Man Interviews At TJ Maxx & Finds Out The Pay Is Ridiculously Low — But Can’t Find The Courage To Say 'No' When He Gets The Offer

Our people-pleasing tendencies are in overdrive in this economy.

man frustrated that he couldn't bring himself to say no Tumisu / pixabay / Canva Pro

A man on TikTok was left facepalming after doing something all of us have done at one time or another (or maybe millions of times): Saying "yes" when what we really meant was, not just no, but "[redacted] no, you cannot be serious, how dare you even suggest that to me." 

He couldn't bring himself to say no to a ridiculously low-paying job at TJ Maxx.

Especially when you're working in the customer service world, finding out what a job pays is often the most infuriating part of interviewing for a job—because it's all too often the moment you find out your time has been downright wasted.


That's pretty much exactly what happened to this TikToker, who was left scratching his head at the audacity of TJMaxx after finding out what they intended to pay him. 



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At the end of his interview, he found out the TJ Maxx job only pays $12 an hour.

Granted, the federal minimum wage in America is still only an absolutely insane $7.25 an hour, where it has remained for 12 years—and it hasn't kept up with the cost of living in more than 50 years. So perhaps the good people at TJ Maxx feel $12 an hour is downright generous. 

But given the cost of living in even the cheapest place in the country—currently Hickory, North Carolina, according to US News & World Report, where the average rent is $1,395 — $12 an hour is absurd. And the TikToker was downright appalled by it.  



"I'm not taking that job because, like… that's why their clothes are so cheap because they're not paying them people! Like, that is crazy!" he said.


But despite being offended by the pay, he did what so many of us would have done: verbally accepted the job anyway.

Here's where one of the most basic foibles of humanity comes in. The TikToker said he was on his way to make a video about the ridiculous pay rate when the phone rang. 

"I just got a call that I got the job, and why did I tell this man yes?" he said. "I don't want that [expletive] job!" He went on to say that he was "truly baffled" by the words that came out of his own mouth. 

"I don't know why I wasn't able to tell this man no on the phone just now, knowing that I didn't want to do this job!" So now, of course, he's in the position of either having to call and have an awkward conversation or just ghost. 


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His response is a sad commentary on the economy, but also on the ways it affects many people's tendency toward people pleasing.

The TikToker says he has no intention of working the job. "I'm probably just not gonna show up," he said, because $12 an hour is so woefully insufficient there's no point in doing so. "What is that gonna do for me?" he asked.

But the reality of our economy and job market is that saying no to even a ridiculous job offer often feels daunting enough that many of us would do exactly as he did — freeze, not rock the boat, and basically betray our own values in the process.

Psychologist Scott Rower said this reflex is often an adaptive strategy, especially for those who grew up in dysfunctional or traumatic environments. It's a way of feeling "safe, good, and worthy" in situations we feel are dangerous or chaotic. 




It's hard to think of two words that better describe today's economy and job market for all too many workers. Might as well just say "yes" to the terrible job with offensive pay because who knows if something better will come along, right? 

However, psychologist Dr. Leda Kaveh urged people to reframe this perception. She told us, "When you say 'no' to someone else, you're saying 'yes' to yourself because you're making room for something more important to you." Like a job that pays a living wage, in this case — or at least one that's less insulting.


Of course, sometimes you have no choice but to say yes to a bad situation while you search for a better one—sometimes it's any port in a storm, especially where jobs and money are concerned.

But the important thing is to not just shrug and accept it—your unwanted "yes" right now can still be a "no" down the road. And that will leave you better off in the long run.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.