Dear Employer

It’s not you, it’s me.

Actually, it’s a little bit you. A couple weeks ago you sent an email to your customers that thoroughly pissed me off. (But thanks for the writing prompt. I’ve got a post in the works because of that gem.) You don’t treat your employees well. In fact, you flout fair labor laws. Lunch breaks? Who needs them? Reliable receipt of wages? Thanks bank for waiving that overdraft fee when my paycheck didn’t show.

I could shrug all this off, like so many do, such as my lovely co-workers, if leaving you didn’t mean a significant act of self-care. You see, about a month ago depression started lurking. He was sneaking up behind me like a cartoon villain. I’ve learned to listen for the floorboards creaking underneath his overly-exaggerated, be-vewy-vewy-quiet foot steps. Gotcha!

Depression is descending upon me, but why the hell for? Thanks to some good ol’ cognitive behavioral therapy, I’ve discovered my job has loosed the depression. I hate my job. I would likely hate any retail job. That’s why I say it’s me. I need more brain work and less run-around-the-store-like-the-world-is-on-fire work. I need weekends with my husband and friends. I need at least a living wage. I need to not work at this job anymore.

Minimum wage? What’s that? / Photo: Denis Bocquet, Flickr Creative Commons license
So, in this supreme act of privilege, dear employer, I’m making a clean break. No notice. “SELF CARE,” I cry. And with that I see an escape hatch of hope. I’m outta here, depression. See you next time. (There’s always a next time.)

Did you notice that part where I mentioned privilege? That I can just quit my job on a Friday morning without consequence is a luxury. It was an easier act because I fortuitously have a freelance job lined up starting next week. I have an approximate 5-week net of dependable income to fall on. That I have this, is also a privilege–a combination of education, professional work, and access to mental health care. I also have an equally-educated, privileged, white male husband who has a kick-ass job and income that can bridge any gaps in my employment. Again, I’m privileged out the wazoo.

My point on privilege, dear all employers, is the work environments you cultivate, the people you hire to be in charge, the shit-ass job opportunities you provide are making us sick. You’re asbestos to our mental health. I can count on at least one hand people I know who are a)depressed, b)can attribute at least part of their depression to their jobs, and c)cannot afford to leave the jobs that are making them sick.

Again, I see a hole in the wall, a bit of hope. I’ve recently learned of the existence of organizations like Companies that Care. I long for a socially responsible employer. I hope like hell I find one of you in the weeks to come.