my boss told me not to quit until they replace me, but that could take months

A reader writes:

I’m working in low-level tech retail (phones, phone accesories, other related stuff) and I frankly hate that job. The worst parts are the strict sales quotas that are unrealistic on most months and people who think we sellers are the end-all of decisions (common retail problem). Aside from that, there are more internal things that started bugging me, like manager not notifying me about change of opening hours (I was scheduled the next day, so less than 24 hours notice), not telling me she added me as a fill-in for another location, and things like weird internal communication between complaint corporate and other offices (suddenly, “how it’s done” changes for small things that have gotten me almost yelled at).

I put in my notice few days before the end of my trial period (my manager knew I didn’t want to stay, but didn’t have a date on paper) when I was absolutely done one evening. My manager asked if I’d be able to stay until they find someone. I was apprehensive, but agreed. We put in a solid date, but I’m worried they’ll try to get me to stay even longer if they don´t find someone. I already sent out applications and I know having no end date is a minus point for interviews (no solid timeline).

Frankly, I doubt they will find someone until that date we set. This is a position that gets new person every 3-6 months thanks to long hours and weekends (basically 12 hours on weekdays and 9/8 on weekends). The pressure, all the info needed, and people make it unbearable to stay. The sales bonus is far from reach on non-summer and non-holiday months, so it’s minimum wage.

Would it be bad if I hit a solid boundary? I don’t want to burn my bridges, but most of my off-days are spent either at doctors appointments, running errands, or trying to catch up to sleep, and my brain keeps slipping into my old high-anxiety mode.

OMG, put in two weeks notice and be done with it!

You are under zero obligation to stay until they find someone to replace you. They’re allowed to ask, and you’re more than allowed to say no. It’s very normal to insist on sticking to two weeks, even if you’re pressured to stay longer. This is true of all jobs, including very senior, very high-powered, very prestigious ones — and it’s exponentially true for low-level tech retail. In fact, if anything, people are more likely to leave jobs like the one you have with no notice at all rather than agree to stay indefinitely.

I’m sure you’ve realized this, but your manager has no incentive to crank the search for your replacement into high gear when you’ve said you’ll stay indefinitely. What if it takes months? And it sounds like you’re telling prospective employers that you don’t know when you’ll be able to start with them — thus torpedoing your own chances with them?! Under no circumstances should you do that.

You get to tell your manager you’re leaving by Date X and then you get to stick to that.

In fact, because you’ve already given some notice even though you didn’t set a concrete end date, I’d argue that you don’t even need to give a full two weeks now. If you want to get out sooner, you could say, “I realize I told you I’d stay until you rehired but I’ve realized that won’t work for me. I need to set my end date no later than one week from today.” It sounds like she’s already had weeks and weeks, and you don’t really owe her an additional full two more. But if you prefer, you could just say, “I’ve realized I do need to set a concrete ending date, so my last day will be October 26.”

Also, if you want, you also have standing to say you won’t be able to work weekends during that period, or otherwise modify your availability to better fit your needs. When you’re leaving and they want you to stay, you have leverage.

Aside from all this: I’m curious how you got into a mindset where you felt you owed your employer your labor until some indefinite time when it becomes convenient for them to let you leave. Any chance you’re overly deferential to employers in general, or a people pleaser, or reluctant to assert yourself in other areas of your life when you should be? (For example, when’s the last time you asked for a raise / pushed back against an unreasonable schedule / said you wouldn’t fill in on your day off?) I might be reading too much into this one situation, but it’s worth looking at because I’d bet money there are other places where you’re subverting your needs to other people’s in ways you shouldn’t be.

{ 193 comments… read them below }

  1. Precious Wentletrap*

    You work in retail. You don’t even work in high end retail where commissions and client relationships are at stake. You can hit the bricks in the middle of your shift guilt free.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      This. It won’t even impact your ability to get another job, as this happens literally all. the. time.

      I only worked at Target for 2 weeks. Sometimes what you signed up for just isn’t what you get. Get out now.

      1. Cinnamon Hair*

        My husband worked as a pizza delivery driver to make ends meet, but only for about a week. The reason was, on top of being paid basically nothing, his manager would take all of his tips and keep them for himself.

          1. Antilles*

            It is, but in practical terms, the average worker likely isn’t going to bother going to the DOL (and potentially an employment lawyer?) over like a week or two’s worth of tips.

            I’d bet the manager has pulled this scam a lot. driver joins, manager pockets the tips, so the driver immediately leaves for a new job. Repeat a couple dozen times per year. Overall, the manager pockets thousands in unearned money, but for each individual employee it’s only like $100, small enough that it’s never worth it for any individual employee to fight.

        1. Ashley*

          Even if you did choose to stay until you land another job, you set the start date for the new job based off what you/they want, and then you tell the old job my last day is X. You aren’t required to give them crap especially since they already know you’re leaving.

      2. Lilo*

        I once just walked out of a fast food place and never came back (manager was berbally abusive). I was 18. Nothing bad happened. I had another job within 2 days.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I know what you actually meant, but my brain refuses tonread that as anything other than herbally abusive. Pelted with tarragon. Given a hard thyme.

            1. TeaCoziesRUs*

              That boss was a crazy nutmeg. How the Fennel did he curry such flavor with his supervisors that he could act that way??

        2. Shopping is my cardio*

          I did the same! I worked for 1 morning in a stupid job when I was college. I left at lunch, called my boss saying I wasn’t coming back. Voila! I now make 6 figures in a corporate job. Leave now! Tell your boss you won’t be coming back next week. See ya!

          1. Kyrielle*

            I slogged through a day in a call center once and quit at the end. I wish I’d quit at lunch! (They’d promised me I wouldn’t be doing cold-call sales. I wasn’t. I was doing cold-call ‘surveys’ trying to talk members of a union around to the political stance the union wanted them to take. With which many of them apparently disagreed. No no nope nooope nope I wouldn’t take that job again for double what I currently earn, let alone minimum wage.)

            1. Candi*

              Unions are run by humans, and sometimes humans suck.

              That sounds worse than the “handle incoming calls” job postings that turned out to be “sell life insurance for us” spiels.

          2. StacWrite*

            I took a job working swing shift at a convenience store when I was a 19-year-old college sophomore. I ended up working a double shift (12 hours, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) because the night shift person didn’t show up and the owner didn’t answer his phone. I also tried to use the floor buffer like they asked me to do, but they hadn’t trained me in it, and I knocked over half the displays in the store before giving up. Not to mention getting catcalled and harassed by several long-haul truckers. It sucked EPICALLY. I walked home crying with tiredness, showered, went to class, and never went back. Not even to get a paycheck.

          1. But what to call me?*

            Not in retail, but I definitely thought each boss I had had the power to destroy the rest of my career when I was younger. I put up with a lot of things I shouldn’t have. I ultimately decided that preserving what was left of my mental health was worth walking away at an inopportune time (well, I did give notice, but that was a field that expected a lot more notice). Then the next job turned out to be just as terrible, so I did it again. Both times, I thought I had destroyed my life.

            As it turns out… nope. Career is fine. Life is fine. Neither of those bosses had nearly the power over me that I thought they did.

