Been thinking a lot about my last ‘proper’ job, ten years ago at The Pier, the now-defunct retailer of imported furniture and home wares. I was recruited by the manager, Ann, from my previous job at Gamestation.
Ann was extremely gregarious and personable and I figured, what the hell. It was outside my comfort zone, but I had to get away from GS because I was on a zero hours contract and most of the other staff were a loose clique of horribly racist wanksocks. So good riddance.
January 2008, this was. New year, new job and all that. Things started well, the shop staff were friendly and good at their jobs and fun to be around and made me feel welcome. By end of February Ann told me she’d like me for the senior sales assistant position.
I leapt at the chance as MrsH had recently become disabled and unable to work and we had rent to pay, y’know? The new position had more responsibility (I’d be a key holder) but also more money. Ann, all sweetness and light, said she would handle sending the paperwork to HR soon.
A month went by and no salary increase. I figured HR must be a bit behind, because Ann assured me she had sent the paperwork and not to worry as everything would be sorted ‘soon’.
Three or four more months pass and, SURPRISE, no promotion. You must understand, I had been doing the senior sales job with the extra responsibilities and work for four months now, all on the repeated assurance from Ann that the confirmation of promotion was imminent.
Ann seemed sincere enough for me to believe her up til now and had a disarming, easy going manner that put you at ease, even as things started to seem fishy. So I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Again.
By this time, Ann’s mask was starting to slip. She began taking longer and longer lunch breaks and spending more and more time chatting on the shop floor with her mates. One time she took an epic 3 hour boozy lunch, was back 20 mins then left again to get her hair done…
…and didn’t return for *another* 2 hours. It was during one of these absences that I finally got fed up waiting and figured I’d call HR myself to chivvy them along with my promotion paperwork a bit. HR had no idea what I was talking about. An awful sinking feeling.
She had never submitted the paperwork. Five months I’d been strung along, doing tons of extra work and all for the promise of a promotion that apparently did not exist. When I confronted Ann she was LIVID. I got called into her office. HOW VERY DARE I go over her head.
From that moment, the nice Ann disappeared and she dedicated every moment of work time to making my life miserable. I would be called to the office for the most minor misdemeanour and given a proper bollocking. In front of the other staff she was still chummy AF but she HATED me
I never did anything bad enough for her to fire me, but she tried REALLY HARD to regardless, which was taking a real toll on my mental health. I spent so much time sobbing in the loo I was called out for taking excessive toilet breaks. It was wretched.
But I couldn’t quit as I was the sole earner. So on it went. Things came to a head after I had, being of an artistic bent, drawn eyes over a hole in the stock room wall. The door was perpendicular to a wall, see, and it had been opened roughly for years until the handle had…
…smashed a hole in the plaster. The walls of the stock room were covered in graffiti by other staff over the years anyway, so I thought nobody would care. WRONG. Ann went fucking APESHIT.
She called me to the office and gave me a solemn speech about my WANTON DESTRUCTION of the stock room and how it was symptomatic of my TERRIBLE ATTITUDE towards company property. I received a formal written warning and the horrible cow even got one of the area managers involved.
You could tell she was trying to blow this into a situation serious enough to fire somebody over but, doubtless to her extreme annoyance, HO didn’t see it that way and we’re ok with merely a warning.
I remember being in the staff room crying in frustration after one of these disciplinary hearings when Ann walked in and asked what was wrong (!). ‘What the hell do you think is wrong?’ I said, not quite believing what I was hearing.
‘Oh right.’ She said. And after a pause ‘Do you want a hug?’
Something inside me made a tiny snapping sound.
‘NO I DONT WANT A GODDAMN HUG’ I yelled. She suggested I go out for some fresh air. Outside i tearfully call my wife and beg her to let me quit this hell-job.
She talked me down from just fucking off there and then because I wouldn’t have been able to claim any unemployment benefits if I had quit. I planned to redouble my efforts to find another job. However 2008 was not done with me yet. Not by a long shot.
As you may recall, 2008 was the year of a little thing we called the GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS and one of the results of this was that the Icelandic owners of The Pier lost a shit-ton of money and/or got into trouble for doing Bad Finance Things and so in came the administrators.
This was early November 2008. So there we all are, heading into the Christmas season, none of us knowing if we’d still have a job by new year, so naturally Ann starts calling in sick. A lot.
The days she did bother coming in were one long lunch break so we still hardly saw her. Eventually she just decided to not come back to work at all and left the rest of us to muddle on as best we could. There were a couple more weeks of uncertainty but by December it was all over
No buyers had been found and come January the company would cease trading. We were all pretty gutted, but not surprised, and agreed to make the best of it until the new year.
The rest of December was an absolute nightmare of dickheaded customers saying things like ‘You’re closing? But where will I buy my cushions now?’ and ‘what do you mean my gift cards are no longer valid? I DEMAND TO SPEAK WITH YOUR MANAGER’
The one positive thing in all this is that, having long since run out of fucks to give, and with unemployment looming, I was able to be as rude as I liked to the really annoying customers. Fifteen years in retail had lead up to this moment. It was GLORIOUS.
(Also me and some other staff made a killing pocketing the cash during the final days as we sold off the fixtures and fittings)*

*or did we? Stealing is wrong.
I guess the point of this thread is that nobody ever bullies someone without knowing EXACTLY what they’re doing. They’re doing it to get something they want from you, or they’re doing it because they see you as beneath them, or both, and anyone who claims otherwise is a cunt.
In summary, fuck Priti Patel and every single Tory drone defending her right into the fucking sea.
ADDENDUM. I found some photos from this period, including one of the wall doodle that I copped such shit for. Here it is. In retrospect I can’t believe I waited so long to do it.
An FAQ I put up behind the tills during the closing down period because we were so pissed off. All genuine questions we were asked by customers.
I also took the liberty of filling in the year planner in the managers office in advance.
Thank you all for coming on this journey. Turns out ten years on this is still a trigger issue for me WHO WOULDA THUNK IT
I thought about not using Ann’s real name for a brief period but then I thought ‘Fuck Ann’ so yes that is absolutely her real name. I don’t know what she’s doing these days and I don’t much care beyond hoping whatever she’s doing she really hates it.
This isn’t even the only time I got bullied by a shitty manager, it’s just the most recent. I’ll never work retail again.

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