Hey, y’all. Big fan here. Posted some stories in r/talesfromretail, but 1st time here. I’ll try to keep it short.
Worked in a furniture plant, building & supervising, making not much more than minimum wage, with very few benefits, between 15- 13 yrs ago. The last year I was there, there was some kinda hostile takeover involving the various owners that I never fully understood, & wouldn’t care to. Suddenly, there was a new Boss…
That very busy fall, Boss brings in about a dozen Latino Hispanohablantes, (dunno their statuses, don’t care) tells us they’re temps to help us through the rush. Not much of a problem, just a bit of extra work getting them up to speed along side us, y’know? I spoke/ understood enough Spanish to make small talk, dirty jokes, & make myself look foolish. Not all of them spoke English, but enough did to help me get points across. I pretty much ran the cabinet room then. I worked with a dude I’ll call Bob. (Not his name. He was Mexican. Just not trying to sound like a racist here by assigning him a random Latino name.) Anyway, I spent several weeks working with Bob & others, showing them the ropes, teaching, training, etc… Nothing I hadn’t done before, just on a larger scale. But mostly, I worked with Bob, supposedly so Boss could open a 2nd shift, to keep up with the volume.
6 weeks later, I found out differently. The hard way. Boss lays off all the old crew, permanently, & keeps on the so-called temps at a significantly lower rate. Like, 2/3 what I & my crew were making. We’d just spent a month & a half training our replacements. (Yes, I know know it’s probably illegal. No, I didn’t know it then.) My last day, Bob came to me, tears steaming down his face. He’d just realized what happened. He’s practically sobbing, saying he’s taking money out of my pocket, food off my table, & he can’t live wth it. Mind you, I’d gotten to know him a bit by then. I really liked this guy. This man was a legal resident, trying to become a citizen the right way, so I won’t hear a word now from anyone about people taking jobs, etc. Let’s keep the politics outta this, please. This is just the way it happened. If I’m crossing the line here, I apologize. Bottom line is, he was distraught. I told him it was nothing personal. He didn’t know. He was just trying to feed his family too. We embraced, like men who’d fought a war together, & that was that.
(Long story short, I spent the next 18 months or so unemployed, stay-at- home dad, rearing infant son & toddler daughter, & feverishly writing a book I’d been trying to finish for years. Meanwhile, my wife (EX now) worked full-time, & we barely kept our heads above water. Wouldn’t have, if not for family.)
Fast-forward, about 9-10 months after the layoff, & here comes the IDWHL moment. I’m in the backyard, mowing, & I get this sudden, excruciating pain in my lower back. Hobbled inside, fighting back tears & vomit, & laid down on the couch, thinking maybe I’d just twisted something. But it’s absolute AGONY. My mother-in-law was there at the time. She’s convinced I’m having a heart attack. (I was 30ish at the time, but severely overweight, so… yeah, maybe?) She calls for an ambulance, while I’m writhing on the couch, trying to protest that I’m OK.
In the middle of this fiasco, I get a call from my former employer. It’s the secretary. She says Boss wants to know if I’d be interested in an installation job, 2 states away, involving things that furniture company NEVER did. & how soon could I get there…?
I laughed, hard, causing me no amount of further agony.
ME: Yeah, I’ll get right on that…
SECRETARY: Really? Oh, that’s great, we haven’t-
ME: Sure, just tell him I’ll do it for $25 per hour, plus full benefits, with a written contract for no less than the next 3 years.
SECRETARY: Uummm… I didn’t think he’s gonna go for that.
ME: No shit, b÷t<#! You just tell that double-crossing POS that THAT is the current price of my dignity!
(I don’t normally talk to anyone this way, let alone women, but she was in on it from the start.)
PS~ The pain turned out to be a kidney stone.
PPS~ Ran into Boss a couple years later, with his slatch of a GF, at the local home improvement store, & he actually had the nerve to try to shake my hand. Luckily, for him, the friends with me were able to hold me back. People like that are not worth the jail time.