        3. Shakti*

          Same I worked in a “high” (ish) end boutique when I was 19 they made me clean the floor on my hands and knees with a dry paper towel and nothing else, I called the day of my next shift and was like hi I’m not coming in ever again and it had zero impact on literally any job I had after that

        4. The Rural Juror*

          I hear ya. I once worked at a restaurant where the manager was a very angry-seeming person (every other word out of his mouth was f**k). I got injured on the way to work (cut my hand pretty badly, but didn’t need stitches). I was close enough that I high tailed it to the restaurant and went in the back by the managers office to use the first aid kit. I was in a lot of pain and blacked out at one point! Then he came back there and yelled at me that I had a table. I was fed up with him already, so when I got myself together I walked out and never went back. This was one New Year’s Eve, which would have been VERY busy there. I never felt ANY guilt about leaving.

      3. Tio*

        I worked at Target for two days after college, because I was supposed to be on weekends only and they immediately scheduled me for weekday training. When I told them, they said I could come in or I would be fired. So I never went back. I’m now a corporate executive, so… think I’ll be ok.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          I’m now a corporate executive, so…

          The way you said that, it almost sounded like you were a corporate executive for Target, which would’ve been brilliant!

      4. Rex Libris*

        Many years ago, I did a short stint at McRestaurant. The staff was so toxic and the manager so cartoon villain-ish, that I finally couldn’t take it any more, shut down the grill in the middle of lunch, and walked out. It caused literally no career ramifications anywhere, ever.

        1. Just Another Cog*

          I worked for an hour for a competitor of McRestaurant. My first assignment after changing into the uniform was to clean the men’s restroom. (I’m a woman;manager was a man). It looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in ages. The urinals were stained yellow-orange and the whole place stunk to high-heaven. I pulled off the rubber gloves and left those and the cleaning supplies on the filthy floor and walked out of the still propped-open door straight to the parking lot and drove away. I never formally quit and didn’t even return the uniform….just threw it away. I got a check in the mail for the hour I worked. I also just retired from successful 35-year career, NOT in fast food.

          OP, Don’t worry about quitting on your time-table.

      5. somehow*

        I began a job at a well-known office supply company, and, my first week in, I knew I wanted out when a customer fainted, other customers asked if there was water to give to the person, and the store manager shrugged and told customers who wanted to give the person water that they were welcome to purchase water bottles from the coolers near the cash registers. I will never forget their collective look of utter disgust.

        I’d noticed other problems, but I gave my notice that very evening, and never looked back.

      6. ErinWV*

        I worked at Bed Bath and Beyond for two weeks! It was a grad school job, it blew, and I never even put it on my resume.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      This. THIS.

      The reason they can’t fill positions is clearly spelled out in your letter–ridiculous hours, switchback, neckbreak position changes, terrible communication with the sales staff–they don’t respect you or your labor, which ironically is one reason they’re so comfortable going “oh, you aren’t REALLY quitting until we say so.”

      Any blowback you could possibly get from just leaving a job you do not want and treats you badly is nowhere near what’s happening now–your health is suffering, your anxiety is kicking in, and it’s sabotaging your interviews.

      You don’t owe them anything. You’re done.

      1. OP*

        I reaaaally need to grow a backbone, true. I actually liked a few parts of the job, like setting my own breaktimes when I want and how long I want, and having days off in the middle of the week, but as the amount of negative things increased, I just rotted away in bed during offs and dreaded getting a message from my coworker that something has come up AGAIN.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Arguably you have a backbone – you just need to learn when to use it. It’s not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. A huge culprit is we are socialized to be “nice” especially doubly true if you are a women, but even for men – we are supposed to be nice.

          It feels like we’re being not nice when we set boundaries because the other person may get/is upset. We learn to associate that when others are upset with us it is somehow our fault therefore we should avoid causing upset.

          Gotta pivot that thought process – other peoples feelings are their own problem. Unless you are doing something with malice or ill intent obvi.

          There is nothing wrong with setting a boundary – a boundary affects you – you will be leaving on x date. How your boss chooses to react is not your responsibility.

          Repeat this little mantra until it starts to feel true.

        2. Jojo*

          OP, if it’s retail in the USA, just walk. As a former retail manager, we were not even allowed to give references for fear the company would be sued if we said something negative. That may have changed, but with retail, you don’t even always need to put it on your resume/application. And any manager who doesn’t know how to handle a no show, hasn’t been a retail manager long.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Every retail or other noncorporate job I’ve ever had was allowed to confirm dates of employment, that was pretty much it. Sometimes they could confirm if the person had quit, been laid off, or was fired.

        3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Yeah, it’s not a backbone it’s knowledge.
          You don’t know if your experience is the norm and management has veto power in your resignation.
          They can renegotiate, ask, beg, threaten, manipulate, but they cannot stop you from resigning.
          You don’t know if your company is a “high-energy, deadline driven family that works hard and plays hard” or a giant bag of bees.
          It’s a giant bag of bees.
          Do not tell interviewers you are tied to your job.
          Do not tell your company when/with whom you interview.

        4. Falling Diphthong*

          OP, may I suggest that you try watching Better Call Saul? It has a unique take on the opportunities and tribulations of working in a cell phone store.

        5. CowWhisperer*

          Don’t be too hard on yourself.

          I’ve worked retail and professional education jobs.

          Retail jobs are much more crazy-making than even my hardest day with my hardest student population. You are underpaid, physically exhausted from being on concrete or thin lino on concrete for hours a day and never know when the next enraged, entitled jackass will make your day hell.

          That’s ignoring any corporate money-making schemes that require hawking terrible rate credit cards or dumb add-ons. (The period where we had to ask every customer if they wanted to apply for a credit card, purchase a fountain pop, and buy a rotisserie chicken in that order as we checked out their groceries was memorable for the absurdity. About 1 in 10 people bought a pop. No takers on the card or chicken – but a lot of people did a double-take when I replied “How ’bout a chicken?” in response to “No, thanks on the pop”).

          And yet retail panics the hardest when employees quit.

          1. Electric Sheep*

            The wild progression to rotisserie chicken as the third offer has sent me. Thanks for the laugh.

        6. Carl*

          OP, do not blame yourself! You are loyal and dependable and responsible – all good qualities! – it’s just that this job doesn’t deserve you.

        7. Csethiro Ceredin*

          Retail is notorious for having very high expectations of the workers without supporting or paying them commensurately. I remember a retail manager expecting us to count inventory for free and just presenting it like a standard workplace practice. That mindset gets under your skin, especially if you’re new to the workforce. So it’s understandable that you’re not sure you can push back, and I’m glad you asked!

        8. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Go easy on yourself. That kind of ‘I don’t give a monkey’s about your opinion of me’ attitude can take decades to acquire. I’d say that by writing to Alison you know this is wrong and are taking that first step toward a titanium spine.

    3. Margaret Cavendish*

      My sister once worked at a call centre for a week – and had to train her replacement, because she was the person with the longest tenure.

      So not only is this really common, but it’s pretty much assumed in a lot of industries. You can go, I promise!

    4. sparkle emoji*

      And by my reading, OP first tried to give notice during a trial period? “I put in my notice few days before the end of my trial period” sounds to me like a probationary period– probation is for both you AND the company, if the job sucks, you should be able to leave even easier than normal. If you’ve been there for a few months(assuming a long trial because if all these shenanigans were in the first weeks… side eye) this job doesn’t need to be on the resume.

      1. OP*

        Mid June ´23 to Mid October ´23…yeah…they spared the crazy in the first month, it started around mid second month?

    5. LivesinaShoe*

      I walked away from a temp job at lunch. Now I have a real career. Never ever ever harmed me (even then with that agency).

