A week and a half ago I woke up and didn’t go to work. For the first time in 9 years I had realized just how much my work had changed and just how massively toxic the place had become.
When my son was diagnosed with Autism, my wife and I had sat down and looked at our life. We decided that the best solution for us was to find a job for me that would allow me the freedom for us to take him to the appointments and therapies that we had lined up. This meant leaving a job with benefits and a pension and regular hours and taking a much looser position as a contract driver where on paper I was working for myself. It allowed me the freedom I needed as I was done fairly early in the morning and I was able to take us to all the appointments we needed for him. The job also at that time offered a fairly decent pay and I was able to make a decent living.
This worked really well for a couple of years until management changed. After that management changed at least once a year for a while. The problem with management changes like this was that each and every change was met with a round of belt tightening and a was a touch more toxic. We were constantly having rates adjusted, first the rates for substitution work was reduced dramatically making those routes less appealing to cover. A few years ago we were forced to sign a new contract that dramatically cut the pay to our regular drop routes (and some of us even had the size of our routes slashed). It was at that point that we started to realize that management was playing games with some drivers being given huge amounts of work while others had routes cut from underneath them.
Then they started slashing into the rates for door to door deliveries. They again forced us to sign new contracts against our will which dramatically realigned our routes into the most inconceivably ill-considered mess possible and cut the rates that everyone was being paid. They fed the routes through an “optimization” program to create the “best possible” routes however the front line consensus was they programmed the machine to act like it was on crack and then told it to produce the most convoluted mess possible. IT SUCCEEDED.
Through this whole time my son is progressing through his therapies and now has gotten into school. He has a full time EA but the necessity for outside therapies is starting to dwindle so I decide to start looking for new (less toxic) work. As my work hunt was ongoing, I started to realize that while taking this job that essentially forced me to work as slave labour while claiming to be self-employed had seriously negatively impacted my ability to find new work and as time went on, I realized that the toxicity of the job was making it even more difficult as well.
Turning Really Toxic
Then came the aftermath of the New Year. First they started by sending out messages that they would be cutting our pay, no new contracts would need to be signed and no acceptance of the terms was required. Then they started cutting upper management. It was at this point I realized that everyone’s employment in this company was shaky, not because the owners had the reputation of firing on a whim (which they did) but because they were not making money and the Irving’s will never tolerate not raking in the dough. This was followed by them releasing their entire line of award winning photographers and I realized that I could no longer count on this place longterm to pay my bills.
During all this time the supervisor that I dealt with was getting more and more volatile (and insulting). First I was asked by a co-worker to cover one of her truck runs while she went on vacation. This is a run no one wanted but I took it to prove a point. I did the route in less time than the management could and he went off on me that I should have never been given that route. When I pointed out I did it in less time than he did, he blew a gasket threatened to fire me if I kept talking to him and hung up.
I waited out a few more weeks but realized that not only were they not willing to add an extra route on my run (which would have allowed me to afford to keep working there) but that he had developed an almost toxic hatred towards me because of it.
So I walked away. It is also important to note that the last day I worked I got a pay stub that indicated how much I was getting on my next check (and it only included the days I had worked up to the stub) and when the pay showed up in my account a week later it was only half there. See their attitude towards people leaving is to steal from them. But since they are the Irving’s they don’t need to worry because no court will touch them, no police will charge them. They are unfortunately our little corner of the country’s “Untouchables”
Add in being forced to drive even after the police have ordered people off the roads (and doing thousands of dollars damage to my truck because of this) and you can imagine why I decided it was time to leave my job with Brunswick News.
The bonus is that in just two days I was feeling better than I had in years and now in a week and a half it is hard for me to imagine that I put up with this level of hatred and toxicity for so long. I am looking for work now, hoping for freelance work but I know for a fact that I am in a far better place today then I was two weeks ago.