A simple life is a happy life

    I quit my job as a tech at Staples last Tuesday.  I am 54 years old, and this was the first time in my life where I ever said, "Fuck this," and just walked out of a job out without giving a notice or without a plan to move forward.  

    It was my 2nd stint there.  I worked there for 13 years and left a few years ago.  I went back this past August.  It wasn't the same as it was back in the day.  

    The Toxicity of Staples as a Workplace

    Leaving a job like Staples is like being pulled out of a tar pit.  I'm sure that is true of pretty much any retail job, but Staples is in a class all by itself.   I get that their focus on customer service is important to them.  In fact, working with the customers was the best part of the job.  Still, the best way to achieve good customer service is with a happy and knowledgeable work force.  That simply wasn't the case at the store I worked at.

    While I have nothing bad to say about any of the people I worked with, it was simply a toxic and extremely chaotic work environment.  A lot of good people are victims of circumstance.  You can make the best of it but it's the kind of place that will eat your soul if you let it.  

    Here are my major criticisms of that job.

    • Shit rolls downhill.  It starts at the top and works its way through upper management, and onto the district managers, down to the store managers who are under pressure to get things done, and lands right on you.
    • If you are given a task to do, you will be pulled off that task every 5 minutes.  You are not allowed to focus on anything.
    • You are not paid to think.
    • Associates come and go, so Staples puts very little value on them.  
    • The pay is low compared to similar jobs in retail, making it hard for them to recruit and keep help.  
    • You have to work when they need you, so you don't know when you're working from week to week until the schedule is posted.  
    • If you requested a day off, it would likely be forgotten.  
    • There was a lot of micromanaging.  
    • We all had to carry around walkie talkies with headsets so we could always be in communication with everybody else in the store.  
      • So, whenever somebody needed something, everybody else knew about it.  It was always something.  Bla bla bla bla bla!  Oh my God!
      • I even knew when some people went to the bathroom because they would need somebody to cover the register or keep an eye on the copy center while they were gone.  
    • They were extremely short handed.  
      • This put the managers into panic mode.  Because even with a skeleton crew, shit needed to be done.
      • Everybody who worked there had to jump and run around like chickens with their heads cut off, to make up for the lack of staff.  
      • Techs were getting stuck on the cash register, which I personally hated because you were just stuck there and people are much more likely to have a hair across their ass when paying for stuff, than when you are helping them out on the floor.  
    • Somebody was always pissed off about something.
      • Me: "I'm sorry dude, but we don't stock that item."
      • Customer: "But I need it today!  What the fuck! Ahhhh!!!" 
    The worst thing about working at Staples though was the music that they played over the crappy speakers on the ceiling.  10 years ago, they played a kind of tolerable "something for everyone" mix.  Now they are playing this crappy modern dance, pop and rap mix.  It's horrible.  It can't possibly appeal to their older customer base.

    Even worse was the Christmas music, which even I enjoy in moderation, but you'd be stuck listening to it through a whole shift from Black Friday til December 26th.   It wasn't uncommon to hear 10 different voices singing 10 different versions of the same song in four hours, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire!!!!"  Is probably the most overdone Christmas song ever.   Ugh!

    My recent work history (so you'll understand where I'm going)
    • I worked part time as a Tech at Staples for 13 years, between 2004 and 2017.  
    • From there, I took a job doing industrial cleaning.  It paid significantly more per hour, and I worked alone.  I did this until last May 2021.  
    • May 23, 2021, I fell off my electric bicycle and broke my wrist.  It was pretty bad.  I simply couldn't do the job with one hand.  So, I was out of work until the end of July when I was able to do two of the easier accounts that I did previously.  It just wasn't enough.
    • Then in August, I went into Staples to make a back-to-school purchase for my daughter, and the manager who knew me, offered me my old job back.  They were desperate for help, so I could do light duty and sales while I finished healing.  I took it.  
    • I quit last Tuesday.  It was just before the New Year.  Later that afternoon, I called my old boss, and he gave me my cleaning job back.  I started at the beginning of this week.
    • I got 6 days off in a row.  It was a nice break.  

    A Much Simpler Life

    So I'm now going back to doing industrial cleaning.  I'll work about 12 hours a week for this guy, which will give me enough time to do all of the other wheeling and dealing I do to keep my head above water.  I have been a sort of armchair entrepreneur.  A regular job gets me up off my ass and away from my computer.      

    While cleaning is less glamorous, it pays well, and it adds peace, routine and simplicity to my work life.  I go in, I do what I have to do and then I leave.  No more of this watching the clock bullshit, no more of this being scheduled until 5 or 6 PM.  No more managers ordering me around.

    I do have responsibilities.  I know what I'm responsible for and I'm self-motivated enough to take care of it.  Doing what I'm supposed to do keeps the boss happy.  It keeps my paycheck coming without anybody on my back.  I may run into him at the office occasionally when I'm picking up supplies, but other than that I hardly ever see or hear from him.  

    I always know when I have to work.  I work the same shifts every week so I can plan the rest of my life around it.  

    But best of all, I traded that horrible walkie talkie and headset for my own ear buds and listen to whatever I want over my smart phone.  I have Amazon music, so I can listen to whatever music I want.  I may occasionally listen to an audiobook or a podcast.  My favorite local radio station has an app that I can listen to.  

    I also discovered Relevant Radio, which is a Catholic radio station which also has an app.  There are a couple shows on there that I really enjoy, and it has helped me get closer to God.  This was the single thing I missed the most when I went back to Staples.

    Thus, work time becomes quiet time.  I can make it more enjoyable instead of something I dread.  

    The Bright Spot

    And there you have that Bright Spot that I was talking about at the beginning of the year.  A less glamorous, but much simpler life.  There is significantly less stress doing what I'm doing now.  A lot more freedom.  I know what I am supposed to do.  I do it.  Then I go home.  


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