    6. tamarack etc.*

      This. If the job is one that strongly relies on your specific, individual skill set (ie, lead designer, project lead, anything with highly personal client relationships) I can see that a transition-out plan, *suitable compensated*, makes sense. But a basic retail worker, where the reason leaving is a pain point is the inability of the business to provide realistic staffing levels and working conditions? Be outta there!

    7. Laser99*

      I worked in retail for a long time and you are absolutely correct. It is very common for people to just walk off the job.

      1. Candi*

        I think my new job is expecting that. By my count, they hired about 1/4th more people then they actually need.

        [Retail store] job, and even though it’s not in line with my degree, I am unreasonably happy to be working again after a year, even if it is a little-above-state-min-wage retail. Besides, this will help with the reference and networking problems I was having.

    8. OMG, Bees!*

      Also the idea of “Eff you, I quit (right now)” is most common in retail compared other/office work. I know the LW won’t do that, but that gives even more power to quit with no notice.

      Scheduled with less than 24 hours notice (which is illegal in some states)? No, I don’t think so.

  2. Cat*

    Bear in mind that the professional norm might not be 2 weeks where the letterwriter is – for example in my country (UK) it’s 1 month as standard even in retail

      1. Empress Ki*

        I live in the UK. I had to give 1 month notice in all my jobs. It’s written in my contract. 1 week is uncommon.

        1. Sharpie*

          My retail jobs required a week, as did my one warehouse job (where I gave two weeks so as to leave at the end of the month… And my managers there were great people and knew early on I was leaving, because I was moving out of the area, we just didn’t have a moving date for a couple of months.)

        2. Tio*

          Either way… it sounds like OP is already giving them at least a month. So worst case, they would have to be there a couple more weeks, but they are in fact at least able to set an end datae.

          1. So they all cheap ass-rolled over and one fell out*

            I wonder if it counts, though? LW tried to give notice but got talked into not quite giving it. Is the clock ticking, or not?

            Of course if it’s in the US or anywhere else with at-will employment, two weeks is a courtesy and LW has already been more than courteous.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              I think it sounds like they did actually set an end date, just that OP is not confident they will stick to it (which they are definitely right to be skeptical of). It says “We put in a solid date, but I’m worried they’ll try to get me to stay even longer if they don’t find someone.”

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      It’s 4-6 weeks where I am (Germany, Eng R&D) but we must use up comp days and vacation, so many people end up working just 1-2 weeks.
      Also, if they go to a competitor, giving notice at FinalJob would mean 0 days notice – they just got paid the full 4 weeks :)

      1. Tau*

        3-4 months for me (also Germany), but I’d be really surprised to see that notice period in a retail job – and of course OP would still be in probation, with a shorter notice period.

        1. amoeba*

          Yeah, in probation, it’s typically either 2 weeks or no notice at all! I wonder whether OP is now still in their probationary period or not, though – it seems like they tried to leave right at the end but the employer convinced them to stay, so they might actually be out of probation now?

          Pretty sure the working conditions would be quite illegal in most countries with OK labour protection laws though, so I’m assuming they’re in a place where there’s no long notice periods.

    2. bamcheeks*

      But, as in the US, your boss is unlikely to do anything other than be annoyed if you leave a retail job with less. And most retail jobs will only give a basic dates reference, if that.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I understand it is also standard in the UK to have contracts. Not typical in the US, not for retail, food service, sales. Not typical in start ups or fortune 500s.
      If OP is in the US, s/he can walk in tomorrow and be handed his last check and told to kick rocks.
      I’ve seen it happen everywhere I worked. Met by HR first thing and out without reaching their desks.
      The closest to a contract is if you get a signing bonus or tuition reimbursement. The company makes damn sure you will pay them back if you leave before X date, but you can still be let go in that time.

    4. tamarack etc.*

      Not during the trial (=probationary) period! That’s specifically designed so that either side can walk away with no notice, no harm, no foul, while after the end of the probationary period longer notice periods apply.

  3. RagingADHD*

    If you don’t want to give notice until you have something else lined up, feel free to tell interviewers that you are available to start 2 weeks from the date you receive an offer. That’s pretty standard.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Sure, my point is that the lack of a fixed date need not be a problem for interviewing. A rolling potential start date is very normal. Plus, it puts a subtle / tactful highlight on the fact that you are working, aren’t desperate and aren’t going to commit to this potential new job until they put something in writing.

        1. Some Lady*

          Yes! You can say ideally two weeks after offer but note that that’s flexible–that way if they have some reason they want someone by an earlier specific date they know you should not be ruled out.

    1. Rose*


      This all makes sense if you need the income for now, but under absolutely no circumstances should you be tanking your chances at a new job by staying where you are just because it’s convenient for your current manager. They absolutely will screw you over because that will be the most convenient thing for them.

    2. So they all cheap ass-rolled over and one fell out*

      Yes, if I were looking for a job, absent some exception I would be telling them I can start in two weeks. And that’s without the terrible work environment and already mostly-given notice of LW’s situation.

    3. amoeba*

      Yes, came here to say that! You don’t need to have given notice when applying to other jobs – they typically want to know your notice period (I mean, in the US they probably assume two weeks, here they ask what’s written in your contract) and then set your start date accordingly. It’s very, very normal to job search while you’re still employed.

      But of course, saying “oh I can’t start until my old employer decides to let me go” is not an option. Not just because the new job wouldn’t like it but because that would be… generally horrible? Just hand in your notice and then leave. If you’ve already accepted a new position, that’s even easier – “sorry, cannot stay a day longer, starting new job on X date”. But please, if you can afford to leave right now (or in two weeks), do it! This place is most certainly not worth it.

  4. el l*

    This is one of these situations where – if you let them – management will do what’s expedient for themselves, rather than right for you.

    Set a date as quickly as you can, no more than 2 weeks. Then get on with the rest of your life.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Facts. Manager finds someone who is looking for a job. She knows you want out. She offers person a job at your crap company and tells you, thanks, you can go now.

  5. Boof*

    mmm – the crappier the job, the harder it will be to find someone willing to do, and the less it’s to your benefit to stay while they try to find someone else willing to put up with all the crud instead of actually improving working conditions. They will of course WANT you to stay, but you do not have to sacrifice your self interest for theirs, nor should you! (capitalism works both ways; they don’t pay you enough to put up with this, so don’t let them somehow guilt you into putting up with it! That’s even worse payment than actual money!)

    1. Ann*

      This. The last time is was in LW’s situation, I was getting paid probably half of what someone with my quals would get. Also the salary was too low to live on, which worked for me since I was living with my parents, but absolutely would not work for anyone they’d hire to replace me. So when my boss asked me to stay longer than I planned to so he could hire a replacement, he was absolutely lying. He didn’t even put an ad in to hire a replacement until I told him, a month and a half later, that next week I have to be gone no matter what, because I’m going back to college.

    2. Dinwar*

      “capitalism works both ways”


      An employee is exchanging their labor for money. It’s a trade. If the trade isn’t to the employee’s satisfaction (barring contractual obligations, which retail at this level isn’t going to have), it’s absolutely okay for the employee to say “Nope, I’m out.” A job is a trade, NOT a moral blank check; if you’re not getting the value you expected in exchange you can just walk away.

    1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      I note the LW says they have anxiety. Anxiety brain will tell you that you aren’t allowed to do things for yourself because of vague nebulous terrible consequences if you “make” other people “upset”. People with anxiety suppress their own needs all the time/are known people pleasers.

