I don't need luck, man, because you're the one on the Titanic.
April 7, 2015 9:08 PM   Subscribe

Until an hour into my shift today, I was a salaried manager at a big-box retailer. A year into the role, with a glowing evaluation two weeks behind me and a district-wide expectation of having my own store in four years, I walked in, did my job for an hour, snapped, threw all of my company-owned property down in the office, and left. My boss apparently wants me back.

TL;DR Version: I walked off the job due to tremendous frustration, lack of work/life balance, and physical deterioration, but my manager apparently wants to convince me to come back. What to do?

Ridiculously Long Version, Ahoy:

Because of understaffing--something I tried to head off three months ago, with no response from my manager--I'm basically a salaried truck unloader and a salaried pallet puller. I have bleeding calluses on my fingers. When I walk, there's a tearing feeling behind my knees. My pelvis hurts so bad sometimes that I limp. Sometimes my back is so locked up that I can't bend over. I can't wear shoes after my shifts, which range from 12-15 hours, 5 days a week. I'm 27 and previously very fucking healthy.

My husband was recently out of town for a week, and it was then that I realized that, if we had kids, I would have needed 24/7 childcare. I leave for work at 12p and usually get home between 3-4a. I had to leave my dog alone in the house, uncrated, for upwards of sixteen hours a day, with friends/family letting him out twice a day. He still peed everywhere and got into the pantry and ate chocolate. Although my dog is fine (the vet said so), the reality is that my [commitment to my] job almost killed my dog and that my job prohibits me from having any meaningful familial relationships. I see my husband once or twice a week, given our schedules. If we had kids, I'd be an absentee parent.

Additionally, the store is a month out from inventory, and the backroom is a blown up mess. We have about 80 unprocessed pallets on the floor due to an unexpected high volume of massive trucks and not nearly the staffing to process the freight flow, with no response from my management team and barely a response from my manager. This process isn't broken; it's shattered. They're more concerned about what color the management office should be and doing some other very specific time-wasting non-work-related things. We're looking at working 15+ hour days, 7 days a week, until the middle of May, just to be inventory ready, only there is absolutely no drive or urgency on this. There are no plans.

Our hourly associates are the most unhappy group of people I've ever worked with. It's constant threats to quit; constant talking about how awful the store is; constant talking about how poor our management team is, which is an uncooperative, backstabbing, inconsistent mess of a team. I treat my team of associates well; work as hard as they do; support them in every way I can; and try to make their work lives better. I work extra hours, try to leave my area better than it was when I came in every single day, and do everything I can to support the store and drive operations. It's never been enough. And, recently, I've become snappish, irritable, and often downright mean to my people, which scares the fuck out of me. It's harder and harder to smile and ask how they're doing. (You might wonder why I didn't just transfer somewhere else. I ended up at this current store because I asked to transfer to a completely different store, on the request of that store's manager. I essentially got burned by district.)

Overall, this is a fight I've been fighting for 8 months. My manager acknowledges the problems, acknowledges that I'm right when we discuss these problems, but, to my knowledge, takes no action to fix them. On Monday, I told my manager that I don't know why I'm at the store or why I work so hard, when it's a constant fight to just maintain our poor standards, let alone achieve higher ones, and there appears to be no accountability or urgency at the salaried level. He agreed but had no response for the "I don't know why I'm here or why I do what I do" part of the discussion. I feel unsupported at every level.

I did not walk out today trying to prove a point or find satisfaction in sticking it to this team; I walked out barely holding back tears and then bawling all the way home. I feel awful that I abandoned my hourly team and that I abandoned the few other managers who work toward a better store and don't putz around all day. I feel awful that I abandoned my manager this close to inventory and blindsided him like this; although I think he's a big part of the problem, I like him and get along with him. He has relied a lot on me to get things done right.

I feel awful that I just cut my household income in half, albeit with the support of my husband. We can probably make it; we have about $6,000 in savings, and, worse comes to absolute worse, I have about $15,000 in available credit. We have two car payments, a low mortgage payment, and a furniture payment. It'll be tight, but it's doable, and I'm confident in my ability to land a good job (although I'm terrified that shit happens and what if I don't land a job). (FWIW, I have three references from this company lined up and ready to go; two have already left the company and the third is interviewing elsewhere. A corporate reference check will reveal only that I worked there, not how I left.)

Here's the thing, and the impetus for the question: my manager doesn't want to let me quit. I agreed to talk to him on the phone tomorrow, mostly because (1) I walked out while he was off-site, and (2) I didn't give any sort of notice, which isn't something I dreamed I'd ever, ever do. His closest confidant from the store told me tonight that he's willing to do just about anything to get me back on board. The common advice is to never walk off the job and to never capitulate when you've announced your intention to leave, e.g., once you try to quit once, you're a time bomb and they know it. So I think I've got myself into a catch-22.

How do I handle this? Do I be completely honest on the phone about all the problems, including him? Do I shut the whole thing down? Do I politely thank him for everything and move along? Do I entertain the notion of going back, even though the entire damned store knows that I flounced? I'm overly emotional about this right now and usually irrationally committed to my job (um, except today, I guess) -- so any perspective would be incredibly helpful. Thanks in advance.
posted by coast99 to Work & Money (85 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Going back sounds like a very bad idea for your well-being. I'm willing to guess your employment there was "at-will" so you needn't go back, and you don't owe them jack.
posted by janell at 9:15 PM on April 7, 2015 [27 favorites]

Best answer: If you feel you could land a good job AND you guys can make it for a while without your salary... fuck them. (cuz they aren't going to change a damn thing)
posted by Cosine at 9:17 PM on April 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Don't go back. No 9-5 job is worth your knees.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:24 PM on April 7, 2015 [24 favorites]

Best answer: Your description of the job sounds like horrible torture. Definitely don't go back, no matter how badly your manager wants it. Your health and well-being are way more important.
posted by ktkt at 9:25 PM on April 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Go re-read your earlier answers to people here that (wisely) talk about the importance of work-life balance and valuing your professionalism and capabilities in the face of unrealistic and abusive work demands. You have the answer already.

Good luck. You sound like you are destined for better things. Go find them!
posted by marguerite at 9:27 PM on April 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Oh my. I felt stressed for you just reading your description of a day in the life at your job.

