Good morning everyone. I meant to write this blog last night after coming home from visiting my parents for Christmas. Even though I came home at 8pm, the food coma from all the food I ate had lingered and I fell asleep at around 10:00, which is sometimes early for me. This Christmas was extra special for me because for the first time in five years I can actually enjoy it, and not be stressed out over what to expect before and after. This blog will be different than the usual, but feel I should write it all the same.
For the past five years, I never really got to enjoy Christmas. That was because I worked retail. At this same time last year, yours truly would not be writing this blog. Yours truly would’ve have gotten up at 5am to be at work at 6am, three hours prior to opening to prepare for the madness of after Christmas sales and disgruntled shoppers trying to return unwanted gifts only to bitch at you when you asked for some kind of receipt.
At the time I started the job (which I won’t mention, as I still shop there and for the safety of some friends who still work there), I couldn’t really complain. I had lost my third job in two year period (yay recession) and having been unemployed for almost 2 years in between those jobs, my unemployment had run out. So I was desperate and had no choice. The first couple years were not so bad. I managed to stay on after the seasonal period was over and got to work with some great people who were just about as geeky as I was. I managed to move to other departments, trying out certain positions. I even was promoted to a low based manager position, doing that for a year until pressure and the desire of wanting to maybe go back to school had me step down. I sometimes have a shy, introvert personality, so being in charge was a little overwhelming. Plus with only so many managers, any school plans were on hold forever because of scheduling.
The beginning of the end started at around this time last year. Last Christmas I worked like a dog, but it felt different. While I had breezed through other Christmases, this time around was different. I felt more tired, more stressed. While 90% of the time I never let customers tirades get to me, last Christmas I took some of it personal. While I understood their frustration, some of their anger was truly unwarranted. While my hands were tied with the proverbial rules of store policy, people felt that if they screamed and yelled enough they would get their way. It hurt that they never understood or put themselves in my shoes. I’m sure if they did, they might be a little more sympathetic.
I had to fight for changes in my schedule to get time off to spend with family. Working retail, you were needed 24/7. Starting the week before Thanksgiving, no one, and I mean NO ONE could request time off for vacation. You could request a day off, but more than likely depending on what day it was or who managed to get ahead before you; there might be a strong possibility that your request would get denied. My family was always home on Christmas day (the one day our store would be closed), but they would have a separate dinner to accommodate the other schedules of my siblings (who had regular jobs with their weekends off). My husbands family would plan their dinner on a weekend night as well, even after telling them my appearance was giant impossibility if they did so. I managed to make it to both, but only after scraping my nails to the bone to make it.
Most of this year was riddled with stress, changes in store policy, the pressure of making metrics (whose goal numbers seemed to had doubled overnight), and making only $11.25 an hour to take this all in wasn’t making it enjoyable anymore. Again, I wasn’t one to complain, because it was a steady job and with my track record of lay offs from non-retail jobs; I was hesitant to leave. But it was also taking a toll on my health and well being as well. I had started to get panic/anxiety attacks, which were not normal for me. Most anxiety attacks happened during work, but due to how busy it was, I was afraid to ask to leave the floor to take a breather. I had gone to the doctors a few times, thinking my anxiety attacks were precursors to something more serious, especially when your dad had bypass heart surgery at 39 and you’re now 36. Heart palpitations during these attacks make you feel like you might be having a heart attack. Even when tests came back negative and my doctor assured me it was due to stress, I still couldn’t leave. I felt an obligation to stay, whether it was for my coworkers or making sure I get that paycheck every week.
Flash forward to this September. I started looking for work more diligently than before as we had the rotating door for managers and a lot of people who I started this job with started leaving. While I didn’t mind new people coming in, there was a lot of people who came in at the same time I as had; and them leaving was like the straw that broke the camels back. In essence, I didn’t want to be alone. Plus I was trying to get out before the upcoming Christmas season. I didn’t want to endure another one. As luck would have it, I found a job by October and was able to enjoy not only having weekends off, but not having to work Black Friday, Christmas Eve, and today, the day after Christmas.
This year I am more thankful than ever that I had the opportunity to slow down and take everything in. I was more excited to enjoy Christmas with family and friends without stressing out on if I was going to make it. I’m looking forward to the new year (as this blog is somewhat attributing to one of many reasons why this year SUCKED) and hope to do more with this blog and make it official.
Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year!!!