I'm in a tricky situation and could use some advice on what to do. I'll try to be as detailed as possible without giving out identifying information.

I have 2 jobs, one retail position and one skilled trade at two businesses owned by the same person. She and I have known each other for about 10 years, and she is like a friend/mother figure to me. I started working at the retail store she opened and continued while going to school for my trade. Once I finished school, I split my time between both places.

Since then, I have grown increasingly unhappy with working at the store. I make 3-4x the $$$ doing my skilled trade and I get to make my own hours. I am very happy doing my skilled trade and have been slowly trying to cut my hours at the store over the past year to focus on my trade.

The problem is the store is not doing well, there is high employee turnover, and they rely on me heavily to basically manage the store for a clerks pay. Because the store is not doing well, the owners have been forced to work their other jobs in order to pay their bills. So they rely on us employees to work at the store. Another employee quit and I was told I had to pick up some of her hours on Fridays since I don't typically have clients on that day. I have been using that Friday as a much needed day off for the past few months. Now they're telling me I will have to pick up some Saturdays as well.

I like making other people happy and I like making everyone's lives easier, but it's starting to feel like it's at my expense and I'm not okay with that. My anxiety and depression are creeping back and I think it's partially due to my working at the store. I get calls from the owners and other employees on my days off (and while I'm on vacation!!) because they need help with the register or finding something in the store. I feel I have far too much responsibility for my pay and they rely too heavily on me to keep the store running.

I want out. I want my life back. But I don't want to jeopardize our relationship or my job at the trade business. Me leaving the store would be a hard hit to the owners and their business so I feel guilty for wanting to leave. But I'm also miserable and my personal life has been affected because of it.

How do I quit the job I hate without risking my position at the job I like?

UPDATE: Hi everyone! Thanks so much for your answers. I'm not "good" with words so you guys gave me a lot of great advice on how to properly convey what I'm feeling. I spoke with my boss a few times in the past week. They were going to cut another employees hours but told me I would have to keep mine- so I responded that after taxes and paying my dog walker, I only take home $7.00 per hour at the store and it's just not worth it to me. I told her that I will not work Saturdays and neither will the other employee, so she needs to keep those hours. By a stroke of luck this wonderful customer walked in later in the day and said she would be thrilled to work at the store, but ONLY if she can work full time (like 6 days a week). This would leave 1 day for the owners to go in and do paperwork, run the store, etc and the other 6 days they can do their other jobs. This would be the solution to all of my problems so send lots of positive energy and hope she follows through. I helped my boss put up a job posting online so we always have that as backup if this girl decides not to go through with it. But I think she would be a great fit for the store so I hope it works out. I'm looking forward to doing the job I love full-time! Thanks everyone!

  • 7
    Why is there such high employee turnover at the store? Is it badly run? Apr 13, 2017 at 19:25
  • 90
    Be ready with an answer if she decides to wave more money at you to still work at the retail store.
    – mkennedy
    Apr 13, 2017 at 20:20
  • 45
    Presumably, the "skilled trade company" is in better shape than the store. If so, you might actually make the company owner more money by concentrating on what is doing well, rather than propping up the failed store.
    – alephzero
    Apr 13, 2017 at 21:34
  • 12
    The hardest part will be acquiring two new skills: learning to say "no" and accepting in your own mind that it's not your responsibility to make everybody happy (or their business run smoothly if they themselves don't look after it). I recommend reading Captain Awkward Apr 14, 2017 at 10:12
  • 1
    Everyone here seems to understand your situation after you explained it, just do the same irl and you should be fine. It's not like your request is unreasonable or even problematic. The main point is to talk to your boss, if she is worth your time, she'll understand.
    – DonQuiKong
    Apr 14, 2017 at 11:05

10 Answers 10


As I learned the hard way, you need to take care of yourself first. This sounds very much like a position I was once in that ended up with me having a stroke, losing my family and derailing my career for nearly a decade.

You sound like you are about to burn out. Talk to your employer and explain your situation. Tell her that you are getting to the point where working at the store is affecting your health and that you need some relief.

If this person is truly your friend, she will work with you, if not then you are better off knowing this now before you end up burning out and being of no use to anyone. Not your family, not your friends, not your boss and not yourself.

No matter how good a friend you think this is, if you end up going to pieces, she won't be the one to pick them up.

Ask to hire and train a replacement at the store, tell them in no uncertain terms that for health reasons, you cannot continue at the store, that you learned your trade for a reason and that you'd be of much more use in your trade than in the store.

Also, update your resume and be prepared to move on. If she won't accommodate you for health reasons this is not your friend and it's better to know that now then later when you are reduced to being a hollowed out husk and a shadow of your former self.

