When I was in my third year at a university, I got my first serious job as a programmer.
I wasn’t very good, but I was just good enough to have my contract extended a few times so I stayed there for three years while getting my degree in computer science. The first two years were fine, but then something weird happened with our boss. Initially, those were small things: he would get irritated or impatient, when he asked me to work on a Saturday and I couldn’t he got offended, he called me in my free time even when he knew I was meeting my family. From what I knew those were common things in any job so I accepted all that.
But then one day he slammed the door to the room we worked in. And I don’t mean lightly pushed the door so it closed without using the doorknob — I mean he used so much force to slam the door that the frame shook and I jumped startled.
After that day he never closed the door the normal way again.
He often left the room to make calls, go to the restroom or the kitchen, to go to talk to assistants, IT guys, HR, or others in the company. On average he would go out of the room every 20 minutes. He would walk fast, open the door and slam it. A few minutes later he would come back and slam the door again, so the glass in the door and windows rattled.
Was it my imagination at this point that the whole room and my desk and computer all shook? Yes, maybe. But I started dreading the job, my head and ears hurt, I could not concentrate, and every day I sat anxiously awaiting the next door slam.
What are you supposed to do in this situation? Should I have told him not to slam the door? I was shy and scared so I never said anything. Is it even possible that someone doesn’t know not to slam doors? Or was he doing it on purpose? I started suspecting that he wanted me to resign but didn’t want to fire me directly. But I couldn’t leave right away.
Finally, I got my degree and found another job — and it too was a bad place to work.
That was enough. I never worked for another company ever again.
If I had a slightly higher tolerance for noise and rude behavior, or maybe if he closed the doors a bit less forcefully, I would still have a regular job. I was lucky it was so awful for me and that I never got used to it or I would not have made the jump to freelance.
My experiences are not some horror stories, of course. I have a friend who cried after work and a friend who had to work overtime without pay. And another who got fired and not paid at all for his work. What did he do next? He looked for another job.
The thing is, you get used to people yelling at you, demanding you work evenings and weekends, you answer phone calls on vacation and accept that you are not being paid fairly. So get out now. Because working for dishonest or rude people builds tolerance. After a few years of this, when someone humiliates you in front of your colleagues or takes credit for your achievement, you will think that it’s not that bad. At least you get a regular paycheck.