In a challenging narrative of a young retail worker, the Original Poster (OP) witnesses her personal boundaries collide with the expectations of her manager and coworkers when she refuses to drive home an autistic coworker. The situation escalates to a breaking point as the OP’s reluctance is misinterpreted, leading to intense confrontations and unexpected alliances. As the tension mounts, readers are left wondering if the store can find a resolution that respects everyone’s needs.
The Unsettled New Hire
In a small retail store, OP, a 21-year-old woman, and her manager hire a new employee, Frank, a 46-year-old man with autism, whose mother typically provides his transport. On his first day, Frank’s mother is unable to pick him up, leaving the staff to sort out his ride home. In an awkward twist, the team plays a game of “not it,” leaving the responsibility to OP.
A Difficult Decision
As a young woman with autism herself, OP finds herself uncomfortable with the responsibility of driving Frank home, especially due to her own struggle with self-care and unfamiliarity with Frank. In a panic, she tells a lie about having prior commitments, avoiding the ride home. The experience leaves her feeling confused and anxious.
After the incident, OP shares the truth with a trusted coworker, believing it will remain a secret. Unbeknownst to her, the coworker informs the manager about OP’s discomfort and the lie, bringing an unforeseen complication into OP’s workplace.
The Manager’s Disapproval
The manager confronts OP, expressing disappointment in her unwillingness to help Frank, accusing her of discriminating against a coworker. Despite OP’s attempts to explain her discomfort, the manager remains firm in her judgment. This conflict deeply upsets OP, making her question her actions.
The Unwanted Youth Tag
To add to her distress, OP realizes she’s the youngest member of the staff, with all others ranging from mid-20s to mid-40s. This disparity adds another layer of complexity to her situation, intensifying her feelings of being singled out. The pressure on her starts to mount.
The Regret of Trust
OP regrets confiding in her coworker, recognizing it led to the current predicament. She resolves to be more careful about sharing personal matters at work. However, the damage has already been done, leaving OP to deal with the fallout.
The Compulsion to Lie
Reflecting on her actions, OP realizes that she often lies to avoid confrontation or shame from authority figures. She recalls instances where she has been guilted and shamed for saying ‘no,’ leading to her current tendency to lie.
The Manager’s Excuses
OP uncovers that the manager refused to drive Frank home herself due to her own obligations with her children. The manager’s justification that she’s “past the age to be taking care of other people’s children” feels dismissive to OP, causing further tension between OP and her manager.
The Weight of Expectations
OP grapples with the expectations placed upon her, both due to her age and the fact that she, too, is autistic. She feels pressured to look after Frank despite her own struggles, amplifying her sense of unease at work.
The Escalating Tensions
As tensions rise, the environment at the workplace becomes increasingly uncomfortable for OP. With the weight of the manager’s expectations and the judgment from her peers, her stress levels peak. Each day at work becomes more difficult.
The Mother’s Revelation
In a surprising development, Frank’s mother becomes aware of the ongoing transport issue. She expresses her shock, not knowing her son’s pick-up situation was causing such a problem at the store, requesting help to develop a more structured transport plan for Frank.
A Collective Solution
In response to the mounting pressure, the staff devises a rotation plan to share the responsibility of driving Frank home should his mother be unable. This collective solution alleviates OP’s burden and encourages shared responsibility.
The Apology and Reconciliation
The manager, recognizing the unfairness of the previous situation, apologizes to OP for her dismissive behavior and promises to respect her boundaries in the future. Simultaneously, OP’s trusted coworker apologizes for betraying her confidence, easing the tension in the workplace.
Was The Young Woman’s Behavior Appropriate?
OP posts her story in an online community for feedback. The readers in the forum had a lot to say on the matter. Here are some of their responses:
One reader said, “You have absolutely no obligation to drive somebody who is practically a stranger to your home; bosses cannot control what you do off the clock.”
Another Commenter Thinks
Another responder wrote, “Never trust coworkers with your ‘secrets.’ It’s not their business, and frankly, you can’t and shouldn’t trust people you work with.”
A Third View on The Story
A different person stated, “Nobody is obligated to provide transportation to their coworkers, disabled or not.”
A Final Perspective on the Matter
Another reader commented, “Your boss is not your friend. You do not owe them anything outside of work. Your colleague needing a ride isn’t your fault, especially when busses, bike share, and Lyft all exist.”
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on their actions?
What would you have done in this situation?
This story is inspired by a thread from an online forum.