Mental Health

So, I‘m Currently Ghosting My Job (For Perfectly Selfish Reasons) | by Rainer Darling | Sep, 2021

Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash

It wasn’t a particularly glamorous job — just a minimum wage fast food kinda thing, complete with a cute little apron and a perpetual film of fry grease on your brow. It wasn’t the easiest job, but it also wasn’t the hardest I’ve had either. It was… middling. Painfully, mind-achingly middling.

This mediocrity got to me in record time; just two short weeks of actual work, where it would usually take a couple of months to wear me down. Average amounts of stress and resentment built up within me during my short tenure at the restaurant, beginning as little piles that turned into small mounds into hills into mountains into… whatever comes after that (if anything at all).

Everything was pretty decent, which was a lot more than I felt I could ask for. Then I got sick.

So… why am I ghosting my job? The short answer is that I’m a coward. The long answer is an amalgamation of cowardly, selfish things.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the beginning, then bring us all up to speed. It won’t take long — I promise (and this time I’ll keep it).

When I accepted the job roughly a month ago, I was just glad to find work. It had come to me at a time when I had just lost my seasonal job — an outdoor gig that I quite liked and sorely wished I could have kept. I often came home tired and covered in dirt, but I had fun. Losing that job sucked. Before I was able to find financial stability, the foundation of said stability was ripped out from under me.

Minimum wage fast food, at the time, seemed like the best and fastest option I had. There was a hiring event, I was accepted on the spot and that was that. No drug test, no interview, no concern over my availability quirks. They just wanted bodies to stick behind the counter, and I was more than happy to be one of them.

Needless to say, it was like most other workplaces in America: Underpaid and weirdly hostile.

Then I got sick.

I’d already had a few grievances with my workplace during the two weeks I actually worked there. The pay was low, we were often doing the job of two people during understaffed periods, someone set off my PTSD and gave me a vaguely threatening non-apology, people were so pissed about constantly having to stay late that everyone started talking about unionizing…

Needless to say, it was like most other workplaces in America: Underpaid and weirdly hostile.

So, with this friction already grating on my mind every waking moment of the day, it only made matters worse when I had to call in sick.

I had COVID-like symptoms. I was scared. I called up my store, made sure they knew what was going on (and that they should probably get tested), then made plans to get tested.

When I tried to apologize, all she could say was that she was tired. At that point, so was I.

“Just wondering where you are and if you’re coming in soon,” she said. “You were scheduled for this morning.”

Here I thought I had made it clear that I, in the middle of a pandemic, might be a plague vector and I had to get tested before I could return to work. But I was put on the schedule. I was expected, above all odds, to magically get better in time for my shift or get my test results early.

This is where things got a little strained between my manager and I. A no-call, no-show was the gravest sin you could make in her eyes. And I had just done that. All correspondence with her from this point on was… off. She gave short responses, she sounded disaffected — unhappy, as though I’d done something terrible.

When I told her my test was negative but I had a really bad cold, she said, “so you’re saying you can’t work.” Her monotonous delivery was flatter than the entirety of Kansas. Uncharacteristic of her. Concerning to me. When I tried to apologize, all she could say was that she was tired.

At that point, so was I.

By the end of that blissful and care-free week, I had decided that I wasn’t going back to my job. On my last night there, I was saving jobs on Indeed to review on the flight home.

By the time I was feeling better, over a week after that whole ordeal, I got on a plane and went up North. This was scheduled time off to visit my family, and there wasn’t a manager alive who could convince me not to take it.

I won’t bore you with nice stories about my trip. It was lovely, I got to see a decent amount of family, I saw seagulls — it was perfectly nice. By the end of that blissful and care-free week, I had decided that I wasn’t going back to my job. On my last night there, I was saving jobs on Indeed to review on the flight home.

I’m not sure what exactly pushed me over the edge that week. It’s rare that a huge and life-altering decision comes out of the exact opposite of a nasty breakdown. My leading theory is that I was reminded that it was possible to be happy. My next-best theory is aliens.

I’d rather avoid that restaurant in its entirety for the rest of my existence on this dying planet if it means not having to confront the extent of my selfishness.

But I’m a selfish person.

And I’m too scared to face my manager on the other side of the phone.

And I’d rather avoid that restaurant in its entirety for the rest of my existence on this dying planet if it means not having to confront the extent of my selfishness.

I’m a coward, and at the expense of some fast food workers who don’t deserve the added stress… I’m happier.

I’m sorry.


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