*names have been changed
Quit the toxic job. Quit the toxic job. Quit the toxic job.
I don’t give a shit if you work at the local fast food joint or you are CEO of a big corporation. If it is costing you your mental health. Quit. The. Fucking. Job.
I can not stress this enough.
If it’s keeping you awake at night. Quit. If you are bringing the stress of work back home, which is supposed to be your safe haven. Quit. If you are absolutely fucking miserable. Quit. If you find yourself nauseous, anxious, or dreading going in every single day. Quit. Quit. QUIT.
“But Sarah, it pays me X amount of dollars.” “But Sarah, I have to pay my bills.” “But Sarah, I need it.”
Gather around, y’all, for a little story.
Back in 2015 I landed my first veterinary job at a corporate veterinary office. I won’t say which one, but it’s pretty well known. It was my first corporate job ever, but the manager was amazing, my co-workers were fantastic, and I was really happy working there. I started off as a receptionist for about four months, then transitioned to the back as a vet tech.
After about a year of being there, the manager that had hired me called a small meeting. She told us one day that she would be leaving and I was absolutely crushed. I loved her. She was the kind of manager I aspired to be one day – kind, hardworking, understanding and supportive, but also didn’t take any shit. After she left, a co-worker of mine, Katie*, was promoted to manager and shortly after that, I was promoted to shift lead, which was basically one step under Katie. I took the role because I had decided that I would like to get into a manager’s position one day and this was the corporate stepping stone in doing so.
Now, as much as I loved Katie as a person and as a friend, I hated her as a manager. I was left doing all of the dirty work – inventory, phone interviews, in-person interviews, running the fucking hospital. When she called out, I would have to go in. When any other employees called out, I would have to go in because she didn’t want to. BUT, I did it because I wanted to prove that I was qualified and responsible enough for a manager role.
One day Katie told me that one of our old technicians, Jess*, who had transferred to a different hospital when Katie had first gotten her role, wanted to come back. Jess had a reputation for having a bad attitude, not being a team player, and had a “holier than thou” mentality- and Katie and I both knew and agreed on this. When Katie asked me what I thought about bringing Jess back, I told her I thought it was a really bad idea.
She brought her back any way – and this will play a factor soon.
Fast forward about two years of this bullshit. Our regional manager (big boss) started to catch on that maybe Katie wasn’t quite the right fit to be the manager. Our hospital was sinking – big time. The employees were not even remotely engaged, the hospitals numbers were doing very poorly (something that’s extremely important to corporate), and I was exhausted from not only playing my role but Katie’s role as well. Every technician said the same thing to me. “You are running this hospital.”
My regional manager decided to bring in another “successful” manager from a different hospital to “help” my manager. She brought over a woman named Rachel*. At first, the entire hospital was so relieved to have Rachel there. She was the saving grace, the person who was going to help this hospital be as great as it once was. She was sweet, funny, kind, and just really cared about the staff.
Until she fucking didn’t.
Rachel would tell me all the time that she saw how hard I worked, how I deserved a manager’s position, how “she would clone me ten times, if she could”, and how she was going to “get me that manager spot.”
After about two months of Rachel being there, Katie was sat down and given a choice – to either step down from the manager’s position and be a technician at a different hospital, or to resign. She chose to resign, and Rachel was our temporary manager until they could find a replacement.
Two other technician’s just quit because they couldn’t take it any more.
Our hospital was the most short-staffed it had every been.
Almost as if by magic, as soon as Katie was gone, Rachel’s entire attitude changed. She no longer made promises to me of a manager role. She instead dangled it over my head like a kitten with a toy. Any small error I made, if I was two minutes late to work, if I didn’t have time to jump on a conference call, if I blinked the wrong fucking way – it all got the same response. “Well if you want that manager’s position…” She wasn’t nice and she didn’t care about our staff – she only cared about our hospital making the numbers.
It got to the point where I was walking on eggshells every day. I was nervous going to work, I was dreading hearing something that I fucked up, I was constantly watching my own back. I was a wreck. I wanted that position so bad, and Rachel knew that.
And she took advantage of it.
She also started to take a real liking to Jess. Kind of like she did to me in the beginning. Weird.
The day of interviews for the manager role had come. By no surprise to me – Jess, myself, and a few other people were there for the interview. We interviewed separately with Rachel and our regional manager, and were told we would know in a few days who got it.
I spent the next few days sick to my stomach. I wanted this. I worked really hard for this. I needed this. I could quit my second job at the restaurant if I got this.
I didn’t get it. Neither did Jess.
A shift lead from another hospital got it.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I was crushed. I looked back on everything Rachel said I did wrong and kicked myself. But, I didn’t let it stop me, and I kept working.
