But on the other hand, it can be hard to say no in other instances, because I often feel guilty about refusing other people's requests/offers. And in some cases, I have no choice but to say yes.
It's not like I am too chicken to say no, because I have learned to be more assertive and to put my foot down in plenty of situations. I just have to be careful about how I say no, however, because it's not like I can just say whatever I want without having to deal with the consequences. Here are two examples of situations where I wish I could say no and say exactly why :
To my students when they ask multiple times to be excused from class/completing their homework on time because of some kind of "emergency", which in some cases really is an emergency, but more often than not translates into "I didn't get my homework done last night. I don't want you to know that instead of finishing my paper, I was finishing a Real World marathon." Or "I don't feel like coming to class because I've only missed class, like, five times already, which is nothing compared to how many times other people in the class have been absent, so I should be excused." Or "I can't think of any reason why I should be excused from class so I'm just going to tell you it's an emergency. That way, you won't try to invade my privacy by asking me any questions".
When they ask to be excused, I remind them about how attendance is part of their grade; I also tell them that it's their responsibility to get their work done on time even if they don't come to class. I do enforce my attendance policy, but there are a few situations where I have no choice but to make exceptions. For example, some students have family responsibilities. A few have health issues that keep them out of school for several days (or weeks) at a time.
But on the other hand, multiple absences (and excuses) can be problematic because the students will miss out on a lot if they don't come to class. It's also problematic for me because then I'm stuck with a lot of late work to grade. If they have legitimate excuses for being absent, then I will try to work with them, as long as they put in the effort to make up for what they missed.
But once a student told me that he couldn't come to class because of a family emergency; I saw him hanging out in the quad an hour later with his friends. Another student e-mailed me about how her grandmother died; I checked all of the e-mails this student had sent and realized that that same grandmother had died at least three times. Not all students are like this, of course, but I've learned to be wary when I keep hearing the same excuses over and over again and multiple requests for time off from class.
So here's what I wish I could say: NO, you can't miss class AGAIN. Even though I love teaching, there are some days where I wish I could blow off work and just take a nap/watch TV/accidentally on purpose trip people who blow their cigarette smoke in my face when they walk in front of me. But part of being a grownup is accepting your responsibilities and doing what you have to do, even if you don't always want to do it. So if I have to be here, then so do you, kid.
To retail employers who expect employees like me to have flexible schedules. One of the things that you're going to see most often in ads for retail jobs are the words "flexible schedules". A lot of people who work in retail also have day jobs; they work at night and on the weekends. However, when you work in retail, your schedule is likely to change every week; you're much more likely to get hired and get more hours if you are available to work any time, any day.
This does make sense; retail employers can't always guarantee regular hours because it often depends on how much (or little) money the store is making and whether or not the employees meet their sales goals.
Also, stores aren't typically open from just 9-5, because that's when everyone's at work. So you have to be willing to work until the wee hours in the evenings and weekends, or get up in the wee hours in order to go to work (side note: why do they call it the "wee hours"? It's not like when I wake up at six A.M. to go to work or get ready to work until late at night I automatically think, "Yay! I get to go stand for eight hours and pressure people to buy stuff that they could get at half-price at one of the discount stores, but I can't tell them that because it's bad for business. I also think I may or may not have sold my soul to the god of retail for an employee discount. WEEEEEE!!!!").
I tell my employers what my availability is, and I try to keep my schedule open so that I can get more shifts. I try not to request time off unless I have a legitimate and unavoidable reason for missing work, and even if I do request a day off I'll do it several days in advance.
But here's what I wish I could say: No, I don't want a schedule that changes every week, because that makes it very hard for me to schedule anything else (including other paying jobs that would help me support myself, because I sure as hell ain't earning enough at this job to pay all my bills) into my life. Did you ever stop to think that maybe the other employees who don't show up to work/show up late/call in "sick"/switch shifts wouldn't do that so often if they had a reliable schedule?
FYI: I almost never show up late, because I always leave early to go to work. And I never call in sick unless I literally can't get out of bed. I developed this work ethic for all my jobs largely because of teaching. Most college teachers I know don't really get sick days. If we don't go to class, then there is no class. Even if I have a cold I'll go to class and just bring Kleenex, cough drops, and hand sanitizer with me; I don't worry about the students catching it from me because more often than not they're the ones who infected me in the first place. They're always coughing and sneezing in class, to the point that I want to wear a Hazmat suit when I teach.
What about you? What are examples of situations where you wish you could say no but you feel pressured to/have no choice but to say yes?