Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I almost quit my job tonight. Really. It took alot not to just walk right out the door. In fact, I had to call my friend R at work, and say, "Please talk me out of quitting, " and then promptly burst into tears.

Yes, I got a job. Back at the end of June. I do like my work, I do like my workplace, and I do like my co-workers. I work at a small spa here in Burbank with an excellent reputation, and a devoted clientele. The atmosphere is very quiet and peaceful and it's less than 5 blocks from home. When I got this job, I was so excited, because it IS really a lovely place, and my pay decent ( or so I felt at the time; while I still feel it's plenty of money, it's not nearly enough money for what responsibilities I eneded up having). And I thought my boss was so cool and great. And she was.

For about a month. And THEN the mask came off.

My boss, as has been oft discussed amongst my friends has a toxic attitude toward her business and employees, and so on and so forth. For those of you who have not been able to play along at home until now, here's the sum up:

It's HER business, and we should all care as much as SHE does (work when you're sick, need no time off for medical procedures, school or family. Everything must be perfect and nothing less is tolerable), and yet she offers NO incentive to do so ( the rules of what "perfect" are only apply to us and change daily. Very little appreciation is shown, even when work is excellent- that's just expected. Very high on critiscism, low on keeping her own end up. Cheap, tightfisted- we don't even get free or reasonably discounted services!). What's more, she doesn't seem to understand that there are things she MUST deal with just because she's the boss: when there's trouble - with clients, with employees- she wants to push it off on to others whenever possible. Wants NO part in dealing with the scheduling issues that arise from time to time when people need to change something. Constantly complains about the costs of running a business, but refuses to expend effort to advertise to bring in more revenue. Blames other people for things they have no control over, like how many people book appointments on a given day, or mistakes she has made, like forgetting her commitments. She wants to transition from "Self-Employed" to "Business Owner" with no expenditure of extra cash or manpower. EX: She has made it mandatory that we are all hers from Nov 1- Jan 15. NOBODY is going anywhere for a holiday ( I'm sniping out only because I finageled in with other employees and she had no choice but to comply. Still, I had to wait so long to see if she would, it's now become impossible to find a plane ticket that isn't over $700.). SHE'S going to Europe from Jan 15-Feb 3, however, with a.) no Assistant Manager, b.) no plans to offer anyone extra money to step up, and c.) no concerns that that means we are REALLY not getting any time off from Nov 1 - Feb 3, -no perks! Open Black Friday, Dec 24th, 26th, and 31st !- which is INSANE.

Speaking of insanity, one has to wonder, since she seems to also think that we should all conform to her personal reality. EX: Earlier this year, she wanted me to start doing the nightly books. This was NOT required of me when I took the job, and had it been, I would have had to recuse myself from the running, as I have a conflict. Namely, I have dyscalculia ( and asking me to balance anyone's books, even my own, is like asking me to jog in 100degree heat in a pair of flip flops. (Sure, it can be done, but how well and to what expense in every sense should REALLY be considered!) I explained this to her, and she said I HAD to do it. I asked if there was some other responsibility I could take on in lieu of having someone else handle it. Absolutely NOT, she answered ( never mind someone else had been doing it all along til I got there). Additionally, she didn't BELIEVE I had this "thing, whatever you call it", and had never heard of it.
Summarily, I produced documents proving it and proving her ignorance about it's existence, and patiently tried to explain to her that it wasn't that I didn't WANT to do this task, it was that I COULD NOT, and really SHOULD NOT for the sake of the business. Then, she threw a FIT; I mean full on, stamp-my-little-feet, you're-not-going-to-do-this-to-ME fit: *I* should have informed her of this when I was hired, ( because I was supposed to understand that this was part of my job description based upon some made-up list of hers she made me sign that was beyond basic- nowhere in there did it say ANYTHING about this. I was supposed to have *gleaned* it from the line "track sales and productivity", (When she brought that line up in the interview she asked me about tracking sales and I said, "I've done that , like, 'we have three shampoos; we've sold two.'" That seemed to satisfy her, and that was the end of it. Of course she had no recall on that.) *I* dealt with her money every day, so what was the big deal with this? ( I take in money for services based on a price list, and use a calculator if I have to make change. Which is only about 5% of the time). *I* was really putting her in a bind and if *I* didn't adjust my attitude about this disability, *I* would be forcing her hand!!! (because, of course people with learning disabilities, well, they just DO that to make OTHER people's life hard. And *I* had a choice in the matter. Yeah. ) And furthermore, she wasn't going to put any of this documentation into my file, like *I* wanted, because "that would mean I accept it."