      Also highly recommend the You’re Wrong About episode on Stockholm Syndrome. :-)

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        OMG, yes. Been there, done that, too many times to count. So glad I finally got on a medication that keeps my anxiety from getting completely out of hand. *hugs Zoloft bottle*

        1. OP*

          Lexapro (or Lexaho as some say). Gave me extra 10kg but I do not miss the panic attacks or absolute existential crisis every night at 3am. But I´m looking into different diagnosis because the general anxiety and forgetfullness is not getting any better, and lot of the things that I still struggle with match untreated inattentive ADHD in women.

          1. Freya*

            I’m someone who was diagnosed with and treated for Generalised Anxiety for years and years before ADHD was brought to my attention as a possibility. My own experience of getting diagnosed with and getting help for my ADHD and ASD is that being on the right meds for me and my ADHD definitely did more for my chronic anxiety and OCD than the anti-anxiety drugs I was on. Seems the OCD was and is a maladaptive response to being uncontrollably ADHD in a world where that’s not OK. And weaning myself off of the anti-anxiety drugs meant that the panic attacks (PTSD-C from, amongst other things, going undiagnosed and unassisted with my ADHD for 38 years) became visible instead of being submerged into the fog of everything that the anti-anxiety meds were helping me deal with. So now I’m getting help for those, too! (and the migraines that apparently ARE in my head and not a figment of my imagination…)

            BUT: that’s my experience, and I am not a doctor nor an expert on anything but my own experience :-)

            1. OP*

              Soul siblings! I also seem to have weird “no apparent reason” trauma (parents never beat or yellet at me, just were bit aloof, never without money, I had some friends, wasn´t a total outcast etc) that doesn´t seem to get untwisted no matter how hard we try. Also, I should be able to remember more when I´m a year into my meds but nope, still a scatter brain to a point it´s hurting me.

              1. Eater of Hotdish*

                I just wanted to say–I see you, I hear you, and I am dealing with a lot of the same stuff. No idea where most of my trauma responses come from, either, unless it’s the result of a lifetime of this vague sense of existential dread that I cannot actually cope with the demands of the world as well as I ought to, or as well as people seem to think I can.

                It’s excruciating saying “no” to people under the circumstances, but I think that if you draw a very firm line with this job, you’ll be proud of yourself later.

          2. COHikerGirl*

            ADHD can present as anxiety/depression and vice versa! If your anxiety meds haven’t fully taken care of some stuff (as fully as they can), either you’re in the wrong dose/med or it likely is ADHD! Forgetfulness is a huge part of ADHD, but not really anxiety. ADHD is wildly underdiagnosed in women. If you think it might be that, definitely work on a diagnosis (if possible…cost is wildly variable depending on the docs). Even knowing helps, because you can work on “life hacks” once you know how your brain operates (mine worked so well I almost fooled the computer test…!).

            Also, quitting a really bad job will also do wonders for your mental health. You’ve got this!

            A person whose psychs decided anxiety, depression, and ADHD are all very much valid diagnoses, unfortunately (I loved my docs who decided that…so definitely valid) and who cares entirely too much about retail jobs

            1. OP*

              I often get told I chatter on and on and use very technical terms when talking about stuff that I know about, to a point of boring people, but every damn time I´m under high-pace stress, it´s like a brain fart to most basic things like “how do I process a return again? Give me a sec, I need a brain reboot.” And blasted working memory seems to be the one thing that is just not going away, no matter what games and supplements I do.

          3. NothingIsLittle*

            Oh my gosh, this! Wellbutrin (Bupropion) literally makes me a different person. I still have memory problems, but I’m no longer losing days at a time. Plus it’s prescribed off label for anxiety and depression, so it can help get those symptoms controlled.

            I only got my ADHD diagnosis a year ago, now looking into autism as well at the recommendation of my therapist, and it is remarkable how much easier the world is to navigate when I have a framework to say to people, “hey, I have a memory problem, can you email that/confirm that this is accurate?” and “I have a lot of trouble picking up on subtext, so please just let me know if my work ever doesn’t meet your expectations. I promise I won’t be offended!”

    2. OP*

      Yeah, I have a therapy session coming up next week so we definitely have a case hahaha. Trust me, we already worked on the worst stress-release mattress aspects, I’m a prime example of learned people pleaser due to upbringing…

      1. Kevin Sours*

        Sometimes in life you have to channel your inner asshole. This is one of them. Start telling prospective employers that you can start whenever and then walk. Throwing the match behind you as you walk away is optional.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          “Sometimes in life you have to channel your inner asshole.”

          THIS needs to be embroidered on a pillow. Words to live by, for sure!

      2. ShinyPenny*

        Sending lots of good wishes your way!
        I’m so glad you wrote to AAM for advice— it’s a big step to finally say, “Hey, this sucks and it isn’t working for me anymore.”
        Setting boundaries is absolutely a skill you can learn, and we are all pulling for you!

      3. Clare*

        OP, someone taught me when I was a little girl: “Don’t be aggressive, don’t be passive, be assertive.” Everyone is allowed to be assertive. It’s the sweet spot in the middle where all the reasonable people lie. You can be assertive and still be a good, nice person. Anyone who gets upset about that is angry because they can’t use you to serve them due to your confidence and gosh darn reasonableness – everyone will back you up, not them! How maddening for a person who wants you to back down and give them more than is fair!

        If you want to stay the nice, good, kind, helpful person you are, while keeping your boundaries intact, you can. “I’m assertive, not aggressive”. You got this!

  6. Goldenrod*

    “Any chance you’re overly deferential to employers in general, or a people pleaser, or reluctant to assert yourself in other areas of your life when you should be?”

    I agree strongly with Alison on this one! I hope you do some work on learning to set healthier boundaries, because you are giving away too much personal power in this situation – and I agree with Alison’s hunch that if you are doing it here, you are likely doing it in other areas of your life as well.

    It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to not please everyone all the time. You deserve more. Good luck!!

  7. Shoes*

    “I’m curious how you got into a mindset where you felt you owed your employer your labor until some indefinite time when it becomes convenient for them to let you leave. Any chance you’re overly deferential to employers in general, or a people pleaser?”

    The idea that you should leave under “good” terms for fear of a “bad” reference can be very ingrained.

    I’ve heard and read the voices. that seem to try to scare people “You never never know who knows who.” I’ve seen it here and elsewhere.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Sometimes it’s true! In the legal field (what I have the most experience working in), it was extremely common for people to know pretty much everyone else in our local community in our specific niche. Burning your bridges with X respected person could mean needing to move cities to stay in the practice area. Doesn’t mean I didn’t see it happen or that it wasn’t worth it, but there’s definitely a good reason I worked very hard not to have it happen to me.

      That being said, OP is 100000% not in one of those fields. I did not do those kinds of lengthy notice periods or worry about references when I worked retail and food service and it never ended up being a problem for me.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        In a small industry or local/niche market, chances are the reputation of an unreasonable/jerk boss will be out there too, so if they bad mouthed an employee, other people in the field would take it with a grain of salt.

        Note, that doesn’t change the mindset workers often have that they have to do everything they can to please/keep from burning a bridge, because it’s easy to forget that that “you never know who knows who” goes both ways.

        For me, the employer pleasing in years past came partially from that ingrained fear of burning a bridge / getting a bad reference, but it also came from growing up poor in a family where there was absolutely no safety net I could count on after I launched … so any job I had I felt like I needed to do everything I could to do it well (which equated for me as please the boss, please the clients, please the co-workers, even if it meant long hours, crazy stress and taking on responsibility for things that were way above my pay grade, and some that were out of my control (such as trying to keep my bosses on an even emotional keel … again, issues from childhood around volatile authority figures)

        Fortunately, I’m feeling much better, and more balanced, now.

