Monday, January 6, 2014

Working During a Blizzard

So last night the entire Detroit area got pounded with snow. It's been snowing all morning and it also doesn't help that the wind is so rough it blows even more snow off of the trees and rooftops. According to the News there were about 8 1/2 inches of snow that fell on us last night (in some places it was over a foot and a half)! Now, I was scheduled to work today at noon. I work retail at the mall - it's not a career but it's a decent job.

Anyway, people were out shoveling and using their snowblowers even before the sun came up this morning. Unfortunately, a lot of cars that tried to leave their driveways were still getting stuck. Our subdivision is completely covered in snow and the side streets are just awful. The sun didn't even start coming out until about 11:30am. Before that all you could really see was a milky-white sky and snow blowing all over the place. I don't think it's the worst blizzard we've ever been hit with, but the aftermath of it is what really makes me nervous.

So, since I couldn't get my car out of the subdivision this morning (I was waiting for the snow plows to come through and they have to do the major streets first before they can do the side streets or subdivisions of the township) I, of course, called my work to see if it was open. Just my luck, the mall (and my store) were still open - even thoughn a lot of the other malls and stores in the area are closed. Not to mention, all of the schools in the county are closed and I've seen only ONE car drive down my street all morning - it was a 4 wheel drive by the way and I think it was an SUV. My car is a little Ford Focus and it rides pretty low to the ground.

Since my work was still open for the day, I decided to call my manager to let her know that I might not be able to make it in today, as I'd have to wait for the snow plows to clear my street. I was expecting her reaction to be something along the lines of "Oh I understand! If it isn't safe to drive to work then don't risk your life to get here!" Much to my surprise, my manager's reaction was quite the opposite. First of all, she completely ignored the fact that I cannot physically move my car through the unplowed snow. She also was inconsiderate of the fact that I do not live anywhere near my workplace. In fact, I live over 20miles away, which would require me to drive down subdivisions, main roads, and then take the freeway the rest of the way (if I could even get that far without my car getting stuck in the snow). Also, my manager had a totally unfriendly tone while talking to me. She wouldn't really let me explain, and I assure you I'm not trying to make up an excuse to not go to work (I work on commission so of course I want to go make some money - if there are any customers at the mall today anyway)

Basically my manager blew off what I was trying to explain to her and she said "you need to come in". When I tried to say that I would be late she then replied "you need to be here as close to your scheduled time as possible". She made me feel like it was a choice. The only choice I really had was to stay home and wait for the plows to come, or to try and drive in my little focus with a high risk of getting stuck in the snow. And I doubt she would put up the money to pay for a tow truck to come bail me out. Even if I didn't get stuck in the snow I was at risk of getting in an accident somewhere along my 20mile trek. On the News they were talking about a bunch of cars slipping on the ice and the free ways weren't that much better. Either way, there's not really much I could do about the situation. I can't just go buy a monster truck and power drive over the 8 inches of snow. I also don't have someone that can just drive me or pick me up. They'd probably get stuck in the snow too. So why do I feel guilty about not being able to go to work?

I've been working there for almost 2 years and I have only taken 1 sick day. The few days that I requested off were for eye surgery, or family reasons. And not to boost or anything, but I'm a pretty good employee. Sure I've been late a couple of times but I always try to give them a heads up (and a few times it was because I got a nail in my tire from driving on the free way). I'm a reliable, hardworking person, and I work even when I don't feel good. Its not like I get a bonus for driving a longer distance then some of the other workers. And I don't complain when they schedule me at ridiculous times. I always offer to take other peoples shifts if they can't make it in to work. And I'm a neat freak so our sales floor always looks good and I take on a lot of tasks that I don't even have to do just because I'm responsible and want to be helpful for everyone else. So I might not be an All Star or Employee of the Month, but I'm like that invisible hand that's always looking out for everyone else. And that should count for something even if it goes unappreciated.

I understand that businesses want to make money and that it is hard to run a sales floor if all of your employees call off due to bad weather. But do all of the employees live 20 miles away? Do all of the employees live in areas that got hit with 8 inches of snow? And do all of the employees have a car that is prone to getting stuck in snow? Maybe. But maybe not. There should be a back up plan to call employees in if they live closer to the mall. And I get it, they don't want to come in on their days off - but what else can you do? It's not like I'm going to lie and say I'm sick because I'm not sick. It's not like I don't want to go to work. Because I do want to sell stuff and make money. But on the other hand, when I actually weigh the pros and cons of driving to work in bad weather I'm not sure I want to even risk it. Bottom line - it's a job. It's not a career for me. AND it's not even like it's that great of a job. I know I can't work from home like a lot of other people, but really how many people are going to be going to the mall to shop after they've just been hit with a snow storm? They're probably stuck at home just like me because they can't get their cars out either.

So I ask again, why is it that my manager tried to make me feel guity about not coming in to work? No matter how I justify it, I do still feel guilty. I'm not one who gives up or refuses to try their hardest, but I feel like with shitty weather I kind of have to throw in the towel. At my work it's been drilled into my mind that Customer Service is our #1 priorty. So of course they're going to stay open in rain or shine (or snow blizzards apparently). But sometimes I think that the bosses and the managers forget that we are human beings too. I don't want to risk my life for a job that isn't that great or important; for a job where I have to kiss people's asses all day, everyday just to have enough money to pay my bills. But I don't want to get fired either because it IS a job, and finding a job in this economy (that pays a reasonable amount) is really fucking hard right now. I just wish that my manager was more considerate, and that the company cared as much about their employees as they do their customers.

One of the other main things they taught us at work was to "Use Your Best Judgement". Well, that applies to customers and their complaints, and their merchandise returns. But shouldn't it also apply to real life and the job in general? My better judgement tells me that I should be safe, and cautious. So when there is shitty weather I need to worry about my safety and not risking my life. The company should care about my life too - if I die or got hurt then I wouldn't be able to come to work at all. They act like we, as salespeople, are simply replaceable or dispensable. But when a situation arises in which they could easily replace us with a different employee (or they could've just closed the store for the day), it becomes a huge issue and the manager blows up on you. So for me, using my better judgement means that I should just wait for the snow plows and not risk my life to get to work just so that my manager and the customers are happy for a few hours. When you weigh the pros and cons and actually think of it all as a balance or scale, you realize that it's just not worth it. My life is important, even if the managers or the company don't see it that way. If anyone should feel guilty, it shouldn't be me. It should be the people that have been desensitized into thinking of their employees as nothing more than disposable income.

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