Yesterday I worked up the courage to leave an abusive relationship. Now this is not the typical relationship one thinks about in situations like these. It was not a physically abusive relationship, but more of a mental struggle. This was an employer/employee relationship.
August of 2016 I started working at a company with my mother. She needed help in the office as the volume of clients they now deal with has more than doubled in the past few months. I had graduated from university and was not working many shifts at my other retail job, so I decided to come in and help her out. Rather than working for free, my mother added me to the payroll, with the permission of the boss of course. Since the day I started working at that godforsaken place, I have been treated like a second class citizen, as if I didn’t really work for them, to help them make money. It’s as if I was not even really a person to them.
Day one: I am sitting at the end of my mother’s desk, helping with the filing and arranging of the paperwork. There is just three other people in the office at this time. My mother, the boss, his kid and the sales rep. It’s a small office for a growing company. I ask for an office chair to sit on, as the lunchroom chair is utterly destroying my back. At least six hours a day sitting on a hard wooden chair with no support really sucked.
Later on that month: Boss 2.0 has his wife come in, she starts photocopying everything in the office. There are now “too many people in the office” I apparently have nothing to do here. Boss man provides me with the opportunity to replace my brother’s job cutting material for customer’s orders. Hey, anything that can keep me earning extra money. A few weeks in to the shift, I notice I have a skin allergy to the material, I can no longer cut this. Boss man “tries” to sympathize, and moves me temporarily back into the office. I don’t have a work computer to use, so I bring in my personal laptop. I develop a system in which to keep track of all of the customers and their varying price lists, as we sell a material, but everyone gets different prices. Confusing, seeing that we make little to no profit on some customers, while we dig a hole with others, having them pay less what the material cost is.
Really? That is how you run a company?
Month two: I am still sitting at the corner of my mother’s desk. Still sitting on the lunchroom chair. Still in physical pain. I start writing web content to give this company more of an online presence. Trying to aid this company. Doing my job. Throughout my entire tenure with this company, I have always taken on tasks outside of my job description, all to keep my job at this place. I left my last retail job for taking advantage of me. I stayed at that job for five years.
Month three: I finally have a desk to myself. Boss 2.0 moved into a special office in the corner, so the sales rep moved into his old office. I got to use her desk. Finally, more than a single square foot of space to work with. Still using my own persona laptop. Still sitting on that lunchroom chair. But at least I have a desk.
Month four: a new face joins the crowd. A fun, spunky girl who was incredibly easy to get along with. Instant work family member. Things get shifted around, she gets a desk, but has to sit on a lunchroom chair ,just like me. After almost two months of discomfort, Boss man finally orders a chair for her, and as soon as it arrives, he breaks out his muscles and puts her chair together for her, a big smile on his face. Her work station is now complete. Office computer, phone, proper chair. Theo works. This girl is literally one of the only reasons why I kept coming to work. Always with a smile on her face, willing to learn and to adapt to her new environment.
Month five: after begging for a proper office chair with adequate support, my mother just orders one from the office supply site the company uses. Some assembly required. As I crouched in front of my desk with the parts to my chair strewn about, I excitedly put my chair together. Finally. No more back pain.
Month six: it’s a new year, things get moved around in the office. I’m answering phones, taking orders, handling the deposits. We are all learning the new antiquated system that was thrust upon us at the end of the last month. We are working together. Things are moving along smoothly. Mom is slowly being overwhelmed by the horrendous work load that has befallen her. My new friend and myself try to help out in any way that we can, after all, we are a team. Accountant from partner company suggests a new hire. A book keeping accountant to lessen the load on mom.
Month seven: hell begins. The new lady is hired, brought into the company and is given half of a desk to work from for the time being. She takes on the duties of deposits and other financial affairs, lessening the load on my mother and myself. She comes in early one morning and rifles through my desk when no one else is on the office, takes the cheques and does god knows what with them. I am furious. My personal space in this office has been violated. This is the first of many in s frustrating string of events. After all of the shuffling around in the office, I am sentenced to solitary confinement in the back of the warehouse. I am given half of a desk, along with my chair and computer to move into the unfinished mess of an office. To be alone.
Month eight: frustration hits an all time high in the office. Both mom and my new friend are absolutely drained of all energy when it comes to dealing with this new lady. When you speak to her, she does not listen. When she asked you a question, she does not want to hear the answer. She asks for help, yet ignores it. This goes on for the next two months. Mom looses her cool, shouts at the lady. “do whatever the hell you want”. There is an awkward funk in the office permanently now. This lady was not a good fit for our dynamic.
Month nine: There is mysterious activity at my desk during the night shift. When I leave at the end of my shift, my papers are nice and neatly lined up on my desk, ready for the next morning. When I get in to the office the next morning, everything is strewn all over my desk, there is a mess everywhere. I lodge a second complaint to management about my personal space in the office being violated. Nothing is done. This goes on for the next two months. Over and over, there is someone tampering with my desk, my office space. Over and over again, I sit in waiting for something to be done. Nothing is done. The final straw for me was when I walked in to my office area, and noticed that my chair was moved to another room, my heater was knocked over, and plugged in, my papers were cast all over my desk, and the case to my Ray Bans sunglasses were gone. You see, the day before was a beautiful and sunny day. So, as I left I changed from my regular prescription eye wear, to these classic Ray Bans. But, I accidentally left the case on my desk. When I realized this, I was livid. After months of my series of complaints not being taken seriously, my many warnings unheeded, my personal property was stolen. The culprit, who remains unknown, probably took the case thinking when he got home he would have some badass shades to rock in the near future. When he realized it was empty, he probably threw the case in the trash. I burst into the main office ready to end someone in that moment. And in that moment, that someone was the boss’ kid. Over the course of three months, nothing had been done about this gross invasion of personal space and privacy. My friend and I talked things out, I waited for this kid to arrive. I aired my grievances one last time. He didn’t even look up from his phone. I packed my shit into a box and left. I’m done with being treated this way. I’m just done.