  • 84
    +1 for the last sentence. Overworking is so commonly overlooked in terms of health and a work/life balance is as important as salary.
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 13, 2017 at 21:58
  • 7
    This is an excellent answer and even though I'm not in this situation myself it has made me really think. Thanks for the personal experience touch.
    – Bugs
    Apr 14, 2017 at 6:28
  • 28
    you need some relief To start, contacting you on your days off has to stop immediately.
    – user8036
    Apr 14, 2017 at 7:13
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    I disagree with saying something along the lines of "...you'd be of much more use in your trade than in the store." To your boss this isn't true at all and they will refute this. Be concise and to the point with your message, do not add any fluff/padding or you'll most likely find yourself having to back-pedal or paint yourself into a corner or worse, add more time to your current situation. Tell her exactly what you want to do, if you are willing to make any compromises make up your mind beforehand and don't waiver.
    – Eric
    Apr 14, 2017 at 14:43

To add onto the other answers: have a backup plan. It may be that you're told you have to work at both or neither. In that case, know what you're going to do ahead of time so you aren't surprised in the moment. It may be that you have to quit both jobs and perform your skilled trade for someone else.

  • 2
    Quite possible, being told you'd have to quit both gives you a little time to find a new job. If OP is so important at the store, they won't just get fired when they ask to leave one of the jobs (there's even a likelihood that they quit one of the job and the employer still accepts them for a while in the other as it was probably just a bluff) Apr 18, 2017 at 8:02

Since you have a close relationship with your boss/friend, having an honest conversation with them is the best solution here.

Plan a location to meet and discuss. Maybe somewhere casual like a coffee shop or more formal like an office or the store. This depends on the type of atmosphere you want around while having this conversation.

Clearly define the desired outcome that you want before the meeting to yourself. For you, this would be that you no longer want to work at the store. If you keep this in mind at all times you can steer the conversation back to this end goal if it gets off track. Any point you make is a reason why this needs to be the outcome.

Offer a plan as to how you think going about reaching the desired goal. If you're willing to do so, offer to be a part of the hiring process to find your replacement, this includes training. Or maybe even training current employees or creating documentation before you go.

During this discussion, I'd suggest emphasizing how appreciative you are of the opportunity to work at this store but it is time for you to officially move on and focus on your career. Since your boss/friend works with you in your skilled trade, it should not be a shocker that you want to put your primary focus on it.

Also, do not ask for permission to leave the store. You are there to tell your boss that you will no longer continue working at the store in order to shift your focus entirely to growing the career you just invested serious time and, I assume, money in. This second job is extra stress without much benefit and could, if not already, have a negative affect on your other job that you do for this person.

Your friend should be understanding to your circumstances and since it is her business, it is her responsibility. If the store really cannot operate without you, then she needs to reevaluate the business operations and structure to determine what needs to change to make it run more effectively or if it is time to cut her losses.

  • 7
    If the store is already doing badly, it might even be a good idea to frankly ask her if it’s really a good idea to keep running it (especially if OP, who seems to be crucial, intends to quit).
    – Michael
    Apr 14, 2017 at 10:35

This is your life, not theirs. Sure it may hurt the business, but you are expressing significant personal issues due to the job. The best thing you can do is to be honest and say that the store work is causing too much personal stress and you want to stop doing that, but that you still wish to continue the skilled trade. Stand firm with your boundaries and if they wish to keep your services then they need to adjust things so you are not stressed out doing it and if they can't do that it's just the way things are and not anyone's "fault".

Honesty is your best option, but do what is best in the long run.


In addition to the other answers that address strategies how to resolve the issue at hand I would like to provide another look at the situation. Sorry if this sounds blunt but I think those are concerns that need to be voiced and considered too.

They know you for ten years, they know that you learned a trade, and they know that you could make thrice the money from that. Yet they keep you part time at the old job for less pay. Even more so they talk you into a sense of guilt (which is completely out of line!) and of how needed you are at this job ("get calls [..] on my days off"). From the job description you provide it does not look like it being your responsibility nor your fault that the business operations of the store are not running smoothly.

From an outside view they do not act like friends (notice how you put it: "I consider her to be a friend" not we are friends as in a mutual sense), they use you to their own benefit ("manage the store for a clerks pay"). I am afraid that they know very well that you "like making other people happy and [I] like making everyone's lives easier" and use that trait to their advantage.

You really need to get out of this job, you need to have the talk about that issue with the owners, and you need to stand your ground in doing so. You need to have a backup plan and be prepared to move on.


