Respect Is Earned, Not Given

Everyone wants respect. But not everyone deserves it. And we shouldn’t have to fake it, either. Personally, I would rather know someone does not respect me versus have them pretend they do.

Storytime.

I’m the kind of person who best works for themselves. I set my own schedule, I do my own workload, and if I fuck up then that’s on me. I know I didn’t do everything I was supposed to do this day. But I don’t have to answer to any manager, team leaders, or mini napoleons. Of course, I’ve had my fair share (many) jobs. Admittedly, I was never too good at sticking them out (except for one or two examples which I will come onto).

Life is far too short for any of us to spend it in a job where we are disrespected, bored, and just full-on hate. Time and time again during my student years (and after) did I work as a barista, a waiter, a shop assistant, to be surrounded by people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, who had been working there for years and years and years. And they HATED their job! But something compelled them to stay. I don’t know what. If they were happy and enjoyed their jobs, then fair enough. But they weren’t and they didn’t.

During my brief stint as a shop assistant, the lack of respect came from customers (what a surprise). This was often the case in jobs that required serving the public. To be honest, I believe that when members of the public rely on a stranger (to bring them food, to tally up their items at a till etc.) they feel a loss of power in that situation and therefore try to compensate. Essentially, they cannot proceed without the help or permission of another human being, a complete stranger. So, in feeling a li’l bit helpless, the customer becomes aggressive.

Well, it’s either my hypothesis, or 95% of customers are cunts. (Both are valid)

I’ve always been a supporter of unions.

So it’s no surprise that whenever I begin a new job, I join a relevant union and preach to those who aren’t in one to join one. The protection of a union honestly provided me with so much job security, even in the ones I hated. I don’t think my managers appreciated my (successful) persuasion to join a union, but there was nothing they could do about it.
(Btw if you want more info on what unions do, then click here)

The managers treated us with contempt on good days and all out aggression on the bad days (this is when I worked in a supermarket). I was called a ‘poofter’ by one of the team leaders (who would also turn up to work stoned out of his mind and sexually harass the female staff). I contacted my union before making anymore steps and in the end, the team leader in question was fired. Unfortunately, it seems like he was fired for being high at work, not for the homophobia or sexual harassment.

When I reported the homophobia, the investigators replied “are you sure it wasn’t just banter?”.
(The ‘banter’ excuse has been used historically as a way for homophobes to defend their comments)

Listen. If it was banter between us, would I be reporting it? You thick shits? I’m mixed race, and I wonder if they’d have suggested ‘banter’ if I’d claimed he’d called me a nigger?

I very much doubt it.

I remember, one day, I was moving a cage from the warehouse onto the shop floor.
Let me draw you a diagram so you can really FEEL like you’re there.

I hope you appreciate my skilful art techniques that I’ve expertly employed in paint.

Anyway. On this particular day, the cage (which is literally a huge, 6ft cage on wheels, full of stock) had been stocked with the most random shit, and hundreds of tiny boxes, precariously balancing on top of each other.

So there I am, carefully manoeuvring the cage from the warehouse onto the shop floor, trying not to jolt it too much so the contents don’t go flying all over the floor… and this rude cow, who I shall appropriately name Kunty Karenwas trying to get from the back entrance onto the shop floor.

Now, instead of waiting patiently for me to get onto the shop floor, she started huffing loudly, which immediately got my back up.

Then, she shoved her way through the tiny gap between the wall and the cage while saying “for fucks sake!”. At this point, I was mad. So I then replied
“Well, if you’d just been fucking patient…”
“Don’t fucking speak to me like that!” she hissed. “I’m the customer!!”
“I don’t give a single flying fuck who you are love,” I retorted, turning to her. “You can see the size of the cage, it’s difficult enough to move without people like you making the job harder”.
“Well you won’t even have a job once I’m done here!!!
“Whatever,”
“Get the manager now. Fucking cheeky cunt, talking to me like that. I’ll be going to head office!”
“Alright, I will! Let me get him for you!” I yelled, and went to grab the manager. I bust into his office.

