I wish I could carry this positive quote with on a daily basis. Just recently, I have been experiencing some very bad anxiety attributed to bullying at work. Not all the time, has it been directed towards me, but mostly towards just one co-worker. We’ll discuss more on work bullying later, but right know let’s start from the beginning. I’ve been bullied my whole just like anyone else living in this world and I don’t take bullying very lightly at all.
I remember starting school and in kindergarten, I remember there were a few kids that didn’t like me and were just plain rude towards me. At the time, I didn’t know what bullying was. As I reached second grade, I remember that some of the girls said that I looked weird because I had an ’80s mullet. And looking back that picture still give me nightmares. For one, it was the 80’s and secondly, the fashion and style were horrible back then. It bothered me that I was getting ragged on for something so little as hair. I think I was the only kid to have glasses in school and got picked on for that, too. The nerve of some people, I swear!
I remember my dad telling me that people can say whatever they want to make them better about themselves, but don’t stoop to their level. So I stood my ground, kept my head up and tried to not let bullying keep me down. When I was diagnosed at 10 with depression, other kids didn’t know what I was going through and called me “crazy.” I was furious, upset, and angered but not enough to even consider throwing a punch. It’s not worth it at all to resort to violence. It’s not!
During elementary school, I was friends with kids who were just like me. We were outsiders, we were the under dogs and they were some of the best friends ever. We didn’t judge each other. We didn’t seek out attention or feel the need to be part of the popular crowd. The majority of the popular kids were rich, snobby, privileged, little ungrateful bullies. These kids had nice clothes, nice backpacks, and the whole nine yards. These kids were like the Plastics from the 2004 film Mean Girls. So annoying. But these spoiled and rich cliques are at every school.
When you’re in school, you will have clique groups. Some are Plastics (rich & snobby kids), some are jocks, some are what people would call (smart) geeks or nerds (the ones that end up making a lot of money in the world!), and outsiders. I always felt like an outsider meets nerd. I called myself “outsider nerd.” I did well in school and there were times that I didn’t do well in school because of depression. But from the outside, people would look at me and quickly assume that I was a geek. I wasn’t pretty like most of the girls and that bugged me, but again; I like the way I look. I’m not going to change who I am so that others will like me. NO WAY!
A lot of the bullying in school were from girls. It’s no surprise that girls can be very mean. Remember when I mentioned the film Mean Girls? Well, that movie is spot on in terms of accuracy. A lot of the girls that didn’t like me were the popular girls. I didn’t care very much for them, but when they decide to mess with me; I let them know that I’m not the one to mess with. I don’t resort to violence at all because again, it’s not worth it. I’ve been teased for my name, the way I dressed, the way I looked and etc. Bullying is unnecessary and just plain wrong.
One time when I was in junior high, a couple of boys started picking on me. One thought it would be funny if they put a bar of soap in my backpack. Why they did that? I don’t know. I’m a stickler for hygiene. I get those boys got a kick or a rise out of bullying me. One of them went as far as taking a scissors to my hair and chopping off a chunk of it. I told the teacher and both parents got involved. My parents (and the bully’s parents) showed up after school to talk about the problem. My father said to the bully and the bully’s parents: “This is unacceptable behavior. I send my daughter to school everyday so that she can get an education, not to be bullied. If you think that cutting her hair is funny, then how would you feel if I did it to you?”
My dad stared at the bully and waited for him to answer the question. The kid didn’t say anything. I remember my dad said: “You need to discipline your child. You need to teach your child that bullying anyone has consequences. My daughter is upset and crying. I’m very pissed off. If your child were mine, I would get that nasty behavior out of him in an instant. There’s NO excuse for this.” All the parents could say was “Sorry.” And my dad said that “Sorry” wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t. Parents set the example. They need to teach their kids to behave and treat others with respect. Period!
