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August 25th, 2023

I had a bit of a meltdown yesterday, before work.

I walked in the building just before eight o’clock in the morning. I made myself a cup of coffee, and the first strike of the day was that my favorite flavor of coffee, the light roast, was empty, and a new pot would take at least 7 minutes to brew. My coworker Heather tells me in her signature tone of panic that half of the crew is scheduled to leave at eight in the morning, which isn’t even necessarily true as I would come to find out, but she's a ball of anxiety anyways so that doesn’t surprise me. Heather wandered off to check on the coffee, and my coworker Lexi came into view. She said into the back of house “Maybe it’s just you who’s in a bad mood Heather!”

I laughed and responded “She’s always in a bad mood.”

She thought that was funny.

I chose to fill my cup with the hazelnut medium-roast instead. A bit of half-and-half and a few packets of Equal finished off my little twelve-ounce coffee, a necessary pre-work ritual, and I did some rounds around the lobby to try to find a place to sit. Only… it was Thursday. Roughly 8:00am on a Thursday. On weekdays, early in the morning, the lobby is full of kids from the high school across the street. It’s loud in there, and basically every seat is filled. I prefer to sit by myself, with at least one empty table between my table and those of any nearby customers, unless my brother Noah, who also works at the Panera Bread that I work at, is sitting with me. He was hanging out with his girlfriend, Destin, so that wasn’t an option.

So I decided to go outside. It was hot, of course. It’s August, and I live in Florida, but I prefer the sounds of traffic to the sounds of several dozen high schoolers making a mess in an enclosed space.

8:08am came by, and Lexi left. I see her walk to her car and drive away, leaving Heather as the only cashier until nearly 4:00pm, when Chayse would come in for his shift. I take out my phone and start texting My Person. Stella, my best friend for years, host of her plural system, and more recently a more definitive life partner.

I tell her I hate my job. A bunch of new employees are getting hired, in part because we’ve had so many of our old staff leave for better jobs, get fired, to go to college, or join the military. I always said it would be my people who were there when I got there… that when they left, that would be what it took to make me leave. That day’s getting closer.

It seems like people call out a lot, more and more often. This past weekend, the store was run on a skeleton crew, with four call-outs on Saturday and three on Sunday, and one the following Tuesday. These were all days where I worked, and all days where I spent the entire day miserable and trying not to collapse. That hasn’t changed.

The labor calculation system is so bad that it seems like my managers can’t ever seem to have enough people on schedule to actually handle the work we’re being given, that we are subjected to, and I’m crumbling because of it. I don’t call out. Three times in a year, once for a death in the family, and two for having the flu. I’ve posted shifts before, but I haven’t ever called out just because I didn’t want to show up. It’s the pace, the pressure. We’re always overburdened and understaffed, and with the way that bills are right now, I can’t afford to save for a car. I can’t afford to save for transition expenses either, like my facial hair removal treatments (which I don’t know if any places around here accept trans women as clients), or my orchiectomy that I want so badly.

On top of that, I can’t work as many hours as I need to to be able to help with the bills around here. When I work a lot, I crumble, and when I work a little, I can’t pay for anything. Even at a happy medium, I risk losing my insurance.

I need to do something else. Get a certification in something closer to what I want to do, something tech related so I can get a job doing things I like and not making fucking sandwiches for entitled pricks for $0.50 above minimum wage plus tips.

Our discussions drew to a close as the clock hit 8:45am. We exchanged huggus and “I love you (too)”s. She tells me to have a good day at work, and I tell her I will do my best.

8:53am, I ask her if it's normal to feel a sense of increasing dread as the clock draws closer to 9:00am. She says it isn't normal, but that it’s understandable that I am.

I clock in at 8:58am or so and as I arrive, Tiffany, one of the managers, was scheduled to open the line and then leave at 8:00am, and she stayed an extra hour to help until I got there.

Work was… fine. I was exhausted when I got home, and that won’t change anytime soon. I vented to Bo about my issues with my job, I vented to Maddie that everyone including her was leaving. I talked with Ricky about working out, and how you don’t always get to feel like it. You just gotta do it sometimes. Executive dysfunction makes that hard, though. Shit’s tough.

On top of all this, I’m on my period, so I’m physically uncomfortable and having headaches and stomach issues every night for the last several days, I’m drowning under a mountain of dysphoria about my weight, my facial hair, and my genitals, how dissatisfied I am with my breasts, my clothes, almost everything. I’m coming off the heels of a week-old breakup, and the dreadful things that she had to do afterwards to save somebody, things I won’t describe. The week before that there was a huge scandal among some friends of mine, another thing which I won’t discuss details of. Needless to say, it’s been a complicated few weeks for me.

On a funny note, My Person only speaks Spanish right now, which has been fun to navigate. Dating plural systems is always interesting.

Te amo, Stella, mi amorcita~

Signing off again, Annika LaFey