They want you back because they do not have a plan for what to do now. That's because they are a poorly run company. They will not change. You let them know about the issues that would cause you to quit, they didn't fix them, now you've quit. Consequences, man! They're natural.

I don't think you should go back. The job is hurting your health and sanity. You need a different job, so I think you should start looking, but don't go back and "help them out" because you won't have the time of energy to look for a new job if you're working there at the same time.

Good luck! I hope you find a better job very soon!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:29 PM on April 7, 2015 [59 favorites]

Best answer: This is a turning point in your life! Run forward and don't look back. You will make it all work out.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:29 PM on April 7, 2015 [14 favorites]

Best answer: You're young. Time for adventure.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:29 PM on April 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Life is too short to be miserable at work. And nobody is irreplaceable; if you are, it means it's a terribly-managed workplace and nothing would have improved while you were there.

Run away and don't look back. You owe them nothing.
posted by suelac at 9:35 PM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Don't go back. In the past, however, I've strung out my "I'm thinking about it" time as long as possible to get my head back on and my feet back under me, though that's only helpful if you're salaried rather than hourly.

This job is debilitating. You need to find a new job. You will not be able, given your description of your hours, to be able to look for, and interview for, new jobs while in this job. Leave this job.
posted by jaguar at 9:36 PM on April 7, 2015

Best answer: If it helps, you can frame it in your head that your leaving helps show the management that the current situation is seriously untenable, which might give them the impetus to change it and help out your staff, while staying enabled management to believe that things were sustainable.
posted by jaguar at 9:37 PM on April 7, 2015 [13 favorites]

Best answer: Don't go back! It would have been better to quit with a plan and give notice, yes, but you can't undo that now and it makes perfect sense that you just boiled over. Of course they will do anything to get you back right now, they are totally screwed, but they put themselves into this position. The first second they have to let you go once you get inventory done, they will send you packing, make no mistake about it. Don't go back! Find something else. For your sanity.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:38 PM on April 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You must be kidding. They have you working 70 hour weeks for a salary? If you were hourly at least you would be getting mega overtime. That job sounds absolutely awful. Please, be serious, no way you should go back there.
posted by jcworth at 9:40 PM on April 7, 2015 [20 favorites]

Best answer: A job can be replaced. Your body cannot.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:41 PM on April 7, 2015 [17 favorites]

Best answer: Your manager has already had plenty of opportunities to do the things it should take to get you back -- fix the store processes, deal with the lack of staff, etc. He didn't do anything about those things when you brought them to him as issues that needed to be resolved. That's not going to change even if you get a raise or a shift that lets you see your husband.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:46 PM on April 7, 2015 [13 favorites]

Best answer: It's not worth it. You did the right thing.
posted by Mr. Fig at 9:48 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You don't owe them anything more than you've given already.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:49 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seems to me that you ought to see a doctor about your on the job injuries. And not go back, at least to that store. It may well not be your manager that is the problem, but that sucks for him/her. For some reason chains always have at least a few stores from hell that area/regional management refuse to supply proper support for, and what you experienced is precisely the result.

In a lot of cases, though, other stores are actually better. The only way I'd even think about returning were if it involved a transfer.
posted by wierdo at 9:50 PM on April 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I often find myself in conversation with friends in similar situations as yours. A common theme I find is an implied sense that you owe everything and more than you promised to the company but in exchange the company doesn't owe you anything more than it can possibly get away with. And so you find yourself sacrificing more than you bargained for and getting much less than you deserve.

Consider the reverse situation: if you were somehow causing the company (it's a person, too, right? right?) the kind of physical and emotional distress you suffered, the powers-that-be would have no compunction at all about firing you on the spot. In other words, the corporation does not feel as loyal to you as it expects you to feel about it.

I work for a company that puts a high premium on frequent demonstrations of "good citizenship," loyalty, and commitment (i.e., extra hours, "service," etc). And yet only this past month a high-profile employee passed away unexpectedly and the company president swiftly (as in, within hours of his death) moved to terminate all his benefits, leaving his stay-at-home wife without health insurance. In the corporate world, loyalty is not a two-way street.

My best guess is that your strengths and capacities would be welcome at another company, one that would compensate you much better for your efforts. I'm gonna cast my lot with the hive mind and commend you for your departure, however chaotic is was--and wish you much success in your next stage in life.
posted by Quaversalis at 9:50 PM on April 7, 2015 [20 favorites]

Best answer: No, no, no.

Your manager is only panicking because now the company will (finally) have to deal with the consequences of treating you like crap. And he's one of the poor suckers who's still there.

Run! Run like the wind! You will look back on this as a miserable blip in five years' time.
posted by Salamander at 9:51 PM on April 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Make lists of the problems that can be solved in 1 month, 2 months, 6 months, 9 moths and 1 year. Hand your manager those lists. Tell him those are the conditions. If he doesn't fulfill them by those goals, you walk. Follow through. You hold all the cards/power here. But only if you follow through on your threats.
posted by HMSSM at 9:52 PM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: No. Your body is worth more than this job. And you need to go to the doctor and being a worker's comp claim for all the physical damage the job has done to you.
posted by zug at 9:54 PM on April 7, 2015 [12 favorites]

Best answer: But honestly, they've been walking all over you and are panicking that they might have to actually do work and won't be able to find another person to do all their work for them. You might want to reflect on why you've been trying to pick up the pieces for them instead of letting them clean up their own messes. Treat them like adults and let them solve the problems they've created.
posted by HMSSM at 9:54 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Wait, wait, you're 28?!?!

I assumed you were in your 40s or 50s given the physical ailments you describe. No way in HELL should you go back. That job is literally destroying your future health and well-being.
posted by zug at 9:56 PM on April 7, 2015 [31 favorites]

Best answer: Fuck those people. Life is too short. I've changed careers like, six times, and I certainly don't hold the record. Sounds like you're a good person, well, good people gotta live. Live through this and you will live long. Take it from someone who knows. Life doesn't end at the end of a job.
posted by valkane at 9:56 PM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Please don't go back. If your boss promises you the world to get you back, you already KNOW that he won't actually come through on any of the promises. I have a good friend who is feeling conflicted about leaving her current job because she's leaving her employees to the bad manager that is causing her to flee, and I have to remind her that she's already done the best that she can for them, and now all she can do is take care of herself.