When I got to high school, I remember missing the last step of the stairs one day at school and I fell. People thought that was hilarious and they laughed. I immediately said: “What’s so funny?” A person falls and all you can do is laugh? So rude. In a previous post, I shared a bullying experience about how I defended my best friend against a bully. I had to do that another time for her. My friend was picked on again by the same bully and I came to her defense. I said to the bully: “Leave my friend alone. Or I’ll see you in the office.” I told someone. I wasn’t going to let that person get away with that. Absolutely not. I tried to track down my friend, but she left campus. She went home. I remember she was crying and refused to come back to school. Again, I told that bully that her behavior is unacceptable and my friend refuses to come back to school because of her. My friend’s parents got involved with the school principal and the bully was reprimanded. I don’t let people get away with anything. So, that bully was suspended from school and she deserved it.
In college, there weren’t many students that bugged me. I was there only part-time. But when I started working for the first time in the workforce, there’s when bullying came back. I have trust issues with people. I’ve been hurt by too many people, that when it comes to making friends, I have to completely trust you first. Once, you gain my trust and you break it, then it’s over. We won’t be friends anymore. My first real job, I was the youngest employee there and whatever went wrong in that store, I was always their scapegoat. Everything was my fault. In the three short months that I worked there, I dreaded showing up for work because of it. I was glad when that job was over.
I found another job three doors down from my first job. I spent close to 12 years with that company and I both loved it and hated it at the same time. One of the assistant managers there at the time, hated me. I don’t know why and never will, but she just didn’t like me at all. She was a grown single parent with four kids, and had one hell of an attitude problem. Whatever I did, she’d always yell at me for no reason. At one point, I asked her if she has a problem, because I will tell the store manager. She said bluntly that she didn’t like me. I asked what part of me don’t you like. Is it the way I look or something? She just didn’t care for me. So rude. A grown woman with kids of her own doesn’t like because I wasn’t her cup of tea?!?! A lot of my co-workers call me one of the most hardest working employees out there on the job. I can be a little timid, but I will talk when it comes to dealing with customers and talking one on one with fellow coworkers.
It was working in retail where I experienced real drama with customers. Some people are just plain rude. I understand if a customer were having a bad day. That’s ok, but to take your frustration out on a hard working retailer like me, that’s not ok. A lot of people gave me the worst anxiety especially ones that are confrontational and ones that love to argue and/or complain. It’s amazing how cruel the world can be. Some of the worst nightmares in retail were holiday weekends such as Black Friday (don’t even bother going out to shop on this weekend) and customers verbally cussing me out. I’ve had people call me derogatory names such as stupid or dumb before. First of, I’m not stupid nor dumb. I graduated from high school. I went to college (paid for it myself) and earned a degree in Small Business Entrepreneurship and had extensive experience in retail. So I’m not a stupid person. People would be constantly arguing or complaining to me about an expired coupon, or a understanding a simple promotion or why they can’t return something without a receipt. One time at my old job, there was a promotion on dishes that was Buy 3 Get 1 Free and excludes coupons. So you select 4 dishes and you pay for the most expensive ones and get the lesser one free. How this is confusing for some people? I will never know. I explained the promotion until I was blue in the face to many people and they still sat there arguing with me.
