Thursday, July 29, 2021

All’s Well that Ends Well, Part 2

Before I close the book on the old journal and move on to present day, I just have to share a few things, not so funny at the time, but which I now find hilarious, starting with what Jane — the Lead Attorney, did after I turned down a promotion.

Jane’s secretary Elva was retiring. The position was that of a Lead Secretary, a rare position in the agency, sought by many company-wide, with a huge bump in salary. Jane fully expected a feeding frenzy with us girls falling all over ourselves to compete for the position, especially since the company was cutting back, laying off positions.

Jane was embarrassed when Stephanie, from another branch of the organization, was the only person to apply for the position. Even secretaries in the path of being laid off, did not apply. No one wanted to work for her.

Jane was not only embarrassed, but PISSED. Especially at me because she’d made overtures that she wanted me in the position.

I was way ahead of Jane by then, had awakened, knew what games the witches were playing at, why they played them, and how they played them. Jane would have given me the position, but wanted to see me humbled, begging for it and then grateful.

Jane’s mistake was not realizing not everyone, including myself, is motivated by money or prestige.

I certainly could have used the money, but no thanks — I passed on the promotion.

Jane even had her retiring secretary speak with me. Elva came to my desk one day and asked, “Are you sure you don’t want the job?” No question, I wouldn’t have touched working directly with Jane with a 50-foot pole, so Stephanie (the only applicant) got the job and Jane retaliated by going on a campaign to punish me for not playing along — a campaign that included finding fault with everything I did thereafter, fabricating, lying, and coming down hard on my attorneys to also find fault with me ... or else.

A group of us girls had decided to surprise Elva with a retirement party in Las Vegas.

Jane was perpetually angry all the time now, plus we knew Jane would be jealous, so we didn’t say anything about the trip. However, Jane happened to come around the corner when I surprised Elva with our plans in letter form and, when I walked away from Elva, Jane DEMANDED to see what I had given Elva.

Elva said she didn’t want to show Jane, that she told Jane it was personal, but Jane just said, “Yes, but what is it!”

Jane badgered Elva until Elva got scared and let Jane see what I had given her. It was a personal letter notifying Elva we were taking her to Vegas and detailing the departure date, method of travel, hotel, etc.

Jane had no right to do that in the first place, but then Jane added insult to the injury of reading the personal letter by getting pissed off about our plans — just as we knew she would.

Now further pissed off, the campaign of harassment intensified and carried over into March of 1993 when, since nothing she and the others, at her behest, had said or done in the interim had the desired effect they were looking for, I received my performance evaluation.

Jane scheduled a meeting for the following day, but wanted me to read it the afternoon before, to be ready to discuss the evaluation — which specified I was barely adequate, with a zinger that I was “hostile to attorneys”.

In the journal, I wrote “I really had no problem with the evaluation because I know these people and the games they play. I’d expected something and had predetermined not to let it depress me, interfere with my work and/or mess with my head. So I signed it and returned it saying ‘no need to meet. I have no problem with it’.”

I thought the game was over but, the next day, Donna walked past my desk and asked what time is our meeting. I told Donna there wasn’t going to be a meeting, that I had no problem with the appraisal and that ‘I just wasn’t going to play this game.’ Donna started laughing so hard that she almost fell down in the middle of the floor. A few minutes later, Jane comes over to my desk and insists I meet with them to ‘discuss’. Jane refuses to take no for an answer so I go into her office.

"It was Jane, Joyce, Donna, and the conversation started off with Jane saying that the rating, which included the statement that I was ‘hostile to attorneys’ though signed by her was Joyce. I just kind of smiled, turned to Joyce and said, ‘I knew that’.”

In this meeting, "Joyce got a little more self-righteous, imperious and indignant than usual and went straight for the jugular. After Jane said ‘hostile to attorneys’ came from Joyce, Joyce got all huffy puffy and started bouncing around in her seat as she pronounced ‘Yes! And you’re rude and extremely arrogant, and I for one intend to say so from now on! I’m going to tell you you’re being rude!’ "

"If this was intended to draw blood, they were sadly disappointed. My reaction was I started laughing my butt off. It was so predictable, so ludicrous and for Joyce of all people in the world to tell anyone that they are rude and extremely arrogant, you had to laugh."

"After laughing my butt off, I said something to the effect that ‘I can’t take this seriously, that it really is true that we do see others as we are’."