Think of it this way: you owe it to, well, everyone to stay gone. Your husband will be glad to have a partner who isn't dying of stress. Your employees might get the motivation to find something better seeing that you couldn't take it any more. Your boss might figure out that the situation is untenable and hire people and make other changes. Don't go back. Don't. You got up and left because it's the only thing to do. Listen to yourself! Use the phone call with the boss to reiterate (politely) all the things you've told him before, and when he says he needs notice, you say it just isn't possible.

He'll be the one filling in at the store. That's why he's freaked. Let him see firsthand. Let his knees get sore.
posted by clone boulevard at 9:59 PM on April 7, 2015 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Don't go back - but do reiterate your reasons for leaving, if you do talk to him (maybe read him this thread). Also, he's not a nice person if he's done this to his staff. He doesn't care about the team that's worked under you. And he'd for sure let you go in a heartbeat if he got the word. This is just his laziness again.

I know this is tugging at you, because you're a conscientious person, and you give it your all, and to do that, you have to believe that what you're doing matters. And of course your work has value. But you haven't been valued, at all. Trade your labour for what it's worth.

Really, in a week, less than that, this will be like a fading dream for you, and they'll have moved on.

(Definitely 2nd getting a doctor to see you now - timing is important.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:05 PM on April 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Don't go back. Over the phone, be polite but don't give them any details. "No, I'm not coming back. That won't be possible. You will find ID badge and key in my office. Thanks for everything! Bye." Take a week off and relax. If your relationship is good, the lack of household income shouldn't matter stacked up against your physical and mental well-being.
posted by bleep at 10:07 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm sure it seems clear that we all agree, but you have our permission to never go back. You're not wrong and you'll easily find better employment elsewhere. I'm proud of you!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 10:09 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It is once again time to link to the ever illuminating sick systems essay. Your former workplace was a sick system (though you don't really describe any real rewarding parts to help cement your attachments). I am sorry.

If they were capable of making the system better, they would have done so before you walked out, back when you were making your complaints. I do not feel like you have blindsided your manager, merely inconvenienced him by not continuing to sacrifice your (long term, even!) well being on the altar of a company that would fire you with just as little notice if it was advantageous for them to do so.
posted by foxfirefey at 10:16 PM on April 7, 2015 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Don't go back and if you feel you have injuries related to your work, report them right away to your HR person and contact a workers comp attorney to help you navigate the workers comp system.
posted by amro at 10:26 PM on April 7, 2015 [15 favorites]

Best answer: Oh--and if you have a hard time not going back for your own sake because your ego is really invested in being an irrationally committed employee, think of your husband, who I hope you love. I doubt he wants you to go back there, I doubt it is in his long term interest for you to go back there. Your husband is far more likely to be around for the rest of your life than this job, and sure as hell loves and appreciates you more than that company. I think he will be very unhappy if the physical grind of this work leaves you with disabilities you ideally wouldn't have to face until you are much older.
posted by foxfirefey at 10:27 PM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think you did the right thing by walking out like that. Reasons:
1. putting on your own oxygen mask
2. you made your point in a very forthright way - no ignoring it this time!
3. you may have given other staff the 'permission' they needed to quit as well
4. Upper management may notice how bad your manager has been doing and replace them.
5. Are you 100% sure you want to own your own big box store? Is there something else you would like to spend your energy and resources on that may remit just as well? Now you can entertain that option.

I swear on my kitty's grave, if you give yourself two weeks (though, I'd advocate a month) to recover, to reconnect with your dog, your husband, and yourself, and to reconsider your future options, you will be grateful that your survival instincts kicked in and saved you from this Hades of poor management.

Do not talk to your boss until you have written a page of points about why you will not be returning to your old job.

The only time you should consider returning is if your boss has a detailed plan and budget for fixing the current problems (temp staff for inventory etc).
posted by Thella at 10:30 PM on April 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: There is absolutely no reason you should even remotely contemplate going back. This job will grind you down until there is nothing but a shell of the person you used to be. No job is worth this, especially not a retail job. Retail in general thrives on an easily replaceable workforce and employees are generally not well regarded despite being the backbone of the industry.

Also, you have injuries that were clearly caused by your job and you have more than enough cause to file a worker's compensation claim. Don't feel that you're taking advantage of them by filing a claim, you're using the resources at your disposal to regain your health from a job that severely damaged you emotionally and physically. I'd suggest contacting a lawyer to help you understand what your options are in addition to reading the information on your state's compensation website. Do this ASAP because there's sometimes a time limitation for filing claims.

Where I live, workers are entitled to see a doctor of their own choosing for worker's comp claims. Don't let your company try to send you to some cut-rate clinic that can't do all the necessary testing or who will provide the least amount of care possible because they're being paid by your employer.
posted by i feel possessed at 10:44 PM on April 7, 2015 [11 favorites]

Best answer: I am so happy that the consensus here is DON'T GO BACK and FILE FOR WORKERS COMP. The kind of managers you are describing are not willing to *do* anything to keep you on board, they are willing to *say* anything to keep you on board. Go with that instinct of self-preservation that led you to quit! Because you did quit. Congratulations! You are now a desirable job candidate considering other positions.

Would you apply to new company if you knew it had the same working conditions as your old job? The manager who called you is not your manager anymore. Think of him as a recruiter, because that's what he is now. Think of what you wrote above as a review on Glassdoor. Read it again and see if you want to apply for that job.

I notice you wrote a lot about upcoming inventory. As someone who has worked retail for many years, with a similar kind of work ethic and investment in the success of the store, I get how hard it is to separate yourself from the job. I still think about the stores I've worked and wonder how they are doing - you start to think about them like a giant pet, which won't be fed properly if you're not there. But it's not a living thing, you are. Keep thinking of it as the Titanic, and you were the engineer that was telling everyone about the hole in the boat. And you got on a lifeboat, so its problems are no longer your problems. Screw that inventory, it is no longer your problem. Doesn't it feel...awful, but kind of delicious? Let the rotten thing sink.