        1. nws2002*

          So much this! I worked for a boss who knew everyone but thankfully they also knew him. After I quit and changed into an adjacent field I ran into someone one day. She asked me if I was ever interested in moving back to the industry and offered me a job on the spot. I was shocked and told her I thought I burned bridges because I was sure Joe was badmouthing me. She laughed and said that he badmouths everyone who quits and they all know my work and would have no problem hiring me.

      2. Ansteve*

        Honestly it’s advice that doesn’t apply to most fields. For every person in a niche field that “don’t burn a good reference” is applicable there are 10 retail employees being given the same advice about their abusive boss who most likely never was going to give a positive reference anyway. Sometimes the best advice for a situation like that is to leave it off your resume and only add it if you absolutely have to for a background check.

      3. Piscera*

        @Michelle and @Hannah:

        I could see this going either way. I heard of a legal admin asst who had a new job offer pulled, after her JerkBoss found out where she was going. He called the other firm and said they couldn’t hire his asst, because she had a conflict of interest.

        I was madder at the other firm. I could believe that JerkBoss was a big shot in their business circle, and they were more afraid of offending him professionally than about any conflict of interest.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If you’re worried about getting a bad rep or reference, just reply that you gave OldJob x extra weeks, but they wanted you to stay until they found a successor how much notice you gave. No sane interviewer would regard that as a black mark.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        oops, typo
        You gave notice, but they wanted wanted you to stay until they found a successor, regardless of how long that took

    3. Rose*

      I was definitely told this many times as well, and it’s true, but the other values I was instilled with, like the importance of advocating for my own needs, made me intrinsically understand that if a boss was asking me for something unreasonable, I don’t have to say yes, and if someone has unrealistic expectations, trying to please them is a losing battle.

      This situation makes me think OP somehow learned one half and not the other, which IME means any jerk with unrealistic expectations of you has the power to blow up your life. I hope OP feels really empowered to stick up for herself after reading all of these comments.

      1. OP*

        I’d like to point to overall family that always seemed to avoid conflict by large and be kinda passive-agressive/avoidant if anything happened, so there was no true “here’s how to stand your ground” aside from “ignore it and it will go away.” Unlearn 15+years of implanted behavior in less than a year is an S-class fight.

        1. I Have RBF*

          Would it help that you have both Alison’s permission, and the permission of most of the commentariat here?

          I hereby grant you permission to leave your job at a time that is right for you.

          While two weeks is the expected norm in a professional environment, it is not required, and is especially is not required in a retail job.

          I know it’s hard to pry the people pleasing thing out of your brain. My early 20s were spent unlearning a lot of that stuff. It can be done. So be gentle with yourself. You’ve got this.

          1. Carl*

            Not just permission. I will literally stand up from my couch, and clap, and tell my wife and kids they need to stand up from the couch and clap, too, which is going to get all the dogs riled up, but why not, bc doing what is right for you and looking out for yourself should be APPLAUDED!

        2. Clare*

          Captain Awkward has some excellent stuff on how to do that kind of thing if you didn’t get it growing up. She does letters like AAM but for general social situations. Reading a bunch of her examples could help you fill your empty toolbox with ‘things a reasonable person might do in a similar situation’.

          If you’re not sure where to start, the Mom-friend letter is totally bananas and yet also slightly relevant. It also has an update so you do find out what happens in the end, which is always satisfying.

    4. ccsquared*

      Yes, and this is a particular mindset in certain middle class cultures in general, where you try to avoid any sort of being out of line that *might* have negative material consequences later. My mom frequently dispenses this kind of career advice. She also insists on never painting walls anything other than white or beige or MAYBE an extremely pale pastel because you wouldn’t want someone to pass up buying your house. Mind you, we were not selling our house, but you never know when you might need to and what if the only buyer hates robin egg blue, so better not risk it.

      1. OP*

        Funny how you mention the wall colours because my dad is to this day very against wall colours that aren’t striking easy-to-get-dirty white and will not nail a house number to the facade because it might damage it. He’s also a blue-collar customs officer whose greeting to unemployed-me was always “did you find a job yet?”

        1. Freya*

          I insist on the walls in my house being beige, but that’s because I like changing the soft furnishings, which are much easier to swap out, and I want my walls to fade restfully into the background instead of being bright and foreground-y (too many foreground items becomes overwhelming to my eyes and brain).

          The walls are also washable paint, as is the ceiling, because we like big dogs and mastiff drool sometimes means you end up having to wash the ceiling. Our current dog is a giant himbo and when his face is damp or itchy he rubs his entire body on the walls and the couch and the humans.

      2. Clare*

        But… but… why not paint the walls white prior to sale? I purchased my house for 15% less than it should have sold for just because the walls were maroon. Then I just painted the walls myself before I moved in. So clearly it’s a common attitude, but I really don’t get it. Painting isn’t hard if you’re willing to use plenty of undercoat and tape. My parents used to paint a room every year.

        Anyone reading this who wants to paint their walls and is afraid to do so, take this as your permission to do so! Clare and her mother are cheering you on!

        Also, if you want to know what colour to paint prior to sale, go Dulux Hogsbristle 1/4 tint (or a colour match in literally other brand, but that’s what you ask the paint shop to match). It’s mixed with a little bit of black and a little bit of red, and it creates this magical illusion where it looks off white next to white, beige next to beige, and grey next to grey, allowing you to seamlessly transition from white ceiling to neutral curtains/carpets. It’s magic. (Just don’t get the full tint or your walls will be brown.)

        1. ccsquared*

          So funnily enough, as an adult, I painted a bedroom in a friend’s condo dark chocolate brown, mostly because I thought it looked cool but probably there was some subconscious rebellion as well. Apparently, the couple who bought the condo from my friend absolutely loved it!

    5. K in Boston*

      This was actually my first thought — Especially if you haven’t had many jobs yet, a good reference from a manager can FEEL like a real make-or-break, regardless of whether or not that’s accurate.

    6. thelettermegan*

      I found over time that if one of the ‘who’s is a known terrible manager, then chances are that all the ‘who’s that know them are aware and act accordingly.

  8. Statler von Waldorf*

    While I admire your desire to not burn bridges, your current plan of setting yourself on fire to keep your boss warm is not a good idea.

    Get out. Jobs are like relationships, in that it only takes one side to say “No” to end them. Somebody who refuses to respect your “No” does not have your best interests at heart. Don’t let them use guilt to convince you otherwise.

      1. Properlike*

        Picturing cigar-chomping boss warming his hands by the immolation and then yelling it’s not hot enough.

  9. Annony*

    What bridges are you afraid of burning by not staying until they hire someone new? You are still in the trial period so you can’t have been there long. Leave this job off your resume entirely if you want. It’s not like they could be a strong reference for you after so short a time anyway.

    1. CSRoadWarrior*


      There are NO bridges here since OP didn’t stay that long. It is not like this job will be included on the resume or a LinkedIn profile anyway, and it is very unlikely to come back to haunt anyone who has done this.

    2. somehow*

      This right here. If I was asked during an interview about the time gap, I’d lie through my teeth and say I took some time to travel or what have you.

