Ethical Issues Part 2

Started discussing this disaster in the previous post.

Let me fill in a little of my back story before we go on too much farther. I have had many jobs over the years. Some in retail. Some in retail management. A few scrubbing floors and painting walls. I’ve been a stocker, a stock manager (not the Wall Street kind. Lol!) and a custodian. Then I landed a job as a “Dispatch Specialist,” which is a big, overblown term for I tell gas trucks where to go all night. I just happen to work for a growing chain of convenience stores in the Midwest. That’s where the note in the picture was left out in plain sight. Having had experiences literally on all sides of this note at one time or another, I will be the first to say, “Mistakes were made.” I don’t think my wife knew what she was handing me last night…

Mistake #1: Employee likely brazenly, for whatever reason, took a break and left a customer waiting. I covered this previously. Kinda not okay from a business perspective. As a manager, I would have had to have a chat with said employee and figure out what happened.

Mistake #2: Angry manager or fellow employee writes angry note. There are better ways to express frustration over the situation. Talking to the staff member or members who took the break would have probably been a good start

Mistake #3: For one thing, the note itself is erroneous. In Iowa, employers are required to give a 15 minute paid break for every 4 hours worked and a half hour unpaid lunch for every eight hours worked. I’m not a lawyer and this may have changed since last I checked. BUT, this is how (Large Convenience Chain in Iowa) has always done things since I’ve worked for them. Well, except this store here, apparently.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Mistake #4: This is one that I personally would have called a staff meeting over. The note was left out in plain view of the public. If the manager did this- Oof! Bad call. I’m reminded of an anecdote from when I was in the carpet cleaning business.

The carpet tech in question had been putting in a lot of hours and was getting very tired. This happens a lot in small businesses. The boss had gotten a last minute phone call on a Friday for an urgent job. On the tech’s clipboard, the boss left a note that said, “Bang this one out real quick and I’ll buy you a burger.” Can you guess what happened?

The tech got to the job site and got right to work. He left his clipboard out with all of his paperwork on it on the client’s table- in plain view of the client. The client walked by and saw the note. Yeah… She was totally upset. Why? Clients, guests, or whoever you’re working for like to feel special, like royalty. Needless to say, she got her carpet cleaned for free after the boss found out what happened.

The note above, out in plain view of the public, just looks bad for all involved. To make matters worse, it was photographed and left out in plain sight. Big oops. Note the comment on the Facebook post itself. Talk about a PR problem for the company. Ouch.

If the manager truly felt the need to post that note, the break room wall or bulletin board would have been a better option. Okay, maybe there’s no break room? Next to the time clock in the office, maybe? But not anywhere the guests can see it. (Our company insists on calling them “guests” and not “customers” nowadays. Bleh.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Mistake #5: The critical management fumble. I’ve been on both sides of this one, and watched it happen to other people. Never, ever chew a staff member or members out in plain sight. Call him/her/them into the office. But don’t go off in front of everyone. But, for the dignity of all involved, show some discretion. Right, wrong or otherwise, it just looks like the manager has lost control of the whole situation. It makes the employee look bad and the manager look foolish, especially when there are better ways to handle things.

Mistake #6: Why did this all happen in the first place? Don’t employees deserve a break occasionally? Seriously, is 15 minutes out of four hours too much to ask when people are on their feet all day?

THIS is why I want to work for myself. That way I can make sure I treat me right. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. It’s an affirmation and a mantra we can all use daily. “I AM WORTHY.”

I mean, ironically, I get in trouble for working through my breaks but that’s because I can be quite driven when I want to be. Again- same company that had an employee who produced the nastygram about people being “given” their breaks. Feel free to laugh.

The employees deserve breaks. Management deserves breaks. (Big Company X) has people working in it that know this. It should not have needed to be dragged out onto Facebook for all of us to learn this.

I became aware while writing this I’ve been using the word “should.” If we’re supposed to be observing our reality from a neutral standpoint, as many spiritual teachers have kindly pointed out, then “should” and “supposed-to” won’t enter into things. Yes, we still have feelings. No, we don’t need to attach labels of good, bad or blame anyone. Another spiritual altruism that’s easy to say, tough to abide by. We’ll get there.

Really, the term “mistake” is a misnomer. But, as Alan Watts said, “You can’t get wet from the word ‘water.'” I felt the need to point out the 6 things that most obviously could have been handled differently in my opinion.

In closing, I have more to say about this whole issue tomorrow. But for now, I’ll add one last oops. It’s on my part. I’ve let this whole drama trigger me a bit. My wife asked me to report the post to company management. (Which I already have, btw.) I know it’s just more of my personal junk aka “shadow work” paying me a visit. But yeah, probably a four article series before I’m satisfied.

Be kind to on another. Be kind to yourself. Have a better now moment.

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