Several years ago, I was trapped in a miserable job. Harassment, ostracism, and misery were part of the daily work experience. In this short post, I cannot describe how miserable the work environment really was, but let me assure you, it was horrible.
Today I saw my former supervisor, Joyce in the grocery store. From her jeans and tank top, I’m guessing she had the day off. She walked up to me as I entered the checkout line and cheerfully began talking to me about her life like we were old friends. We are not old friends. At one time we could have been friends, I guess. Like the time that she gave me a clay dish and earrings crafted by a local artist for my birthday. That was nice of her. Very few people remembered my birthday that year.
Nancy, the coworker who was most abusive, reported me to HR for harassing her. Nancy made a series of unfounded complaints about me to HR. Nancy also frequented doomsday forums, stockpiles over a years worth of canned goods, possesses a small arsenal, and believes her every move is being tracked by government spies. To describe her as paranoid would be an understatement.
One day I was called to meet with HR regarding one of Nancy’s complaints. She had told them I threatened to have a fist fight with her…as in I was going to physically punch her in the hallway which is absurd, but anyway… Joyce was waiting in HR. Joyce is tall, platinum blond, and very slender. Although she’s almost 50, she looks not a day older than 40. She was sitting beside the HR rep with her arms crossed and an unmistakable look on her face…the same look my mother often gave me. A look of hatred, disgust, and contempt. The look you’d give someone if you wished them to be wiped from the Earth.
Joyce went on to explain how I would be fired if I didn’t stop harassing Nancy. I was shocked. Joyce actually believed I had threatened Nancy in some way. Joyce went on and on with her reprimand. Accusing me of being dramatic, mentally ill, and a host of other things. Joyce signed a form that forced me into mandatory counseling for “mental illness” where the therapist was to send Joyce a weekly summary on my mental health. If I didn’t go voluntarily, I would be fired.
The encounter was horrible. Although I don’t typically cry, it was all I could do to stop myself from crying. The HR meeting happened only 2 weeks after my ex-husband left. I hadn’t told anyone at work. If I had the financial means to walk off the job site at that moment, I would have but I was trapped by my ex-husband’s debt. So now, when Joyce happily bounds up to me in the grocery store and cheerfully tells me about her life, all I can think about is how fake she seems.
People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.