Um, hey lady? Whether you accept it or not, it EXISTS. And there is a little matter of the LAW to be considered. So :
*I* informed her that while I would certainly be willing to give it the old college try, some of the things she was suggesting were not in the realm of being even remotely legally legitamate. Such as my having to disclose a disability that had nothing to do with my job requirements as I knew them to be at the time of being hired; such as threatening to fire me because I couldn't do part of a job because of a known disability, and refusing to document a conversation because she didn't want to.

This, of course, pissed her off even more, but apparently some later conversation with her lawyer or her husband or someone with any sense at all made her concede the next day. On the caveat that "if you can't do this task, I will have to give the responsibility to someone else, and then I will have to lower your pay." ( I'm pretty sure that's illegal, too, but I didn't mention it, since I'm not so stupid as to give away my whole hand. I made a decision prior to her concession that if any further bullshit happened, I would be making a call to the EDD Board and let them deal with it henceforth, and have her pay me lost wages while they did. ) So far, she's been extremely tolerant, even to my glaring errors. Perhaps someone explained to her just how far into a corner her own stubbornness and stupidity had gotten her.

Anyway. On to now.

Tonight, she called and I gave her a message that appeared to me to be a personal one. She's going to some event tomorrow - in the middle of the DAY, mind you, while she's working; she's taking off 3 HOURS from work to traipise off to visit the Wildlife Refuge, and have lunch. Certainly something none of US could do, even though we're supposed to be as invested in things as SHE is, oh but wait, she's a Business Owner, not Self-Employed!!!) - and there appeared to be some sort of confusion about the time. She asked me to call this woman and deal with it. I said, "Okay. Or YOU could call her, and make plans directly. I have her number right here." She said, "I can't." I laughed and said, "You CAN'T?" "I can't." I realized she was serious: "You can't." "I can't." "Oooookay."

I have NO IDEA where she was that she couldn't be bothered to call this woman even though she could be bothered to call the spa and harrass us for a good 20 minutes. Short of a break during couples' therapy or standing on the front steps at a funeral home, it taxes the mind to imagine what location or event would exclude one but not the other. It was likely bullshit, as it is frequently and as with most things she does, I didn't think much of it. Big mistake....

So I call this woman and she's a total dipwad. First, she doesn't seem to have the DAY right, she thought it was Sunday. I tell her ONE of them has the day wrong, but I do not know WHOM, since it's not my arrangement. Secondly, she's so flummoxed by this develpment,the conversation sinks to the point of stalled silence. SO I say, "well, you could call her directly, I suppose." ( It's never been a big deal for me to give out her cell phone # to people when I can't appease them, so I wasn't defying her or anything. I just figured I'd expedite matters. Especially given the circumstances.) But this woman was so flakey that she didn't have a pen and wanted to call me back in an hour to get her number when she had one. (Whatever.....)
Mind you, this misunderstanding might very well screw up the whole schedule in that I would have to reschedule some clients on Sunday if she actually had to leave. That's my main concern, so I call ToxiBoss back so I can get this straight myself. I tell her what happened and say I was about to give the woman her cell phone number , and she says to me, "WHAT??? NO! I don't want her having this number!" I said, "Why not? I figured you guys could sort out the date. " NO. I'M supposed to call her back and say I don't know when it was, but she has Saturday open and blah blah blah....... I interrupt, and say, "T, wouldn't it be easier just to straighten it out rather than going back and forth?" "NO! JESSICA! Why won't you do what I'm asking you??" I said, "Because, T, this is a personal appointment, I don't know why I am being asked to deal with it, when that's NOT my job and I'm NOT getting anything accomplished. "

