After several years of being a stay-at-home mom, and one small foray into retail work, I managed to gain a job for a transportation company.
It was a small office, 5 office staff, 6 counting our dispatcher and usually a shift of 6 or so drivers on any given day. The owner of the company had ‘unofficially’ retired several years before after extended bouts of alcohol abuse and complications from diabetes, so his wife “Beast” took over the day to day operations…or that’s how it was explained to me initially.
Their son worked as a dispatcher and within a week of starting, I began receiving numerous complaints of callous treatment by our evening dispatcher (We worked in airport transportation, scheduled to take people back and forth). “Beast” would send out vouchers for free service, which almost always worked in her favor because if the customer in question had been left waiting an hour for pickup the night before(And being told, either wait or get another ride, we’ll charge you for theft of services since our driver is already on his way), they’d never use our service again usually, and we still charged them for the first disastrous trip. Drivers, some who were relatives, were rude if they weren’t tipped what they thought appropriate, couldn’t read a map, were NEVER on time…And never disciplined.
“Beast” assumed that the reason business was down wasn’t because of the 09/11/01 attacks, but because we didn’t do enough work in the office. We were hired to answer the phones that with rare exceptions, sometimes didn’t ring for an hour or more. During that time we were charged with destroying financial records, going back 7 years or older, because they were no longer necessary to be kept. This meant staple pulling and shredding, which we often turned on the front office radio to listen to to keep us company…She decided that if we had time to listen to the radio, we didn’t have enough to do, and would constantly come out there and rail at us for being lazy, for not caring about the business and for wasting her time. This was directed at the office staff, never the dispatchers who didn’t manage their shifts, or the drivers who didn’t do their job. We were hourly paid until she tripped me into being salary without my permission or negotiation, then began wanting to demand I work most weekends because we had lost a part-time worker. Big surprise!
Because I was more computer-savvy, I often designed hand outs, coupons, mailers, and trade-show items during down time. Unfortunately, our very antiquated system couldn’t handle anything better than MS Paint, so I took my work home to finish, e-mailed it to her for approval, and she finally nitpicked it to her satisfaction, and sent it on to be printed as directed.
We had heard that the company was teetering financially, and certainly “Beast” complained of it enough if the mechanic for our fleet mentioned we needed tires, or parts. And the accountant made no bones about it that out of the 2 valid companies, and at least 1 phantom company she claimed to own with her husband, that they were switching money account to account to cover bare minimum expenses and claim lines of credit, but that kind of scuttlebutt in the airline industry wasn’t very surprising at the time.
Until December of 07, I had received my first paycheck of the month and put it in the bank, waited 5 days like I always did, then paid the bills and rent. When my bank called me three days later to tell me I was over $1000 in debt, at first I thought it was identity fraud, but it was because my paycheck had bounced as having insufficient funds. All of my bills had overdrawn my account, coupled with the overdraft fees, though thankfully my bank was good enough to cover the charges instead of bouncing them. I got into work the next day and panicky but calmly didn’t say anything to the other employee’s, after all maybe my check had been the last to clear…I went to “Beasts” office and explained it to her…Turns out she knew, because 80% of the entire staff had had the same thing happen!
She asked if I could wait till the next payday to which I spluttering told her no… not only did I owe the bank the initial money, but I had over $600 in overdraft fees! (After the first few charges they increase the amount of the overdraft fee). She didn’t apologize, didn’t even bat an eye. My bank called me again to discuss these overdrafts and told me that my boss had called them and tried to get them to not charge me the overdrafts…What a nice thing for her to do!….Wrong, she did it because she was legally responsible for those charges because it was a payroll check that had bounced due to HER account being insufficient. When I got off the phone with my bank, I managed to remain calm, and explained to her that their business was affected by covering my charges that had only overdrawn because of our pay checks bouncing, so they were not required to ‘be nice’ and not charge me the overdraft fees, and that she was responsible for paying for them because I took the job on the good faith that my paychecks were valid. I also pointed out that if she had talked to her employee’s before this some might have agreed to hold back their check a few days or work out other options with her rather than all of us having to panic.
A week later(midweek) I learned my mom had turned suddenly critically ill and was placed in the hospital. Initially the concern was severe pneumonia, but my dad called me later that day to tell me it was ‘dire’ and the doctor said we should come spend what time we could-now. I left for the hospital early that day but after talking to the doctor during evening rounds, and knowing that even though I was salary that my missing hours would be cut from my next paycheck as I had ‘used’ all my personal time. (I rarely took off but she gave no quarter to making the time up by switching shifts with someone else or anything.) I chose to go into work the next day. I made it through that day but by that night things had turned for the worse and we had to make some family decisions. The one day I went back to work, all I heard about was how shorthanded we’d been the day before. Friday I didn’t go in but called in and was told that Beast had my overdraft fee money for me. On that Saturday we said good bye to mom and I wanted to go to a friend’s house and mourn a while, my husband reminded me that we didn’t have any money for gas and so we went to the office and picked that up, it was all in cash so she didn’t have to account for it later…Mom didn’t actually pass away till late that night, per her wishes, just her and dad in the room. I called work the next morning and told Beast, said I wanted to help dad plan the funeral. “Well, you can have Monday off, should be enough time,” was the response.
I took Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off, confirming it as bereavement with the accountant.
I watched her falsify insurance cards and other records, and had heard of the many underhanded ways they’d skirted the law but when my yearly review came up the next month, she said “You’ve been very negative lately, is there any particular reason why?”
When the offer came a few months later to take on a new job I didn’t bother with a two week notice. 0624-09