“From A to I Fucking Quit” - An Open Letter to a Company which I Can’t Name

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I accepted a position at the bottom of a company I shouldn’t name because of the saying “not to talk bad about your former employers.” So, for the sake of the article, I will call it Smish-mazon.

I had to start from the bottom again at the critical age of 30. It’s a humbling and hard experience, but I am responsible for my own life, and I promised myself I would work through any challenge to get to where I want to be. But, I came to a hard conclusion years ago, and I was reeducated of it recently. The corporate world is a cold place and there ain’t no room for a man like me. I know what you’re already thinking, this asshole is a disgruntled employee. Yes, you’re partly right but what happens if there are legitimate reasons to be disgruntled? And you’re an asshole for thinking I’m an asshole, asshole.

Getting a job at Smish-mazon was difficult. The first two attempts got me past the first step. I received an email from each completion of the first step, both offering me employment but they never sent me to the second step. It turns out this happened to a hundred other people. I found this out when I went to their orientation for the second time, and somebody asked about receiving the emails but not moving forward in the hiring process. The Smish-mazon HR rep directly blamed us for misinterpreting the offer of employment email as an actual offer of employment.

My friend talked me into trying one more time despite my frustrations, which finally worked. I took the job happily as I was desperate for money. The first day and introduction weren’t bad; it was motivating to learn about the bonuses and the employee advancement opportunities Smish-mazon was offering. I took this as a great opportunity, and I was planning to work my ass off to move up fast so I wouldn’t be stuck at the bottom.

The training only took a day to learn a job which required me to pick an item from a tote brought to me by a gigantic Romba and place it in a bin which goes on a conveyer belt. Four years of college in addition to my unique work experiences and I am doing this soul-crushing job. I couldn’t complain because It’s still not as bad as those Chinese slaves who work for Apple. They have suicide nets around the building to stop people from jumping. Their Human Resources department must be useless too.

But my optimism and resolve quickly faded as the soul-crushing work wore at me. They’re strict as a totalitarian domain could be. I got in trouble for making four mistakes against the 4 thousand packages I had to sort that night. No big deal, I thought. I put on a 30-day restriction for putting in for transfers or other jobs. Fortunately, I was still within my first 90 days of being eligible to put in for transfers.

I, with a few other employees, was invited to a group chat with the warehouses General Manager and H.R. head. A few days before, I wrote a short memo with sources explaining why the employees who were working 12-hour shifts would benefit from listening to music. We weren’t allowed to bring in any electronic devices into the building. I covered the possible rejections with solutions such as letting employees who work at stations wear a single Bluetooth earbud so they can still have a degree of situational awareness while not offending any easily offended coworkers with their taste of music. I was shot down immediately but politely with the explanation of that there are studies which state that productivity goes down when listening to music. Although, my memo included references to scientific journals which said listening to music will help increase productivity.

After being told no on the music, I snuck in my iPod shuffle and Bluetooth earbud and listened to music, audiobooks, and podcasts during my shift. I did this because my mind craves stimulation and it rebels when it is doing something mind-numbing. Not surprisingly my productivity had increased. None of my managers said anything to me when they saw the earbud, but I was caught going through security with my iPod. It was the second time I received disciplinary action and another 30-day restriction. Which was fine because it ended before the 90th day, which would put me in good standing so I can start applying for positions which were more mentally engaging. I also thought to sneak my iPod into and out of work was worth the trouble because the job is depressing. You stand for 12 hours in one spot and quickly move items from a tote and then into a bin with every move you make is recorded for austerity. Listening to my iPod brought me a sense of relief from the position which I was first grateful for but was increasingly resenting.

My direct managers weren’t bad. I thought they were great people, but I believe Smish-mazon gave them the wrong training and tools for incentives. I found my managers looking overwhelmed about getting productivity numbers higher, and they would try to provide us with incentives such as “Smish-mazon” bucks, which are coupons you can trade in for cheap Smish-mazon products which you wouldn’t buy with your own money. A few times one of my managers tried to “motivate” us by demonstrating how high her productivity rate compared to the entire team. I found it demoralizing because she only did it for maybe less than an hour while we’re doing it for 12 hours straight. Not the best motivation but I didn’t blame her. I blamed the company’s leadership training because I’ve seen other managers do the same.

But, it was one interaction with the Operations Manager that made me quit. He is the head manager of the warehouse for the shift I work, and I only talked to him once before when he accused me of stealing a book. On my breaks, I would read a book I brought from home at my station because my legs were sore from work.  I noticed his arrogant stride as he walked towards me and rudely ask if I stole the book from Smish-mazon. I didn’t take it personally until three months later where he wrote me up without notifying me. The offense was that I was late for our start of the shift meetings even though it was documented that I clocked in on time. I didn’t find out until I was talking to HR about applying for different positions because I was at 90 days. I went to speak to my manager, and he thought the Ops. The manager talked to me and then he informed me that the reason why I was written up was “to send a message” to the other employees.

I went to HR to have it appealed and strongly voice my concerns over how Smish-mazon adds unneeded stress to its employees by enforcing petty policies. HR, like all companies HR departments, was useless. I could appeal it, but they wouldn’t help me to do it. I was left utterly baffled and told them that I was planning to apply for different jobs within the company and this write up not only made me look bad but it added another 30 days where I couldn’t apply for better and not soul-sucking jobs.  I found myself sadly explaining to them that I was a cop for three years and worked as a supervisor for Smish-isney and I have never seen such petty and strict treatment of people until I worked here. I felt degraded, and it was worse when I was met with both aloofness when one of the HR reps stated, “It’s ok, I’ve been almost fired many times, and I was promoted.”

“You’re useless,” I said to her as I frustratedly walked away as she continued to talk. HR, in general, is useless and their stupidity offends me. They solely exist not to help the employees but to protect the company at any costs. Oh, did I mention that HR is useless?

My direct manager talked to me and tried to console me as he finally read my resume and understood I was too qualified for the position and realized why I was upset on being held back another 30 days. Despite his kindness, I made a decision I was going to look for another job. 

It’s hard for anyone to start from the bottom again and work your way back up. I’m not above doing it because I have the mettle to grow from the situation and there is no shame in doing so. But, I value myself and my time, and I will not invest it in any company that uses negative reinforcement as the primary motivation to work harder.  

Smish-mazon could afford better incentives for individual efforts than the ridiculous coupons. If they learned anything about employees, its that they value at least two things: Time and Money. Instead of the coupons they should award extra paid leave hours or actual money for going beyond expectations. Also, let them listen to music. What I could gather, Smish-mazon is worried more about lawsuits and offending people than actual employee satisfaction. Listening to music is a simple but effective compromise which will increase productivity and workplace satisfaction. For fear of lawsuits, have employees sign waivers and add one slide into your workplace training on when and how you can listen to music.

The greatest thing Smish-mazon or any company could do is empathize with their employees because no matter what benefits or pay a company offers, there is nothing more valuable than an employee feel valued.

I felt like I was a replaceable cog in a gigantic industrial machine. But, I am a self-aware cog who has value and won’t stay because of the company’s prestige. It worked out for me in the end, though.

I wrote this not to bitch about Smish-mazon but to convey a hard truth. Our time on this planet is limited and could end at any moment. I am for doing honest and hard work, but I won’t sacrifice my valuable time in exchange for a job which will only stress me out over pettiness and make me feel like I am nothing more than a cog. I would rather work for less pay and for a smaller business so I can feel valued, given room to grow and help grow a company in return. I hope you appreciate yourself the same, asshole.