We do the business of a superstore in a non-superstore footprint.

This ranking is a double edged sword. It’s great for business and let’s them employ 300 plus workers, 500 during the holidays. But, catering to the whims of the rich folk can be exhausting. Where does it stop? How much can you cater to every whim before it becomes ridiculous? It stresses the employees to no end. We are told to smile and be cheery all of the time. We are told that customer service is paramount. But yet, if you don’t get your work done, well . . . you better be prepared for a writeup. It’s the great paradox. The shelves need stocked but the guests need served as well. Instead of having people to help customers with questions and concerns, they make us pull double duty. We must answer questions with a smile, hold the customer’s hand while they decide. We must walk them to products, we must fetch items from the back room. But, we also have a full workload of stocking and restocking and straightening the shelves. Things must look full, clean and fresh.

On top of this, you must answer calls for backup cashiering. Lately, it’s been getting out of control. The company has cut staff because of soft sales. This, in turn, creates a mess. The lanes back up because their are no cashiers to move people through. They call department people up to ring at the registers adding yet another responsibility and slowing down our work productivity even more. They expect the world for low pay. They make it seem like it’s the most important job on the face of the earth. If somehow a customer is not served properly and in a timely fashion, the universe will, in turn, fold in on itself in a cataclysmic, horrific event that ends time and space as we know it forever. It’s THAT damned important. We are the Guardians of the Galactic Balance. We are the last line of defense against unspeakable universal cataclysm. Doctors save lives, but dammit, we save the universe!!

It’s been a tough winter for me. One for the ages. I am getting better. I feel it. Spring is here in Cali. But work remains a trigger for me. Tonight was especially bad. I wanted to run out of the store screaming like a banshee while simultaneously ripping off my red sweater and crushing my name tag beneath my feet in a triumphant and defiant orgasm of delight. I would look to the heavens, Shawshank Redemption style, and with rays of light shooting from my hands, relinquish my Guardian post. One less brave soul to stop the folding and horrific destruction of the universe. But it would be worth it.

I dream of a real career. I don’t think I even know what a career is. I’ve never had one. What is it like? Do they laugh there? Is it awesome? Do they have coffee and cookies? Do they have — dare I say — weekends off? It can’t be true. I dare not think that this be true. Yet, I wish to partake in this thing they call . . . a career. It’s foriegn to me. I’ve been in the Land of Jobs for so long. The Continent of Careers shimmers in the distance. With its golden glow and fancy buildings and the smell of money in the air, it calls me. Like the faint, wind blown sound of a young boy calling from the distance, it beckons.

Someday, I may triumphantly enter the gates of Success City with its green glow and golden streets. I think about it almost daily. They seem happy over there. A little busy, but happy. They drive Mustang GT’s and Camaro SS’s and eat $20 cheeseburgers because they can. They pat each other on the back a lot and say “Good job!” and “Way to go!” They are the successful ones. I want to be like them. The Land of Jobs is getting old. I need to get away. I am known to do that.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

I am a transwoman originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I have been living full time for 5 years. I work in retail but am an artist/Graphic Designer and aspiring writer. I tend to address the controversial in my writing. I would love to change the world one article at a time. I moved to The San Francisco Bay Area to start over, again. But recently moved back to the East Coast. The adventure continues...

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