“Time to lean, time to clean.”
I remember hearing that at my very first job at fourteen-years-old. It was something the managers said whenever anyone had the nerve to not be doing something 100 percent of the time, even if things were slow. Don’t you dare rest your cranky back or anything, you should be scrubbing during a few second reprieve of bullshit.
I can’t help but notice that’s a common theme in certain kinds of jobs. It doesn’t just stem from idle time, but an overall lack of humanity and agency for the workers in jobs that society as a whole views as “lesser.” Here are some more examples.
-Restaurants that make you take off your work uniform during a lunch break. Because if the guests find out something ridiculous, like that the workers are also human you need to eat, they might not come back or something.
-Eating in a closet-sized breakroom for the same reason, because not only are you a robot that doesn’t eat, but if you’re seen doing so, it might reflect laziness upon the staff. Yes, actual excuse I’ve heard.
-Don’t show up to eat if you’re not scheduled that day. If they find out employees also have days off, the apocalypse might happen.
-If you can be making commission on the sales floor, you really should be doing it. I know we technically have to offer you a break, but we’ll look down on you if you take it, and maybe not keep you on because you might like to eat during your twelve-hour holiday shift. We’ve already established from restaurants that eating is a sign of laziness.
-Even if your sales environment is slow, don’t you dare get caught sitting down or glancing at your phone. Sure, a customer hasn’t come in in two hours due to the blizzard, but if you have to stand up to greet a customer, they might think you did something outlandish like eat a snack or acknowledge your existence outside of the business. I know you have injuries that make standing for eight straight hours difficult, but you should’ve thought of that before thinking you should eat this week.
-You want to spend part of a holiday with your family? Hah! We’re your family. So what if you have to work from 11pm Thanksgiving night to 1pm Black Friday afternoon? We black out holidays for requests off, working those days is mandatory. Anyone who calls off will be fired on the spot. Spend time with your family in March.
-I know you already have two jobs, but you don’t have literally completely open availability so we won’t even look at your application. I know we’re only offering 15 hours a week but you need to be available 24/7 so management doesn’t have to work evenings.
-If you have the nerve to actually be off on your day off and not be on-call or accepting of any extra shifts, you’re probably just a lazy bum who doesn’t really care about your work and you don’t have what it takes. People should always want to work all the time no matter what.
-You spend too much time in the bathroom. Get back to work. Nobody has to go that often, you’re probably just sitting on your phone.
So when I read stories about companies inventing toilets slanted 13 degrees, or workplaces with a policy of “if you’re in the bathroom longer than ten minutes, a smell check will be administered,” or that Amazon workers have to piss in bottles because their rates might slip into firing range if they dare go to the bathroom, all I hear in my head is:
“Time to lean, time to clean.”