Imagine the worst possible outcome for the store. Inventory is a disaster. The pallets continue to pile up and the numbers get worse and worse. Corporate decides to close the place. What would concern you most about that scenario, once you consider it in the light of no longer being your problem? I think you'd mostly be concerned for the welfare of the folks you supervised, right? So if you have the contact info for your team, reach out to them and offer to serve as references for them for when they make the choice to quit this shitshow. Help 'em get a good seat on their own rafts, and then don't look back.

If you like, tell your old manager, excuse me, the recruiter, and the management who allowed things to get to this point, exactly why you left. Write a letter with bullet points and email it to everyone at corporate. But honestly? It doesn't matter. They know about the holes, they just don't care because you were willing to show up and lead the bucket brigade.

They might promise some short-term fixes to get you over the inventory hump. I don't believe they will fix the problems in any meaningful, permanent way even if you went back. But let's say I'm wrong. Let's say they do - remember that this is what it took for them to get their shit together. They let the store fall apart, let you ruin their health, let it get to this awful point. It's normal to like the people you work for on a personal level. But these are not people you want to trust your health and your livelihood to.
posted by prewar lemonade at 10:59 PM on April 7, 2015 [16 favorites]

Best answer: It is once again time to link to the ever illuminating sick systems essay. Your former workplace was a sick system (though you don't really describe any real rewarding parts to help cement your attachments). I am sorry.

Yes! Please do check this out, it's amazing. And good luck with what comes next.
posted by prewar lemonade at 11:05 PM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Well done for leaving. Don't go back. You absolutely did the right thing.
posted by dvrmmr at 11:10 PM on April 7, 2015

Best answer: It sounds like your body is really going through a lot right now, with your back locking up, your feet hurting so much that you can't wear shoes after work, and your knees making a tearing noise. This is not a trivial list of physical problems. This is your skeleton-- the organ that supports your whole body! Mess any part of that up and you are in for a world of hurt. Calluses heal, but many kinds of knee damage are there for good. Don't let your physical health suffer any more-- what do you think a month of inventory will do to those knees? The bending, the lifting, the 15 hour days? What if returning to do the inventory is the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back as far as your knees and back are concerned? You want to be feeling your best for the next stage of your life, leaving this rotten ball of stress job in the dust behind you. Good luck to you !
posted by Rapunzel1111 at 11:20 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: No retail job is worth this. I still don't understand what it is that makes people willing to sacrifice themselves on the altar of crappy jobs like this. And i've worked them. It's a kind of indoctrination.

Leave with your health. These skills are very transportable, and easy to plug in somewhere else. Just about anywhere will hire someone with enough management experience that they were about to get moved up to a store supervisor/district manager type job where you're overseeing an entire store at the top level.

I haven't regretted quitting a single bullshit retail job, even the ones i've just walked out on like this. And my friends who've suffered through it, including the ones i've advised to walk away, all say the same thing.

Don't do this to yourself.

How do I handle this? Do I be completely honest on the phone about all the problems, including him? Do I shut the whole thing down? Do I politely thank him for everything and move along?

1. No, this will do nothing, and might burn whatever potential bridges are there. But mostly, will just do nothing. Do you really think anyone directly involved doesn't see how fucked the system is? Either the district isn't supporting this store, or the manager above you sucks. I sincerely doubt they don't know this shit already.

2. Nah

3. This, imo, is the correct option. This is the classy option. Then start shooting off covers and resumes, contact your friends, and get a job that isn't destroying you.
posted by emptythought at 11:22 PM on April 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here's the thing, and the impetus for the question: my manager doesn't want to let me quit.

Tough for him then. He doesn't get a vote. He can't stop you from quitting. The business can exercise their rights under your contract, and in the absence of providing notice you may have to sacrifice some pay, but that's it.

So I think I've got myself into a catch-22.

No, you really don't. The job will not change. If it was going to change - ie, if your manager gave a single solitary fuck about the wellbeing of his staff - things would have never gotten to this point. If you go back, you will continue to sacrifice your health, and nothing will change. Do not go back.

Do I politely thank him for everything and move along?

This, and nothing more. This person completely screwed you over. You owe him nothing.

Strongly nthing the advice to see a doctor ASAP, getting your injuries and health issues documents, filing whatever worker's comp/health insurance claims that you can. You have been injured by your work, and they should be held to account for it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:24 PM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I am going to strongly disagree with some of the comments here.

Not about never going back -- everybody is completely right about that. When the dust settles your biggest regret is not going to be leaving on short notice, it's going to be not leaving sooner. Congratulations for having the courage and enough sense of self-worth to make a very scary leap -- it's not easy, but in the long run I am highly confident you will be better off.

But here's where I disagree: I think there's no angle for you in talking with your former manager about the reasons why you left and there are some significant potential pitfalls. If you feel you simply must talk to him or her, speak only generally. Do not write them a grievance-filled letter explaining to them what's wrong with their system. If they had any interest in listening to you they'd have done so sooner, the only thing a letter is likely to do now is get filed away in case they need to suggest that you were a disgruntled employee or "not a team player." It's virtually guaranteed that there's no right thing you can say that will lead to their sudden illumination and a determination to finally fix things, but there are wrong things you can say that would compromise your chances of prevailing in a Workman's Comp claim or an action for unpaid wages if, for instance, they were unlawfully categorizing you as management to avoid paying overtime.

You already had months to explain to your former boss why things couldn't continue the way they were going. The leadership there may profess shock but unless they're idiots to the point of being literally unable to understand your reasons, they know what the problems are and are either unable or simply unwilling to solve them (and more often than not it's the latter.)

Move on. Get healthy. Be happy. When you find a better job (and from the sound of it just about anything would be better..) use your connections at the new place to advocate for the people you left behind -- that's the most direct route to helping them that you're going to find.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:25 PM on April 7, 2015 [24 favorites]

Best answer: Also, for what it's worth on the body issues, i was minorly hurt when i was hit by a car as a pedestrian. I had a stupid fucking body destroying job like this. Rather than resting it, i kept working 12+ hour days constantly loading stuff and lifting more than i should. I was like, 17.

I'm close to your age now, and my knee which was primarily hit in that accident STILL HURTS ALL THE TIME. It never fully recovered. Working out and generally making the leg stronger has helped, but it's probably never going to go away entirely. Multiple doctors have basically gone "i dunno, that sucks lol".

