Unfortunately, most of us have at least one example of a job that became too stressful to handle.
There’s a good chance, too, that we may have not always made the best decisions at that job because of the stress.
But sometimes there are second chances to make things right, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor fuzzyone06 was the one to offer that second chance to one of his employees.
But when the employee didn’t appreciate the offer, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he should move on.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for requiring an apology as a condition to return to work?”
The OP ran his own business, which was a fairly high-stress environment.
“I (32 [Male]) partially own a local pharmacy. Most of our patients are old folks, and a lot of them have the ‘I’m old and I can do what I want’ mentality.”
“As such, dealing with them can be quite challenging at times.”
“I do my best to keep them in check, and I do ban the truly intolerable patients, but if I kicked out every cranky old person that came in, we’d be out of business in a week.”
One of his medical technicians struggled with the stress.
“Last week, one of our clients came in on a really busy day and started getting nasty with one of our techs (20 [Female]).”
“I offered to step in for her because I know this dude’s a d**k, but she said she would handle it.”
“5 minutes later, she stomped back in, shouted, ‘F**k this, I’m out!,’ grabbed her stuff, and marched out the door.”
“I ran after her and tried to calm her down, but she was having none of it.”
“She said she was tired of dealing with jerks and giving them a pass just because they’re old.”
The OP offered to help his employee work through it.
“I told her I understood her frustration, to take a 30 minute break, that I would deal with the jerk, and then come back to work. She refused.”
“I said if she wanted to take the day to really think before she made a decision while angry, I would give it to her. She said no and walked off.”
“I was mad, but I understood.”
The ex-employee eventually changed her mind.
“Because we were now down a tech, we all had to stay an extra 3hrs after close just to catch up.”
“Well, 3 days later, she called and apologized, half crying, saying she was having a bad day, she was overly stressed.”
“She went on about how crappy her life was going and that she couldn’t afford to be out of work now.”
The OP was willing but set some boundaries.
“I was sympathetic and told her that if she wants her job back, she can have it on 3 conditions.”
“1. Seek help for dealing with her stress (I offered to pay for therapy/stress management courses)”
“2. If she quits again, it’s for keeps.”
“3. I expected a written apology to her coworkers (not me) for waking out on them mid-shift.”
“She accepted the 1 and 2 but refused the third, saying it was humiliating.”
“I said she walked out on her team mid-shift and left the rest of us to pick up the slack, and on her next shift, since I couldn’t find a cover on 48hrs notice, that we were all stuck working late as a result of her sudden departure.”
The ex-employee didn’t respond well to this.
“She refused again and said she’s not going to humiliate herself like that and said that she won’t come back if I’m going to make her do that.”
“I ended the conversation with, ‘If that’s how you feel, then so be it. I’m sorry we couldn’t make it work. I’ll mail you your last check in the morning.'”
“I informed my partner and she got mad at me, saying that my request was unreasonable.”
“She agreed that it would be humiliating to her to write an apology like she was a little kid.”
“I countered that adults don’t just rage-quit their job mid-shift with no notice.”
“Now we’re at an impasse. She wants to offer her the job back sans (without an) apology, and I want to move on and find someone new.”
“I am questioning my decision now.”
“So, AITA for making an employee apologize in order to get her job back?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the OP offered more than enough chances.
“You offered a 30 min break to cool down, she declined.”
“You offered her a day to think about what she wants to do. She declined.”
“You offered her job back, including paying for therapy to help her deal with stress.”
“You went above and beyond and I don’t think her writing an apology is too much to ask. I would argue that’s less humiliating than face-to-face apologies for everyone. NTA” – k2aries
“How do all of her refusals when OP offered to take over come into play? She was in distress specifically because she refused help – and instead of seeking help when she reached her limit five minutes later, she decided to have a total public tantrum?”
“When she did that on-site, OP asked her to take a 30min break to calm down – she refused again. He offered for her to take the day off – she refused yet again.”
“Again, while she was in distress, it was because she refused the help.”
“Like… I say and ask all of this as someone who has a mental health diagnosis, takes meds, and whose typical stress response is flight… and as someone who also refuses offers of help…”
“I still can’t see how OP was anything less than stellar, nor can I see how the employee quitting wasn’t a result of the employee’s choices.”
“The employee then was a no-show for three days.”
“Like… this employee had many opportunities to take a time out to manage their mental health and they flat out refused. What else could OP have actually done?” – Ohcrumbcakes
“I am kind of wondering if she was expecting it to end like one of those ‘and then everyone clapped, and a man in the store spontaneously offered me a lucrative job as a professional puppy cuddler then and there!’ stories.”
“You know, the ones where 99.99% of them are made up whole cloth as wish-fulfillment fantasies.”
“Instead, everyone watched her walk out like she was a loon, and she woke up the next day and realized that she was unemployed and probably not eligible for unemployment benefits either.”
“Rage-quitting is only a thing you do if you are absolutely 100% sure that you would never under any circumstances take the job back. It’s not just burning the bridge, it’s blowing up the riverbanks on both sides so you couldn’t build another bridge there if you tried.” – thievingwillow
Others thought the apology was the least the employee could offer.
“You are maybe one of the coolest bosses, ever from this story.”
“Do you have any idea how many people would have handled the situation that gracefully in the moment, accept the person back after walking out on everyone and freaking out, AND offer to pay for mental health services?! Not many.”
“The written apology is a little embarrassing. But you are right. Her coworkers deserve it. And she deserves to be held accountable for her actions, which wouldn’t truly be happening unless that or something similar was required.” – pinapplepizza_99
“How is ‘before you come back to work, I need you to apologize to your coworkers that you screwed over’ humiliating? She messed up, disappeared for days, and had a huge impact on the rest of the staff.”
“I wouldn’t want to work on the same shift as her without an acknowledgment from her that she screwed up, and how she planned on handling things moving forward.” – Glittering_knave
“Part of growing and being mature is taking responsibility for what we do. Good or bad.”
“If she can’t apologize to the team for what she did, then she’s not a team player, and being a team player sounds important in this job. NTA.” – JuryNo7670
A few suggested how the employee could apologize instead.
“They definitely deserve the apology. Does it have to be a written apology?”
“It could be argued that a written apology would be less humiliating than having to stand in front of coworkers and apologize in person.”
“I’m torn. An apology is appropriate, the question is how.” – limadastar
“I agree they deserve an apology and while I do think the employee should just write it, it seems like a bad idea in general. A forced apology isn’t worth the paper it is written on.”
“The employee should want to apologize, and I’d give her the chance to do that in her own way so it can be sincere. If she doesn’t, that can be another strike against her.” – zerj
“If I were a coworker, I think a box of donuts with ‘Thank you for covering while I took some much needed time for myself’ written on the top, combined with a verbal ‘Sorry for making you have to work late’ would suffice.”
“An apology and acknowledgment to co-workers is warranted, but I don’t know that a written letter is the right way to do it.” – NotMe739
Though there were some disagreements about how the apology should be delivered, the subReddit agreed that the OP had done all he could do as a supportive boss and some kind of apology was definitely in order.
After all, it sounded like teamwork was important to this workplace, and fellow employees need to know if the returning employee can be depended on.