“Part-timers make less than full-timers.”
I had no idea of this fact. Why didn’t I know this?!?!
Back in July two new people had been hired and as I worked along side one of them we got to talking about all sorts of things. Among the many things I learned about this new-comer, one of them was how much she made at her old job of twenty years.
“They used to make up to 23-24 bucks an hour at Sam’s Club, but new management is pushing them all out. I had to take a $7 pay cut to work here.”
Without even realizing what she had just told me I empathized with her and said how much that must suck. It wasn’t until the next morning as I was slowly waking that my eyes suddenly popped wide open with the realization of what she had actually said! That’s when I did a little math and came to the conclusion that she made $2.50 to $3.50 more an hour than me!
“But that’s not fair!”
…I thought to myself.
Then I tried to rationalize it… Well, let’s see… she had bargaining chips, a way to haggle. She had twenty years of employment under her belt and maybe she can even drive the forklift? Or maybe it’s because they’re friends? All these thoughts were racing through my mind as I struggled to make sense of this CLEAR injustice!
And then, one day as we were working along side each other, it somehow came up again.
“I’m sure you make more than me”
…she said, looking across at me with certainty as we folded a giant cardboard box together.
I then explained to her how I came to the realization of what she had actually shared with me previously. When I gave her my estimated numbers she corrected me and told me exactly what she makes…$1.50 more an hour than me. That’s $2.50 more an hour to start than I first made when I started. She was very apologetic about having told me this. She insisted it was done innocently (yes, innocent…but still a rookie mistake). I told her not to feel bad, that I know she didn’t mean to spill the beans and not to worry about it.
“Is this going to be a problem for you?”
…and I said,
“Wouldn’t it be for you?!?!”
…OK, I didn’t really say that…but I should have…
…what I really said was…
“Well, it IS messing with my head.”
But I told her not to worry about it. She even said she wondered if she should maybe tell them what she had accidentally done, but I told her not to.
So, for the last two months I’ve been torturing myself with thoughts of injustice. “We do the same job yet they make more money than me?!? That’s so not fair!” Then two weeks ago, first thing in the morning, I LOST IT. Found out I had assembled some boxes wrong and had to re-do them. It wasn’t really a big deal but I made it into one; throwing a little temper tantrum as I re-did each box. My supervisor came over and I immediately lost my shit; started crying like the big ‘ol baby that I am. He was pretty awesome about it though….I must say. I now call him Mr. Zen. He explained to me, with the calmest voice I’ve ever heard, how he’s messed up stuff before that wasn’t salvageable and it’s OK.
“It’s NOT OK!”
I continued on about how stupid I am because I can’t even put a simple box together correctly and what the hell am I even doing here?!?! I’m 44 years old and I work in a factory and no wonder I’m one of the lowest payed people here (yup…I went there). He continued to calm me down with the coolest, zennest (shut up. It’s a word now) voice by insisting I’m not stupid and it was an easy mistake to make and it’s still fixable…no money lost. I apologized for my melt down and said it’s obviously more than this stupid mistake that has me so upset…He concurred.
So, as you can see, I wasn’t coping well with my new found knowledge of this wage gap. I had this speech rehearsed in my mind about how I was going to ask for more money without telling on my co-worker (no need to throw anyone under the bus). I was simply going to mention how I initially thought I’d only be working this job for 2 months since that was what I was originally hired for; a part-time, summer job. I figured three days a week would still give me time to work on my house the rest of the week (the downstairs tenants had just FINALLY moved out and, more than a year later, the place STILL needs A LOT of work). But then the part-time only lasted a week and I graciously gave up my entire summer to work full-time to help y’all out instead of getting much needed work on my house done and it never even occurred to me to negotiate my pay because I thought it was only a temporary job anyway but I ended up staying on and, ALSO, I HAD NO IDEA I’d be working major machinery and yada yada yada.
Yeah, that speech never happened. For two days in a row I could not work up the guts to speak to them. The other day I sat in my car after work for a good half hour trying to get up the nerve to go back inside to give this persuasive speech of mine…
BUT I JUST.
