Williams-Sonoma has been hiring for several weeks now and everyone they interview wants to work on the sales floor rather than in the stock room, even though we in stock earn $1 more per hour than the sales associates do. Last week they thought they had a couple more people hired to work in stock, but the people never showed up and didn’t even call.
Yesterday (Monday), we got a truck delivery with 350 boxes in it. This was more than twice the amount that has ever been delivered in the time I’ve been working there. It took three of us to unload the truck, and at that, the part time guy had to take three or four carts upstairs and dump the boxes so we’d have empty carts to put more stuff on. The head of my department asked me to take an early break and then an early lunch because she was leaving early. She had come in at 5:00 in the morning and was going to have to come back after closing at 10:00 last night and work for a few more hours.
While the part time guy was still there, he and I took all the boxes upstairs that belonged there and put them in the correct aisles. Then it was time for him to leave and I had two or three hours alone to open the boxes, process the items, and put them on the shelf, including putting some heavy boxes on high shelves that required climbing up and down a twelve foot ladder. I was working fast because I knew that there was no other way we were going to get all those boxes processed before the next truck came to deliver more stuff today. (They’re gearing up for Black Friday and Christmas.)
One person for the evening shift came on at 3:00 and I sent him downstairs because there were still three or four carts down there that hadn’t been unloaded or processed. Around 4:00, I called down to my manager and asked her if I could take my afternoon break because my legs were starting to get shaky. She granted my request and I took my break and went back to work. A little while later, after having taken two heavy boxes up the latter to store on a high shelf, I was grunting and groaning as I was trying to load another heavy box on the bottom shelf. The manager was in her office with her door open, and she heard me so she came and helped me place the item on the shelf.
Not long after that, my co-worker called to ask me to bring something down and the manager told him she wanted to see him in her office right away. He went in and she shut the door, and the next thing I knew he came and told me he was going to take over upstairs and he’d send small cart-loads down for me to take out on the sales floor and put away… an easy job as far as it goes physically, but it’s not something I really like to do because I haven’t learned where things are in the store. I’m becoming more comfortable in the stock room.
I took the elevator down and I looked at the small cart and just felt exhausted. I leaned on the cart and pushed it out on the floor, but I was only able to shuffle my feet. I found places for a few of the items near the back of the store and worked my way forward. I got to the front of the store and placed a box of stuffing on a shelf, and one of the sales associates saw me and said, “Denise, are you okay?” At that I started crying and she asked, “What’s the matter?” I said, “I’m just so tired!” She helped me get back to the staff area where I started sobbing uncontrollably. The manager was there, and there was a sales associate who had just clocked out for the day but decided to sit with me. Once I got control of myself, my manager said, “I’m sending you home. Is there anyone you want to call to come and pick you up?” I had her go up to my locker and bring my phone down.
I called Mark and his first words were, “What’s wrong?” I said, “I broke down.” He took that to mean that the truck had broken down. He asked me where I was and I said I was at work, and I asked him to go over to Mom’s house and have her bring him. My thinking was that he could drive the truck back to her place for me.
After I hung up from talking with him, I started to get a bit chilled, so I asked my co-worker to grab my jacket upstairs. I put it on, but it didn’t help. My teeth started chattering and I started shaking violently. I was kind of out of it at that point. I could hardly hear above the chattering of my teeth and I was too tired to open my eyes, but the sales associate who had opted to stay with me on her own time knows I’m a Christian, so she began to pray for me. I tuned into that and I felt a sort of circle of peace surround the two of us. Then I tuned into what my manager was saying and realized she was talking about pulling someone in off the sales floor and/or borrowing a stock person from another store to cover my absence. I said, “I just need to go home and get some rest and I’ll be back tomorrow.” She said, “No you won’t. I’m giving you tomorrow off. You need to rest.”
About then I started to hyperventilate. I felt numb from my feet and legs to my hands and arms and all the way up to my upper lip. My manager said, “That’s it! I’m calling for help.” She called 911. Next thing I knew, our little staff area was full of about eight or ten EMT’s. There was no room to bring the gurney to me, so they helped me over to it and strapped me in. They put me in the ambulance, but they were sitting there with the door open as they got information from both my manager and me.
In the meantime, Mom and Mark parked near the store for what they thought was going to be a vehicular problem and they saw the ambulance. Mom said, “I hope Denise isn’t in that ambulance!” Mark got to where he could look into the ambulance and he saw me. He motioned for Mom to come. The EMT in the ambulance asked if I was married and I said I was. He described Mark to me and I said, “Yes, that’s him!” so he let Mark and Mom come into the ambulance. Mark said I looked very stiff. The EMT asked Mark and Mom a few questions about my medical history and told them what hospital they were going to take me to. I told Mark where the truck was parked and he sent Mom home.
On the way to the hospital, the EMT talked me through taking some deep, long breaths and helped me calm down, but my body felt as stiff as a board from my toes up to my neck. They got me registered but there was no room for me yet, so they put me in a wheel chair and just at that moment Mark walked in. We sat in the waiting room for a few minutes and I told him what had happened. As I talked, the stiffness began to relax and I felt tingling in my feet. Then everything seemed to settle down.
We finally got into a room and there was a wait for the doctor to come in. I had put on the little hospital gown and when she came in she listened to my heart and lungs. Then she sat down and asked me tell her what happened. When I told her, she said, “I don’t need to order any tests. I know what happened.” She said that when I was pushing myself to work faster, I got an adrenaline spike. That sustained me for a while, but then it dropped, and that was when I ran into trouble. She sent me home, or rather, to my mother’s house because I didn’t feel like driving from there to our RV half a mile away so that Mark could take his motorcycle home.
This morning I called work and got the same manager that had been making the decisions last night. I told her there’s nothing wrong with my health and told her what the doctor had said. She was very relieved, but at the same time she told me that they are going to make some changes to my duties when I come back to work. They’re going to give me easier work. I told her I love my job and that I could handle it, but she said she’s more concerned about my health. She did say that no one could fault me with having a bad work ethic. She had told Mark and Mom last night that she’s never seen anyone with as strong a work ethic as me, but the thing is, I can see that they need more stock people. There is way too much work for the number of people we have working in stock and no one else seems to want the job. My co-worker told me that by this time last year they had two more people than what we currently have. I’ve been trying to take up the slack.
My manager also told me that she had done the paperwork for an incident report so that the company will cover my medical expenses, but that I can’t come back to work without a written release from the doctor who saw me. So here they are having to scramble to find replacements for me, and I’m sitting at home twiddling my thumbs while waiting for the ER doctor to return my phone call. I will say that I had had the idea of doing some sewing at Mom’s today, but instead all I felt like doing was laying on her couch. I’m feeling better this evening and would go back to work tomorrow if I could. Talking with my family about it today, they thought of a couple people who might be willing to take a stock job at Williams-Sonoma. I hope that works out!