Rest, when your body is telling you to rest. If you don't, in years when you want to enjoy stuff and are never in a position to work stupid shifts destroying yourself like this, you'll be walking down a beautiful beach and cursing your aching knees.

And trust me, it feels really pathetic to be hobbling like a grandpa/ma when you're under 30.
posted by emptythought at 11:26 PM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: There likely are personal injury attorneys in your area who would be happy to give you a free first consultation for questions about Worker's Comp and how to talk to your employer. Information about how to find an attorney is available at the MeFi Wiki Get A Lawyer page.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:38 PM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: In 5 years time, do you still want to be stuck in that job, in a far worse physical condition than you are now? Do you want to be stood in the stockroom, looking at the 47th pallet you're dealing with that day, thinking "I wish I'd just left, back when I realised I'd had enough"? Because that's what will happen, if you go back.

Nothing has changed. Nothing will change. If it was going to, it would have don so already. If you go back, you'll be knowingly putting yourself back into an awful situation, and it will be your own fault. You know exactly what it's like and why you got out. So what if your boss doesn't want you to quit? Are his desires more important to you than your own physical and mental health?
posted by Solomon at 12:16 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: PLEASE don't go back!

•Your manager "doesn't want to let you quit" --- well that's just tough shit for him, isn't it?!? You're not a slave, unable to choose for yourself: you're a free adult, and you don't owe him anything. Of COURSE he doesn't want you to leave: he's getting two employees' work out of you for the price of one, and you're probably one of the few things keeping him from his own well-deserved firing.
•Don't bother telling him why you're frustrated: he already knows the store's a mess, and he's depending on you to save his butt.
•This job is literally trying to physically kill you, plus you have those references lined up and don't think it'd be too bad getting a new job: so run already! It might be different if you were working this hard for a company you owned, but you don't: all this place gives you is too small of a paycheck for too much work.

The only alternative to getting an entirely new job is transferring IMMEDIATELY --- like today, no later! --- to a different store: do not return to THIS one, except to collect your personal property.
posted by easily confused at 1:36 AM on April 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: There are companies out there that will snatch your arm off to get employees who are prepared to work as hard as you that will also compensate you appropriately for your hard work. Go work for one of them instead.
posted by Solomon at 2:11 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I agree that you shouldn't return; everytime I have seen a retail employees return to a broken shop like you describe I have seen the situation get worse for them, their workload increased, and then they are fired and bad-talked. Don't go back just to get fired after ruining your body.

Also, have you worked out what your real hourly rates was? The amount of your salary divided by the number of hours in the day you were affected by work (so not just the hours at work but if you came home and collapsed or had to sit down for an hour or two include that). Yeah. Aren't you worth more than that?
posted by saucysault at 3:19 AM on April 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: His closest confidant from the store told me tonight that he's willing to do just about anything to get me back on board.

Just to play devil's advocate, what does 'just about anything' potentially include? It's too much to expect your boss to make any real changes (if he was capable of that he would have already done it), but what about giving you a sweet promotion that would grant you the authority to make those changes yourself? You need to take care of your body, ASAP, but what if this new position didn't require you to do much besides sit at a desk and walk around talking to people? What if it gave you the power to do some hiring and firing, so you could eliminate some people who you think are causing problems, and make sure more of the people coming in are the sort who will make the place better not worse? How would you feel about that?

I think the absolute worst reason to go back to this place is out of some guilt-ridden sense of loyalty. I know you really like your boss on a personal level, but this is a person who has watched you grind your body into the ground, watched you go from a happy, healthy person to one full of physical pain and emotional despair, and apparently just didn't care, or maybe didn't even notice. This person doesn't give a shit about you! He's 100% okay with watching you and everyone else's lives turn to complete garbage as long as it benefits him. He doesn't deserve your loyalty, no matter how nice he acts on the surface. That might be hard to hear about someone you consider a friend, and of course I could easily be misreading the situation, but from your description he doesn't sound like a good person. He sounds like someone who's nice on the surface, but is kind of empty and selfish underneath.

The only good reason I can think of for going back is if you would find it personally satisfying for some reason. If you love fixing problems, and if you can get your sociopathic boss to give you the authority to actually do some real fixing, then it might be worth it to go back, just for your own satisfaction.

Personally, I don't think they deserve you. You've given a lot, but haven't gotten much in return. Now that you're gone they're seeing how much they need you, but the second you're back they'll go back to taking you for granted. If the only time they respect you is when you're threatening to leave, then you'll have to continually be threatening to leave in order to get respect. That's a really shitty way to have to live your life though. It's so much nicer when people just appreciate and respect each other without having to be manipulated into it.
posted by sam_harms at 4:06 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Also, To bridge the gap in your income while looking for work, you might consider registering with a few temp agencies. The process isn't long, and they tend to give precedence to new hires, so if you started making calls and setting up appointments today I'd bet you'd have employment by the end of the month. But please stand up for yourself, and don't take any work that will further damage your already broken body.

I also think you would be better off looking for work from private companies, rather than corporations. Even the best corporation I've worked for has been pretty screwy, but some of the private companies have been really nice places.
posted by sam_harms at 4:09 AM on April 8, 2015

Best answer: I'm fifteen years into a chronic and painful injury caused because I was hired as management but treated as a truck loader who didn't have to take breaks on a ten hour shift. I quit when they wanted me to be healed and back on the line after two weeks. It was hard, but things turned out okay. Keep on running away from this job!

Oh, and if you want to have any chance of not being in constant daily pain 15 years from now, go see your own doctor and get some physical therapy, etc. for your knees, back, and whatever else ails you NOW.
posted by postel's law at 5:15 AM on April 8, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Here's the thing, and the impetus for the question: my manager doesn't want to let me quit.

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that unless you have a contract, there isn't even a question that he can "let" you quit. He can't stop you.

In fact, by standing by and allowing such a toxic environment to fester, he made you quit. Good for you!