      If it helps, the only (two) times I ever had a retail reference was if I was moving and wanted to keep working for the same company in the new location. It was natural for the manager of the store I wanted to go to, to contact the manager of the store I was leaving.

      Otherwise, it was like I just disappeared, which, for these purposes, was great!

    3. Annie*

      Given that the OP has informed that her family raised her to be a people-pleaser to a fault, maybe she is afraid of a bad reference from this one place for “breaking a promise” ruining her chances of getting another job.

  10. TeenieBopper*

    “I’m curious how you got into a mindset where you felt you owed your employer your labor until some indefinite time when it becomes convenient for them to let you leave.”

    *Gestures at the last 40 years of American work culture.*

    1. TeenieBopper*

      Like, I had teachers as early as 8th grade telling me what I owe employers and that I should be thankful for the paycheck. Boomers did a real number of the American workforce psyche and were just now really calling it out for the bullshit it is.

      1. Rose*

        Do you mind my asking how old you are?

        I’m 34 and what I got was “work hard, give 2 weeks notice before you leave. You have to intern for free first if you want a paid job and if you complain about it it’s because you’re lazy (not because rent costs money).” That last part was the only really toxic thing I had ingrained.

        1. TeenieBopper*

          I’m 39. I got the first part and the second part growing up and the beginning part of my career. But I also got a lot of what essentially boils down to “You should take what you can get and you should be thankful that you’re not starving.” I’ve got my own anxiety issues, but thankfully I also have a set of in demand skills and pretty good ability to tell people to fuck off, too.

        2. CSRoadWarrior*

          Sheesh. I am the same age as you and that just reek of poison. And you’re not lazy. Intern to be free? An internship surely is a great first experience, but you possibly might an unpaid intern. Then how do you pay the bills and then actually go out into the real world being independent? Not possible without money.

          But I digress. Whoever said that to you is not a great person to work with.

    2. OP*

      You hit it right on the head. I’m not in or from USA, but my parents and family DRILLED the “don’t burn bridges” into my head, resulting in insane people pleasing that gave me a few panic attacks after I hit 21. Even while I was sending that email, I was like “I need to work on that at next therapy appoinment” because the ingrained voices were so loud.

      1. Emily*

        OP, I think it’s great that you recognize that this is something you need to work on, and that you are working through it with a therapist. I hope you are able to take Alison’s advice, and I hope you are able to find a better work situation for yourself. We are rooting for you!

      2. CR*

        Not burning your bridges applies when you’re in an actual career and may need to work with people in your network again. It doesn’t apply to crappy retail jobs. Quit and don’t look back.

      3. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

        But is this terrible retail job a bridge you would ever want to go back to or have any need for? Probably not! And if you weren’t goofing around on the job, you almost certainly do still have it as a fallback option.

      4. TeenieBopper*

        “Don’t burn bridges,” is generally good advice. Like, even if you’re never going to see them again, if someone is decent to you, you should be decent in return (though, I would argue that this employer has been less than decent with you). But giving two weeks notice at anything other than a very small subset of jobs is not burning bridges. Good for you for working on it in therapy, but also recalibrate what burning bridges means. If it’s a professional (or societal) norm, doing it won’t burn a bridge. And if it does, it says a lot more about the other person than it does you.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Good for you for working on it in therapy, but also recalibrate what burning bridges means.

          Good call. One can’t burn a bridge that doesn’t exist.

          1. Dinwar*

            The boss already drenched it with gasoline when they said “I’d like you to stay until we find a replacement.” If they haven’t tried to find a replacement yet, the boss is the one that tossed the match, not the LW.

            And to be clear, the bridges in retail are built of single-ply toilet paper. With VERY rare exceptions, they are disposable bridges by design.

            1. amoeba*

              Yup. I mean, not burning bridges also works both ways! Yes, if the employer is behaving civilly and rationally, it makes absolute sense to do the same, give notice as common in your field and not, you know, quit in cod or insult everybody on your way out. Hell, if they’ve been great ask you nicely to stay for a few extra weeks to train your replacement/stay on as a consultant/whatever, I’d also consider that, in case it would actually fit with my schedule and they pay me well for it!

              But in this case, it’s *them* who behaved badly and burned the bridge. And honestly, as they seem quite desperate to hire people, “preserving the reference” also works both ways! They should actually have a vested interest in people not telling their friends how horrible they are as an employer or writing scathing Glassdoor reviews… Probably more than the other way round, actually, as I guess it’s very, very unlikely that you’d want to work there or in a very similar place ever again.

      5. CSRoadWarrior*

        Oh dear. So sorry to hear that, OP. Plus, if you give notice, it shouldn’t count as burning bridges. People quit their jobs every day. Nobody is expected to give a lifetime commitment to one employer anymore until the day they retire.

      6. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Think of it like this: if someone told you that you must stay in a relationship despite your partner being a cruel abusive uncaring sod until they find someone else would you do it?

        Because I did once. Trust me it’s not worth the mental anguish you have years later when you realise you could have got out quicker.

        Same goes for toxic jobs. The panic you feel now about leaving them is nothing compared to what you could have down the line if you stay any longer.

  11. AnonInCanada*

    Joining the brigade of those who’ll tell OP to get out. Sooner than later. What incentive will this manager have to get their butt and gear and get on to replacing you, if you agree to stay as long as it takes for them to find one? You’re not exactly a C-suite employee, and you’ll never get a chance to be one if you agree to stay until an indefinite date.

  12. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    “When you’re leaving and they want you to stay, you have leverage.”

    This. You don’t have to tolerate being treated badly, you are ready to leave, next time they try to bait and switch you or yell at you or do anything you don’t want you can give your notice on the spot. When they try to reverse course and sweet talk you you can say no thanks.

    If you wanted to be a jerk you could dictate terms, a raise, better hours, no complaining/yelling, no games, no quotas, whatever you want. When they say no you make the notice official.

      1. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

        I meant things like asking for $1000/hr or a personal butler or stuff like that.

    1. Properlike*

      I second (third) this plan. Switch the mindset to YOU doing the employer a FAVOR… but only on your terms. And you can say no. Because what are they going to do, fire you?

      Maybe use them to practice your shiny new backbone skills standing up for yourself! Pretend you’re starting in an industrial video or something. Pretend you’re the friend or even fictional character who would handle this the way you’d like to.

  13. Daniel*

    This sounds like one of Jon Bois’ stories from his Radio Shack years. (Google it if you’re not familiar.)

    OP, you can absolutely go and I urge you to do so. The freaking Pope didn’t wait around for a successor to be found.

  14. Dust Bunny*

    Nooooooo get out of there as soon as you can. He just doesn’t want to have to deal with it. Eff that.

  15. CSRoadWarrior*

    If you are in the US and not under any contracts or agreements, just put in your two weeks’ notice and stick to it. They cannot legally force you to stay longer than your notice period that you gave and agreed to. In fact, you don’t owe anyone any notice either, but this is something I won’t condone doing unless the situation has become so dire that you cannot stay a second longer. And yes, I have done this (though I am not proud of it).

    Don’t be forced to stay months longer at a job that has frankly affected your health and made you miserable. Just work your notice period and leave. And as Alison said, you wouldn’t want to ruin your chances of getting a new job either or a job offer you may already have. Just work your notice period and don’t look back. You deserve to be happy.

  16. NotARealManager*

    No future employer you’ll want to work for is going to ding you for leaving a low-level retail job after a couple months. If you can do two more weeks, great. Give the notice. If you can’t stomach it any longer, just tell them you’re not coming back, effective immediately.

