When I signed up for my old job, the job description was vague at best. You need to do a, b, and c, but also anything else we may possibly ask of you...you know, one of those job descriptions which literally covers their asses for asking you to stay late, clean the bathrooms, go get their dry cleaning, do cartwheels, whatever.
Things were humming along smoothly, and over the course of 2 years at that job, I moved on up to a supervisor role. I really loved being in control of my situation instead of the one always seemingly being controlled, or so I thought. At first, I was fine with all the extra work, extra hours, extra everything. They could count on me, and I was trying to prove I was an even better A++ worker. I'd volunteer to work extra events. I would volunteer to come in at 3am to do media. I would volunteer to work extra weekend shifts. I would volunteer to come in for a ten day work week. I said yes to everything trying to keep moving on up.
But I remember this one day, a holiday for most of the rest of the world where everyone else was out having fun, and I was locked inside in my office. I tried to think back to the last holiday I'd had off, or a vacation I'd taken in 3 years, or a night of fun with friends, and I drew a COMPLETE BLANK. It was terrifying to think that my whole life was that job. I was always too exhausted from 10 hour days spent 80% on my feet to just hang out after work and I hadn't been to a family function in forever. But who's fault was that? I knew I had put myself in this position where it was expected at that point that they would say jump, and I'd say, how high, but if my life was going to be meaningless doing that, what was the point? So after the holiday, I told my boss, not to call me.
My boss definitely thought I was kidding at first but he and everyone else soon found out just how serious I was. I made it clear that on my off days, on my weekends, in the early hours before or late hours after work, I was not on call. My job was never to be on call for anything and everything they needed to the point where they could enjoy a nice weekend, and I never could. I deserved to have a life and to enjoy my time off where I was absolutely not being paid. I would leave work and turn off my cell phone. I remember the first weekend where they had apparently called me in to work and I had had my phone off, and of course, getting no response, they had to find someone else. I strolled in and simply said, my phone was off...NO apology.
Soon the rumors that a supervisor didn't jump when they called began to fly to the point where I was summoned into a meeting where I repeated what I'd said to my boss. "I am not being paid on my weekends, or mornings, or evenings or time outside of work to do work. I have an outstanding work record when I am on the clock, I am always early in to work, I have no disciplinary actions, no complaints, and in fact, I had recommendations from staff and management alike." I felt giddy with this new power under me because they literally couldn't say s--t to me because I was an outstanding employee on record who simply wanted to actually have, use, and enjoy her off time.
It's easy to point the finger at a job, as we tend to do, and say, well they always ask me to do this or they said they really needed this or that, but the thing is, they had to ask you, and you in turn had the ability to say yes or no. You have the ability to prioritize what is important in your life. Why is it that after 3 years, a boss can still talk down to you or yell at you every single day? Have you ever in 3 years told him or her that that is not okay. Just because someone is a boss doesn't mean, they can treat you like crap. Why can't you ever seem to get a vacation? Do you even ask or just assume there is no way you can get away. Do you know that you legally have to have a lunch break of a certain time if you work a certain amount of hours, yet you're being shorted and not paid anyway for not getting or taking it.
There are so many things that we can influence or control about our own work situations, but we often get complacent, or assume that nothing will change, and then never try to change them for our own benefit. Don't just complain without at least trying because you'll never know what the results can be for your benefit.