"I broke it down further year-by-year, that the first year Jaymie rated me — that Jaymie was an uncooperative and incompetent individual and that was what Jaymie said about me. The second year Henrietta and Joyce rated me, with Henrietta being the dominant voice. That Henrietta was a very cruel, abusive individual. That the only way I could deal with Henrietta’s abuse was to become quiet and focus on getting through the day. That because this was not the reaction Henrietta wanted, that Henrietta wanted me to be fearful and/or behave just as badly as she, and because I did not, Henrietta rated me as being too detached and not caring about what I did. I said that Joyce went along with that appraisal because Joyce had a tendency to not be able to see beyond Joyce’s own nose. I didn’t just say it in words, I put my hands up besides my ears to show the limit of Joyce’s hearing and then just in front of my nose to indicate her limited seeing."

Reading that now, it appears I had no fear by then. I’d outgrown them.

"I went on to say that now here it was year 4, and I’m being told I’m hostile, rude and extremely arrogant. I said that what was funny about this was that Joyce was saying about me what is being said about her. I said I never took offense to Joyce and that when people would tell me Joyce was rude and arrogant, I would say, ‘Oh she’s okay — that’s just her way’."

Of course, Joyce and Jane had already made up their minds I was the one who was hostile, rude and arrogant, so no one in the meeting was really listening to me.

I went on to write something that, looking back at what I’d written, tells me how far I’d come — that being "It is probably inconceivable to Joyce, Jane (and Henrietta) that they might be wrong; and God forbid they entertain the thought they might not be perfect. I have noticed that people who are vain and arrogant believe the way they see things is the way things must, are and have to be. This kind of personality is always looking out negatively at others, never positively, always negatively; and this type of personality never look inwardly at itself".

I also wrote, "I think what is really bugging Joyce and Jane is that no matter how bad they treat me or write me up or how many impossible demands they make upon me, I get the job done. I keep a smile on my face and I don’t complain. They want to break me."

As the journal went on, it appears that I as much told them this by saying, "I am getting the impression you want me to be whimpy, whinny and pathetic, and I’m just not going to do that".

ROFLMAO, OMG. This beatdown wasn’t going the way they’d planned.

At any rate, the journal went on … "We ended up coming to no conclusions. I said I wasn’t going to take this evaluation and this conversation about ME being hostile towards attorneys, rude and arrogant seriously or personal. Jane said their perceptions must be true because ‘We all see it that way’. I said, ‘You are all the same person’. That I was sorry they felt the way they felt, but I can’t be bothered by other people’s perceptions. That I wasn’t responsible for other people’s perceptions. That I was going to continue to come in and do my job the best I could and if they were bothered by my personality there was nothing I could do about that."

Insubordinate? I think not. After all, THEY insisted on discussing it. LOL.

"To top it all off, after Joyce, Jane and Donna finished telling me I was three-day-old dog do-do, Jane said, and I quote, ‘But we’re really happy with you. You have a good attitude, we think your work is very professional, and you’ve been a real trooper, a real team player’."

"I kid you not."

From reading the journal, it looks like it was three more months of bad behavior — mostly Joyce because, whereas Jane had backed off after the beatdown didn't go as planned, Joyce was incensed by not being able to take me down and by what I'd revealed to her about her. So, having grown and having done all I could do with them, I was done and transferred to another unit. A transfer Jane tried unsuccessfully to block. And when Joe, the Administrator who was in charge of such things, later told me Jane came to him and asked that he block the transfer, in the journal I’d written my response was to say, "Why didn’t Jane just apologize and begin treating me right?" Joe replied, "You know that’s not Jane’s way."

Foolish foolish woman. An apology and doing the right thing could have been far less traumatic than what followed.

What followed was Jane’s new Lead Secretary — Stephanie telling Personnel she’d made a mistake and wanted them to get her out of that unit. It wasn’t long before Michelle — my replacement, would seek me out, cry on my shoulder, tell me how much she’d come to hate Joyce.

Michelle had transferred into the position in a job swap. Joyce had told Michelle, "I’m really looking forward to working with you. It’s a real easy job. We do our own work".

So, Michelle, thinking I was the problem, not the attorneys, eagerly took my desk job, while I took her job in Word Processing where I was warmly greeted, treated well and happy.

When Michelle became miserable, complained to anyone and everyone about the volume of work and the witches, Jane tried unsuccessful threats and intimidation tactics to get me to transfer back, but no. I stayed put, Michelle left the company.

A secretary from another unit transferred into that slot but went back to her old unit within three months.