    This advice does not apply for all jobs and career stages, but it definitely seems applicable to this one!

    1. Sara without an H*

      +1. I spent 35 years in middle management and did quite a lot of hiring. I never really paid much attention to low-level retail jobs on resumes. I always thought of them as “training wheels” jobs, didn’t expect to see a long stay there, and didn’t (usually) try to call them for references.

      In my experience, these jobs are usually configured as short-term, high-turnover positions. It’s baked into the job, and managers just assume there’s going to be turnover. While I understand that the OP isn’t in the United States, it sounds as though this is the case at her company. Her manager has just found a devious way to get more work out of her.

      1. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

        Even other retail jobs aren’t going to mind or bother finding out whether someone gave notice or not, let alone staying way past their notice at the behest of an unreasonable employer. I sincerely doubt that if you applied at Panera bread, they would be having a thorough reference check discussion with your former manager.

    2. CSRoadWarrior*

      I have done that before. I posted slightly above about it, but I was not proud of it.

      But yes, give notice and work out the notice period. But if the situation has gotten so bad you just cannot continue a moment longer, leave immediately. Your mental and physical health will thank you for it. As well as your happiness. And this situation definitely seems like one such situation.

  17. Serpentine Husband*

    “I know having no end date is a minus point for interviews (no solid timeline).”

    Who told you that? Your end date is two weeks (or whatever notice period is standard for you) after you get an offer.

    Job searchers don’t normally have a specific end date. There will be some circumstances where somebody does, but typically your end date is set based on your desired start date at your next job.

    1. Annie*

      Maybe the OP is relatively new to the working world or doesn’t have experience job-searching while employed for another reason?

      I have the impression that, to the OP, telling prospective employers, “I can start two weeks after I get an offer” feels like lying and/or breaking a promise made to her current employer.

  18. Dinwar*

    When I was a cashier I gave my boss a week’s notice, and felt bad about it (I was always told two weeks, but I was offered a job in my field that would actually look good on a resume, so…). He was thrilled that I was staying for the time they’d scheduled me to be there. Most people just noped right out of, sometimes not even finishing their shift.

    Even if you go to another retail job, it’s very, very likely that everyone else there has walked off a job before without giving two weeks notice, much less agreeing to stay until they find a replacement. It’s just the nature of that sort of employment.

  19. idwtpaun*

    OP, you have no obligation – legal, moral, ethical, real or imaginary – to stay in a job beyond when you want to. “Breaking up” with a job is not mutual, it’s one-sided.

  20. Nea*

    Never mind setting an end date – have you worked 2 weeks past the time you said you wanted to leave? Boom, you’re done. Walk. Out.

  21. pally*

    I think there’s managers out there who make a point to hire ‘people pleasers’. Not because of how they work with the customers but to exploit them.

    Best thing one can do if this is the case is to get out without delay.

  22. And the Skeletons Are… Part of It*

    “My manager asked if I’d be able to stay until they find someone. I was apprehensive, but agreed. ”

    Me: WHYYYY????

    Your boss can ask for whatever they want, that doesn’t mean you have to take it seriously just because they asked! You probably would’ve also been fine to not agree to go cover that other store. If you’re a decent employee and working in retail, they’re usually desperate enough for people that when it’s something outside your reasonable boundaries, you can just say, sorry, no, I only agreed to work at this location. If it’s taken this long to replace you with notice, they probably weren’t going to fire you for that, and even if they did, you hate this job anyway!

  23. Alex*

    +100 on that last point. Live your own life! You don’t need to receive permission to live your own life in a way that is good for you. You ASKED permission, which is fine, but not receiving it won’t always happen and you still gotta do what you gotta do.

  24. Calamity Janine*

    repeating what i am sure has been said at length, but for this level of retail gig? two weeks is standard but also honestly more gracious than they deserve. it’s barely a smidge above working casually as a waiter and making your entire notice quite acceptably be “by the way this is my last shift so don’t make up next week’s schedule with me on it”.

    not being able to find a replacement is evidence of them being a bad employer and you should gleefully jettison on out so you don’t get even a smidge of that burden. how else will they learn without the problem properly hurting, right? ;)

  25. Kristin*

    If they cannot replace you in RETAIL in a timely manner, this is a job to run, not walk, away from. Put in your two weeks’ notice and plan a little celebration for youself, too.

    1. OP*

      Just a fun recap of people who left/got fired since I got hired (mid-June): a high-school graduate who lasted 4(?) months, a branch worker in location with notoriously minimal sales (fired for low sales, when I was there for a day, I had whoopin 20€), a branch worker in big city with good sales who just abruptly sent resignation. And the manager said they don’t wanna close down this and that other location for weekends but no sane person will want to pull 7 days of 10+hrs without offs. I talked with my co-worker who switches with me and she said she’ll be next if they don’t cancel weekends until it’s fixed.

  26. Violet*

    I’m confused by something- in the letter, LW says “We put in a solid date, but I’m worried they’ll try to get me to stay even longer if they don´t find someone”. Why is Alison saying they are staying indefinitely?

    (As a former tech retail worker, YES, get out, don’t worry about burned bridges, it’s retail, the manager themselves will likely not be there in a year)

    1. Snow Globe*

      The LW goes on to say that they are worried that they’ll be asked to stay on past that date, and doesn’t seem to think they can say no. So it seems indefinite to the LW.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      LW seems to be under the impression that they can’t quit until/unless the employer “agrees” or “gives permission “ for X to be their last day, and if they wait for that to happen, they *will* be there indefinitely!

  27. Empress Ki*

    If you’re in an European country, there is a big chance that making you work 7 days in a row is illegal, especially 10+hours/day.

    1. amoeba*

      Oh yes, those conditions sound illegal as hell to me. Even the 10-12 h days in themselves would probably be illegal in Germany, and no days off definitely for sure. Both together are just crazy.

      1. OP*

        It´s long and short week. Long week is mon-tue-fri 8-20, sat 9-19 and sun 8-18. Short is wed-thu 8-20. But there´s surprise fill-ins (that I haven´t agreed to before-hand), plus emergency fill-ins for sick leaves and vacations. Frankly, it´s a mess, especially how they didn´t even inform me via e-mail about changing opening hours when I worked the next day. I could have had a KO (serious miss which results in no bonus or wage lowering) if coworked didn´t tell me that evening.

        1. Empress Ki*

          Also doubt that wages lowering is legal in an European country. Really, this company is the one who have burnt a bridge with you.

  28. Ex-prof*

    GTFO. I had a waitress job like what you’re describing. They treated me the same crappy way– scheduling me for a shift that started at 7 a.m. coming off a shift that ended at 3 a.m. and the like; and guilting me into stayinh every time I tried to quit.

    They had nothing to offer me except a “raise” from 2.05 to 2.10 an hour– and it was really that because you don’t make any tips at 2 a.m. So they used guilt instead of incentives.

    Finally I just QUIT. Brought in my two uniforms in a paper bag and wished my boss all the best.

    Two weeks later I ran into a former co-worker at the grocery store and she told me everyone else quit right after I did.

    You too can be an inspiration to your co-workers! GTFO.

  29. Anne Shirley*

    OP, similar to what another commenter said, keep repeating your final-notice announcement. Practice with a partner or friend or even in front of the mirror! I have little doubt your manager is going to try to manipulate you into feeling guilty, especially with the holidays coming. Stand firm, and walk if they become verbally abusive.

