Feast or Famine: Working Too Much
December 14, 2014 11:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm working waaay too much at both of my jobs and I have no social life, I see my boyfriend once a week, and I am super bitter about all of it. Help me talk to my boss and make it through the holidays, please!

I was working as a hostess at a restaurant and delivering groceries after a restaurant that I helped open as a server went to hell in a handbasket. That sucked. The restaurant group I work for opened another restaurant, and while I asked to be a server there, I'm currently a hostess and events server. For a while, I was working 7-8 shifts a week, but I still had a day or two off. I was making decent money, and it wasn't great, but it was fine.

Then last week, I worked six nights and nine total shifts.

Next week, I'm on the schedule for TEN SHIFTS. I'm working all seven nights this week unless someone can bring themselves to cover for me.

I'm worried that if I complain, my managers will take away my serving/food running shifts. But I am also losing my mind and super pissed off about all this. I understand that people leave town and so on during the holidays, but I am burning the fuck out. I will be on my feet for more than fifty hours this week. My boyfriend can't hang out with me after I get off work late because he's had to work early almost every morning the past few weeks, so we're both getting screwed (but not screwing each other basically ever). I can't do anything social. This might sound petty, but it's bumming me out and making me totally effing miserable.

I'm assuming that things will calm down after Christmas, but I literally cried last night after getting my schedule via email. I feel like I have no control over my schedule, and short of getting a new job, I'm stuck with flaky coworkers who won't cover for me and managers who think I'm the energizer bunny.

I know I should just put on my big girl pants and power through, but I'm so tired and I miss my dude. I just want to make sure I don't have more fifty-five hour work weeks in the near future without jeopardizing the hours I need to make enough money to live.

How do I talk to my boss without getting my good shifts taken away? How do I maintain my relationship? How do I keep my ability to smile at people when all I want to do is take a nap?
posted by ablazingsaddle to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: And because I always hit post too soon, and to clarify: I'm taking classes part-time, as well.

If it was just for this week, I'd be okay with it, but I'm afraid that things will get worse. We have a new GM and I think he just would rather schedule someone reliable/not an idiot, even that reliable non-idiot never gets a day off.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:45 PM on December 14, 2014

If your last sentence is truly how your employer feels, then they hold you in high esteem, or at least value you and your work.

You are an asset to the company. The way you could put it to them is to tell them:
if they mis-use this particular asset (you) until it breaks, nobody will benefit. Then explain that they're in danger of doing exactly that.
posted by asavage at 12:24 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dumb question - can you just email him back and tell him you're not available for one of those nights? What reasons are your coworkers giving for not being able to work shifts?
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:01 AM on December 15, 2014

I don't know if this is true in your case, but some employers will keep asking you for more until you tell them you've reached your limit. I don't know if they are evil or just clueless. I think you need to tell them that you physically can't handle that many shifts.
posted by islandeady at 2:26 AM on December 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Agree with the above. If you've never said anything about not wanting to do 10 shifts, then how would your boss know not to schedule you? If he's kept upping your workload and you've kept doing a good job of it and not complaining, he may well think you're happy with the workload. He might even think he's rewarding you (with more work = more money) for being a efficient, dependable employee.
I think at this point you need to politely say "hey, unfortunately I'm not able to do dates a-c, but the rest (x-z) are fine. Hope that's OK" or "hey, I can't really do more than X hours of shifts per week". If this pisses him off then he's a shitty boss, and sometimes it's worth changing jobs to get out of a situation which makes you miserable, even if changing jobs is a hassle.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:45 AM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know I should just put on my big girl pants and power through

No, no you really shouldn't. And i disagree with the above that they aren't evil, or could be clueless. Scheduling someone that much because you know they do a good job is still somewhere between clueless and evil. Evil because that is not sustainable, and no one should really be putting up with it. And clueless because that's how you lose reliable people.

I really get your fear of being dropped from the good shifts or cut way back in a retaliatory way(and really, also, dropping someone from serving to hostess is lame) because that's the exact kind of thing the type of sociopaths who schedule someone this much would do.

Personally, i'd do it though. I'd also say i need a couple days off in the way endsofinvention brought up. Maybe even throw in that it's for family stuff(even if that's BS) because it's around the holidays.

Whether or not you get any crappy pushback, you should be looking for a new job. If you don't, because anyone who would set up this situation is running a shitty place to work and that will become apparent in other ways if it hasn't already. If they do, because you need to get out of there before they start screwing you more. But at least you have a job for now. I don't think you're catastrophizing or being unrealistic when you worry about getting your hours cut back a ton, or being slowly constructively fired that way(or put in to a position where you're making nothing and they're basically waiting for you to leave). But seriously, this has gotten to the point where there's really no other way out of this besides quitting, or asking and accepting that risk. What's going on right now is not something you should have to, or even *can* just power through reasonably or that anyone should expect you to.

A job like this, run by a crappy boss like that, isn't worth ruining your relationship and giving up your life over. I've walked out of jobs like this before because i realized it was so fucked that i could figure out the details of that later. A bit older and wiser, i'd just accept the possibility of a slapdown and start looking for something else concurrently with asking.