The new manager was still in training at another hospital, so Rachel was still our manager, and I was still a wreck. Did she make Jess promises of shift lead? Was she trying to push me out the same way she did to Katie? I was still walking on eggshells at all times. I hated my job – a place I spent the majority of my life at. Stressed was not even the word.
One Saturday we had one doctor and two very new technicians working. Rachel had scheduled me to be in reception, which made no sense considering both techs were VERY new, but fine. The entire day we were getting rocked, so I spent all day hopping back and forth between being up front by myself and going to the back to help my doctor and co-workers. Throughout the 12 hour day, we made over 5,000 dollars. I knew how much Rachel loved her numbers, so I took a picture of our production and sent it to her.
No response. Okay lady, get fucked.
The following day I get a text from Jess that included Rachel. It was a picture of a urine sample that was accidentally not sent out to the lab. It was finished off with a nice passive aggressive “What do we have to do to make sure these labs go out?!”
“Ugh, SO frustrating and absolutely unacceptable” was Rachel’s response.
I had efuckingnough.
We busted our asses the day before. All of us. We even made a good amount of money for the hospital and we didn’t get so much as a “good job.” But everyone is quick to jump on the negative.
I, too, was in a spot where I thought “I can’t quit, I need this job.” I was in the process of paying off a DUI (Stupid stupid stupid, I know. I’m not a saint, and it’s a topic I’ll touch on later), my license was suspended, I was living alone in my own place, paying all of my own bills. I thought I needed this job, too.
Sure, my bills were paid. But I was fucking miserable. What was more important to me? Happiness or money?
So I called my boss at the restaurant that I worked at part time for extra cash. His name is Chuck, and I will always view him as an absolute saint. He saw my work ethic, how I put my heart into anything I do, and he made it known to me. I explained my situation and asked him if I could come on full time. He agreed in a heartbeat. He asked me when I could start, and I told him to give me the rest of the week to process what’s going on..
I didn’t respond to Jess or Rachel’s text. Instead, later that afternoon, I sat in the back of an Uber on my way to a drug and alcohol class that was court mandated for my DUI. I typed out a long text. A very, very long text – to my regional manager. When I was done, I sat for a few minutes, staring at the screen. Was I doing this? I can’t do this. I copied it. Then deleted it. Then pasted it again. Was I really going to do this? My thumb shook over the small blue button that could determine my fate.
I did this.
I quit my fulltime job, in the back of an Uber, on my way to an IDRC class.
At one of my lowest points I took one of my highest leaps. I was petrified and liberated all at the same time.
My regional manager texted me back saying she was sorry to hear of my departing, and would let my team know.
The company paid out my remaining PTO (which was a little over 1,000 dollars) with my last paycheck direct deposit. I took that money, and my boyfriend at the time and I took a day long trip to New York City via train. We ate pizza, drank beer, met new people, and explored the city.
For the first time in almost three years, I did not have a single care in the world.
And that’s when I realized: there is not a dollar sign you can put on your mental health. There isn’t any amount of money in the world that is worth your happiness or your well being. Life is about more than earning a paycheck. Life is about loving what you do, who you’re with, and creating a story for yourself. All good stories have thick plots and different chapters. This one was over for me. Yes, it was really scary and yes, it was a huge risk. But I had faith in myself that I would figure it out, because that’s just what I do. And I did.
I worked full time at the restaurant for a few months until I found myself a new job at a different hospital. This was 2018, and I still work there to this day. It absolutely has its stressful days, we are all a big family and just like any family – we bump heads and don’t always agree. But I have never once found myself feeling sick to my stomach to go to work. My managers and I don’t always see eye to eye, but I’m respected, appreciated and acknowledged for my hard-work, and appropriately spoken to if I screw up. My co-workers are fucking amazing human beings and I am so incredibly grateful for all of them. And when the days get tough, we all stick together and get through it.
If I had gotten what I thought I wanted – meaning if I had gotten that role as manager – I would have missed out on so much, not had any of the experiences that I’ve had since then, and not known so many awesome people that I know today. If I had stayed at that hospital and sacrificed my mental health to them any longer, who knows where I would be. If I had stayed, I wouldn’t have learned what I know now. Most importantly, if I had done anything differently, my story wouldn’t be what it is today.
And I think my story is pretty badass.
Quit the fucking job. Choose happiness.
Oh! I missed out on the best part. Rachel and another doctor from that company left and started their own veterinary hospital a little bit after I quit. The hospital didn’t last even a year before she had to file for bankruptcy. Karma’s a biiiiitch. Love me a happy ending.