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Some Guys Just Can’t Take What They Dish Out

, , , , , | Working | January 21, 2021

It’s the late 1980s, early in my career, when I land a position with a small agricultural company. Most of the products — specifically live animals — are shipped around the globe, so organizing transportation to the customers is a critical function. The guy who has been doing this Logistics and Traffic role for years is d*** good at his job.

In my first weeks of employment, I also quickly discover that he is an extremely gruff, opinionated, and sometimes blunt individual — what would now be called an “office bully.” He is known to engage in shouting matches with other staff in the hallways, for example. During my first few months, I do not have much need to interact with him so I am able to keep my distance.

One day, my manager informs me that the company wants to send me on a trip to one of our subsidiaries in another country. Since [Logistics Guy] also handles company travel bookings, I have to go make arrangements with him. Cue the “Jaws” music in the background.

After I give him the dates and destination, he grabs a notepad and starts to put together an itinerary. This part goes well as he acts more or less professional and offers tips and advice as we discuss the options. When I mention that my manager told me to have him book a rental car at the destination, he suddenly explodes like a hand grenade. He starts throwing the papers in the air and loudly berating me for such a request.

Logistics Guy: “Everyone else who goes down there gets the local manager to pick them up at the airport! You don’t need a g**d*** rental car! Waste of company money! Forget about it!”

When this tantrum hits full stride, I make a decision that is either going to cost me my job or deal with this guy head-on. I look him straight in the eyes, and in the strongest voice I could summon, I say:

Me: “Shut up! Just shut the h*** up! If you have an issue with any of the arrangements I have requested, go speak to [Manager]! Otherwise, just do as I have asked and let me know when you are done!”

Before he can pick his lower jaw up off his desk, I look at him with the coldest eyes possible and add:

Me: “And do not, I repeat do not ever, ever treat me in this way again!”

As I stood up and turned to go, he grumbled briefly in a low voice but I was not listening. I shook like a leaf on the way back to my desk, wondering what kind of crapstorm might be in store for me. But an hour or so later, he came by my desk and tossed a copy of the itinerary on my desk with a growl that sounded like, “Here you go.”

My manager never came and talked to me about the blow-up, so I guess what is said in Logistics stayed in Logistics. For the rest of my two years there, we never avoided each other, but he never tried to bully me at any time, either.

Fast forward almost a decade later. I took a new position with a similar company not far from my former job. On my orientation tour, we stepped into the Logistics office and who should I meet but [Logistics Guy]. By then, he seemed to have mellowed quite a bit and was calm and professional any time I saw him in the office. That I was glad to see, and we never discussed our past history.

He retired a few years later, but I always remember that he — unintentionally — taught me the value of not taking any s*** from office bullies.

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