I know the loss of income is scary at the moment, but there are other jobs. Few, I would imagine, could be as bad as the one you just walked out on. Be polite but firm if your ex-manager calls, file for worker's comp, breathe easy that you've put such a terrible situation in your past and then go find something spiffy to do.
posted by Gelatin at 5:29 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I work with SO many salaried people who put in as many hours as you describe, and to a person, they all seem miserable. Kids are growing up with distracted, barely-there parents, my coworkers are ending up in the hospital due to stress-related problems, nobody ever seems to be running on a healthy amount of sleep ... and none of them have the extra physical component of your job! If any one of them did what you just did, I would jump out of my seat and run around cheering and looking for people to high-five. You are AWESOME for leaving that environment!

There have already been SO many reasons outlined above as to why you shouldn't go back, but if you want one more: it seems to me that people in a work environment take their cues from everyone else there. People see each other putting in ridiculous hours, undertaking physical strains they should not be undertaking, etc., and they assume that that's the norm and that they should be doing the same. Kind of like the bystander effect, yeah? And of course it's to the company's (short-term) benefit to have everyone bought into these ideas and pushing themselves past their limit, so the company isn't going to step in and save anybody. I really think that by throwing down your load and stating clearly and dramatically that what is being done to you is NOT okay, you are hopefully planting the same idea in the heads of some of your former co-workers.

Now go out there, get an amazing new job at a place that treats you ethically, and show your former coworkers that life can be better! You are NOT the bad guy here - you're the hero! Fuck all the companies that let their employees get to the place you were in, and all the best luck to you.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:52 AM on April 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like you have Stockholm Syndrome! Please, go to a doctor today for a complete physical. If you can prove that your job did that to your body, then you can sue the company, which will force them to make the changes that they absolutely have to make. Do not go back there. You do not owe the company or your team members anything, unless you want to include them in a class action suit.

I've never felt myself to be litigious or even pro-union but, in this situation, I think that you need to be both.

And give yourself a break. You are holding yourself to a higher standard than is necessary. Stay home for a week to recover. Make love to your husband. Be there for him. Men don't always mind being the sole breadwinner for short periods. He may enjoy feeling useful.
posted by myselfasme at 6:08 AM on April 8, 2015

Best answer: Also, what if instead of actively choosing to leave, you ended up on long-term disability due to injuries sustained at that place? That would have left your manager in the same position he's in now, and it seems a likely future outcome if you had stayed on (or if you went back). Your manager would have figured out a way of dealing with your absence then, and he'll figure out a way of dealing with it now. Even if that way is "things fall even further behind," well, that's okay, the world isn't going to end and I assure you your presence isn't going to make or break this place.

You genuinely could not be more in the right here, and as I sit here at my own soul-sucking job (I'm working on it!) I'll be keeping this thread open in the hopes that you come back and confirm that you won't be going back. There will definitely be jumping around and cheering from my end then, promise =)
posted by DingoMutt at 6:20 AM on April 8, 2015

Best answer: I've spent years working part time retail on and off, for one particular company. Honestly, I don't know how people do it full time. A lot of the store managers and assistant store managers have quit for reasons such as you describe, but also because they figure the future of big-box retail, physical stores is such that it doesn't really seem like a good Plan A. Certainly to build a family, you need something more sustainable. One person decided she wants to work in HR now and I think is going back to school for that. A guy went back to school for something else and ultimately quit to go to school full time. But if it makes you feel better, quite a few of them have pretty much quit one fine day, decided not to come back from vacation, walked out in immediate response to a policy change, that sort of thing. Working with jacked up hours and physical pain will do that to you.
posted by BibiRose at 6:26 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer:
I think the absolute worst reason to go back to this place is out of some guilt-ridden sense of loyalty. I know you really like your boss on a personal level, but this is a person who has watched you grind your body into the ground, watched you go from a happy, healthy person to one full of physical pain and emotional despair, and apparently just didn't care, or maybe didn't even notice. This person doesn't give a shit about you!

And he's probably also effectively brainwashed. People that work at a store level don't have much perspective. The store manager position attracts people who can lord it over their own little realm with few challenges from outside as long as they make their numbers. Or it takes regular people and turns them into that.
posted by BibiRose at 6:32 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: They aren't bad managers or bad people; the corporation knows salaried staff will work their butts off. They know they can exploit hourly staff with wretched scheduling and a crappy environment. Do not be loyal to them; they would never consider the possibility of loyalty to staff; they have a corporate mission to maximize profits, period.

Your job is making you ill. File reports of work-related injury and illness. In fact, you probably have accrued sick time, and should use it.

If it were me, I'd go back and give 2 weeks' notice. I'd use sick time to help my hands, back and psyche recover. Then I'd really leave. On the small scale, you need and deserve to have a life. On a larger scale, companies will keep treating all workers horribly until workers stop tolerating it. Try to become someone who does quality work for 40 hours, but does not let a corporation take advantage of their work ethic.
posted by theora55 at 7:16 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Doctor asap to document the physical problems, all the better if they will help you document the visible physical problems. Careful what you say about stress-related components of your job: if this goes to court someday they could turn your (normal, conversational) words against you. Tell the doctor you are considering talking to a lawyer about the physical problems caused by your former employer working you X number of hours per day doing heavy labor instead of the salaried managerial position you held.

Lawyer today or tomorrow. My mom went through a relatively stress-free worker's comp case recently and even though it went smoothly, it still takes some time to get the initial stuff set up.

It would be best if you talk to the lawyer first, they may want you to see a doctor or nurse on their staff first. Many injury-related and worker's comp lawyers have multiple medical professionals on staff. They will also likely be less weird about taking photos and documenting your physical injuries.

Good luck, and as everyone has already said, DO NOT GO BACK. You can make it on your own!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:24 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I also think you should go to a doctor and sue them to pay whatever medical care physical therapy is required.

70 hours a week salaried? No overtime??

Holy sh*t. I don't think you should talk on the phone with them!

Send the standard boilerplate "effective immediately/thank you for the opportunity" resignation letter, get medical (possibly legal) attention, never regret walking out. Good for you!
posted by jbenben at 7:29 AM on April 8, 2015

Best answer: In general, I'm with everyone else: if this job is ruining your health at the age of 27 (and you plan to have children), you simply can't continue to do this job.

The only downside of your walking off of the job like that is that you likely won't be able to use your ex-boss as a reference when you look for a new job. Since your ex-boss wants you back badly, you have a bit of negotiation power here.

