Thursday, November 5, 2009

Unemployment: The Beginning


That's my state's unemployment rate. Granted, I became unemployed when I was forced to quit my job in Tennessee so really it's their problem. But I live in Michigan now and I can honestly say that there are no jobs in the town I am living in. If I want a job (not even a decent one) I have to drive an hour to get there. For $8 an hour, I would be paying for gas. Luckily I am not trying to procure employment in this nonsense state. Chicago is the target city. Beyond this I have nothing serious to say about unemployment. Nothing, whatsoever.

I have recently posted some things about unemployment on my Facebook that went something like this:

"Unemployment makes me bipolar."

"Unemployment is nothing more than perpetual PMS. I apologize in advance."

"i can haz interview? dis neat."

"is it my new glasses or is the world upside down? maybe ice cream will help."

"it seems that when my sky falls so does the rest of scenery."

"never say that things can't get any worse... because they can... and then they will. and then you use big words, with 4 letters. it's no fun. trust me."

I have been unemployed before but never quite to this degree. When I was interviewing in Chicago and when I gave notice to my former employer, the understanding was that I would leave when I found a position. And since I found my own replacement, this should not have been an issue. Especially since my replacement was cool with being on the waiting list for my job. He was happy where he was and had that whole confusing patience thing going for him that I lack in gallons. So you can imagine my surprise when I was told on September 24th that my last day was September 27th. Wait, I thought I was quitting. How am I being fired? Or "fired"? I'm baffled. I was still waiting to hear good news from a company that was considering me for Store Management. My General Manager had flown the coop the week before and when she did, she set a few mines for a few of us leftover. My flesh eating bomb shell was that she told our District Manager to set my last day for September 27th. "Funny,", I thought, "That's the first day of a new week. Why would she make my last day..." and then... I went all superhero crazy bitch. September 27th was, in fact, an inventory day. They weren't respecting me, they were humoring me. They were fine with me looking for another job, especially because they couldn't give me a raise and knew I needed more money. What they didn't say, until three days before I was to leave, was "you have until the end of the month." Well throw me off a cliff why don't you?

In order to illustrate the slap in the face I received, I must back track on our story a wee bitsy. A short but sweet explanation. When I have said that I gave up everything for this job. I truly mean everything. The GM told me when I started that after I took over the supervisor position that I could receive a significant raise. She said this because I almost refused the position due to the $9/hr price tag. So, with the promise of a promotion in a few months' time and a raise on the horizon, I began the march of doom. I worked like a mad woman. I received my promotion, 2 months after I was supposed to. I received my raise, which was not significant. I did not sign up for part time benefits because I was told I would be eligible for full time benefits, which also turned out to be a bold faced lie. I found this out too late. So, I had another run in with pneumonia, insurance free, which meant that I waited until I couldn't breathe to go to the doctor. I ended up in the ER on my birthday, also insurance free. I lost my brand new car. I lost my lifestyle which wasn't that extravagant but it did allow me to go on the occasional shopping trip and out to dinner and movies with friends, I could also afford gifts and groceries.

I was now homebound, penniless, unhealthy and driving a wreck of a car. The car was affectionately named Peanut because of the amount of pissed I was for having to buy it. (note: Jeff Dunham has a purple puppet named Peanut who pisses him off... my car is purpley...) I was getting food from a food bank and using my tip money for gas and cigarettes. (You try to quit smoking when your life is falling apart in front of your eyes and tell me how successful you are... don't judge me!) Through all of this, I still worked my nails to the bone. I supervised without the title. I cleaned, I trained myself on other parts of the store, I led without being told to do so. I took initiative where it was needed. I was a "team player". It used to be that hard work paid off. Now, it's expected that you suffer whether you work hard or not. By the time I received my promotion I was ready to leave. I had been played like a fiddle. My life looked like the after effects of Santa's cookie rampage. You can't just put that shit back together again. You have to start from scratch. Time marched on and my patience wore thin. The cafe won contests and excelled in the district. We became a family. We all worked hard. But none of this was recognized. Finally, in August, I approached my GM and told her my story. Told her about the amounts of money I was borrowing, the food I was eating, the car I was driving and the effect on my health that this job was taking. I cried to a woman I loathed hoping that somewhere in her body there was a human being. One month later I gave my notice. My notice that we agreed would be ongoing until I found another job. Since I had found my replacement who did not need training, the transition would be simple and worry free.

And then 3 weeks later I looked in the mirror and found the bloody knife sticking out of my back. She had betrayed me. When I was approached with the news, it was not in the office. We were in a common area and I was told that my last day was September 27th. When the shock wore off, the anger exploded. How could she do this to me? How could the COMPANY do this to me? How could this be ok? Isn't it illegal to fire someone who is already quitting? (Not in the fucked up state of TN it's not!) The assistant manager came up with this brainless plan that I should stay on as a manager since I already had keys and knew how to do most things in the store, including parts of her job that I had done the holiday season before. My replacement would come in and I would work as a manager a couple of days per week in the cafe, and then work on the floor the rest of the week as a manager "picking up the slack" for the other managers. In other words, taking on more responsibility, with no raise, and letting someone else take my job when I was still going to be in the store. Excuse me, but if I am going to be the general manager of a store, I damn well better receive the title and raise to go along with it. I'm not going to "pick up the slack" or in other words, do the parts of the jobs that the other managers didn't WANT to do (dirty work) and not get paid for it. This new glamorous job would have included: merchandising, operations, cafe operations, receiving duties, corporate sales duties, etc. Ninja. Please. Fingers to ya! I'm leaving. How can you do so much for a company only to have them turn around and slap you in the face like this? Yes, they have replaced (or rather I found and was going to replace) me with a new cafe supervisor. But the term replacement isn't exactly accurate here.

My responsibilities ended up reaching far beyond that of the cafe. Far beyond the scope of $10.50 an hour. Far, FAR beyond being pushed out of the store because clearly they thought it would be easier to just get it over with. So I can only say good luck to the new supervisor and God speed to whoever is left in the store. The stories I have heard since leaving the cafe have broken my heart. (From former customers, friends and former coworkers alike.) They made a bad decision, and now they get to stew in it. So, as bad off as I am right now, there is a small part of me that gets to say "I told you so." At least my inner 5 year old is happy. The rest of me is just giggling with insanity at my current situation. I went from angry to straight jacket crazy in the period of about a month. And boy do I have some stories to tell...

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