Bipolar Rage: Am I the Only One?
Posted by wendyburnett on March 15, 2010
I had one of those horrible days today (actually, it seems to be a bit of a pattern lately.) I’m normally pretty calm at home, but shortly after I walk into work I’m furious, and I stay that way until well after I leave.
I work in the deli at a grocery store, which probably isn’t the best kind of job for someone who’s bipolar. It’s extremely stressful when it’s busy, but I don’t have much choice if I want to eat. The real issue for me is that we’re expected to wait on customers; price, rotate, and stock product; mark down anything that’s approaching expiration; pull, scan, and throw away expired product; make deli trays for special orders; cut and package block cheeses; slice meat for the department that makes the custom subs; help customers find things, answer the phone, and keep everything clean. (Oh, you have to drop everything and update the temperature log every 4 hours, too. )
We NEED two people working during the busy times, one to slice and wait on customers, and one to work on everything else; but they never schedule more than one person. It is absolutely impossible for one person to keep up with everything they expect you to do. Most nights, I walk in and have customers waiting before I even have time to put on my hairnet and apron and wash my hands. Then I spend the entire time I’m there waiting on customers and trying to get things re-wrapped and back in the cooler before they sit out too long. At one point tonight, I had 20 pieces of meat and cheese sitting on the counter. The customers were coming so close together that I MIGHT have time to wrap and put away one piece before the next person came up and made me unwrap two more. (But don’t even THINK about trying to stop in between customers and wrap everything before you wait on the next person. Not unless you want the customer to file a complaint with your manager or call the 800 number.)
Believe it or not, that’s not what upsets me. I ENJOY waiting on the customers; chatting, helping them find things, and making suggestions if they aren’t really sure what they want. The problem is, the whole time I’m waiting on customers, I’m freaking out about all the other things I’m supposed to be doing. It doesn’t matter if I spend five solid hours standing in front of the slicer waiting on customers; if I leave and haven’t done all the other stuff, I get bitched at for not getting it done; and if I stay until I finish it all, I get bitched at for going over my scheduled time.
It gets even worse when the folks who make the subs run low on meat to make them with. I’ll have a line of customers demanding service, and someone from over there raising hell because I’m not slicing THEIR meat. No matter what I do, it’s not good enough. Every time I get a break in the stream of customers, I slice for the subs, but if I don’t bring a full container they complain. What am I supposed to do? I can’t make MY customers wait while I slice full containers for them, but I also can’t make their customers wait. I thought that slicing a little when I got a chance, so that they’d have enough to keep working while I tried to get a long enough break to do a full pan, was a good compromise. Obviously, I was wrong.
THERE’S ONLY ONE OF ME! I can only do one thing at a time, can only be in one place at the time, and no matter which I choose, someone is pissed off and I get bitched at.
It doesn’t matter how hard I try, it doesn’t matter what I do, I can’t get it all done. By the time I’ve been there 30 minutes, I’m SCREAMING inside my head. Screaming over and over, “LEAVE ME ALONE! LEAVE ME ALONE! I have things I have to get done, and I can’t DO them if it doesn’t stop long enough to walk away from the slicer.”
Inside, I’m screaming, I’m enraged by the constant stream of customers. Outside, to the customers, I’m calm. I’m friendly and helpful; chatting with them about husbands and children, local events, or food; pretending to be in a good mood. It’s a strange dichotomy, but I’ve had YEARS of training in suppressing my anger and hiding my pain. I can appear sweet and pleasant even when I’m raging inside, when I want to scream and cry and throw things, when all I want is to die because every movement is agony and I can’t do anything but push through it.
It was bad enough before; when I closed at 8 pm and had an hour to pull, weigh, scan and toss the out of date meat from the deli case; break down the slicers; sweep; restock the case; scrub the slicers; wipe down all the tables, the scales, and the top of the deli case; clean the glass; take the trash out; wash the dishes; and scrub the floor. (Oh, and lets not forget finishing the slicing for the four containers of meat I’m supposed to have ready for the subs the next morning.)
When I saw the new schedule, with an extra half-hour tacked on to the end of the day, I thought they’d finally decided to give me the time I needed to actually get all of that finished. Fat chance. Now, instead of closing at 8 and having an hour to do the cleaning; I have to stay open until 9, and only get a half-hour to clean. According to them, I’m supposed to start cleaning at 7:30 so that most of it is done by 9.
Yeah, RIGHT. I spent the time between 7:30 and 9:00 slicing meat for this morning and waiting on customers. I put the last piece of meat back in the case at 8:55, and the only thing I’d had time to do of the closing tasks was restocking the deli case. When I left at 9:30 I was short two containers of meat, had only pulled and weighed a few pieces of meat and cheese (and forget scanning, no time,) the glass hadn’t been cleaned, and there was a several inch deep puddle of water spreading out from the stopped up drain because I was already 5 minutes late clocking out. I guess there was a mess on the floor when they opened this morning, because when it flooded a bunch of stuff washed out of the drain.
I WANT to get it all done, I really do, but I decided last night that if they’re going to set me up to fail, fuck it. I’ll do what I have time to get done, and THEY can figure out what the hell to do about the rest of it.
I left there 12 hours ago, and the muscles in my neck and shoulders feel like steel bands. Every time I stop to think about it I notice I’m grinding my teeth; and my head feels like it’s going to explode because of the tension headache. I need to be sleeping, but I can’t. I hurt too much, I’m too tense, and if I lay down I’ll just stress out about all the shit I can’t get done and get even more angry.
Someone PLEASE just kill me now, before it gets any worse.
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