Simply put: is there a way you could negotiate coming back to a somewhat different job, one where you can still help to get the store through this upcoming inventory but without any of the body-breaking labor?

Of course, the obvious downside here is that your ex-mgmt has shown itself either unwilling to or incapable of following through with any kind of change. Your ex-boss might agree to this kind of thing, and hold to it for a week, and then 'forget' about it and you're back in the same old grind (ref: Walter White on Breaking Bad when he was working at the car wash - he apparently had an 'agreement' with his boss that he'd only work the counter, but of course when things got busy, this was forgotten). You'd have to watch carefully for this and be willing to confront the boss and perhaps quit the job once again. It's really a judgement call on your part as to how much you think can trust your ex-mgmt. From everything you've written, it sounds like the answer is: not much.

I want to be clear: your health is more important than a good reference. Simply do not go back there if you will have to continue the same kind of labor that is ruining your health.

One last thought: if you still feel the need to ask advice on this situation, Alison over at Ask A Manager might be a good resource. You could write to her or just wait until the Friday Open Forum and ask then.

Good luck with this.
posted by doctor tough love at 7:33 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Upon preview, get off AskMe, and call a bunch of Worker's Compensation Attorneys.

The advice might be to use sick days and give two weeks. Or some other combination of filing claims and seeking medical care.

You need to pursue your rights in terms of medical care with legal guidance.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 7:34 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have been in a very similar situation, that seemed to slowly grow into the worst job I ever had. Although I didn't walk out, I did find myself in the ER with what I thought was a heart attack but turned out to be a panic attack due to stress. Big wake-up call, and I quit the next day. Yes, they begged me to come back. But only because I was doing the work of three people while paying for only one.

First, do not go back. Second, quickly put together a list of references and their phone numbers. Then go out and find that better job.

I agree that you should pursue the sick days, health issues, etc. That will make it easier for you in future interviews to frame the reasons for leaving so abruptly, if it ever comes up.

I promise that you will never regret this. After a month at home and feeling very rested and renewed, I was able to put my terrible experience behind me. You need to take some time to heal yourself and disengage from the turmoil at that workplace.
posted by raisingsand at 7:38 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Did you put anything in writing? If not, get yourself over to your doctor's office, today, talk about your physical condition, and get yourself out on FMLA. You are (understandably and legitimately) in a very emotional state right now. Take care of your physical well-being first; after that take some time to craft (perhaps with a lawyer) a set of things that YOU need in order to come back, together for a time-frame for those things to be accomplished. If the company wants you back, they will get those things done. If not, not, and you will have your answer.
posted by vignettist at 7:42 AM on April 8, 2015

Best answer: my manager doesn't want to let me quit.

he's willing to do just about anything to get me back on board.

Any time I've seen this it's because
1) you're awesome. like really really awesome: responsible, effective, good thinker, decent hearted etc.
2) finding someone else is a pain for your boss and they are lazy SOBs
3) a combination of 1+2

It's flattering, but in my experience the culture won't change. At all. Therefore, run.

onwards my friend... to freedom!!!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:48 AM on April 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: * You should definitely get an attorney.
* If you were to go back, do it on your terms, as previous posters have mentioned. NO physical labor, set hours, severance and profit-sharing agreement, and enormous authority. For anything less, it's not worth it.
posted by 4midori at 7:57 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fuck that job and fuck those people. You owe them nothing. You were working in an environment of learned helplessness. They want you back because you were the only thing keeping everything from going to shit, and the only way you managed that was a) stratospherically above and beyond your job description; b) not worth your health. I have seen work environments where this happens, and one person becomes the little boy with his finger in the dike. I have been that person.

(This is why whenever politicians who've never done a physically gruelling job talk about raising the retirement age, I want to hit them with sticks.)
posted by holgate at 8:03 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You have nothing to gain from talking to them ever again. I'm taking it for granted that you've quit and that's not going to change for all the reasons already cited. But there's no reason to get into a guilt-trip conversation with your boss. What you've done isn't going to make their lives any harder, it's what the company has done that will make your boss's lives harder. Your boss wants to talk to you because he has no hope of getting his bosses to change, but he's hoping maybe he can keep squeezing you for a few more drops of blood.

No one at that company has your best interests at heart. Do not listen to their advice about what you should do.

And by the way, it's not like the problems the store is having are mysterious and unsolvable. Hire more people! They don't want to do that because at current wages, they can't hire enough people to do the job. So raise wages! Don't let them hide behind any bureaucratic bullshit, they already know how to change things if they want to.
posted by skewed at 8:36 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't go back. I would not even engage in the form of this phone call you have agreed to. Contact them another way and say that you have reconsidered and that your decision to leave is firm. The only thing that phone call will give you is more grief. This guy is depending on you to keep his own stress down - he wants you back so he can let you do all the work again, whether he realizes it or not.

Enjoy some time with your husband. Take care of your body, take care of your mind. Heal, apply for better jobs, and celebrate the fact that you didn't let this job destroy your body and your life.
posted by Urban Winter at 9:19 AM on April 8, 2015

Best answer: Just in case you aren't convinced yet - don't go back! Take a break, shine up that resume and go and get a job that will work for you!
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:37 AM on April 8, 2015

Response by poster: If I'd answered this question for someone else, it would have been a complete no-brainer. Which is to say that it's much more simple to see the clear-as-day answer when you're not in the middle of the situation. So, to all of you, thank you so, so much for your answers, for the much-needed perspective, and for the support. I did speak with my manager on the phone this morning; it was an apparently honest conversation from his end, but I unequivocally told him that I would not be coming back.

Today, I woke up happy that I jumped. All I gotta do is stick the landing.

Thank you all again. :-)
posted by coast99 at 9:57 AM on April 8, 2015 [34 favorites]

Best answer: Like you, I never imagined I'd quit my job with less than the standard two weeks notice.... or at least I USED to believe that, right up until the day I quit a seventeen-years job effective at 5pm that day. Like your now-ex job, mine was killing me with stress, no backup from management, long hours, low pay and lower company morale. Quitting that place felt SO GOOD! I woke up the next morning broke and unemployed, but boy howdy did I feel so ALIVE for the first time in ages.

