It’s not an exaggeration to say that a pet is a part of one’s family. So it goes without saying that a person’s dog passing away is a legitimate reason for needing some time off. Unfortunately, Reddit user Crafty_Editor_4155 didn’t find any sympathy from his boss, so he was ordered to show up for work after his dog died.
The OP complied, but decided to make sure his manager understood their mistake. He shared the experience and aftermath on the Malicious Compliance subreddit, where it quickly went viral as other users shared sympathy and similar experiences.
This man found that his dog had passed away and, naturally, wanted to grieve
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Image source: Jessica Johnston (not the actual photo)
His boss really didn’t feel like it was important and decided to tell him to come to work that day
OP complied with the boss, but had no intention of staying silent
Image source: Yan Krukau (not the actual photo)
Image source: Crafty_Editor_4155
We reached out to Crafty_Editor_4155 and he agreed to speak a bit more about his experience and thoughts since the event. “I’ve been on subs like malicious compliance and anti-work and i’ve read the comments to my post. It’s very easy to demonize these types of managers. and some def deserve some less than positive wishes onto them. but as i’ve personally grown and am a manager myself now, leading people is hard. It’s a balance of trying to build your own career but still remembering the careers and lives of others are affected by your decisions. People sometimes make mistakes. but i always say “it’s ok to make mistakes, just don’t make the same mistakes.”
He points out that sometimes the work-culture of the time or industry can also be a significant factor in how managers approach personnel. “I’m in a very results driven field burdened by tight deadlines. I would say the manager was more a reflection of the industry and the culture of work at the time. This was in 2009 right around the time of the recession so “work life balance” was not a thing. I think the general attitude was more “work is life” or “lucky to be working.” From what I can remember, she was not disliked but she had a reputation of being very hyper focused. people like that tend to have a “worker ant” mentality and forget about the human side of managing.”
In Crafty_Editor_4155’s story, it’s unclear if the manager actually picked up some empathy from the situation. But he remains hopeful. “Did she learn something? I’d like to think so. Honestly, I was there a month before I found a better job that kicked off my career. I will say, she treated me the same after the incident. no retaliation or spite but at the same time didn’t act sympathetic. just another day.”
A manager needs to understand people, something that didn’t happen here
Image source: bluejeanimages (not the actual photo)
Unfortunately, this inability to see the bigger picture still plagues many jobs. In some ways, the work culture OP referred to in 2009 exists in 2023. It is particularly sad, as the death of a pet can often feel like the death of a family member. That’s not an exaggeration, a 2020 study by Anna Maria Behler, Jeffrey David Green and Jennifer Joy-Gaba found similar bereavement suffered by people who lost pets with people who lost immediate family members. Through shared experiences, people start to attribute human qualities to their pets, a process called anthropomorphism.
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The OP’s experience of his boss explicitly saying “man up it’s just a dog,” is unfortunately all too common. As the previously mentioned study indicated, grieving pet owners sometimes end up suffering more due to a lack of social support. Many people, particularly those without pets, just don’t understand what the big deal is. So a death in the family might garner a huge outpouring of support, while the death of a pet might be ignored. Since social support is so important for overcoming grief, pet owners sometimes end up suffering more.
Even in result-driven fields, like Crafty_Editor_4155’s work, there is still space for letting employees take time to process certain emotions. Disorganization is a key stage for the grief process, during which the individual might not really be capable of performing complex tasks. The OP’s manager wasn’t just insensitive, they were counterproductive. Time does heal a lot of psychological wounds, but only if the person can transition to the “final” stage of grief, which psychiatrist Colin Murray Parkes defines as “reorganization.”
Going to work just after discovering that a beloved pet has passed seems almost inconceivable to pet owners. It’s difficult to imagine a situation where a boss would demand someone work after discovering that their parent or sibling had died. But mentally, the level of sorrow can be the same.
Sometimes a lack of empathy can have all sorts of negative, spill-over effects
Image source: Prostock-studio (not the actual photo)
Many of the stories presented on various subreddits like r/malicious compliance and r/antiwork point towards a tendency to ignore the mental (or sometimes even physical) wellbeing of workers to achieve some sort of short term result. It doesn’t take an expert to know that this will just end up with the worker burning out, but for the sake of transparency, let’s see what the experts have to say. Researchers Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter found that feeling like you have no control or freedom, like OP being ordered to go to work instead of grieving, very quickly diminishes the motivation of the worker, which is a primary cause of burnout.
What’s even more dangerous to a business, is the tendency of burnout to “spread.” Firstly, jobs which cause burnout in one worker are likely to cause similar problems for another. Secondly, a worker who is burnt out often causes extra pressure on their co-workers. The previously mentioned study even goes so far as to suggest that burnout should not be seen as an individual symptom, but an attribute of a group.
Everyone would benefit if people just learnt to be more empathetic, even when they don’t fully understand the emotions of someone else. You don’t have to be an animal lover to recognize the grief of someone whose pet has passed away.
Commenters agreed with the OP’s malicious compliance and courage to be open about their emotions
Others shared similar stories about authority figures that didn’t respect pets
The post “It’s Just A Dog”: Employee’s Dog Dies, His Boss Makes Him Show Up For Work, So He Maliciously Complies first appeared on Bored Panda.