Yesterday left me thinking a lot about the notion of friendship and emotional support. As I continue to navigate the death of my father, the gestures I see from those around me touch my broken heart in ways I never imagined possible.
And recent events, from how Stitch Fix handled the recent shift change to how they handled my father’s death, shows me that successful businesses— even American ones with an international presence and millions of clients— don’t have to be jerks.
The dog and I were sitting on the sunporch yesterday waiting for one of my crazy cat lady friends to stop by. She wanted copies of my novels to give to her sisters for Christmas (and I need more fans) and she once cared for Mars and Minerva while they were on their pet store tour.
While Bean and I were waiting, an older man pulled up in front of my house and starting rooting around in the hatch/cargo area of his SUV. And he gets out a big bouquet of flowers.
Did someone send me flowers? Who do I know who is fancy enough to send flowers?
They came in a big glass vase with white roses and baby’s breath, and these lovely periwinkle filler flowers that I know I should know the name of because I did take high school horticulture.
I struggle to unfold the card. And I discover it’s from Stitch Fix. So I know I have a warehouse job. I know I fold clothes with everybody else. I am considered an unskilled worker, over educated for my position.
But I feel like Stitch Fix is the first company I’ve worked for to treat everyone of us like we are people, and not just interchangeable bodies in a process.
My warehouse job has paid the same amount of money as my last professional job— and removed so much stress and feelings of inadequacy from my life.
Professional positions or even common retail positions have controlled my life— constantly making it clear that “they” feel it is my privilege to work for them.
When my cat Opie had cancer I went into the computer system and requested to use some of my accrued paid time off so I could be at home after he got his leg amputated. I was working for Target at the time, about 36 hours a week so of course I didn’t qualify for medical benefits or anything because I was “part-time.” I had worked for Target for almost a decade.
They didn’t know it, but I had already accepted a professional position at a local non profit, but because of Opie’s surgery and other home circumstances, I had asked to start on the first day of the next month.
Now, after Christmas a few months prior, a guest had called the store and accused me of a racist act the day prior. This person of color had gathered all of the remaining food from the cafe, set it aside for 20 minutes, and not paid for it. She spent the entire time on the phone. I finally asked her if she was ready to pay for it and she left the store angry. Her husband called the next day. She never went to a supervisor, never said anything to me, just went home.
And the investigation determined that because I talk with my hands, I was angry and threatening with her. Despite witnesses saying the contrary. Despite almost ten years with the company.
So I got written up. This means if I did anything else wrong in the next year they could fire me. This meant I couldn’t apply for any promotions (despite the fact that my supervisor had left and I had been running my department during fourth quarter).
This is why I finally had enough and looked for a new job. And my marriage was in trouble and I needed to make more than $12 an hour.
I mention this because one of my Target friends just got fired for a similar incident where a customer was clearly out of line, and Target took their side. Even though this employee had been with the company since 2009. Just boom— fired.
And do you know what happened when I requested off? My manager denied it. I was too important to take time off.
But not important enough to pay a living wage.
But not important enough to defend when a customer was out of line.
But not important enough to provide medical insurance.
I went back to the computer and gave my two weeks notice. Except the store manager begged me not to go. And we agreed I could have the time off and I would work Saturdays to help train my new supervisor. Who turned out to have no interest in our department, ignored our breaks and wouldn’t listen to anyone but herself.
And when I called her out on it, because my peers wouldn’t do it because they needed the job, the same manager that denied my time off tried to fire me.
It didn’t work, but I never worked another day at Target, so they “got their way.”
And don’t even get me started on my experiences in “professional” employment.
If you have a job where you like going to work and your boss is a human, treasure it. It’s getting rarer.
So, yes, even though Stitch Fix is metrics driven and can be physically taxing, I have felt more like a person in their employment than I have in years.
More to come on the definition of “friend” later. So many generous acts have happened since my father’s death.