Needs A Strong Stomach For This Coworker

, , , , | Working | September 21, 2019

(I am working a childcare job. The family has twin girls, each with a unique set of special needs. Their parents have assistance almost around the clock, so I have several coworkers. Most of them are great, but there is one girl I positively dread having overlapping shifts with. She constantly gets into juvenile power struggles with the children over the stupidest things, simply because she can’t stand to be contradicted. For instance, she’ll nitpick the little girls’ games of make-believe for being too absurd and demand that they play differently. The children are not compliant, nor should they have to be, and the rest of us have to diplomatically referee between an elementary schooler and a college student. Basically, when I have to work with her, I’m monitoring three stubborn children instead of two, and the worst one can’t be put in timeout. Despite the fact that I break out in stress-hives at the sound of her voice, I am never anything but professional and polite to her. I also work with another family and have arranged playdates between these two sets of children for a number of years with great success. I have brought kids from both families to meet at a small festival hosted by a church nearby. The boy in this story is from the other jobs, so my coworker is not, has never been, nor ever will be in any position of authority over this boy. I am quite petite and the boy is harmlessly amusing himself by clasping his arms around my waist and attempting to lift me off the ground, with moderate success.)

Coworker: *harshly, to [Boy]* “Don’t do that! She just ate lunch; you’re going to make her sick!”

Me: *to [Boy], but reasonably loud enough for my coworker to hear* “That’s okay, sweetie. I’ve got a strong stomach. You’re fine.”

([Boy] continues lifting.)

Coworker: *snapping at [Boy] again* “I told you to cut that out!”

(I respond directly to [Coworker] this time, with a pleasant tone, generously thinking she may not have heard me before and was genuinely concerned for my well-being.)

Me: “I won’t get sick. I told him it was okay.”

Coworker: *to me* “But I told him to stop.”

(She says this so smugly, as though it’s the unquestionable end of the subject. [Boy] is now looking to me for guidance, obviously concerned that he might be in trouble. I am an extremely patient, even-tempered person, but I am not being paid to deal with her attitude today and for once, I am not going to take it. I put a hand reassuringly on the boy’s shoulder and then very slowly turn to face her. I look her dead in the eyes with the sternest, most withering stare I can muster. When you work with children, you can get pretty good at that stare.)

Me: *deliberately and forcefully* “But. I. Said. It. Was. Okay.”

(She backed off immediately and barely spoke to me the rest of the afternoon. She was still an obnoxious human being, terrible at her job, and a pain to work with, but after that confrontation, she never again attempted to exert any authority over me. She was eventually fired after another of her stupid power struggles lead to the child with brittle bones slipping on a wet bathroom floor and breaking her leg. The worst part of all of this, though? She’s now a special education teacher.)

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Requires Drawing On All Your Strength  

, , , | Working | September 20, 2019

(When I am about 15, my mother’s law firm hosts a trip for the partners to go skiing out west. As my mother is unmarried, she has no family to bring except me, her only daughter, so I am invited. This results in the group of us, lawyers, and their families, waiting together to board the same plane between 5:00 and 6:00 am. I bring out a sketchbook to doodle in to keep myself awake, when one of the two named partners — a man in his 50s, and not my mom’s main boss — comes over to see what I am drawing, and, to all appearances, be a nuisance. This man is a known bully, a pain in the a**, and a creep, but there isn’t much my mom can say or do about it at the time. As for me, I am so tired I can barely think, let alone tactfully dodge his attention.)

Partner: “So, you can draw, huh? What else can you draw?”

Me: “Um… I don’t know. Pretty much anything if I can see it, though I like to draw from my head.”

Partner: “Oh, yeah? So, can you draw that plane right there?”

Me: “Yeah. I mean, I could.”

Partner: “Prove it. I want to see you actually draw that plane.”

(I start drawing the plane. I don’t get far, but apparently, he is one of those people who simply cannot wrap their brains around artistic talent at all, so even the most basic stuff astounds him. Rather than prompt him to compliment me, though, this seems to only spur him on to be more obnoxious.)

Partner: “You’re even drawing those little seams and rivets. How did you know to do that?”

Me: “Well, they’re there. I can see them. As I said, I can draw it if I can see it.”

Partner: “Well, what about—”

(We are interrupted by the announcement to begin boarding, and I think that, thankfully, this is the end of it. But somehow, I end up seated next to him on the plane — he in the window seat and my mom in the aisle seat, with me stuck in the middle, the sole object of his focus, for hours. My mom has tried to discourage him a few times, to no avail, and keeps giving me sympathetic looks as he quizzes me.)

Partner: “So, could you draw [random thing]?”

Me: “Probably.”

