Fear and Work? – Janine Love – I watch a fellow worker breaking under the strain of an obnoxious colleague’s attitude. A choice had to be made: would I intervene or leave well alone? The more the situation is considered, the higher its complexity.

To write this essay with fairness, a reader should know I have no dependents or financial commitments. This security place’s me in a strong position when it comes to how far I can be mistreated. In many life situations, people try to gain the upper hand. Ego’s are alive and well and frustrated even in the storeroom of a superstore. My tough mental armour, means sharp words or sly comments have zero influence.

I like, no enjoy the storeroom: it is easy to work and should be straightforward. A turn-up and follow commands procedure is the simplest way to approach the shifts. Accepting poor judgement of well-paid managers keeps me sane and drives weaker minds insane. I suspect senior head office managers operate a principal of not employing store manages of immense intelligence. It seems a policy of using subservient and somewhat unfeeling people who’ll follow the company demands is par for this course. One should accept this policy as acceptable or usual in the economic climate. 

My feeling is: if one is to try to be a kind or possibly a spiritual human. There needs to be an affinity to all who pass our ways. Compassion and understanding outweigh the ideas of spiritual, philosophical, or inspirational speakers/ideas. The more we become attuned to the feelings of others, the more we learn about compassion and giving. We learn by listening and watching. Happiness is the child of parents named caring and giving, few people care, and generosity is an aspect of the charity box.

To give of one’s time is a generous act. To show compassion is one of bravery. How often are people believed to be weak or stupid if they demonstrate care for those around them? And the sadness is a kind word or action is sometimes misinterpreted. Last year a male employee lost his job because an act of kindness was mistaken as inappropriate. How tiresome the correctness of this so-called advanced society?

Chris is a nice lady. Works long hours and after listening to her talk about home life: is taken for granted. Every moment of her day seems to be taken with her unsupportive family. You should ask ‘who are you to judge Janine?’ I do not judge I observe and see Chris’s exhaustion and hopelessness.

Over the years, an obnoxious staff member takes to pushing Chris too far. She loses the best holiday dates because her shift did not coincide with the open calendar system. Therefore, other staff books the best times before Chris. Yes! It is a big store, and not everyone will be satisfied with the holiday rota. But, my feeling is the bully worked out Chris’s shift rota, so it did not coincide with the morning the available holiday dates calendar became available. For another example ‘the must be done now’ job is always given to Chris five minutes before a break: and the insistence too ‘do the job now’ is overbearing. Many other examples could be listed of the pressure this unfeeling individual places on Chris’s shifts. It is easy to see the ‘big brother’ emotional blackmail. Chris needs the job and cannot take the risk of losing her wage.

Early last year: I decided to jump in when a demand was made of Chris. Here is a common situation: she is about to go on break and manager say’s ‘we need the store returns list checking for the two ‘o clock delivery. I know it’s near your break, but can you look after this for me?’ I jump in ‘Is it ok if I make the returns list? Chris is near her break, and I don’t need one’. The manager knows not to push me: she knows there is more to me than most: and she agrees. I continue to look out for Chris and keep her out of conflict. When the manager makes a sly remark or pushes too hard, I’m here to help and support. This is all you need to know, writing a list the ‘pressures’ would be pointless.

I intended to build trust with Chris. There would be a moment when she would ask ‘why?’ The answer was ready ‘Chris; sometimes we have to help people, sometimes we have to support people, sometimes we have to give to those who need kindness unconditionally’. Knowing full well, this should be a make or break moment. Because sometimes people resent help, they feel it is confirmation of failure or weakness.

‘I appreciated your help Jan, but I have decided to leave. Enough is enough’ My reply was this ‘Chris, there is an alternative. You can build your mind and willpower. And if you choose to follow this path, you could become strong enough to negotiate any difficult situation’. Chris said nothing and then laughed ‘Jan, you’re nuts’. And that was the end of the conversation. On reflection, the answer was inevitable, and I’d pushed bounds too far. Returning from a weeks break, I realised Chris was not on the shift I asked where she was, and the answer came back: ‘She walked out of a-shift’.

Sometime later, I met Chris at a meditational group! She smiled and later we spoke ‘Jan, I realised your strength to overwhelm and ignore the pressure of the unrewarding shop work came from somewhere. When you said, build your mind and willpower the words stayed with me: I looked through the internet and read a few books. I’m no reader, and so YouTube videos and Google searches guided me to mediation. You were the seed, your help and, what I saw as interfering, made me see, working against some situations is a waste of time. When we are strong or stronger than the oppression, they cannot affect our happiness.’

Chris had taken control of her weakness. She now works in another supermarket chain and is determined to enjoy the job. The situation has also helped me make a choice. I gave notice and worked out the month in silence. The difficult manager attempted to change my mind! My reply a silent smile. On the final day, I changed into my jeans, and sweater, leaving the company workwear in my locker, a blunt end to the basic life.

My brother is house-sitting. A return ticket and five-hundred dollars are the only part of my plans. I will explore America for three months and see where the gods guide me. One bag of travelling clothes, jacket and walking boots are my friends for the quarter. As you read this, I’ll be somewhere in the big country. Some thoughts, writing, meditation, and cycling. What will I do when I return? I may be away for some time.

Janine Love


  1. Best article I have read in a long time, I hope Janine at one point I get to meet you, I find your honesty strength of character and all round sense of freedom refreshing. Thanks for putting light into a sometimes darkened world, bright blessings and thanks for posting best wishes Rick.

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