This is going to be a long post because it’s something I need to get out there so buckle up!
When I was 16, I got my first job at a small town steak restaurant. It was amazing money for a young girl, I even paid off my new car in a year and a half. I thought I had it made, so I put up with the bullshit I endured there.
I’ve always had anxiety issues, but when I started working 6 days a week as a 16 year old girl, they started to get worse. It didn’t help that my manager was a raging 55 year old woman who had a drug problem. She would scream at us non stop during our busiest hours. Even threw me out one night because I messed up one order. Almost hit me once. Called me stupid. I have many stories about her. Too many to count, including how she would pit me against other servers, one being my best friend (nearly ruined our relationship for years). She would compare the money we made. I would come in to eat with my parents when I wasn’t working and she would scream at me for something I didn’t do “correctly” when I wasn’t even on the clock.
This leads me to one main story. It was my first month working there and we were busy as ever and she was screaming at me from the kitchen while I was out front trying to make drinks for a table. I noticed my vision going blurry, my hands uncontrollably shaking, and my throat closing up. I immediately ran outside and had the worst panic attack of my life to this day. No one followed me out, and I consoled myself and walked back inside and finished my shift. I told my parents about this instance (they weren’t too keen on mental health) and my dad called up to explain what had happened and that I needed a couple days off to recoup. Unfortunately, he blamed this on “lack of food” saying that I was light headed because I hadn’t eaten and it caused a reaction.
From then on my manager snarkily asked me every single day “have you eaten enough today?? Can’t have you freaking out on us”.
I worked there for 4 years after this. These things continued for 4 LONG years. In my last couple months I took initiative to stand up for myself. Things changed after that… I got hours taken away (for not “smiling enough”) and eventually got threatened to be fired for switching someone else on closing duties. I found a job by the end of the week. They were mad when I found a job immediately and didn’t let me work my full two weeks.
All this to say, I didn’t think I would be able to make money anywhere else and this job clung to me like a toxic boyfriend. When I left , there was freedom. A lot of work and trauma to deal with, but I felt like I could breathe for once.
Please leave that toxic work environment y’all, it’s not like that everywhere & you will be happier. With peace & love