Partner: “And you can draw things from your head, too? Just, right out of your head?”

Me: “I try.”

Partner: *smugly* “I bet I know something you can’t draw! The United States with all fifty states where they’re supposed to be.”

(I just sigh and begin drawing out the USA with a pen on one of the little airplane cocktail napkins. It’s not photographic, but it’s not half bad, though I get tripped up around Delaware. Regardless, the partner starts huffing and sputtering before I’m finished. He actually seems angry that I could do it — that it was at all possible.)

Partner: *snatching the napkin and trying to show it around* “Do you see this? Do you see what she did?” *turns back to me* “How could you possibly know how to draw that?!”

Me: “I’ve seen a map.”

Partner: *speechless*

(To this day, my mother tells this story with pride, that with that one line I managed to “shut him up so fast!” When he finally spoke again, it was to grumble something I don’t remember, and then he moved seats to a different row to find a new victim. I didn’t speak to him again for the rest of the trip, or ever again afterward. Years later, no one missed him when he left the firm, taking his half of the partners and business with him in an ugly split. Unrelated, but just to drive home what a jerk he was, his final act was to strip the office of every piece of art, decor, and communal furniture that wasn’t nailed down.)

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The Only Heavy Lifting Required Is Getting Into Their Stubborn, Thick Head

, , , , | Working | September 18, 2019

(Months ago, I injured my back. The way it happened, combined with a few other issues, means it hasn’t healed yet. I’ve been told not to lift more than ten pounds to keep it from getting worse, which my managers are okay with. A customer orders some furniture, which is in the back. I radio for a coworker to get it since the pieces are over fifty pounds each. Another coworker on the next register gives me a look.)

Coworker: “Why can’t you go get it?”

Me: “Back injury. I can’t lift that much.”

Coworker: “I saw you lift some stuff the other day!”

Me: “I couldn’t have; I’m on restriction.”

Coworker: “I am, too, but I ignore it. You can’t just not do your job!”

(My customer jumps in.)

Customer: “She is doing her job! She’s making sure I still get what I’m wanting, while you harass her over something that’s probably none of your business!”

(My coworker didn’t talk to me for the rest of my shift. I gave the customer a small discount.)

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Taking The Lead In Abusing Power

, , , | Working | September 18, 2019

(Our lead cashier has only been at the store a few weeks longer than I have, but acts like she’s far superior to everyone else there. After a couple of months, it’s become apparent that she’s singling me out. Any time I leave the front, whether for a break or for other parts of my job, she calls over the radio and harasses me about where I am and what I’m doing. She also refuses to call me by my nickname, which I go by for personal reasons. There’s a lot of other things she does to me specifically, and I finally get tired of it. I find the store manager and we go into her office for a meeting. I explain everything that’s happened.)

Manager: “I’ve somewhat noticed her calling you out more, but I’ve assumed it’s just been busy up front and you forgot to tell her where you went.”

Me: “No, I always tell her what I’m doing before I leave. She always says I don’t, though.”

Manager: “Okay, I’ll talk to her—”

(As if on cue, the lead cashier gets on the radio.)

Lead: “[My Name], where are you?! You can’t run off every time the line goes down!”

Manager: *pause* “Do you want to take your break now?”

(The lead cashier got written up after refusing to stop harassing me. The manager also made sure to schedule me for when the lead wasn’t working, or in a separate department.)

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Slapping Some Sense Into Them

, , , , , , | Working | September 17, 2019

(Before our shift starts, we always have a thirty-minute meeting to make any announcements and do training. I’m sitting in front of a coworker who I know pretty well, since we do both of our weekly volunteer days together. As the supervisor’s making an announcement, she slaps me on the back of the neck.)

Coworker: “What did he say?”

Me: “He just explained the changes they’re making to the schedule. He’s handing out the new schedule at the end of the meeting.”

(A minute later, she slaps me again.)

Coworker: “But if we have a new schedule, when will it go into effect?”

Me: “He just said next week. If you listen, you’ll find all of this out.”

(Another minute later, someone else mentions an upcoming event that we can mention to tourists. I get slapped a third time, this time so she can ask if tickets are still available for the event. All of this is information that she could get if she just stopped smacking me and listened to the announcements. After the meeting…)

Me: “If you have questions, ask the people making the announcements. I don’t like being smacked every time you’re not paying attention.”

(She looks suddenly very sympathetic.)

Coworker: “I forgot. You don’t like being touched.”

Me: “Touching is fine. Slapping me to get my attention isn’t.”

Coworker: “Because you’re autistic.”

Me: *baffled* “I’ve never been autistic, but if I were, why would that be the only reason that I don’t like being slapped?”

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