October 14, 2003

Awful Day

I'm home early due to having to deal with an incident with another employee. Basically, she thought she could shout at me -- after first waiting for her suprevisor to leave -- and I would buckle under like everyone else in her life does when she uses the drama queen card. She knows I'm very passive and don't like confrontation, so her assumption was I'd cave. I just want to do my job with a minimum of female hysterics. Of course, when I get upset, I can't eat and I feel sick, so I asked my boss if I could go home early.

I do not get people, I really don't. I keep my mouth shut, even though half my workday is having to listen to her on one personal phonecall after another, and many of those with personal details about her sex life. I try to block it out, and when I can't I go out to the warehouse. Work has been hell since they hired her 4 years ago. I never know what will make her snap. Now that's she's escalated it to shouting, I worry about it escalating to violence. I wonder if I should start writing everything down to protect myself? I'm scared to go back to work. I haven't felt this way in years. I've been at this job almost 13 years, and I'm afraid to go to work. In all the time there were only men working here, I've never really felt afraid to go to work, but here I am afraid of another female.

Posted by Ithildin at October 14, 2003 5:22 PM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE

It's been my experience that women are worse than men in certain situations, such as workplace intimidation. When it comes to men, if they are at all civilized they are usually inclined to be nice to women (sometimes to the point of being overtly deferential); and as for the boors, there are the anti-harrassment laws. But women are usually given a pass, due to a combination of chauvinistic beliefs (held by both men and women, by the way) that women are naturally less able to control their emotions, and their emotions don't matter anyway since they are but cute widdle fems and/or earth-mothers who are in tune with nature and so whose rages must be endured like the weather.

All that being said, there is no reason for you to have to put up with this crap. Go to your supervisor immediately once you get to work tomorrow. Don't stop to do anything else and refuse to be put off. And if they ignore you or try to give you some sort of runaround I suggest that that is a signal that a) they don't value their employees, and b) they don't much care about their business either. In that case I'd start hitting the want ads and the career websearch sites asap.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 14, 2003 5:36 PM

Hm, that should be "overly deferential" not "overtly" (in other words, "too" deferential, not "obviously" deferential).

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 14, 2003 5:37 PM

I actually read it as 'overly' :)

My boss did tell me today that there was no way I would have to put up with that sort of thing, so I'm hopeful on that count. I think I'm having a delayed reaction right now. I kept it together during the incident, but got really shakey after I started discussing it with my boss.

If it were a bigger office it would be easier I think. But it's so small, I'm often left alone with her for long stretches of time. And we share a very small office space -- its smaller than my bedroom.

Posted by: Ith at October 14, 2003 5:50 PM

Okay, first: I hope you made yourself a nice cup of tea when you got home, to soothe your nerves.

Next: Yes, document, document, document. And, if this happens again, I would suggest that you talk to your supervisor again and let him/her know that you need to escalate it to HR. If this person is as bad as you describe, HR will want to get a handle on it sooner, rather than later, so that they have a cleaner case for termination. And in this job market, they're less likely to hang onto someone unbalanced than they are to let them go and find someone with a more professional demeanor.

Man, Ith, you could be describing and admin I worked with a few years back. If I didn't know you were on the other coast, I'd think you WERE working with the same woman. Eeeeeek.

You've had a tough day -- make sure you pamper yourself a little, huh?

Posted by: Jen at October 14, 2003 5:59 PM

Jen, I had wine instead :)

That's part of the problem, we don't have HR. Small family run company. It has good points, and bad points. This is one of the bad points. 7 full-time, 2 part-time.

Maybe these women are some sort of clones? :)

Posted by: Ith at October 14, 2003 6:05 PM

Okay now I'm having tea. Rose Green Tea from Upton.

Posted by: Ith at October 14, 2003 6:22 PM

Ditto the part about documenting. Names, dates, times. You might also consider having your supervisor put it in writing that you discussed various incidents. Not that you would necessarily have to use the evidence, but it will show that you are serious about this, you're not going to "get over it," and they had better do something to fix it. Sounds like a clear case of hostile work environment to me....

Posted by: CrankyBeach at October 14, 2003 7:15 PM

I can't think of anything else to add to what's already been said, except: feel better, I hope everything works out and when in doubt...sue! I'm such a lawyer. ;-)

Posted by: Dave J at October 14, 2003 7:42 PM

Yep, documenting is your friend. The only possible downfall is that it's a small company without any ordinary procedure or imperative to deal with this kind of thing.

Posted by: Jay Solo at October 14, 2003 8:15 PM

I agree with all that's been said above: wine, documentation, frank discussion with your supervisor. But also, in life, you need to be able to stand up to someone, male or female, who's attacking you. Sometimes the tears are pouring down, but speak up for yourself, it's a skill that you will be grateful to have at some point in the future. If the person is a jerk, you can't embarass yourself. It doesn't really matter what you say or how you say it, since their opinion of you is immaterial, but I urge you to tell her yourself to leave you alone.

Posted by: irishlass at October 14, 2003 8:43 PM

Lass, I did, and I even tried to rationally discuss the issue with her, but all she wanted to do was shout and she told me she wasn't interested in discussing it at all. She wanted it her way, and that was that basically.

Posted by: Ith at October 14, 2003 10:10 PM

Document, document, document! Tea is good too, and wine, but document. Document her actions, document your discussions with your boss about the matter, document everything. The documentation is your friend, and it should include time, date, and all information. I am sorry to hear about this, and hope things work out well and quickly!

Posted by: Laughing Wolf at October 15, 2003 2:27 AM


Have you ever been arbitrarily laid off? I'm betting not. Don't take this the wrong way, but imagine where you would be six months from now if you got fired tomorrow. When I think this, I smile. Actually, I just got laid off. :)

After a double whammy in astronautical engineering -- including a world authority in his field who once told me I was one of his best grad students ever -- I entered the job world.

It took my third mass layoff for me to realize what's not important. The "respectability" of sitting in traffic only to deal with fucktards under puke green flourescants is well worth losing.

Posted by: HH in Hollywood at October 15, 2003 2:31 AM


I still think Nin should kill the bitch, but I also think the boss should give her hell about it. If she gets her kicks by yelling at people at home, that's their problem - NO ONE should have to put up with that crap at work.

Posted by: eviltammy at October 15, 2003 8:12 AM

Have you ever read any material on verbal abuse? That is what she is doing to you. There are tons of resouces on the net to teach how to handle this type of situation, even what to say, because they pretty much all use the same tactics. I agree with documentation and being assertive with her will do one of two things; either she'll go ballistic and make a fool of herself and do something really stupid, or she'll back down. Either way, you win:-)

Posted by: donna at October 15, 2003 11:17 AM

HH, never laid off, but I have lost my job outright before.

Dinna, know I haven't. But thanks for the tip.

Posted by: Ith at October 15, 2003 1:09 PM

That should be "Donna"

Thanks to everyone for the advice and good wishes. I stayed home today since I had an awful night along with my heart going to fast for a chunk of it.

Posted by: Ith at October 15, 2003 1:10 PM

I'm with all of the above on this one, especially Andrea...

Posted by: Paul Jané at October 15, 2003 5:47 PM