    In one of the most memorable (to me) letters/updates on this site, an office worker eventually “disappeared” without notice because the working atmosphere was so debilitating. This was the one where a coworker was abusing his medical leave/protection and disappearing CONSTANTLY, without warning. And the writer would get slammed with his unfinished work. Their manager did nothing about it.

    You can disappear too, if need be. Good luck and please update us!

  30. Silicon Valley Girl*

    You’ve only been at this job through a trial period, & it’s a job where ppl tend to only stay 3-6 months. High turnover is expected, so you leaving soon with standard or short notice isn’t unusual. You’re not burning a bridge — you’re doing what’s typical for this job & employer.

  31. DramaQ*

    Walk away! They can’t do anything to you if you do. OMG they won’t rehire you, do you WANT to be rehired? OMG they won’t give a reference! Do you WANT these people to talk to any prospective employers? The answer to both of those should be no. You do not owe your employer anything and always remember they would replace/fire you in a heartbeat if it suited them. And stop telling prospective employers about it! You can start tomorrow. Period. These types of places are used to people walking off the job/not showing up anymore. It’s part of the deal. As long as you are upright and sober you should have no problems securing another similar job, especially right now. Tell anyone you interview with you can start tomorrow because you CAN. I imagine someone somewhere told you that to be respectful and show that you are a dedicated employee you “owe” your company for hiring you, which in your case translates to letting them talk you into staying. Why would they hire someone? They know they already have a doormat in you. Your loyalty should be to yourself and securing other employment. Once you have an offer in your hot little hand toss your uniform shirt on the counter and ride off into the sunset.

    1. Annie*

      Aside from being raised to be a conflict-avoidant people-pleaser, this might be the OP’s first post-college job or similar. I wonder if some of the apprehension stems from that?

      1. OP*

        This is technically my second full-time job, first one fired me 1 month and 7 days in, the same day coworker who was in month longer quit, plus that manager was known for firing people left and right based on moods. That was after I was unemployed/interning for pennies for almost a year, so kinda? All this gave me at least a heap of confidence issues when it comes to jobs.

  32. Be free*

    It’s a trial period. You tried it. Didn’t like it. Walk away without any guilt. I think I quit three different retail jobs without notice. (I can’t even remember why). It’s fine. I’m so glad you’re in therapy.

  33. Mothman*

    I’m curious to know how old LW is or how many jobs they’ve had. I DEFINITELY felt this way at my first several jobs! Now that I’m in a 9-5, I’m usually willing to be a bit flexible on my end date (think within a week of what I wanted), but it’s been a hard lesson learned.

  34. Thomas Merton*

    I walked off a dishwashing job the second day due to the abusive environment. That didn’t stop me from getting a different dishwashing job a few days later. They treated me decently, so I gave notice at the second restaurant when I decided to move on a year later.

  35. Alan*

    I feel better reading these things. I quit my high-school food service job after 6 days. I just hated everything about it, snotty coworkers, a manager who was constantly yelling, working off the clock (I didn’t know better), physical issues with standing for the whole shift. The manager paid me for the whole 6 days out of the register and I practically skipped out. My parents expressed some disappointment but I didn’t even care. I would rather be poor. And no, no repercussions.

  36. Ioe Schmoeus*

    Usually I don’t like comparing work to relationships because they’re too different to make a good analogy but here’s one case where it is suitable: if you were dating someone and you wanted to break up, your partner can’t go “no, I want us to stay together” and make you continue the relationship. You wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – take that. If one person asks to break up, the relationship is over, your ex can’t veto it. If you want to quit, your boss can’t say “no, I want you to stay, you’re not quitting” and keep you – you just quit!

    1. Clare*

      This! They’re not allowed to guilt trip you into staying with them after you withdraw your consent! In a normal relationship you might catch up again over the next couple of weeks like an adult to wrap up financial stuff, give them back their headphones, and show them how to clean their own fish tank since you always did it for them – but after that you leave and they have to sort out their own life from then on. And if they’re abusive then you cut that time short and never go back.

  37. Sagegreen is my favorite color.*

    Finally I have something to relate. I left a job after three hours once. Never came back to bite me. Just do it, you will feel so free. If you can’t do it talking to them, just send them an email and be done with it. Goodluck!

  38. don'tbeadork*

    You know how sometimes someone is looking to rehome a puppy or a kitten and you say “if you can’t find anyone else, I’ll take it.” That’s a signal for that person to just hand you the pet. Same here. You said you’d stay until they find a replacement, but why on earth would they bother to look for a replacement when you’re already there?

    Just as it’s best to just say “no” if you don’t really want a new puppy or kitten, it’s best to just give your notice when you’re ready to go. Don’t offer to stay for even one day more than is convenient for you or you’ll have that puppy (or that unpleasant job) forever.

  39. GythaOgden*

    No, you don’t have to stay. As one of my favourite YouTubers says, ‘what the actual hell?!?’

    My supervisor is like this. When I gave her my new job start date — 6 November! apparently my equipment is being collected today, 13/10 — she moaned that my boss — still hers, just a diagonal move — hadn’t got back to her about replacing me yet, with grumpy (and possibly unintentional) undertones about me not being able to leave without that happening.

    I just smiled and nodded and thanked God Himself that I could just parachute out without a second thought. It’s the old run over by a bus thing, isn’t it? What would they do if you vanished tomorrow? In my case, it’s made a little bit more plausible because I’m still going to be in the org chart, just not directly under her or people on her level. (It’s as Byzantine as it sounds; I think they cut the cord earlier in the summer because she was obstructing anything related to my personal development and being a general obstacle to progress — it did apparently get to disciplinary levels at one point while I was out on holiday and then got sick when I got home and she thought she could go around management and found that she couldn’t.)

    While I do think that management needs to replace me fairly soon so my colleague can have coverage where we need it, they’re looking at a mostly empty building with three receptionists (two building admin, one clinic admin) and thinking, also understandably, about whether it’s the best use of resources. I wouldn’t want someone else to end up in my position of being a spare pair of hands but without anything much to actually do. My mum suggested I volunteer to cover them — she told me a story about how her bursar, an ex-military guy, took over one afternoon at the school my mum ran and was drafting million pound contracts at the front desk while he welcomed visitors. In her world, people do chip in for others when they need help and while he had important work to do, he could do it sat at another desk for a few hours.

    However, knowing the way /my/ office operates, anything that’s just a temporary workaround tends to get baked in to the system very quickly, and I took this job to get off reception. Mum is really good at coaching me in these things — she helped me get the job and also helped me write a more complicated personal statement that got me an interview with the UK healthcare inspectorate that unfortunately I had to turn down because I’d already got the job with my own regional management. But she was a bit off base — I’ve struggled for several years to be taken seriously, and yeah, when I’m a senior analyst dealing with huge contracts I can definitely remember my roots and sub in for an afternoon, but there is quicksand in being amenable to coverage duties when you’ve just left them behind and don’t want to become any more of a crutch than you’ve been for at least the last 3 1/2 years and at most the last 10.

    I’d be able to complain up the chain if my supervisor did pull me back in like that and wasn’t just giving off about the rather sclerotic way the health service operates, and I’m leaving with my head held high and with the actual hope that we’ll be able to repurpose the space we have that’s going to waste and make sure we get another receptionist in place, and that I’ll be one of the people able to help facilitate that.

    But right here, right now, you have another job and your boss has no legal right to make you stay and what’s his problem is NOT yours.

    Best of luck in your new role!

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