Moving On To Greeter Things

, , , , , | Working | November 19, 2019

(A few days before this incident, my boss took me aside into her office. The library was in the middle of making renovation plans. I had missed that meeting due to a vacation, so she was filling me in. It’s only at the tail end of the conversation that this happens:)

Boss: “So, how are things with you and your coworkers?”

Me: “I think things are great. When I don’t know something, I can always ask them for help. And they ask me to help when they need it. I think we have a great balance of strengths.”

Boss: “I received a complaint about you.”

Me: “What?”

Boss: “One of your coworkers, who wishes to remain anonymous, complained about you. You need to try to get along better with everyone.”

Me: “I thought we were getting along great. Who was it? No one ever spoke to me about a problem.”

Boss: “I can’t tell you that. Just try to get along better with everyone.”

Me: “Okay… then what is the problem? How can I fix it?”

Boss: “I can’t tell you that. It would give away who filed the complaint. You just need to get along better with your coworkers.”

Me: “How can I fix it if I don’t even know what the problem is?”

Boss: “Just get along better with your coworkers.”

(I leave her office, completely bewildered. I think and think and think about what could have happened, but I have no idea. The best I can come up with is that maybe my coworkers dislike me discussing what happened on the weekend or after work; I have been dealing with a lot of crap in my life, so maybe they don’t want to hear about it. I decide to keep conversation solely professional and only discuss work-related topics. If my coworkers ask me how I am, instead of telling the truth, I simply say, “I’m doing fine.” The day in question, I say hi to both my coworkers; however, I don’t think [Coworker #1] hears me as she immediately stalks to the back room with her back to us. None of us speaks much all day except to complete the work we have to do. It’s after closing, and two coworkers and I are running through the shutdown procedures. It’s my turn to do statistics, but I work on a very slow laptop. While the documents are processing, I do other tasks such as wiping down the computer keyboards and storing the mobile stations. As I work, I gather up all the items that need to be filed and put them on top of the counter since my other two coworkers are standing right in front of the drawers, doing their shutdown tasks. Once statistics are finished, I put my laptop in its locked case in the back room. I emerge and reach for the disinfecting wipes I left out, when [Coworker #1] calls me.)

Coworker #1: “Are you going to put this away?”

(She’s pointing to something on the countertop, but since she’s halfway across the room, I can’t see what item she means.)

Me: “Put what away?”

Coworker #1: *absolutely loses her mind and starts SCREAMING like a rabid banshee-harpy* “That’s it! I’m sick of you, [My Name]! Do your job! You have to do your job! This is your job! I’m sick of your attitude! If you don’t want to be here, you should just quit! I’m tired of you and your attitude! [Boss] has already talked to you about this!”

(I start hyperventilating. I’m already under a ton of stress from my personal life, and she sounds like she’s about to get violent.)

Me: “I… I am still working.”

(I point to the disinfecting wipes I’m trying to put away, but I can’t even pick them up because I’m shaking so badly.)

Coworker #1: “That’s bulls***! I know how you are! Don’t you bulls*** me! Do your d*** job already and cut the attitude! I’m so sick of you! You didn’t even say hi to me when I came in today! Just quit! Just get out of here and quit!”

Coworker #2: “[Coworker #1], you’re going too far. You need to stop.”

Coworker #1: “I am not! She’s the problem! She needs to do her job and stop trying to hide! If she hates it here so much she should just walk out that door and never come back! I don’t need to deal with her attitude! [Boss] has already talked to her and she’s still got that terrible attitude!”

(I grab the staff phone list and mobile phone and hide myself in the back room. I try contacting managers in turn, but since it’s late, no one is in their office. I am sobbing so hard I can barely speak. At last, I get ahold of the HR department — like #5 on the list — and brokenly explain what happened. I then throw up in the trash can. By that point, [Coworker #2] has chased [Coworker #1] out and tells me it is safe to leave. I have to call my family to drive me home because I am trembling so badly I can’t even drive. The next day, HR and the deputy director come to write up [Coworker #1]. She refuses to even speak to the HR personnel and strong-arms the deputy director into speaking to her alone. While [Coworker #1] does have seniority in the system, she is only part-time and everyone else in the room outranks her in terms of job title, including me. I don’t know what they tell her, but HR and the deputy director takes me aside, as well, and basically told me:)

HR: “We talked to [Coworker #1]. Now move on and act like it never happened.”

(The most ironic thing was, had [Coworker #1] kept her cool, I was planning on turning in my two week notice the next week because I had found another job due to the horrible nature of that library. Looking back, I realized this all stemmed from that one complaint. [Coworker #1] had gone to my boss and complained, “[My Name] doesn’t always say hello when I come to work for the day.” [Coworker #1] was always complaining about other people not greeting her. My boss handled it very poorly, and I blame her lack of conflict resolution skills. I also realize that [Coworker #1] had seen our boss talk to me in her office for an hour and assumed I was being berated. [Coworker #1] also assumed I was being clearly told what the problem was instead of being given a vague “get along with everyone,” so [Coworker #1] assumed I deliberately didn’t say hi to her instead of realizing that she simply didn’t hear my greeting. I am so glad to be away from there.)

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