kharmii: (deepthought)
[personal profile] kharmii
....and the life lessons I learned from it.

Before I start, let me share with you a quote from Who's Looking Out For You? by Bill O'Reilly. In Chapter Two: It's My Party, he writes, "Okay, time then to bust another myth, the one about 'bad companions'. You know, the people your parents told you to stay away from. Well, you don't have to stay away from them, because if you are a decent person, they'll stay away from you. Nobody doing bad things wants you around unless you are in sync with their destructive agenda. Walk into any bar and order a Dr. Pepper, the booze hounds will mock you. You're not welcome at a methamphetamine party if you won't indulge, and you're not welcome at an ENRON executive meeting if you're not willing to rob other people blind. Corrupt people seek each other out, so if you are hanging around with Tony Soprano, you are already a degenerate."

Unfortunately, -although most of my coworkers are decent people I get along with fine- I work with a few not-so decent people. Sometimes I have gotten into situations where I've been stuck with them for long periods of time against my will. These people will usually patronize me and stereotype me as being 'quiet' based on their narrow-minded world view. Quiet, by the way, has little to do with my outgoingness and social skills. Translated from dirtbag, 'quiet' means: "She is a Christian conservative who doesn't say the f-word every other sentence to be edgy and cool. She doesn't crap on about wild parties she goes to on the weekends and she doesn't brag about how much dope she smoked during her glory days of highschool. Lets see how much bullcrap I can force her to endure.".

On to the main story...

It all started with my relationship with Randall. My mistake was even telling people about Randall. I should have kept quiet, especially since our unique situation was easy to criticize. Unfortunately, I was already talking about him rather a lot before it even occurred to me that we'd ever meet. Back then, things were upbeat and even the worst of the worst were making light-hearted Australian jokes that I'd repeat to Randall on chat later in the day. The only thing I can remember was the Humunga Cowabunga from Down Under reference from the movie Back to the Beach.

Things went downhill after Randall and I had each taken one trip to meet one another in our home countries. This happened within a four month period. Back then, I worked in an area jokingly referred to as the cul-de-sac. Most of the cases were together in a giant group so that rural carriers got contact with a large number of people. I didn't have that luxury, as my case was in a small cluster of four, leaving me isolated most days with three other women. One woman who I'll call 'Kelly' was middle-aged and a decent person. She expressed misgivings about Randall at first, but then let it go. Another woman, 'Shannon' was a sycophantic 'yes-man'. She'd never initiate bullying, but when someone else did, she'd always side with the bully against me. -A real Grover Dill, that one (Reference to the movie A Christmas Story, where a minor character -Grover Dill- who was a peewee hung out with another minor character -bully named Scott Farkus- for protection. He would enhance the bigger guy's bullying).

The two main problems were with women I'll call 'Yolanda' and 'Tanqueray'. Tanqueray was out of the picture at first because she was on maternity leave for an extended period of time due to onset of preclampsia early in her pregnancy. Yolanda was a terrible worker who always pushed her work on other people, then made excuses. She had a complete trainwreck of a life, partly due to bad financial decisions and partly due to her co-dependent relationships with at first her husband, then after the divorce, to her lowlife friends. She routinely showed all the symptoms of being passive-aggressive, particularly when it comes to workplace aggression. IE: She came in late on purpose, she was an obstructionist, she made excuses for bad performances, she sulked....

Yolanda wouldn't let the topic of my relationship with Randall go. She kept expressing misgivings. Every time I told a new story about Randall, she'd twist it around, turning it into a new conspiracy theory. It got to where I didn't want to talk about him any more, so I talked about differences between Australia and America. Sometimes I'd talk about an opinion of Randall's. Other times, I'd just talk about my own opinions and life. Everyone still managed to gang up on me, putting me on the defensive and demanding that I explain myself. Granted, I could understand that people would be suspicious because bad things have happened to other people in online relationships, and Randall seemed too good to be true, yet nobody had ever met Randall and had no proof of wrong-doing.