Since you have a personal relationship with your boss, tell her that you appreciate everything she's done for you, but that working two jobs is making you ill, and you need to stop working at the store.

You want to keep on good terms, so give her good notice. Ask for your Fridays and Saturdays off immediately (the most severe problem), with you quitting completely after two weeks to a month. The quitting part is nonnegotiable, but the details of when and how much you work until then are. This is where you need to have a two sided conversation, to work out something that fixes your problem and minimizes the blow to your boss.

I'd start by offering two weeks notice (standard), then add one or two weeks without any overtime if she asks for a longer commitment. That way, not only are you being generous, but you are seen to be generous, which is good for goodwill. If she's still upset, maybe offer to work one shift a week specifically to train a replacement for a limited number of weeks.

She might offer you a raise at the store, or ask you to be available to fill in for an emergency. So think now about how much, if any, money it would take for you to stay at the store. For me, I'd hold out for an emergency only, to be paid at my skilled trade rate. That alone would prevent them from assigning you hours outside of a strong need. Be willing to say no if the second job would conflict with your own needs.

If you leaving causes the store to close, it means it was only staying open because they abused your generosity, and you allowed them to. You don't own the store, you don't benefit more by working yourself into the ground for it. Hopefully, they wouldn't hold it against you, but it's a possibility. If that happens, be prepared to move on to a different job.


They opened a business, and they assumed the risk. You have nothing to feel guilty about for leaving.I think you have been an outstanding employee and friend by what you have shared. If I was in your situation, I would give an explanation as to why you're leaving, to focus on your trade your future, and your health all of which are extremely reasonable and should not be held against you. The proper thing to do is to give them enough time to find a replacement.

If this affects how they treat you in your second workplace, you can always find another company to work for with your trade skills.


Explain to them that you would feel ready and would like to focus on your trade job full-time. Be honest that you're starting to get burnt out from everything going on with the retail position, and then ask if there is a way to do this transition smoothly since you are sympathetic to what they are going through and want to help them as much as possible.


This may or may not be a good idea for you. (I expect this will be a tremendously good idea for some people, but terrible for others. Do not consider this to be a one-size-fits-all solution that will work well for everybody, but do give this consideration.)

Change the store.

You sound like a valued employee whose judgement calls they can trust. You know the store better than they do. And they are being less involved with the store (because they need to work elsewhere).

Tell them that you will not continue to perform the same role at the store. But turn this into a win/win situation: let them know what you ARE willing to do, which is better for them than if you just walked away.

Tell them you want to be a manager, and you want the authority to change some things about the store. e.g., how many staff, how many hours each staff member has, and what you do.

As the manager, you may need to do some basic record-keeping. But working at the register? Not if they have another staff member.

Presumably the store isn't very high traffic (hence why it isn't doing well). With such low traffic, new staff members may need to ask you questions, but probably not very frequently. You can use your time there to be in a position of oversight, while focusing most of your energies in some other direction, like paperwork/preparation for the "skilled trade" business. If you're making better use of your time, or more relaxing use, you might like the experience better.

If they don't want to pay you manager's wages, then be prepared to force-ably step away, and feel guiltless because they were given another reasonable option. They may be less inclined to retaliate against your position in skilled trade, because you did treat them a bit nicer (by giving them a more reasonable-ish option).


Your description is clear. You have outgrown the relationship, and they are not able to read your mind about this. They are unaware at how completely you have outgrown the relationship. You cannot help them understand this, it would create exactly the negative reaction that you wish to avoid.

You need to confidently assert your next move in life. They will understand you if you make a positive life affirming decision. To make this easy to understand, you must find another job in a different town. That solves all the problems in one go.

Once you have spent sufficient time at the new job in the new town, you can always seek a new job again, and if you wish, you can perform the search so as to return back in your first town.

By being absent for 2 or 3 years in a different town, gaining work experience, you deflect all of the current situation off of yourself, and you force them to decide to make their own life-affirming choices.

Make sure you give them sufficient notice to quit. Notify the new employer that you will need 6 to 8 weeks of time before beginning your new role, so as to correctly and kindly end your current two jobs.

Do not wait too long - your situation is debilitating you and you must not let that happen to you. Good luck with your job search!

  • 1
    Moving is the last thing I would do, that seems a little extreme. I don't "run from my problems," I work to solve them. I'm very happy working at my other business with this lady. I have a very steady income and large client base at this business with an established reputation. Moving and trying to start my own business would cause me to lose all of the relationships I've formed, cause way more stress than I already feel, and I would have to spend every penny of my savings to buy everything. I live in New England so moving 5 towns over is still only a 15 minute drive. Apr 20, 2017 at 12:35

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