Donna, Joyce, Jane and Henrietta began fighting amongst themselves, blaming each other as being the cause of all the chaos and turnovers, while the work I’d been tasked with, while in the position, had to ultimately be farmed out to three other people in the agency, plus an associate and, with no one wanting to work for any of the witches, a series of temp workers sat at the desk. One temp was Q, who became a close friend and ultimately my supervisor when I turned down a promotion to head of the Word Processing unit, suggested him instead. Another temp, by the name of Jerry, sat at the desk after that and Jerry stuck it out until the unit was disbanded. Jerry didn’t like Jane, sought me out, kept me informed, LOL.

Jerry remained friends long after a merger/relocation sent my friend Q and I to other areas. Now retired, all these many years later, Jerry is still tight with Q and I, was even present at Q’s Fleet Week party in 2018 where we were still gossiping and laughing about our time with Jane and the other witches. 

2018: My friend Q on the left, Jerry on the right

All's well that ends well.

8 comments:

  1. "and carried over into March of 1993"
    How do you remember that much from that far back? I'm not even sure what department I was working in then. Let alone the people I was working with.

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    1. I didn't remember. The journal entries were detailed and dated.

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  2. I loved that story about the work witches. You handled them perfectly! Bravo. I lived through, as a close-up observer, a similar situation. One SAB (selfish arrogant bitch) manager and a series of 20+ secretaries who, over about 5 years, were either humiliated into quitting, driven into the hospital with high blood pressure, or in one notable case quit but told the SAB to her face why she (SAB) was a miserable person. The best story was about one secretary who stayed for a couple of weeks, decided to quit, but before she left wrote a 3-page letter of warning to the next poor soul who was hired. The letter was hilarious and very, very accurate. It outlined all the mental games SAB would play, all the ways she would try to catch the secretary in errors, all the mind games she would play. She left the letter in the new person's desk and put a copy in a shared computer drive so anyone else could see it. On her first day, the new replacement found both the printed letter and the virtual letter. SAB happened to be standing behind her at her desktop and also saw the beginning of the letter on the screen. When she realized what it was, SAB demanded that the new person delete it immediately. But the printed letter remained. And New Person, after a few days, realized how true it all was. So she quit and left behind a copy with one other person who shared it with me. I still have that heart-warming letter and read it from time to time even though I retired from that job years ago.
    I still have vivid dreams about SAB, which really irritates me. I guess she's in my head forever. Probably because I never had the nerve to tell her what a miserable person she was. I did, however, cut her off completely when I retired, despite many attempts on her part to remain in touch, have lunch, etc. I was told that she whined to one other person about how she couldn't understand why I was avoiding her. Good, let her whine forever. It's a shamefully passive-aggressive way to punish a bully but at least it's something.

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    1. Wow! Thanks for sharing that. I love that bit about the virtual and printed letter. That's terrible about still having vivid dreams and sad that, in spite of the turnover and the letters she can't understand why she's been ghosted. Some people go through this life span completely asleep. No matter how many times things hit them in the head, they never wake up.

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  3. I remember when I left the DA's Office they had done Exit Interviews for everyone, but they avoided mine and I never had to endure one because they pretty much knew what I thought about anything they did that wasn't up to par or who wasn't up to their jobs... ha ha ha... I thought it hilarious. Shortly after I took my early Retirement, our Boss, who a Friend and I had virtually carried for Years, got demoted back to Secretarial Duty... also hilarious since we'd told Upper Management for Years that she was running off all the qualified Help because tho' a very Intelligent Woman, she wanted to run the place like an East Indian Sweat Shop and kept telling us all that in India {where she was from} we would be Delighted to cowtow to everyone in positions of Authority... REALLY... well, like Dorothy said about Oz, we ain't in Kansas now Toto! *Winks* It's perhaps good and bad you kept a Journal, in that now you can Laugh about it all, but then you were probably documenting for entirely different reasons that aren't at all pleasant to have to recall.

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    1. Right you are. Because I needed to talk out what I was dealing with, journaling was the way that kept me sane. It wasn't fun then, kinda became fun at the end when I was outwitting, outplaying them, and now I just laugh at it all. Kinda made me angry with my grandson who, when the going gets tough, want to walk away from a job because nothing they've complained of is as difficult as what I had to endure.

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  4. Good story. Reminds me of some of the law firms/attorneys I worked for. I was lucky to have some great attorneys over the years but when they are bad, they are really bad.

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    1. Right you are. I've had some good bosses in and out of the legal field. Those that were good were very good. But when I had a bad one, he/she was really bad. Looking back at this journal, it's hard to believe that grown people, professional women, could be so petty, pathetic, clueless.

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