Then it got worse. It got to where Yolanda and Shannon would double-team me pretty much every time I opened my mouth. Every time I expressed an opinion, I'd be wrong and they'd patronize me, as if I were borderline retarded. One time, I even tested Yolanda, expressing an opinion on a subject, then expressing the opposite of my original position a week later. Sure enough, she came up with conflicting reasons to criticize me. When I called her on it, she acted cute, claiming to be a devil's advocate. Sometimes, she'd take something I said as a personal insult, even though I didn't mean it that way, and use it as an excuse to harass me over Randall. IE: I'd say that carbonated beverages were the cigarettes of our generation. She'd counter with "I drink pop all the time. Randall is too old for you!"

I was by no means innocent in the whole deal. I would go tit-for-tat, like whenever Yolanda would say something about Randall, I'd say something about her coming in late, putting her on the defensive. I would say something condescending, like, "Maybe you've had problems in your life with the people you've associated with, but I'm a person of good character, so you can assume Randall has good character as well.". Just as I'm an effective troll on the internet, so I can say things to really push people's buttons if I want. Yolanda was better at it though. She could say any horrible thing, yet word it in such a way that I couldn't get her on harassment, even if it was directed at me. IE: She'd say a general statement without naming names, like, "I don't think that people should have children with partners who are a lot older.".

Finally, things blew up one day.

It happened when I misunderstood something that the supervisor said. Yolanda corrected me. I didn't believe her, so I asked the supervisor. It turned out that I was wrong, which was fine, except Yolanda kept gloating. I think she wanted me to be wrong about everything as a way to wear down my self-esteem, as if everything she said about Randall would be true if I were proven to be stupid and wrong about everything. I got so tired of her that I got to the boiling point. I said, "Instead of constantly criticizing me and making it your mission to prove me wrong over every little thing, why don't you worry about your own train-wreck of a life? Just look, you came in fifteen minutes late and have twenty feet of catalogs by your case that you're probably going to leave for your sub, yet somehow you have all this free time to constantly ride my ass!"

She got pissed off and decided to play the martyr. She disappeared for fifteen or so minutes to go talk to a supervisor and squeal on me. I got called into the office shortly after, where the supervisor said he was tired of overhearing the nonsense about my then fiancee. He and another supervisor ordered me not to talk to her and said she was ordered not to talk to me. I said that, although there was nothing in the world I'd like better than to not have to talk to her, I thought it would be in everyone's best interest if they'd move the cases. They refused, saying we needed to stop acting like children. I should have geared up for a harassment claim just then and got the union to make them move the cases. It would have avoided a lot of problems that went on in the eight or so months before they finally repositioned all the cases in the whole office. Oh, this happened in October, shortly before I went to Australia for the second time on election day.

On a side note: I don't like this 'everyone at fault' culture we live in. It's mainly because the unions make it impossible to fire people, I believe, so people can get away with everything that a sane business free to terminate would never put up with: laziness, incompetence, personality disorders, overly long breaks. The supervisors should have moved the cases the moment they overheard Yolanda going on about Randall. Then they should have stood up to her. Just recently, when I was on maternity leave, Yolanda misused a piece of equipment, then filed harassment when the supervisors corrected her. As a result, said piece of equipment was taken away from everyone. That's not right. While it's not right to discriminate against races or religions, we should be allowed to tell someone they are a problem as an individual without fear.

I had a blissfull time not talking to Yolanda. Unfortunately, I still had to listen to her. She crapped on about her codependent relationships with her scuzzbag friends. She made comments directed at me, but I was pretty good about not taking the debate. I became withdrawn, not talking much to anybody, as it is awkward to carry on conversations in small groups when half the people aren't allowed communication with one another. Luckily, I got a two week vacation from her right before my November trip to Australia because she had some union workshop to attend in St. Louis. She came back the day of the election with all kinds of horrible stories about how she was rude with waiters and such. I had to catch a plane that night so was trying to tone her out and get the hell out to the street.

Anyway, that's all for now. I got inspired to write this after refusing to go to a baby shower organized by one of the people I'm writing about. A friend from work didn't have a clue what was going on, so I'm keeping this record in case I want to share one day. I could maybe cut and paste in Facebook. Until next time, when I bring Tanqueray into the story and describe how a bad situation can get much worse..
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