Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Part I

I wrote and wrote and wrote today and after 5 pages realized no one would read it. So I am parceling out the next bits of information in installments. And I didn't write this for anyone but myself. I just needed to get it out. (My HR friend in Boston is going to have a field day with this one.)

Ok, how’s this for feeling stupid stupid stupid?? Or otherwise titled: How depression can fuck you over big time. And I mean BIG TIME. But that may take till Parts 2 and 3 to explan to bear with me. Details. Okay, so I lost my job in July. I was devastated to say the least, but I have been through a job loss before. That’s not what really knocked me off my feet. I hate to divulge these not-so-pretty details, but they play a big part in my crash of the Summer of 2010.

My boss, who I really really liked and admired, was retiring July 2nd. Two days before she retired, she reviewed me. Now, get this? I had not been reviewed since I had started 2 years earlier! I had assumed it was because we got no raises at the university so why bother with a review. I take that back. She tried to review me at 6 months, but because the asshole I worked with who had my job before me wouldn’t release information about my job, I was in no way, shape, or form ready to take over from him at 6 months. So she said she would review me later when I had a better grasp of my job. Make it clear that the young man whose position I took over (and was now the event planner for the college) was the most unprofessional, inappropriate, juvenile asshole I have ever had the pleasure of working with. We do not have flex time at the university, but he came and went as he pleased. As the events coordinator, it is understandable that he would take some flex time right after he coordinated an event and worked overtime. No grudges there. But he did it ALL THE TIME. Came in around 10, left at 10:30 for a soda at McDonalds, came back at 11, went to lunch at 11:30 for 2 hrs, and this went on day after day after day. In the 22 months I worked there, he was at work ON TIME fewer than 5 times. But of course, I had to answer his phone (which I am always happy to do), but he would never say where he was so I looked like an idiot on a daily basis. And then because of control issues, he would leak out information about my job a little at a time, watching me fall on my face over and over. He loved watching this, and yet I handled it my way. He loved taking advantage of me. I tried my best to make the situation lighthearted. I joked when he joked, answered his phone, took his messages, tried to get along, tried to do things on my own when I could, and did anything he asked of me (in the area of planning events). I can’t tell you the number of times he planned something and then didn’t show up and I was left coordinating the event.

So back to my review. TWO days before my boss retired, she gave me a review that knocked me off my feet. I have never in all my years of working read such a horrible piece of criticism. She blamed me for everything wrong that ever happened over the 2 years I had worked there. Said I was negative, not a team player, inappropriate, and had asked to be treated so poorly by this co-worker. I sat there in her office incredulous. I was in shock. Never once had she given me any direction or goals, said she did not like my work, felt I was inadequate. I did everything she ever asked of me, made her travel arrangements, paid her bills for reimbursement, ordered her supplies, redid every file n that office, made sure her office ran smoothly during 3 her surgeries. (Since she was retiring and knew it, she got some maintenance work done.) She indicated I was not happy there and needed to look elsewhere to find fulfillment in life. I kid you not. (Mind you, I had just orchestrated a retirement party for her the week before.) So I took this review rather hard. I sat there devastated and couldn’t speak while trying not to cry. When I took a breath, I said, “I can’t respond right now.” And I got on my tennis shoes while she said, “Go get some fresh air.” I walked out of the building and started sobbing uncontrollably. Deep, gasping sobs. I had no idea the implications, but I was devastated that (a) someone thought of me like this and (b) I had been given no indications this was coming. While walking to get some air, my daughter (the bride) called. There was no way I could hide my heaving sobs as she asked, “What’s wrong, Mom?” For the first time in a long time, she was so supportive of me. She was so angry with my boss. She knew I thought do highly of her, and she had hated the little pipsqueak I worked with for the entire time because of the way he treated her when she called or dropped by my office. She had no tolerance for his juvenile and inappropriate behavior even when I defended him and said he was good at what he did. She was livid. So she suggested we blow that “banana stand” and go shopping for her bridesmaids' gifts. Luckily, I had my tennis shoes on, my phone and debit card with me. So I texted my boss and said I was taking a sick day. No joke. Left my desk as is, light on, computer on, shoes, purse, backpack still sitting there at my cube. As she was taking the office out for her retirement lunch that day, I told her to go without me. She texted back that lunch would not be the same without me and she would reschedule for the next day when I returned. So off to the outlet mall we went.

When I returned the next day (all my things still at my desk), not one person said a word to me from that day forward. I kid you not. No one asked where I had gone. No one wondered why I left my light on. We all went to lunch and I was reserved, and the mood was definitely somber, but no one engaged a conversation with me. The next day, my boss’s last day, I left a long letter on her desk telling her how devastated I was by her review and that I felt I needed to write a rebuttal for my file. I told her that everyone must know what happened because no one would talk to me, and I was humiliated beyond belief. I got a lot out of my system but knew this format was not professional. Besides, she had not given me a copy of my review for me to approach point by point. (Remember, I had walked out.) I had decided I would take the afternoon off so I did not have to say good bye to her. She asked me to come in around 11 and talk because she didn’t want to leave “that way.” So I listened to her defend her piece of garbage while I sat there stone-faced. When I got up, she asked for a hug. You read that right. She said how much she enjoyed working with me and she hoped this didn’t put a wedge between us. I kid you not. I had to bite my lip from crying all over again. So there you have it. No way to repair the damage. No way to redeem myself. No way to make any goals because, guess what, Folks, she didn’t give me any. So off I went for my July 4th weekend to keep a stiff upper lip at my daughter’s bridal shower while my world was crashing all around me.

For the next 2 weeks I worked in silence, writing my rebuttal, doing last-minute projects while waiting for them to hire her replacement. The co-worker continued to come and go as he pleased, never talking to me, eventually going on vacation. The woman in the next office I had befriended and driven back and forth to work for 2 years because she didn’t have a car never said another word to me. And so I sent my rebuttal to the appropriate people, going over everything she claimed point by point. I was humiliated at the number of people who would see my review, at having to work with those people and face them again. I was devastated that my reputation was ruined because of this idiot I worked with. I mentioned in my rebuttal letter that he had spent a week sexually harassing me till I put a stop to it. I had tried every way I could eventually yelling, "STOP. DON'T EVER SAY THAT TO ME AGAIN." My boss had told me to handle it on my own, and after I handled it on my own and reported the situation to his supervisor, her response was, “I better have a talk with him. He did that to the other woman who worked here before you.” WTF???

At one point, my boss called me and suggested I started looking for a job elsewhere on campus, and I said, "Who would hire me with your review in my file? You have made it impossible for me to make my next move." She said, "Oh, no one reads those things." Seriously??? If she was unhappy with my work and really cared about my future, could she have not written me a glowing review and told me verbally that I stunk. Oh, let's back up the train. If she was really competent, could she not have reviewed me at 6 months and again at a year??? Now she was retired and her life was a bed of roses.

Part II: Was it all a plot?

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At 11:39 PM, Blogger Sailor said...

You already know my feelings & name for this piece of... ahem, this might be mixed company.

*Hugs, lots & lots of them*


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