" Jessica, you are realling BUGGING ME OUT with your attitude! When I ask you to do something, I don't want to be asked why! I don't want to talk to her, and I'm not in a place where I can talk to her, okay? I AM NOT in a place to accept her call. Is that okay with you? I want you to DO. WHAT. I. TELL YOU TO. I DO NOT want to have to run it all past you. This woman is a client, you know. I have invited her somewhere tomorrow and therefore it IS your job to deal with it. DON'T tell me NO. I don't like your attitude! Just DO IT! NOW, is there anything else?" I was floored she was speaking to me like that, so I said nothing. She seethed, "I SAID, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE?" I went ice cold, as I am wont to do when I'm so mad I could hit someone. "NO." And then I hung up.

Was I supposed to be psychic? Was I supposed to KNOW this woman was a client? And since when is inviting someone out with you -client or NOT- not personal? And if you've invited them somewhere, why WOULDN'T you want them to call you? And apparently it's okay to call work every 5 fucking minutes and verbally abuse an employee but you can't take a call to straighten out some plans said employee knows next to nothing about?

My quandry: obviously, I didn't quit ( I just cried and R talked me down and Maggie, my coworker, gave me a hug and sent me out to get myself a hot chocolate). I can't. I need the money. I AM looking for other work, mind you. As of this minute. I have had all that I can take of this woman, and I can take no more. In the meantime, I remain perplexed as to how to handle it:
I don't think it's right for her to have talked to me like that. I just don't know if I want to bother confronting her about it. (She sure as shit won't be apologizing, I can pretty much guarantee it. ) I want to tell her that it's NOT OKAY to speak to me like that, and straighten out the incident in terms of "clearly I didn't have a grasp on the situation, I wasn't trying to be insolent" ( since she's all up in everyone's grill lately about that, thus this snap was probablyjustified, in her head,because it's just more of The Same Shit She's Had to Put Up With.).
But should I just let it go, and silently count the days til I can leave ( hopefully somewhere around Jan 13th, so as to screw her good)?

This is, all, of course, pending my not getting my ass fired anyway, since she's clearly not too sane to begin with ( something I am really, truly coming to believe- clinically; Maggie is totally convinced, and she's been with her for almost 2 years) and has clearly lost her head with me.

I've been trying to hold on to this job as an attempt to change my attitude about discipline with regards to work habits and discipline in so-called "survival" jobs, and because I've been trying to clean up my life, with regards to becoming fiscally responsible. Call it the 12 Steps as applied to my work life; I really needed to work on my shit with it. I'm proud of myself for handling things the way I have, even if there were some moments in there I'm not proud of, I think overall, I'm a good employee and I work hard. I am learning to balance things out in my monetary life as much as I do anywhere else, and I find that not only satisfying, but a relief! I never thought it would be, but frankly, it's better than the crisis-to-crisis mode I was living in. I LIKE the peace of knowing, and dealing with it directly, even if I'm not always thrilled with the amount! (But I've been lucky this year, and I have been trying very hard to deal from a place of abundance versus lack. It really has changed things. )

But dammit, I don't get paid enough to deal with this kind of worry and stress. It's not like I work at a studio where I'm getting $65,000 a year and an iron-clad healthcare plan to be someone's assistant and be screamed at all day. I just don't. I don't want to live my life like that.

I guess I just have to get out there and start looking seriously, and pray that something will find me and catch me now that I really need it to. Oy vey.
Oy vey.