A Working Class Rant

I haven’t written in almost two weeks. The prompts have been way too much of a stretch to work into a post and I’ve been working so much. When I try to read blogs in the morning and maybe write, my brain just doesn’t want to work that hard.

This summer has been the worst yet. One person is expected to do the work of two and serve customers while trying to keep the shelves stocked. It’s impossible and so stressful.

We have tried to tell our new owner that we don’t have enough staff to do what we need to do but are told we don’t make enough profits to warrant more hours in the bakery. Instead, we are made to feel that we are just not working hard enough.

There’s a cake side and a bread side. In the past would have at least one on each side with and extra between, usually a student. Before and during long weekends we would have two on each side. Now we are on one at a time with a student that doesn’t know what to do and somehow work both sides and serve customers. It’s impossible.

On Tuesday I got way too stressed out. I was supposed to stock up cakes for the long weekend but instead we are going in depleted. The owner came in as I was making a special order that required a copy of a photo on edible rice paper. It was taking so long because of the constant interruptions to slice bread, write on cakes, give kids cookies, show where something is, take cake orders and more. The owner came in and said, “When are you going to get more baguettes out?”

I said, “I don’t know. We don’t have enough people to do what’s expected of us”

He walked out obviously angry. Luckily I’m 64 and don’t give a shit. I know how hard I work and what a good employee I am. I baked up more baguettes and put them out.

When I was leaving he came into the staff room. I told him it was as busy as the weekend.

He said, “I don’t see how that’s possible. We haven’t even hit $30,000. It’s as slow as the winter.”

So I drove home mad, spent the evening mad and woke up mad and aching all over. I’ve told myself over and over to not let it get to me, not get stressed out, just do my job to best of my ability and walk away when my shift is over. Try not to take it home with me. But I’m wasted, knackered, spent and depressed.

And this is the main reason I’m writing this post; the minimum wage is going up to $14 an hour Jan. 1 and next year, $15 an hour. Yes, soon as I said I’m quitting Dec. 31 we got news the minimum wage was being spiked up by $2.60 on Jan. 1.

This will put a big dent in the profits. Some businesses might go under.  What I’m experiencing this summer will be what employers will be doing everywhere: trying to push their employees to work harder and cut corners wherever they can.

I’m so glad I’m getting out of it. To work this hard and then made to feel you are not good enough (and a liar) is so demeaning. Will young people work like this? Not from what I see. Our students don’t even try and they call in ‘sick’ regularly. All of us are saying, “I don’t get paid enough to work this hard.”

Being in a job like this and serving vacationing people is so damned depressing; especially when they treat you as a just thing to serve them.  We are struggling to keep up but there is no reward for us. In that respect, I very much agree with the spike in minimum wage.  I’ve seen the middle class disappear, split into rich and poor. The new ‘middle class’ demands luxury and excess.

But I also realize the strain this is going to have on business owners.  I wonder about the future of a bakery like ours. I’m just so thankful that I’m retiring: I couldn’t take much more of this. I pity those who have to do it to survive.

If you work part-time you only get paid time-and-a-half for holidays if you work the day before or the day after. I’m working the day before and the day after but have the holiday off.  Whoever is on the holiday will have the day off before and/or after; that way no one gets holiday pay. Yup.

And I have an answer to The Owner who says the profits show that we are not busy.  In the summer we have a lot of people coming in that want service. They are coming in for just a quick meal: sandwiches and dessert and they want their bread sliced and some pastries boxed up.  Or they are going to birthday party and want a cake. They’ve never been here before and can’t find what they want. They don’t have carts, they leave with just a few things and spend less than $50.  There is no money in customer service.

But then……..shouldn’t he know this?

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3 thoughts on “A Working Class Rant

  1. It seems like the owner is focused on things that keep him from recognizing the day to day workings of the business. Your experience is valuable. If he was smart, he’d promote you. I hope you share your perspective.

    • I had a pleasant surprise when I went in; they hired a new girl who has bakery experience in the same chain and its all standard. There were four people there getting product out for the weekend. They gave her more hours and cut me back to only two shifts next week. It may be a ‘punishment’ but I’m delighted whatever the reason!

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