Gen United

i worked at [business name] in [suburb], Tasmania in 2021. the business pitch was that any customer could walk in with a digital photo and have their photo printed on a decorative wooden block, in a variety of shapes and sizes. the finished products looked really nice.

first, i would constantly get pulled up by the manager for simply checking the time on my phone, or skipping a song (phones were encouraged to be hooked up to the speaker to play music to make the stall more inviting to customers). meanwhile, my manager was constantly on her phone, texting her boyfriend etc. she let her boyfriend work at the stall as well, and he was the exact same. one day he clocked in alongside me on my shift, and 20 minutes in, walked off, leaving me alone at the stall. he didn’t tell me anything, so i assumed he went to go to the toilet or to grab a drink. he was gone for an hour, and when he came back there was no explanation. the manager would do the same thing, but for not as long – she would disappear for a few minutes and then waltz back into the stall, and take over any pitches i was currently in the middle of with a customer.

one day, we had a customer who was stranded in australia away from his fiancée in india because of the pandemic. he wanted to get her something really special to send to her to remind her that he wished he could be there with her. he wanted a picture from their engagement printed, and he was very excited about the idea of having it printed on a heart-shaped block—he told me that would be her pick if she was here. the heart pattern was a little tricky to figure out on photoshop before the printing, but not so much that it was a huge inconvenience to me, and i was happy to do it for this man. the manager saw me editing the photo on photoshop with the heart frame, asked after the customer, and i pointed him out to her. next thing i know, she’s trying to convince him to have the photo printed on a square block instead, and even trying to upsell to the more expensive wood type. i walked over and told her in front of him that i had offered the square blocks already as they would showcase more of the picture, but he was very happy with the heart block. the manager actually pulled me aside and gave me a pep talk on how we RARELY do the heart shape as it’s too much effort for the amount we get paid. i told her i would still draft the heart shape on photoshop, but i would draft a square as well, show both to the customer, and let him pick. i did my best to make the heart picture as attractive as possible, centreing the couple so their heads were in each curve of the heart, and even photoshopped the wall of roses in the background out so the picture could fit into the shape without any blank gaps. with the manager watching, i showed the customer both and he of course chose the heart. the heart was printed and the customer walked off very happy. i was again pulled aside by the manager, who insisted on the policy that we RARELY print hearts because it’s too much trouble. i asked why then we had the heart on offer for customers to choose. she did not have an answer for this.

finally, i was “encouraged to put in a letter of resignation” after THREE (3) printing mistakes. all mistakes were corrected before being given to the customer and finalising the orders, but the manager said the issue was that if you printed on the wrong block, you needed to sandpaper the image off, and then repaint the block in the white base coat for it to be used again, and the paint was too expensive to waste on this. i told a coworker about it and she was astounded; she told me she had misprinted plenty of blocks and it was incredibly easy to sandpaper and then repaint, and that the manager’s boyfriend did this all the time. still after my third mistake i was pressured to hand in my letter of resignation, and i did so, afraid that if i stood up for myself and were fired instead, it would make me less attractive to future employers. 

[some identifiable info has been redacted for privacy reasons in this submission]