Thursday, April 3, 2014

In which I discover a former co-worker was trying to undermine me all along and I just about lose faith in humanity

I have moved, as I mentioned, to a new group at work. That means I left my former group behind. I am, however, still friends with the people in my former group. Let's call them Isabel, Monica, and Bob.

The woman who was my boss' administrative assistant is no longer there. She quit at about the same time I did. I volunteered to be a reference for her. I understood how crazy making our boss was - we all speculated that perhaps he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's or had had some mini strokes or that he was having a reaction to medication he might be taking. His behavior was irrational and unpredictable and it confused us and made for a very uncomfortable workplace.

The admin - Brenda - was a basically nice person, but sometimes a little prickly. She seemed efficient and capable to me and seemed focused on getting her job done. She didn't gossip about our other teammates to me, although she and I together would gossip about our boss, mostly because we were trying to figure out what the heck was going on with him.

She stumbled across the fact that I was interviewing with a different division of the company but promised she would keep it a secret. As far as I know, she did.

She had already confided in me long before my job search that she was looking for a new job. I listened to her stories about interviews and encouraged her and wished her well.

When I traveled outside the US for work, I brought back little presents for everyone in the office, including her.

I didn't think we were friends, but I thought  we were friendly.

I didn't try to  undermine her. I tried to support her and tried to help her with her job search.

She got a new job. I did serve as a reference.

And then, last week, when I was telling Isabel and Monica about the crazy in my new job, they told me that Brenda used to complain about my two-hour lunches and how I left early a lot.

"She would come to me and say, 'Did you know that Goldie left early today? Are you going to do something about it?'" Monica said. By the way, Monica was officially my boss, but our big boss wouldn't let her manage. He still wanted to run everything.

I gasped. "But why would she care?"

Monica shrugged. "I told you not to trust her. She said that to me several times until I finally told her that I did not care and I did not want her telling me."

I told the story to Isabel. "Oh yes!" Isabel said. "She would tell me that, too, and she would complain that you took two-hour lunches!"

I shook my head. "But I didn't take two-hour lunches."

"I know," Isabel said. "But she didn't like that you blocked your calendar from 11:30 to 1:30 so she would deliberately schedule meetings to start at 1:00."

I gasped again. "I always wondered why she seemed to ignore my calendar, but it was always for meetings with the Big Boss and I just assumed that was the only time he had to meet, so I wouldn't ask her to reschedule."

It's not a good idea to tell the Big Boss that you want to reschedule his meeting so you can attend body pump or spin.

"She did it on purpose," Isabel said. "She would say that you shouldn't be taking such a long lunch."

"But I didn't!" I said. "I blocked my calendar so I could get to the noon class and stay for the entire class, but I wasn't taking two hours."

"I know," Isabel said. "And even if you were, it wasn't her business."

I got indignant. "Did she know that I had actually cleared a longer lunch with my boss? Did she know I work on weekends? That I would have conference calls with the Middle East at 6:30 a.m.?"

Isabel said, "Does it even matter? It was none of her business! That's the main issue! She was not your boss and your boss did not care. Why was she tattling? What was it to her?"

I guess I am lucky to have made it this far in my life before encountering someone that spiteful and mean, but I still don't understand why someone would care so much about what someone else does when it has nothing to do with her. Have you guys encountered people like that?


  1. That's just sad. Of course it says more about her than you. Apparently she was really insecure and thought you were getting something that she should get. How warped. She must have had a lot of time on her hands.

    1. Yeah, I don't get it! It wasn't a zero sum thing at all! After all, she left work early one day a week for a class and I didn't care! It wasn't my business.

  2. I've had this happen to me, though I found out a bit earlier. I'd been friends with a woman at our former workplace, let's call her Anna.

    I found a new job elsewhere, and then Anna moved to the same company. She had a rough start, and I helped her out a lot - she told me a few times she would have quit but for the help I gave her.

    So she got promoted from her area into mine, and became colleagues with my boss. I didn't report to her, but she and my boss had the same manager. Great!

    Except then the nitpicking started. I'd get weird feedback from my boss that my team was going for coffees too much, or that people who had flexible arrangements weren't doing their hours. He eventually told me they were coming from Anna.

    The final straw was when my boss let me know that Anna had complained in the leadership meeting that, since my team had hired some contractors to help with a backlog, we shouldn't be taking full lunch breaks!

    In the end Anna found a new job outside the business. On her last afternoon, she gave me a bear hug and exclaimed, "Jimbo, I'm going to miss you **so** much!" I replied with something similar, but was really thinking... "Backstabbing troll!"

    1. You weren't supposed to be taking full lunch breaks? NOBODY MESSES WITH MY LUNCH! And the pettiness about coffee. Either you are getting your work done or you are not. Period. That's all that matters.

  3. This type of behavior is SOP in my place of employment. The problem is that our CEO is the instigator general of this behavior. If she has a problem with you she will tell everyone-but-you and ask them if they have the same opinion. Sh*t rolls downhill.....

    1. That's scary that it's the CEO. And it's so passive aggressive! Why won't people just deal directly with other people? I guess I am a little used to this in my personal life - Primo's parents are passive-aggressive (OK, his dad is aggressive aggressive) drunks, but for some reason, I expect people to conduct themselves professionally at work.

  4. This sort of thing happens often where I work. Insecure people feel that they have to try to make others look bad. Don't let it bother you, Goldie. As long and your boss know that you are working hard and doing your job, people like Brenda should be ignored.
    By the way, I love your writing, Goldie!!!

  5. Woo hoo! I read your entire blog, and finally caught up. Wow, what a series of sagas. You're an excellent writer--I love your casual, train-of-thought style. And when I'd accidentally spied the titles about Bertha dying, I'd thought it was Doris until I actually got to them. Not that I'd wish that, but it sure changed things having it actually be Bertha who had passed away.

    1. Thank you, Shawna! I saw your comment on my phone on the bus home and it made my day!