Then Rick ended up calling me as I sat in my car, now crying because, poor me.
“Never show your weakness.”
So I took my puffy, red face home to cry some more. What triggered the upset on this day was from being asked to work Friday because they were really busy. I agreed even though I desperately did not want to! They had already gotten me to give up my three day work week for four which would qualify me for health insurance (30 hours a week is required to qualify).
My heart sank that day.
Not only would I be losing $100 a week to this racket called Health Insurance, but now I’d be committed to four days a week. Up until that point I had been happy as a clam, quite content with the money I was making as long as no one officially offered me health insurance. I was even willing to work extra days when needed because it was still on my terms. But apparently that was too confusing and they wanted to lock me down for four (he originally tried for five). So I struggled a REALLY LONG TIME with that one. I only took the insurance for my husband but it was difficult losing $400 a month. It feels like I’m just flushing money down the toilet, but once it was officially offered I felt I had the responsibility to take it.
So, yesterday it all came to a head. I went into the office to pet Ivory the dog. I could feel the emotion welling up inside and Kathy soon asked if I was OK. I said no and ended up letting it all out (but not the stupid speech I had planned. That would have been, well… stupid) I just sort of said how I didn’t feel I had any incentive to work on Friday and that I had a strong hunch that the new people were making more money than me. She then tells me…
“Part-timers make less than full-timers.”
Oh man, how I wish I had known that!!! I feel so stupid now. All those weeks of unnecessary self-torture. I still don’t understand how we could be doing the exact same job, side by side, yet they make more than me. But after some reflection I suppose it’s fair since I don’t have to be there five days a week. But for me, four FEELS like five just the same! But I digress….
She also pointed out the sweet bonuses I get twice a year. She had a good point (and a friend at work had also pointed this fact out earlier, but at the time I still couldn’t see it. Guess I was blinded by the CLEAR injustice of it all). I have since done the math. Those bonuses ARE quite generous. It pretty much balances out. So yeah, did I mention how stupid I now feel?
Anyway, she told me to stay home on Friday and get some rest and let her know what I want to do come Monday. She said if this job has become too much for me mentally then it’s not worth it. My health is more important, which is also what Rick has said to me (he also said I got a taste of money and got greedy…I think there may be some truth to that!). All of this was followed up with a big ‘ol hug (she’s good for those). And I know they’re both right, it’s more important to get my own house in order than to live in misery and ruin my health. And, I have to say, while walking away from that conversation I physically felt a heaviness I can only describe as the release of actual stress leaving my body. That says a lot.
So, yeah…I need a home.
I’m tired of just existing in a space. It’s been a decade of this and I can’t handle living this way anymore.
This job has taken all my energy away so that when I am home I’m too tired and unmotivated to get anything done. My marriage has been an ongoing struggle and the downstairs of my house is far from the goal of livable.
I’m breaking down mentally AND physically. My body hurts from this job. The long hours of standing all day and other physical exertions required are wreaking havoc on my body. I have a lot of pain. My chiropractor agreed with my thought of returning to a three day work week…”doctor’s orders” he said. I just can’t handle more than that…it pulls me away from what needs to get done and it wears me down.
I was considering leaving all together but I don’t want to go back to having zero income….that would be stupid. But, a three day work week would still be doable until Rick can get my work-space built. Then I can start producing art and make some real money (you know, because I’m so greedy). But, until then, I appreciate the routine and discipline of having to be someplace.
So, of course I have to drop the health insurance, but we’ll figure it out. I have to trust God that He has this all worked out. I do feel this has all been an important season in my life and perhaps it’s coming to an end, resulting in the bearing of good fruit (pruning always comes first). I’ve definitely learned some big lessons in all of this. One of them being, don’t let stuff build up inside you to the point of emotional breakdown…but, IF YOU DO, make sure there’s an awesome dog close by to comfort you in your distress. There’s nothing like looking into Ivory’s big, round eyes of concern as she tickles your sad countenance with her whiskered, doggy snout.