The Squeaky Wheel Gets A Promotion

, , , , , , | Working | January 15, 2021

I have a coworker who is just gross. He is an old fashioned good-ol-boy who makes crude jokes to the men in the office and asks the women inappropriate questions, guffawing at the discomfort he causes.

He comes to me at my desk one afternoon. I am overwhelmed with a sudden quick deadline and a headache growing above my eyes. As he starts his leading question, I jam my hand out at him, palm up, and bark:

Me: “Pay me!”

Gross Coworker: *Startled pause* “What?”

Me: “If you’re going to treat me like a whore, pay me.”

The whole bullpen of six women and two men freezes, all eyes on us.

Gross Coworker: “I’m not… What?”

Me: “A dollar a word; ‘a’ and ‘the’ count as words. Numbers count as words, too.”

I am laying the rules out off the top of my head, hand out and never wavering.

Gross Coworker: “I wasn’t—”

Me: “Okay, then, what?”

Gross Coworker: “Well, nothing now.”

He storms away.

Two days later, [Gross Coworker] comes to me to ask if I know why the printer isn’t printing his work. It’s a legitimate question, as I’m the coordinator of the department where the printer is located, even though it is used by many departments, including [Gross Coworker]’s. As he talks, I’m mouthing numbers.

Gross Coworker: “What are you doing?!”

Me: “I’m counting words.”

Gross Coworker: “What? No! This is work-related.”

Me: “I’ll decide what’s work-related and deduct it.”

[Gross Coworker] stormed away, back down the hallway. I went over to check the printer; it was out of paper, so I refilled it and it hummed back to life.

The next week, our floor was pulled into an HR meeting about creating a hostile work environment. I stood up after the presentation, when the floor was opened for questions, and thanked them for their concern but explained that the hostile work environment had died down the week before; heads nodded around the table along with murmured agreement.

Weeks later, [Gross Coworker] was gone but only from our floor. He’d been promoted to a higher floor where he would no longer be interacting with us — well, me, mainly, I guess.

Putting up with him for years, we got nothing but a hatred of gross men. He then squeaked his wheel and moved up the ladder.

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