Some days when I get so frustrated with people, I would close the store for 5-10 minutes to recharge and destress myself. I felt like screaming let alone punching a wall. You have no idea what it’s like dealing with people like on a daily basis for the last 16 years. Before I left Wisconsin, I was working in two clothing stores. One was Old Navy (never again) and the other was the now defunct Jones New York. I took the job at Old Navy during the holiday weekend to make extra cash and let me tell you, that their employees were RUDE. I would be out on the floor (constantly, refolding clothes like there’s no tomorrow) and just watched how their employees treated each other and their customers. When you work for a company, you pretty much represent them. You’re the company’s spokesperson. You don’t go up to a customer and talk to them with an attitude. I remember a lady was looking for a sweater for her daughter and she came to me for assistance. She said that the male associate (was the assistant manager at the time) was very rude towards her and she was looking for a sweater. She told me about the situation and I immediately apologized to her about that encounter. I then help found her a bunch of nice gifts that she ended up buying. She told my manager that I was so sweet and said the male associate was so rude. FYI, that assistant manager was rude. One time, I had to report him to the store manager because he was bringing me new inventory to fold and put it out on the selling floor. He takes all of them clothes ready to be folded and put out; and drops them intentionally on the floor. The floor was dirty and dusty. He said to me to fold them and put them out. I was like “Are you kidding me?” I saw what you did and I also saw you laughing with another coworker about it. This was no accident, this was intentional. His response was: “So! What are you going to do about it? I’m the assistant manager.” I went straight to his boss aka the store manager. He got mad at me for telling on him and I said that bullying isn’t something that I take lightly. If you know me, I don’t put up with bullying, period. I will confront you in a non-violent manner and tell you to stop it. At Jones New York, it was the same thing.
There was a shift manager that was a bully in general and I got sick of working there and quit. I will not put up with anyone’s drama at all. I’m very tolerate to a certain extent, but if you really mess with me then there’s a problem. One day, I spoke with my store manager and I said “I quit.” Good bye. I’ve had enough of this job and employees that are rude. Fun fact: One time, I got the stomach bug and I needed another manager to cover my shift for the entire week. I was so sick. But the other (and only) shift manager that I didn’t get along with, said that they couldn’t cover my shift. I was mad. I have a stomach bug and pretty much living in the bathroom. So, no one could cover. The store manager was on vacation, the assistant manager was in overtime, and the other shift claimed she was busy. So I had to be there. I had another employee watch the store as I was in the back throwing up all day long. I couldn’t be out there on the floor. And it turned out that the shift that claimed she was busy, wasn’t really busy. She was just plain lazy and stopped into do some shopping of her own. Unbelievable.
It wasn’t until I got to Starbucks, where the real drama occurred. The drama is real on so many levels. First off, some of the partners don’t get along at all. Secondly, the customers are just as bad. Some partners in the various stores I’ve worked in are very snotty, privileged and have the worst attitudes that I ever seen. One time after I got hired, the one barista pissed off a customer so bad that they came in and threatened to punch out that barista. I walked off that floor because I didn’t want to deal with that let alone die. I pulled that barista aside privately and I said: “You are rude. When you are working, your attitude gets checked at the door. If you’re going to be that way, then get off my floor immediately.” I’ve sent people home for being insubordinate and being unprofessional.
The other store that I worked at, the entire morning crew hated each other. I mean they hated each other with a passion. I would get constant complaints from customers about this. I had to talk until I was blue in the face about professional attitude on the job and also talk about anti-bullying, too. There’s no excuse for that kind of behavior. My new store, there’s a lot of bullying. The bullying is more directed towards one barista. This barista is very nice and has worked there for three months. For some people, they learn very quickly and for others, it takes longer. Whenever this partner has a question, I always there to answer it. But other partners rag on him and I had to tell every partner that type of behavior will not be tolerated. You don’t treat people that way. I’ve had partners try to bully me. Oh no! You will not be bullying the manager. NO WAY. I will immediately terminate you on the spot. No questions. Just recently, one of the partners started yelling at this partner to come do this and or this. I interjected and said that I’m in charge and if you’re going to start a scene, then take it elsewhere. This partner will be rude towards customers, towards myself and other partners, and is overall lazy. If we’re not busy, she’ll be on her phone. I’ve had to take it away and she’s gotten verbal with me and I’ve sent her home before. At one point, she asked if she could be a shift manager and I said absolutely not. If she wanted to be one then she would have to be more productive, more respectful in every way and be more professional. Some days, I feel like quitting retail in general because of the crap that I’ve endured over the years with customers and employees; but then again I do enjoy running a business. My goal is to stay positive and take it one day at a time.