It's the good people
Yesterday, I was mowing the lawn, a task that I truly enjoy because I'm outside and I'm getting a real workout, without the gym, and I like the smells and enjoy the peacefulness of it. I had a flashback to January 2016...where I met John (not his real name but it's easier to just come up with a fake name).
I had just started an exciting new job and at that job. My director handed me a project to review, mainly to familiarize myself with the industry and business. She had deemed the project impossible due to the volume of testing required. But with a slight scope modification, I could reduce the testing size by 98% and would only require two to three weeks of testing. The end result was a direct cost savings of $520,000 CAD, which resulted in a lot of attention from Senior Management. I know the attention was simply due to cost savings, not because I was anybody special, I just happened to see the project with a new eye and caught that little change that made the project evaluation possible.
This attention did not go well with one of three colleagues. Let's call him John. John was insanely bright and driven. He was well liked but certainly rubbed a few people the wrong way because of his temper. I noticed that he had the...attitude that he did, so I did what I did and made sure I was respectful, kind, and attentive, as to not cause any waves in my brand new role.
In the third week of work, he came up to me and he was shaking with anger and he told me that he was amazed by my lack of professionalism, that he was going to "report" me to the Director, but was going to give me a second chance. I told him that I was very sorry that I had offended him, and that I would really appreciate the chance to talk to him so that I could address these issues, as he was the senior on the team. I can't fully remember what else he said, but I figured that I would give it a rest and come and speak with him when he had calmed down.
I ended up in tears and another staff member pulled me aside and told me that it wasn't anything that I did, I was just the new person and he was probably jealous or insecure.
Still, on Monday morning, I went to talk to him and he told me it was water under the bridge. Everything was ok.
Except it wasn't. If anyone in our group chat with me - they were ignored for the week. I was constantly ignored, he would not say hello to me, or acknowledge my presence at all. On top of it, he would have regular outbursts at me and once even accused me of sabotaging his work.
I went to the director and asked for help. She said that she had a feeling that this would happen. She encourage me to be more chatty with the team and try to incorporate myself a bit more. Ok....sounds good and all, but he refused to respond to me... I spoke to her again, confused, intimidated, and feeling so stressed out. She said that she would speak with him.
So I continued on. I brought in cupcakes on a Friday and scheduled a "tea-time" in the afternoon one Friday. He left early.
I invited everyone for supper when we had two staff visiting from our Texas office, he declined.
I spoke to my boss several times, asking for help, asking if we should involve HR and she promised she would deal with it.
But she never did.
Finally - he quit. But not before he told HR how incredibly unprofessional I was and had been...and since he had been there longer than me and I had never said anything to HR, it was his word against mine - and he won.
In the end, the director, gave me a package. Yes, our company had just been sold and she was closing down the audit shop, but she fired me. One of the reasons listed for my dismissal was my inability to get along with the team. Now there is one thing that I know to be true - I AM EASY TO GET ALONG WITH. I am accommodating, I am kind, I am professional - regardless of any situation, and I know how to deal with difficult people. I will admit when I am wrong, I will not shy away from difficult situations, but in this case, I didn't stand up for myself and I didn't report harassing behavior when I should have.
I was stunned when I got my package, but everything had happened so fast....but it all came back to me yesterday, while mowing the lawn. I replayed the situation and went through the details of how I wish I would have done this or that...and then got angry at myself for thinking about John when I was doing an activity that I enjoyed - mowing the lawn...
I was telling a friend this morning and she said, "Nicole, you are such a good person that you care about people that don't give a shit about you. You care to the point that in this situation, you look back and wish that you would have done something different so that John was ok and less tortured by your presence and that everyone would just be ok. It's always the good people that care and get hurt".
I needed to hear this. I needed to hear that I was a good person..perhaps that cares too much, but none the less.
I've had some pretty bad luck with bosses since my arrival in Montreal. Not that I am a perfect employee - I know I'm not. But if I'm respected and valued, I will work my butt off for you to make sure that you're happy and that my work speaks for itself. This post isn't to brag or boast. But...to write about this pick-me-up that I got this morning.
Even if the past 3 years haven't been a great indicator of that...I need to remember just who I am. A good person. With a good work ethic. Who is just taking some time off to study for a big, huge, fucking exam.