Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm an Asshole

I had a bad day at work yesterday. The secretary is a difficult person, very good at her job, but overbearing, and sometimes malicious. She's bitter and disappointed. I think that she spends a great deal of time alone when she is not at work. She takes everything personally, even when it is not directed at her, and she's always flying off the handle about something. The thing is, the woman is never wrong. It is always going to be someone else's fault for her emotional outbursts.
I have a mother like this, and I deal with it by stepping back. I will talk to anyone as long as we're making progress, but since this woman has never done a wrong thing in her life, since she's just as perfect as my own mother, I don't see the point to endless discussions with either of them. All that happens is that I feel like the most awful person on the face of the earth by the time it's all said and done. So I've been pretty much dealing with our secretary by simply trying to avoid ruffling her many, many feathers.
Yesterday, I walked in and she let me have it. Both barrels. By the time it was done, she called me a liar, complained that I am unprofessional, recounted things that the director has told her about me, that the stress of dealing with me causes her to sob and shake in the shower hysterically each morning because she knows that she has to come into work and deal with me, went on about how sensitive she is, and how insensitive I am to her sensitivity. She ranted and raved for quite some time. She wants me out of the office. She told the boss this. The thing is I can't switch desks with anyone. No one else will work with her.
Everyone has had their no-win run-ins with her.
I realize that I am not responsible for her mood swings. I realize that she was probably on 'nerve pills' before I started working there. She'll surely be on them after I'm long gone.
I can only control myself.
I know this.
Everyone there told me that I can't let it bother me, it does.
What makes people like that?
Why the heck do they keep crossing my path?
Is it me?
Is God trying to teach me something?
I'm lucky to be able to work out of my truck, and the garage. I am lucky that I can do my data entry at home on my own computer. It just makes me feel badly that I have to. I really like the people I work with, but I can't see any other way to gracefully handle the situation.
I just feel pretty badly about it.


Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Unfortunately Debby, people like this exist everywhere. Try taking public transit in this city and you will come across one every single day, I guarantee you...

Anyway, some people just have an axe to grind, and their thermostat is set at "bitter", just like you said. IF they can ruin someone else's day, they are satisfied.

Its unfortunate that there is one of this breed at your work. All I can say is "steer clear" as much as you can, and dont' take it personally. It's *not* you...its her.

jeanie said...

Oh Debby - how awful.

Me, if I were tough and strong, would take her somewhere for coffee.

I would say "hey, I am not going to be your straw this week. I react to you stimuli the way I do because it is the only way I CAN deal with it. Obviously you are dealing with me in a way you think works for you - but if I am going to be hit with crap like that when I walk in the door, then BOTH OF US are doing the wrong thing." and ask her for suggestions as to how SHE can change the way she acts.

Of course, I am not generally big or strong - and that is one wierd baggage-toting lady who will have a miserable life unless she changes SOMETHING. How sad.

debby said...

Nice try, Jeanie. You can't though. If you try to address a problem, she'll simply deny there is a problem...unless you have the problem, which is your problem, so no problem.

Fastfingers said...

Hi Debby - Yes, you get people like this EVERYWHERE, there's at least one in every office that thrives on negativity. They're insecure and so try to make themselves feel more secure by making you look bad (so they look good). Its honestly not you. You may have dreams about throttling her/mowing her down with a car (or is that just me?), but you should really feel sorry for her. She may sob and shake in the shower every morning, but not because of you, because she feels so bad about herself and its easier to blame someone else than look at herself.

I've come across LOADS of these people. Avoid if you can, but if not, don't take their ranting/criticism/nastiness personally, its just who they are and what they do - if not you, then they'll do it to someone else. Damned annoying that they dare make anyone else feel bad though.

Just ignore her and EVERYTHING she said. Is she right? No of course not. Don't let her get to you, just think 'Poor old cow'. And dreaming about throttling/mowing her down with a car sometimes helps :-)

Now you just carry on being an honest, decent, caring person, y'hear?

Scotty said...

I always find that silence is golden with these people - I don't say a word, not one - I resist the temptation to verbally spar with these people because it means I have to sink to their level.

Wanna know what works for me and drives them mad?

Smile. Yep, let have their rant, then just smile (not smirk) and simply walk out.

debby said...

Oooh. Scotty. That's what she was upset about this time. I don't talk to her like I talk to everyone else. I was being quiet because her last rant was that all I did was talk, and I was disrupting her work. Being quiet around her made it worse, not better, and here we are. I'm discriminating against her because I talk around everyone else.

I know that it is her, but I've no idea how to deal with her. No FF. No visions of mowing her down with a car. That might be just you.
Another illusion shattered. That British civility thing -pfffft. It's gone. :^D

steviewren said...

As you already know you are in a no-win situation. Nothing you ever do or change will be enough. In a case like this ( and I have been there) I have finally learned that I have to choose how I wish to lose. I know I will lose no matter what I will do but I will lose with my dignity in tact. I will lose but I will do it in a way that I can respect myself for. Maybe if you ignore her she will give up on you and move on to someone she can get a response out of. Good luck.

mikey said...

Tell her to adjust her meds and walk away.
I don't know why people are like that, but they are... serious drama queens. Tell her life's too short to be that bitter and she might consider changing her life. And if she doesn't like you, she might consider a different job.
You are in a no win situation. And no, it's not you. It's them.

Mary Paddock said...

Line from "The Fighting Temptations" When life makes you have to put up with mean and hateful people, just think of them as sandpaper. They may scratch you, rub you the wrong way, but eventually you end up smooth and polished, and the sandpaper, it's just going to be worn out and ugly.

They're everywhere, Deb. And frighteningly enough, they're often secretaries. And it never fails, that they're secretaries you don't have any real authority over.

Quite frankly, it sounds to me like it's time to re-establish some healthy professional boundaries. That she felt secure with dumping on you like that tells me that her role, as she sees it, is more than a little unclear. This is unacceptable behavior--anywhere really--but especially in an office that deals with the public. This wasn't helpful dialogue for anyone involved.

If your director is truly making statements about you to her, then your problem is a lot bigger and you may need to look further up the line for support. However, if it were me, I'd begin with him (her?).

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt (several actually), quit the job. Don't let this happen to you. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Debby,
I just had to drop a line to let you know that I think you're a great person. Just from reading your blog, I can tell you are a caring, intelligent person who tries hard to get along with others.
The secretary that is being so difficult and has verbally attacked you is problematic in that if allowed to go on (and it sounds that basically the director does not want to address the problem) it gets worse and worse. There are classes that one can take to learn how to deal with difficult people and there is also websites that can offer some good advice
Good luck,