Have you ever watched those movies or read those books where theirs a picturesque place that the main character discovers for the first time, however the farther entrenched the main character becomes the further it is revealed that the place is not so picturesque and theres in fact something terribly wrong with it. A classic example that I can only assume you all must have heard of is Hansel and Gretal. How would they know that a house made out of candy and the kindly old lady offering them food was a cannibal witch all along? I mean of course in any version of these sorts of stories theirs always the warning signs. Such as why is there a house made out of candy in the woods?, For me it was why does this place have such a huge turn over rate and why did they not even look at my CV before hiring me on the spot?
Ill keep the name of this workplace out of this speech since i’ll be throwing a lot of shade and I feel like it would be quite rude to completely throw them under the bus.
Another reason I brought up Hansel and Gretal is because the workplace I’m talking about is a chocolate factory. Therefore I got free candy whenever I ended my shift which is give or take the same thing that drew Hansel and Gretal to the witch in the first place.
I bet your probably thinking, that sounds pretty good. How bad can a chocolate factory be, really. Did we need the foreboding introduction, can this workplace really be compared to canniblism and the kidnapping of children. The answer is not by a long shot. However it still had enough of an effect on me for me to consider it to be one of the things that shaped me as a person as well as a story with plenty of life advice that can inspire you guys to make sure that when you go out into the world and start looking for work, as well as working, you can notice the signs of a dysfunctional workplace sooner and get out quicker therefore living an all around emotionally and mentally healthier life which in the long run will help you live a less than ordinary life if that is your intention.
The first red flag I noticed was perfection, or more the expectation of perfection. There is no such thing as perfection. A quote that explains what I’m trying to say is ”perfection reveals the lie” [simplify it a lot more less rambling to long] The woman that owned the place wanted everything to be perfect all the time, our uniforms had to be perfectly aligned the boxes of chocolate in there specific displays had to be perfectly straightened and together, the windows to be perfectly not smudged, the path leading into the store front had to be perfectly clean of leaves, the very pedantic way in which the different boxes of chocolate were wrapped had to be perfect, the scripted conversations I had to say to the costumers had to be perfectly worded. you kind of get the gist of it. If there was no costumers we couldve somewhat kept to this expectation if we didn’t move to much and didn’t touch anything. But a full day of work would mean that there would be at least eight hundred to a thousand costumers come in. Imagine a bus full of americans stop in, fifty come in at the same time. You have to hand them each a scripted introduction but some keep walking past, and oh no they didn’t grab the handle of the door to open it they pushed on the glass so its smudged and you must clean the smudge but you also need to hand them there samples that they receive open coming in and make sure you give them a tour of the building, but then there taking chocolate boxes from the stand to examine them and there messing up the displays that have to be perfect. Oh no someones asking you to grab them a an additional sample, you have to walk down a hall and find it in a box full of sample, but you can’t leave the shop empty, more people come in. Just starting off at the job i continued to double my efforts believing that i could do all of this.
Which brings me to red flag two, being watched 2047, how may you asked was i watched 2047, the cameras around the room. To deter stelling. However I noticed as soon as I deviated or left one of the many things alone i needed to maintain for a second I would get a call. Id answer the phone and The voice at the other end would say something such as ”the window is smudged why aren’t you checking that out? or theres a little kid playing on the iPad, get him off it” i would go and do that thing until the other enviable call that would make sure that I noticed the other thing that i was neglecting while i was doing something else. Working there was like trying to make a seesaw perfectly balance with all your weight on one end. However again I told myself that I appreciated my bosses incredible investment in her business and again doubled my efforts.
The third red flag I noticed was the work climate, everyone hated each other. Not casual hate, the kind of hate where if purge existed half of them would be dead. Within a month I hated everyone to. The reason I started to hate everyone was because of the little things, Like I was fifteen then, wasn’t taught all the rules of the workplace. So naturally i made mistakes my co workers instead of being like ”hey kine don’t do that” they’d instead, tell the big boss she’d set up a meeting with the inter staff and tell me off there. I realised much later that everyone experienced some level of this which is why they all hated each other because they blamed each other for the negative experiences the big boss put them through due to there co workers not helping them out. In a way the big boss was pitting us against each other by isolating out negative experiences. Instead of realising this we treated each other badly.
The fourth red flag would be belittlement. Every know and then when i was working alone a costumer would come in and the big boss would come down the stairs and stand behind me while i was serving them, shed stand very close and critically analyse all my actions. Which naturally flustered me so id screw up. She’d start taking stuff out of my hands, telling to repeat words, joking about how terrible I was to the costumers. Which led to me being retrained for things I already knew and more anxiety when ever she came down the stairs because i really wanted to prove to her that i could do the work.
The fifth red flag would be personal space, the longer explanation would be the big boss feeling that since we worked for her everything to do with us she had the right to know and even control. Shed call me during school about work matters, Shed call me during school about coming into work during school, shed try and adjust my outfit, play with my hair, comment on my appearance. Just needled herself somehow into all aspects of my life. So before i knew it i was being suffocated.
The last red flag would be never being able to please her. No matter how much effort i put in, how much time I worked, she make me believe that I needed to out a little more effort in and time. That i was a terrible worker for not doing it. It was crafty the way she did this because it always felt that if i just did little bit more worked a little bit harder id hit the mark and shed finally get off my back. However what I didn’t realise was that the whole time shed been moving the mark. It was futile.
When all these experiences are laid out like this, its kind of easy to think well thats just a bad work place you should have left in the first week. However all these experience happened within a six month period and it wasn’t bad all the time. It was always little experiences that eventually built up. The boss also was incredibly nice to me after she did anything particularly mean and cruel which made me always question how bad it really was and whether or not i was being a drama queen. A metaphor you might have heard before would be. If you put a frog in hot boiling water it will jump out because it does not want to be boiled alive. However if you put the frog in cold water and gradually heat the water up over time it wont realise whats happening unless another frog jumps in and freaks out about the temperature
The world is insane as it is, it has been proven that the extreme side of climate change that we are meant to experience fifty years from now, is happening currently. Theres war, problems with over population and politions seem to be getting crazier by the hour. All I’m saying is that we don’t need to give ourselves more unnecessary insanity by being in a workplace or even a relationship that is toxic. Get out of the mentality that makes you think that your tough enough to not let little things get to you, that you can handle it or that if you just try a little harder it’ll be easier because these are the mentalities that get you stuck in the first place. Remember put yourselves first and cut yourselves away from any toxicity you can recognise and avoid. Snip, snip guys snip snip!