As time went on and I became completely trained there maybe were 8 or 9 things to get done a day on a busy day. They would be written on a calendar checklist that we kept on a bench-top in the main lab. It had one week per page, and it was clipped together with a big clip. Weeks that were completed were in the back so we could keep track of when we had done certain productions last, etc. There was about a year’s work on that clipboard at all times. We always used a red pencil, and I cringe recalling this small detail. We’d cross things off the list once they had been finished that day. Zoe would have her things that were hers alone to do that I didn’t know how to do. Three of four things. And I would have my things that I would do. Three or four things. I would learn more and more processes from her as time went on, just in case, for back-up.
I always felt insecure about the divvying up of the tasks though. Trying to attribute that to her less than partial attitude towards me. I tried blaming everything. I picked myself apart after every interaction with her thinking maybe I was just a little too over the top nice, maybe I was too this or not enough that. Everything you can think of, I thought of. I paid no attention to how that made me feel.
At some point in time Mark, our boss, and I were having my annual review. I had become so lost with no one to talk to, that when he asked how everything was going, I couldn’t keep it in anymore. I spilled my beans grudgingly slow after he asked me some follow-up questions. I had non-nonchalantly said good except for dealing with Zoe… rolling my eyes as I talked. I was semi-certain of the fact that he must be aware of what a huge bitch she could be. When he started asking what I meant I completely froze. What did I just do? This is serious. I completely panicked that I had brought up the subject. But it didn’t seem like there was any getting out of it now. The small round office-max table loomed in between us. Wishing I could crawl under it and make a little nest for myself. He didn’t let it go and said that if something was happening than he needed to know about it.
It felt so good for someone to finally care about the way I had been feeling.
She’s always so angry, I had admitted.
He seemed surprised and concerned. I tried brushing it off saying that it wasn’t really that big of a deal, that it was fine. He continued that if there was a problem that he needed to know about it.
By the end of our discussion he was convinced that he had to tell his boss. It ended up spurring a whole general harassment in the workplace talk. I felt so guilty for telling Mark what had been going on. I was completely on edge-even more so than I normally was in the days continuing. I kept reassuring myself that I didn’t even go into detail and that I had nothing to worry about. I was general and said that I felt stressed and uneasy working around her, that was it. Patricia, Mark’s boss, ended up giving a power-point presentation in our weekly meeting about harassment the following week. She didn’t point out anyone specifically, but everyone knew it was directed towards Zoe. I could tell Zoe was pissed when she stormed out of the meeting.
In the presentation she had said how important it was for everyone to feel comfortable at work. Every slide gave me confidence in the right that I had to feel good at work. The right that I felt had been stripped away from me on my third day working there. She went on to say that it is important to be upfront and honest about your feelings and to have those tough conversations. This made me think during the meeting that I wanted to have the courage to try and solve this mano y mano and tell her how I had been feeling.
After we got up from our meeting Zoe was quickly walking out of the room. We had those meetings on the other side of the building on the third floor in chic meeting rooms with glass walls. As she was walking quickly away from the glass prison casing I called out after her. She was noticeably irritated but I asked if we could talk sometime about everything. Zoe gave me some attitude after my suggestion, she was annoyed, maybe that I had the audacity to speak to her in general at this point. She agreed to talk, but couldn’t do the time I suggested and told me she would let me know.
She sent this message to me on Facebook that night after I had suggested we talk.
So I honestly want to mend whatevy is going on at work. I don’t think anyone wants/needs/desires to work in an environment that’s not fun. We really are a fun group of people but I feel like we both might have gotten off on the wrong foot. I think we could probs kill it at work if we really sit down and talk about it, which I’m 1000000000% down with. I’m thinking maybe we bust out and grab some food? Be a little sassy and treat ourselves to some good food. Besides the food in the café gives me the shits.. haha. I really am sorry for making you feel the way you feel and I think that talking would really benefit. I honestly think this is a huge miscommunication. Soooo lunch date tomorrow? That is if you ever see this since I guess I have to pay a buck to send it right to your inbox…? #toobrokeforadollar.
Nice, right? I was hopeful. I was so excited the next day when she stopped me in the hallway and suggested Chipotle. I hoped that finally we could maybe develop some good feelings towards each other.
But when I re-read her message I have the following thoughts, first, don’t call me girl. I’m not your girl. I’m the one you turn all your self-hatred on eight hours of the day.
Second, does she really have to use the word whatevy?
