*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
I worked as a hotel housekeeper for two years. It was the worst two years of my life. The job was dirty and difficult, and many people who stayed at the hotel were slobs. I swear it was intentional.
The best and worst part about the job was the hotel general manager. He was very nice, and he was a fun and interesting conversationalist, but he always asked me to work on my day off... every day off.
I couldn't refuse because he was so nice that I didn't want to let him down. Plus, I felt bad saying no. My anxiety forced me to nod my head and agree to work on days when I just wanted to recover from work.
It was supposed to be a part-time job. Instead, it consumed my life. I hated it.
Then one day, the assistant manager walked into the room I was cleaning and asked me if I wanted to work on my day off. He must have seen the look on my face because he spoke before I had a chance to answer.
"You know," he said, "you don't have to say yes."
It was the greatest gift of kindness he could have given me. I broke into a smile. "No," I replied. "I don't want to work on my day off. I never want to work on my day off."
"No problem," he said. "I hear you loud and clear."
From then on, when the hotel general manager wanted me to work on my day off, the assistant manager made sure he was the one to ask me. "I have to ask you if you want to work tomorrow," he'd say, "but I already know the answer." Then he'd smile and let the hotel general manager know I wasn't available.
Thanks to that assistant manager, I realized I didn't have to work overtime. I could just do my job during my regularly scheduled hours and relax during my regularly scheduled days off, just as nature intended.
If the hotel general manager didn't hire enough staff to cover all available shifts, that was his problem, not my problem. If he didn't have enough staff to put on extra housekeepers during the busy season or on weekends when there was a convention in town, that was his shortcoming, not mine.
After the day the assistant manager told me I didn't have to work on my day off unless I actually wanted to work on my day off, I never agreed to give up my well-deserved time off again.
Even on days when the hotel general manager asked me to work himself, I mustered up my courage and said no. He never gave me a hard time about it or asked me to change my mind, but I bet he never found out why I stopped agreeing to work on my days off.
Don't get me wrong, I like extra money just as much as the next underpaid minimum-wage employee, but the job was physically taxing. I really couldn't handle working more than my scheduled hours.
What would you have done? Comments are welcome.