Which is all to say that you WILL definitely get through this, and eventually wonder how you managed to put up with it for so long. Take a couple days off to just enjoy, then go get a job that'll treat you right!
posted by easily confused at 10:30 AM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Wouldn't happen to work at World Market, would you? That place was worse than Sam's Club for me.

You have savings and a cushion, so fuck this place. The job market is awful, but with your managerial experience, you should have an easier time than most.
posted by MikeHoncho at 10:38 AM on April 8, 2015

Best answer: This is where you quote them your hourly consulting fee.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:17 PM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Could there be a middle point? It seems like your boss is desperate for your knowledge. So, could you offer to consult for them? They pay you (a lot) to have you tell them what they need to do. You don't need to go into the store or be responsible for enacting your recommendations. If your boss takes you up, this could pad your finances while you search for a healthier job.
posted by JackBurden at 12:17 PM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer:
Could there be a middle point? It seems like your boss is desperate for your knowledge. So, could you offer to consult for them?
If they were willing to pay her (or anyone else) "a lot" I doubt they'd be in this mess. They're not looking for someone with inside knowledge who can tell them how to fix their business, they're looking for someone who will continue to work 70 hour weeks for a compensation plan structured around 40. Or possibly they're looking to prolong things for just long enough to get through their upcoming inventory.

This is not a healthy work environment, nor is it one where the people directing things can be assumed to be operating in good faith. The submitter has probably done the very best that she can do by leaving and her efforts right now are much better spent on recovering her physical and mental health and on finding a better job. Continued entanglement with her former workplace will further none of those goals.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:31 PM on April 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: +1 sick systems link.

+1 workers comp PLUS doctor to make sure your health is going to survive this.

+1 what were they ACTUALLY PAYING YOU PER HOUR to sacrifice your life and health.

+1 OF COURSE they want you there to keep bailing/do their job/ be the only competent leadership.

I'm really really glad you got out (and so are you!) but you may benefit from examining why you were in whats basically an abusive marriage for so long.
posted by Jacen at 12:45 PM on April 8, 2015

Best answer: One thing that might be useful for you, as far as getting your pain, anger, and frustration expressed, is to see if anyone in HR is willing to do an exit interview with you. Your experience may be nothing new for them, and they might not give a shit about what you have to say. But, if they can treat your information as valuable, as far as how to keep the valuable employees from telling them to take their job an shove it, you could tell them exactly what they are doing wrong. If so, that would be therapeutic.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:15 PM on April 8, 2015

Best answer:
If they were willing to pay her (or anyone else) "a lot" I doubt they'd be in this mess. They're not looking for someone with inside knowledge who can tell them how to fix their business, they're looking for someone who will continue to work 70 hour weeks for a compensation plan structured around 40.
Nerd of the North, this is exactly why you make the consulting offer. Either the boss genuinely needs coast99 or is just saying shit to try to extract more underpaid labor. If the former, you get some more money writing a few memos. If the latter, it's easier to say goodbye to the job.
posted by JackBurden at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: For anyone who stumbles into this Ask later on, here's the final update:

A couple hours after I posted my original update, my manager called back and asked me to come in for a meeting/exit interview with the district manager. Specifically, he said it wasn't to convince me to come back but to tell them what the problems were to help fix things and, in return, they would ensure that my employment record did not reflect that I walked off the job. I went in. Talked honestly but did not drag my manager in front of his manager. 80% of the conversation was talking me up real big and then asking me to come back and work inventory, then see if I still wanted to leave. I remained firm in my decision. They kept their word about covering up that I walked off the job, which is probably the best outcome this whole thing could have had.

To anyone else in this position, the only thing I regret is how I did it, not that I did it, but I never would have given notice without another job lined up, which would have been near impossible to do given the hours. So. I truly believe my options were to blow my top and flounce or stay and be miserable until something gave (again, likely me).

I again want to thank the ever living fuck out of Metafilter. I read this entire thread, top to bottom, about three times last night, so I would keep my resolve at this meeting. If it wasn't for the 70+ answers here, I might have agreed to give it another go. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.
posted by coast99 at 11:46 AM on April 9, 2015 [16 favorites]

Best answer: Specifically, he said it wasn't to convince me to come back...

80% of the conversation was talking me up real big and then asking me to come back and work inventory,

You see, your boss might seem nice, but he's a lying little sociopath. There's a certain kind of person who has convinced himself that this sort of behavior is normal and necessary in the business world, but it's not. If you end up in a functional work environment, and find out what regular people are like, then I think you'll end up being amazed at just how dysfunctional your old employers were. I hope you stay strong during your job search, and think carefully about why you stayed in this sick system so long, so that you don't end up trapped in another one.
posted by sam_harms at 5:55 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The DM's cynical ploy to get you to back with an "exit interview" that was more about trying to play off your sense of loyalty than actually find out what is wrong seals it in my mind. Do not under any circumstances return to that company, even at another store.

Knowing how companies like that work, the chance of them telling third parties you left without notice was pretty much zero in the first place. Most retail and food service chains won't say anything beyond your dates of employment. I can't say that your immediate manager was being manipulative, but the DM definitely was.

By the way, just because you left somewhat voluntarily does not necessarily mean you can't get unemployment if you want to go that route. Trying it might ruffle some feathers, though. (As long as you don't lie, there is no risk in applying, the worst that happens is that your claim is denied) In some states, impossible working conditions constitutes constructive dismissal. You could check to see if your state's UI office has something like what Oklahoma calls a "precedent manual" that provides synopses of contested claims and their outcomes. It can be a handy resource for researching whether a claim is likely to be allowed.

Even if you don't really need it, there is definitely an advantage to not drawing down your savings as much as you would otherwise.
posted by wierdo at 9:58 PM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We are SO proud of you! They pressured you to return, thinking they could still overwork you, but you stood up to them and did the right thing. Good job!
posted by raisingsand at 3:23 PM on April 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: A final, final update for anyone who stumbles into this question in the future: two months and one week after I quit, I had two job offers in one day and chose higher education administration over an admin position in the financial industry. I start my new job in about two weeks. I'm excited!

Thanks again, everyone. All of the advice given was 100% spot on.
posted by coast99 at 10:09 AM on June 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

Congratulations! What great news.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:42 AM on June 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love a happy ending! Well done, and good luck in the new job.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:37 PM on June 20, 2015

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