Do you live with your boyfriend? are you on a lease? If you just have your own place, or you could possibly float it for a month or two, This is the kind of situation that i'd seriously give notice on my place and couch surf to get out of if i thought that getting my hours cut would mean i couldn't pay my rent. Fuck giving a job like that your entire life.

But seriously though, i'm frustrated right along with you reading this. And it really saddens me that you have that voice chasing you around going "am i being a whiny baby? should i just power through this?" because no, it is not reasonable.
posted by emptythought at 3:22 AM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I am in the hospitality business as an owner of a few small bars and restaurants. The holidays suck for scheduling staff. Everyone needs time off. Sometimes there are one or two employees who bear the brunt of the workload for others. In our case, it involves a conversation with the employee and on occasion begging on our part for the employee to cover yet another shift (we are also very aware of how easy it is to burn out when pulling too many shifts, and try to not to over schedule anyone if it's avoidable). We are very appreciative when they can and we remember this.

We also have employee's that we would rather schedule because they do a better job, are more responsible, or better with the customers than other employees. That employee is invaluable to us.

I'm saying all this because I'm thinking that the reason that you're getting so many shifts is because you haven't told your managers that you can't work so many shifts (though they should already know this), coupled with the fact that they prefer it's you working rather than someone else.

All this is a long way of saying IMO do not be afraid to ask for a reduction in shifts, you appear to be invaluable to this company. FInding good staff is very hard and they want to keep you. Do not be afraid to tell them the truth, that burning out is a very real possibility. Unless they have shown themselves in the past to disregard the human needs of their staff and they operate solely as corporate drones, they should understand completely.

(this all being said, keep in mind that my places are small and the staff is treated more like friends and family and we have a personal relationship with them and try to accommodate everyones scheduling as best we canā€¦things might be different if it's a larger corporate type of place, but I'm guessing that if they moved you from a place that was closing to the new spot they want to keep you happy).
posted by newpotato at 5:12 AM on December 15, 2014

Just talk to your boss.

"Hey, I got my schedule and I think there's a mistake. I don't have ANY days off and I'm scheduled for ten shifts! I can work X, Y, Z, Q and W. Any way you can get someone else to cover J and K? I've been working 55 hour weeks for three weeks straight and I need some time to rest and do laundry."

Most people are decent and you can work with them. If they act like assholes over this, start looking for a new gig, because a good employer won't burn out his best workers, but a bad one will.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:23 AM on December 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

my managers

To be clear, is this partly a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?
posted by Room 641-A at 6:46 AM on December 15, 2014

Do agree with Ruthless Bunny except for the asking part. You just talk to your boss like a calm, professional grown up.

"I got my schedule and there is no way I can work that many shifts next week. Not sure where the miscommunication came from, but I can only work X,Y,Z shifts. "

Period. No apologizing, no negotiation. Practice saying "That won't be possible."
posted by raisingsand at 6:48 AM on December 15, 2014 [8 favorites]

Hey, everyone who's given advice is totally on the mark; I would just like to offer some encouragement. I'm also in an industry that is very feast-or-famine, as far as projects go, and it can be very very tempting to take every project offered. That way lies burnout. I used to be terrified of turning down offers, too, thinking I'd get a reputation for being unavailable. So I would work three and four jobs at a go, 90 hours a week, driving myself nuts (and also my poor boyfriend).

Eventually I got super, super sick. And I HAD to punk out on a project; I couldn't stop coughing long enough to type a line. I just physically couldn't do the work. And I thought "great, I'm toast, I'll never get another good gig after this."

Well, it's over a year later, and I've had so many good gigs. Because my reputation as a hard worker trumped my one instance of drawing the line. Your reputation as a capable, non-flaky worker WILL trump your occasional boundary-drawing. If it doesn't with this particular person, that is because the particular person is an asshat. Others will be rushing to snap you up. :)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for being so nice!

To be clear, is this partly a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing?

Good question. I think the left hand doesn't know, but the right hand does. These are two restaurants that are in the same group, and one releases the schedule a week earlier, so the manager for the new restaurant schedules around that.

The two restaurants are also on separate payroll, so that gets around overtime rules. I don't usually get too upset about that, but right now, I'm pretty pissed off.

I think I have Saturday night covered, and next week I have the 24th and the 25th off because the restaurant is closed. I'm going to talk to the GM or the Director of Operations for the restaurant group when I go into tonight, and just kind of talk about it. I think they hired a bunch of people who, after training, were like, "Oh, and I can't work Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and mornings Monday and Thursday. Oh and I'm going out of town. Thanks!" Ugh.

So this is me right now: Sometimes there are one or two employees who bear the brunt of the workload for others.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:49 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I just want to add: I usually like my job, and I like the people I work with. I don't want to quit. I want to make this work, dammit!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:51 PM on December 15, 2014

The two restaurants are also on separate payroll, so that gets around overtime rules. I don't usually get too upset about that, but right now, I'm pretty pissed off.

This is shady, potentially not even legal, and reinforces what i'm saying that i feel like they know exactly what they're doing and aren't clueless at all.

You are totally not out of line to go "hey i can only work these days now" and see what they say, as said above. If everyone else can do it, you can too.
posted by emptythought at 3:45 PM on December 15, 2014

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