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Best Wishes To You And Trashy!

, , , , , | Working | February 1, 2021

Many years ago, I worked for a large US corporation that had multiple functions scattered among several companies. During a downturn in the business, management decided to merge teams from different units for “efficiency.” No thought was given to the possibility of culture clashes.

At the time, I was a professional doing specialized technical work in a small group. Our new manager came to see me and told me I was their choice to lead a team formed from three units performing four distinct functions. I had trepidations but my options were to take the job or a layoff, so I became a middle manager.

Among the people working for me was the man who had previously been my supervisor; that had its moments but it was far from the worst part of the job. The worst was trying to deal with two unionized groups from different companies.

In a previous career, I had been a union member, and I understand the value unions have had in getting the American workplace forty-hour workweeks and other benefits. Initially, I had no qualms about dealing with them.

This is about one woman in particular whom I shall refer to as Trashy McTrash. 

Trashy wasn’t a meth addict and didn’t live in a trailer, but otherwise, the moniker fit. She had a cheap blonde dye job, wore clothing inappropriate for her age — mid-fifties — and was a heavy smoker. Union negotiations allowed for three ten-minute smoke breaks per day; by noon on Tuesdays, she’d exceeded her week’s allowance. She stridently demanded promotions but if I gave her a task that was a bit complicated, she’d refuse, saying it was a Level Two job and she was only a Level Three. Her phone time was over the top on personal calls.

Why didn’t we terminate her? Thank union contracts. Plus, she was just one issue among many and she was skilled at tiptoeing up to the line but not crossing it. 

And then she got remarried.

My last name is moderately uncommon, somewhere near the bottom third of US names, so it surprised me when Trashy’s new husband had the same last name. She took his name, so instead of being Trashy McTrash, she was now Trashy [My Last Name]. 

This was mildly interesting, albeit slightly annoying, until people began asking me if she and I were married! Professionalism prevented me from saying what I really thought of her — especially the smoking; three family members have died from the habit — so I simply corrected the questioners. Then, I got a call from HR.

Apparently, there is a company rule against supervising spouses and he started in about having my “wife” on my team. I managed not to gag and rather stridently corrected his assumption but told him if he really wanted to replace me, I’d be more than happy to stand aside.

Sadly, that was a non-starter and I had to finish out two and a half years in the job.

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