Saphron crashed another tray of chickens into the oven of the Supermarket Deli, then turned to put the newly roasted ones into the heated-display-cabinet, for sale. Her coworker Meg manned the slicer, shaving the smokey fragranced ham for the display counter.
“Meg, how did you get on with your hours, now that you are on contract?” asked Saphron.
“I’m so happy. They gave me all the days and times I asked for and the weekend day I wanted. Sunday work, the late shift so I can sleep in. Yay, I have Saturdays off.”
Saphron had her back to Meg and almost dropped a chicken. Her face a look of shock though she didn’t let on.
“Well, lucky you.”
The girls worked on though Saphron remained very quiet. With her training, she knew to never take-out her feelings on either her customers or fellow staff. She held a smile in place as she helpfully packed a variety of tasty deli goods for those on the other side of the counter. Many of her customers were well known. Some of them had almost become friends. Occupational hazard of living in the area for so long and working in such a public place.
Some may have sympathized though she would not speak ill of Meg while she worked nearby. It took great strength to remain civil towards this young girl she had trained.
At the end of her shift, she asked to see one of the Managers. She entered his office and sat down, levelling him a calm stare without smiling. Silently, she vowed that this would be his last chance.
“Saphron, what can we do for you today?”
She didn’t beat about the bush. “Can I hand in my resignation?”
He looked as if he’d heard the strangest request. “What brought this on? Is this really what you want? After all these years?”
“Yes, I want to leave. As you know, my friend and Team Leader Nancy Field left and for several months, I have been covering for her, training the new girls. And apart from no pay increase, which I requested, no one has been there for me.”
“Yes, I’m aware. You’ve managed all on your own. There’s been no complaints.”
She paused and looked at him, still unsmiling. His statement lacked the required empathy. “At the time when I received my work hours . . .years ago . . .You knew I wanted to work Sundays, not Saturdays. Not only have I faithfully worked Saturdays but when I requested a Saturday leave, and didn’t get one, I’ve never faked sickness either. Every shift on my roster has been faithfully worked. While we have been short staffed, I’ve also been called into work on my days off to cover for you all.”
“We need you on the team Saphron. You are punctual, get the work done, and you have a great team spirit. As I said, no complaints from anyone. So why do you want to leave?”
“Something has happened which would not have, if Nancy had still been here. . . Meg the new girl has been given Sunday not Saturday work.”
“She asked for her days and hours in writing.”
“That’s my point. No one listened to me about working Sundays instead of Saturdays, all these years. I’ve requested numerous times. It’s been in writing.”
He shrugged. “I forgot you wanted Saturdays off.”
“After all this time I'm not going to beg. It’s common knowledge I want to work Sundays. Now I’ve had enough.”
“I guess this is it then. I’ll arrange things and you can provide us with a letter. I do understand how you feel.”
On leaving, Saphron knew he had no idea at all how she felt. Not one word of thanks. Not one apology for her hurt. No offer of Saturdays off. It was a wonder he hadn’t choked on his complement of her having a team spirit. General dogs-body, more like!
Later in the privacy of her home she felt safe to cry her heart out.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Her mother, peered through the lounge room window at her. No faking being out. Saphron let her in.
“Darling, whatever is the matter?”
“I’ve quit work.” She explained to her mother what she had decided but how utterly hurtful it felt.
“But darling, you haven’t got another job lined up. Isn’t this a bit rash? How on earth will you manage? You’ve got your course to pay for, your mortgage, food and all the rest.”
“Mum, you just don’t understand. I can’t work in a place where I’m unappreciated and taken for granted. Even if he rang and begged me now, I would never go back under contract. Not after his callous attitude.”
“Was he really that awful?”
“I am needed at work but I’m resigning. They’re always desperate for Casual Staff to fill in. I can make them beg, choose my preferred positions, and work when I want to. I will say ‘no,’ when I feel like it. I’ve done everything at work to help others. It’s my fault it’s gone on for so long.”
“You have always been a pushover, my dear.”
“I already learnt with my friends. With my sisters too. I need to be valued. I can’t be around people who use others anymore.”
“I do understand. I value you, darling. Give me a hug. I’m so proud of you.”
Saphron gives her Mum the biggest hug.
“Mum, it’s swings and roundabouts. What’s even better is, I’ll choose my hours and will earn as much or as little as I need. I’ll be swinging up as a casual. Better than getting dizzy on the roundabouts.”
“It’ll be nice to see more of you without having to work family times around your infernal roster!”
It is a sad truth that the many diligent workers are often undervalued. Saphron allowed her feelings to be hurt before she asserted herself. Feelings tell us when things are not right. Saphron’s conflict and hurt came from knowing she had been taken for granted. She had reached her limit. Anyone can apologize or make amends when reminded to but she refused to ask for it. Her boss had been given one last chance before she removed herself from an intolerable work situation.