“Hey, [manager], there’s a dirty fucking Karen cunt out there waiting for you. She’s mad because she’s a cunt and no one loves her”.

I’m very mature, you see.

Anyway, manager went out there, spoke to her, and he told me to just go to the tills. Best bit was when I had to serve her at the tills.
“I won’t be coming here again. You’ve lost a customer”.

Why do customers say shit like this? Do they think that we, the underpaid staff members, are gonna bust into tears? Get on our knees and grovel for forgiveness!? Oh no, please Karen, please!!! We won’t be able to survive without your monthly purchase of 2 packets of fags and a Galaxy! Do you think I own this place? Do you think I give a fuck? Do you think I’m sad? Do you think I like it here? I fucking work here, bitch!

Inhale… exhale…

And stuff like this happens all the time when dealing with the public, managers, lecturers, etc. Basically when dealing with anyone who thinks they have a modicum of power over you.

Artificial societies/hierarchies are something that I vehemently disagree with and do not believe in.

I don’t strictly mean like the example provided opposite – I’m not saying you can just start doing the manager’s work as if you are the manager.

No, what I mean is the respect system that often comes with these artificial hierarchies. We’ve all been there.
“Omg, the company director is coming today – everyone be on your best behaviour and be polite and courteous and…”

How about… no?

How about I treat them the same way I would treat anyone I don’t know. Not with disrespect, but not with any overwhelming amount of respect either. I will treat them as a fellow human. Do right by me and I’ll do right by you. Why is this concept so foreign?

People seem to have some weird notion that these district managers or whatever have some superpower and can sack you at the click of their fingers. And it simply isn’t true. We sign contracts when we begin employment for a reason, and with the added protection of a union, they can’t do shit.

Power to the people, sis.

Where do I stand on the idea of respect? If it’s not already obvious, I believe you should treat others how you want to be treated. It really is that simple. However, I personally will never give undue respect. I do not care if you are the owner of thirty supermarket chains. At the end of the day, we all die, we all rot, we all become dust. We are no different. We are all human beings. Unless you’re an Egyptian pharaoh or colossally overweight, our coffins are the same size.

It’s probably no surprise to you, reader, that I don’t stick jobs out for very long. To me, they’re just jobs. I turn up, do what I need to do, and clock out at the end of the day. No, I do not want to do team building exercises. No, I do not want to come to a company meal. No, I do not want to go out for drinks with you after work – I’ve already seen you for 10 hours today, let me go the fuck home!!!!!

My fiancé has once had a workplace say that the company Xmas meal is compulsory because “you get paid to be there”.

Two things: 1) Just don’t pay me then? and 2) If you have to pay people to turn up, you have a serious issue.

Teaching is the only job I have ever enjoyed.

I love teaching. I worked in a special needs school as a TA at first, which was an extremely difficult job, but also equally as rewarding. I’d delivered workshops and stuff before at University to younger students (drama teacher, workshop leader roles, etc…) but they weren’t that much younger than I.

I got involved in summer schools, and worked at a college. Got my PGCE (in addition to the BA and MA I already had), and loved every minute of connecting with my students. I have so much I can teach them, and so many experiences and skills to share.

Corona hit, I lost the job I was supposed to be going into, and now… here I am. Of course, these jobs had shitty staff and managers, but as always, I joined a union just in case.

Never sacrifice who you are for a job.

Unless you’re a psycho. Then you might have to.

I think it’s admirable when people do what they think is right, regardless of the stupid ‘rules’ of the workplace system (unless they are behaving in a destructive way… for example, teaching kids that being gay is a sin).

And in my opinion, it’s much more important to stay true to who you are than to conform to corporate’s Ideal Worker Image™. Now that is worth respecting.

3 thoughts on “Respect Is Earned, Not Given

    1. Thank you! I think it is so important to not let workplaces and education brainwash you into thinking we should automatically respect people who get paid more than us. Fuck that shit.

      Liked by 1 person

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