I also don’t like how she grouped herself in with everyone else, making me feel like the outsider which I already felt like immensely. We’re a fun group of people. Yeah, they are, you’re not.
Next, do you really have to say “100000000000% down with”, and “Bust out and grab some food,”? I feel like if I knew I had hurt someone’s feelings and they were miserable because of me I don’t think I’d talk like she was talking.
Also mentioning how she gets shits from the cafeteria food bugs me. I could see if we were friends, but not when I’m broken and barely getting through the days. Have some compassion.
And hash-tagging #toobrokeforadollar. You really are too cool for school aren’t you Zoe?
She should have signed it,
Sincerely Zoe #toocoolforschool #downforwhatevy
I’m baffled now because she showed me nothing but hatred when I saw her most days and then she sent a message like that? It didn’t add up. I remember being so confused about how I felt when I read it. I knew I had a right to feel hurt by her, but questioned that maybe I had been the one in the wrong all the time.
I realize now that things aren’t so black and white. I realize that some people might be appalled by how I was treated, some might think its nothing and some might think I’m the asshole. But really, aren’t we all just trying to get through the days? Trying to have some kind of connection or communication that isn’t riddled with anxiety and fear? Maybe I wasn’t assertive enough for her and she didn’t have the patience to tolerate me. I can accept that. But the pain is real that I felt if not from her actions then by the way I perceived them.
When we went to Chipotle we had a good car ride there. I was peppy and gave her a lot of my energy. I wanted it to go well. I trusted that it was good that we were talking. That, that is what we were supposed to do to be adult-like. Or what I was supposed to do. I was nervous to get down to it once we sat down. She had ordered ahead of time because she knew how busy it could get there during lunch. I perched up on a high stool feeling exposed and awkward, pulling up my pants to reduce my small stomach overhang. I dug into my food greedily and nervously. Relishing the last few moments of feigned composure. She barely ate, but I knew that about her already, claiming that she wasn’t really that hungry and that the food would be good leftovers.
I knew why I had suggested the meeting, so I began to jitterily and with no trace of grace spit out some of the instances she had been rude and terrible to me for no reason. I had a very haphazard way in which I delivered my message. She began to tell me how sorry she really was for making me feel that way. And she brought up some of the instances herself and communicated that she thought I was assuming something other than what I had communicated and in realizing this she acknowledged that I wasn’t as stupid as she had previously thought. I was relieved to finally feel some overdue credibility. I couldn’t help but notice that when she was talking and saying that she was ‘really sorry’, which she kept repeating, that the word, “really,” sounded more like it belonged in the sentence, ‘I’m really happy for you.’ And not only that, but in I’m really happy for you, when not really happy in the least. But I settled for the mediocre apology. Gambling away my hard earned and already small pool of self-respect for a temporary and completely false sense of conciliation. You could tell she was pissed to be having the conversation, but as we started hashing some stuff out you could tell she started appreciating the conversation because she was realizing the ways in which I wasn’t as stupid as she had previously thought.
We had started to banter back and forth and even understand each other or so I thought on the way home. She said how much better she felt and how she was glad we did lunch and I had vehemently agreed. Again, gambling away my self-respect like a prostitute dealing with a less than ideal client. Then out of the blue, as if she had suddenly gotten to the root of the problem, claimed that she thought that it was just that I wasn’t very observant.”
We were almost back to the lab and I just brushed it off. Letting it die off into a dark hole that I didn’t want to follow. I could have said anything at that point. Really anything would have done, but I laughed it off and bathed in the delusion that everything was now okay and would continue to be.
When we got back to the lab I was happy. I had at least got to mention some of my grievances and stuff was out in the open. And she actually seemed happy and approving of me which was the biggest relief because usually she wouldn’t even be in the same room as me. Melanie also mentioned how nice it was for everyone to be getting along as we double bagged some trash bags for the next day’s harvest, but I couldn’t help but sense a red-flag as she was saying that. She said it in a way that I knew her and Zoe had been talking about the situation. That made me uneasy. I would always complain about Zoe to Melanie and it didn’t feel good that they were so close. But Melanie would always complain to me about Zoe too. It was so frustrating that she was so two-faced. But I assumed that she just wanted everyone to get along. That’s what I wanted too.
Mark had decided that he would have a follow-up meeting within a couple of weeks to ask me how things were progressing. Tracy undoubtedly telling him it was a critical issue to make sure we didn’t ignore. When I met with him I told him everything was better and that we had actually gone to lunch. He seemed pleased with the fact that we had talked to each other. But pressed the matter that we should have a meeting with the three of us.