'No job is worth important moments in your life.'
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 2, 2022. It has since been updated.
A TikTok user gained massive reactions on social media after sharing the two completely different responses she got from her bosses when she informed them she needed to miss work to see her dying sister one last time. In a series of videos, Hillary Zinks—a makeup and effects artist in the film industry—compared the two reactions and explained how the distressing experience of her sister's unexpected death brought her an eye-opening work-life epiphany. Speaking to BuzzFeed, Zinks revealed that she was on a set when she got a call last month informing her that her sister had been declared brain-dead.
"She was completely unresponsive and the nurses were looking for next of kin to make decisions on her behalf if need be. I was broken-hearted, frozen. I didn't even have time to register all of this before deciding to leave to be with her," she said. When Hillary informed the department head of the TV series she was working on that she needed time off to be by her sister's side in her final moments, her boss treated her with basic human empathy—as they should. "She is very well known and HUGE in the industry," Zinks explained. "To have someone with her experience in film and life tell me to 'never let a job get in the way of life' and 'do whatever I need to do' was exactly what I needed to hear."
"She made me feel like a human being and not just a workhorse. There were no questions asked except concern and curiosity about the situation. Sometimes jobs make you feel one-dimensional as if you're only put on this earth to work for them. She saw me as a complete human with a life and a family just as complex as her own. I felt understood, appreciated and cared for," Zinks added. However, she received a completely different reaction from her boss at her side job as a waitress at a local resort.
Instead of being empathetic toward Zinks during what was clearly a distressing time for her, her boss took a very passive-aggressive stance. From being upset about the "late notice" to making her feel guilty about missing work because they had a large party to serve that day. They said all the wrong things while attempting to mask their true feelings with hollow words of "I have great compassion and sorrow for what you are experiencing." Speaking of how she felt after that talk, Zinks said: "I was angry and upset about it the rest of the drive. The closer I got to the hospital, the more I realized how her behavior was absolutely unacceptable and I couldn't work under her any longer."
So, once she got to her sister's bedside, Zinks sent her boss another text informing them that she was quitting the job. "We don't need to work for people who barely see us as humans with emotions and families. I hope that anyone who has that type of experience has the means and courage to quit. I hope any managers that would have done something similar would now take a step back and learn from her mistakes," she said. Sharing one final message to employers, Zinks added: "Your employees are so much more than robots here to make YOU money. Real life doesn't stop, so people's work lives can proceed uninterrupted. Treat your employees with kindness and compassion in situations like these."