So I arrive at work yesterday about fifteen minutes before six(1) and a couple supervisors drift by my desk, one after another, thanking me for coming in when the weather was so terrible and the roads so snowy, and I had to stifle a laugh because this “determination”, this “loyalty to the company” or whatever was a complete smoke-screen and not at all the reason why I showed up. No, I showed up because I essentially had to. I showed up because when I called the company’s inclement weather hotline an hour before go-time, the smug managerial voice on the other end said business would continue and that all _______-area employees were to report to work as normal. As normal—I fucking loved that part of the message. As the air whitened and swirled with flurries and the roads became a Slip ‘n Slide, I was, in my itty-bitty Honda-Civic-that-could, to report to work as normal. This is all in spite of the fact the rest of the city was shutting down, letting folks go home early to avoid the brunt of the storm. Five years ago, when I had the good fortune to work for a company that actually cared about the well-being of its employees, I would have been told to stay home and off the roads. “It’s not worth it,” they would have told me. But as I am a mere hands and voice, not a real person, because the company must sell as much Fun(2) as possible, I grudgingly reported for duty so as to avoid discipline and the accrual of more attendance points(3). It’s unbelievable to me, still—the poor judgement exhibited by my employer. I understand their motives, of course—such a bloated, money-making machine has needs—but what a message it would have sent had the company, for one measly fucking day, shut down operations so its employees would not have felt cornered, like they had to flirt disaster in order to avoid disciplinary action. What a message that would have sent.
So like a little drone, some stupid machine, I ventured into the swirling white-out and arrived, safely, at my desk, fifteen minutes before I was contractually obligated to be there. And I decided then, amid the chattering noise of the call center, that if my company was going to be typical of all the other bloodless companies, I was at least going to try and compensate for this heartlessness by flouting the rules and making them pay. And I did make them pay—a small gesture, to be sure, and all I could do without jeopardizing my future employment—for every customer I talked to that night, whether they had earned free shipping or not, I made the company pay the rate and I especially smiled, and inside trembled, when a customer said they needed express, that 7-10 business days simply would not do. It may have been bone-chillingly cold outside, but there within the fuzzy walls of my cubicle, there at my desktop computer, I built a fire, and waiving a nine dollar standard fee, a twenty dollar express 2-3 day fee, a thirty-five dollar overnight fee—for six hours these were the logs I tossed on the fire that kept me warm.
(1) In the evening.
(2) Part of the mission statement. And I quote: “Our vision: Make the world more fun! Our mission: Delight our customers with an irresistible assortment of fun products for every occasion with fantastic prices and outstanding customer service.”
(3) Which, in my case, would have resulted in termination. I’d had a week last December when I got sick. My voice was shot. Since I talk on the phone for a living, I was essentially worthless, unable to do the job. So I’d racked up several points during that time. Been toeing the line ever since.