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Beating the Bastards to the Pink Slip

Halfway through his second sentence, my supervisor (whom we’ll call “Precious”) smiles warily.

My eye starts twitching.

And I know what’s about to pop out of my mouth like the Kool-Aid man through a brick wall.

“Matt, you’re killing me,” he laughs.

“Oh, Precious. Before I provide further comment on that issue, let me say something.”

“Oh…er, okay.”

“I’m done, Precious. I’m done. Even if Congress sorts out this mess.”

*Silence*

Thanks, Congress! I love pink.

*Precious tilts his head*

“Now, Precious. About the emails I sent.”

***

Kittens, y’all know about McNutterpants. So I’m not about to drag that toe up horse out of the barn and beat it to death. But yesterday, when she started shooting off emails lined with crazy, I lost it.

And the bitch sprinkle cap popped off.

And those sundaes got coated, y’all.

Coated.

But just so y’all have an idea, here’s a sample email I sent after I was excluded from yet another office-wide email:

Hi all,

McNutterpants, thanks again for including me. I know I’m invisible, but it’d be great to be told so directly (like this) instead of typical passive-aggressive tactics. I’ll be sure to contribute a representative (—-) photograph, too.

Best,

Matt

Which was followed by:

Matt. Please do not email me again.

McNutterpants

Because, as we’ve seen, ignoring the problem is the best way to solve it.

***

So, Precious and I chat a bit, and I try not to vomit up my lentils as he begins assuming the apologist role instead of his supervisorial mantle. And then, when the patronizing commentary starts trickling between his statements, and the subtle chastising begins, my other eye starts twitching.

And I do a complicated hand motion.

And I serve up a plate of insubordination with a side of realness.

Because I can only be professional to a degree before I start laying it out and my Italian chattery kicks into overdrive.

(This is when Precious begins faltering. Because reconciling confrontation isn’t his strongest suit.)

Nearly an hour later, the realization that I’m nearly free from this welter of madness begins to sink in. And I get tired. Really tired. Exhausted–like with imitation Luis Vuitton bags hanging under my eyes.

I think I feel a few hairs suddenly go gray.

And I go print off a two line notice, sign it, then turn right around and hand it to him.

With the warm paper between his fingers, and my signature still slightly wet, he suddenly looks like I smacked him across the face.

And he, too, looks tired.

“Oh, uh, so, uh, you’re sure? Were you planning to, uh, do this already?”

“Positive. And as you’ve well known, it’s been a long time coming.”

***

That’s how it ends.

Two lines and weary eyes.

Because as much as I’d love to rock out to “Dancing Queen” while raising my middle fingers and wearing a skin-tight pink leotard and doing cartwheels and knocking over cubicle walls, I’m just too damn tired.

It’s as though the nearly three years I’ve let this place suck from my life have suddenly been multiplied by ten, and I’m standing at the edge of a new world like Brooks in The Shawshank Redemption.

Too dramatic?

Probably.

***

But there’s no curmudgeonly crow on my shoulder, and I have no need for a noose.

Not when I have a partner reassuring me that I’ve made the right decision—that we’ll make it work.

Or when there’s a birthday to celebrate, a cupcake tower to demolish, and liquor to drink.

Cupcake carby overload!

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When Your Only Recourse To Bullying Is A Big F-You.

There have been a few moments in my life when I’ve realized my only recourse is to throw my hands in the air after washing them clean of toxic residue left by particular experiences.

I did after crying about the sting of unrequited love.

I did after deciding to leave graduate school.

And at 6:41 this morning, I did it again.

***

After two and a half years dealing with a constant barrage of hostile exchanges and unprofessional behavior in my office, I passed the threshold separating “Be the better person” from “Here’s what I really think of you.”

Once the tremors in my hands subsided, and the keyboard stopped smoking from my rapid typing, I exhaled for the first time in what seemed like 15 minutes. Onscreen was the end product of unmeasurable amounts of stress, anxiety, and anger.

It was the albatross loosened from around my neck.

***

I’ve had so many mentors in my life, each of whom has taught me the benefits of being the bigger person. Of following all professional channels to reddress workplace issues. Of taking the high road. Of invoking that voice of reason even when fear-mongers scream through bullhorns.

But it turns out today is not the day to do any of these things. Or be any of these people.

Today is when I face the fact that this horrible place has changed me. Has made me bitter. Has changed a part of who I am for the worse. Has made me realize I need to start healing, and stop tearing off the proverbial scabs and repeatedly licking my wounds.

Today is the day I send a response to the person who has made my time in this office absolutely unbearable.

[Name]:

Thank you for your email. It brings a few issues to the floor, each of which I’d like to address in detail. 

(1) If the — files are of such central importance, then I think they should be kept in your office, not mine, and in something a bit more appropriate than a rusted filing cabinet. Additionally, — has been mitigated for years, and while there is limited interest in it, I have yet to see anyone use these files since I’ve worked here; they take up space that is needed by the buildings team to process active projects. — has not been under the —‘s managerial purview in years. 

(2) There seems to be a double standard with regard to individuals moving office furniture at their leisure. Did you not switch offices without any prior approval? Did you ask everyone in the office if they would mind? The move you made was calculated and the implication clear-you wanted the “power” office in the facility. The cabinet I moved has been empty since — left, and its space is needed presently. As you mentioned in your email, there are plenty of other filing cabinets floating around —; we can always get one of those once a — is hired.

(3) You are not my — mentor, my supervisor, or my boss. You have no right to “track” my leave time on the hard copy calendar in the common area (which, by the way, is an OPSEC violation), and I do not want any of my PII on the —, on a phone list, on anything that is freely accessible by others inside or outside the office. Additionally, if you ever think I am faking an illness to avoid work or am doing so out of anger (e.g., after — left), please feel free to ask me rather than attempt to undermine my professional character. (By the way, I did in fact have pneumonia that settled in my lungs as bronchitis right after — left; I also just had strep throat, an acute sinus infection, two severe ear infections-one of which left me with slight hearing loss-and pink eye in both eyes a few weeks ago.)

(4) If we want to talk about curation, we should address the multiple projects —, —, and I uncovered in the back vault that have been inappropriately curated for the past eight years. Entire projects have been accessioned incorrectly; if I’m not mistaken, this is why you go to — prior to their final storage in this facility and/or at —‘s storage facility. None of the individual artifacts for the projects can be relocated should they need to be, and each of the catalogs is a mess. Additionally, the “database” you keep for the — component of the program is a Word document, not a database; nothing in it can be queried for data usage/calls. There is no real temperature regulation in the back curation area, especially since the door to the common area is kept open at all times. Also, it is a basic best practice not to eat in a curation space; it attracts bugs and drinks can easily be spilled, damaging documents or equipment. A milvan/conex does nothing to preserve the —; these objects are corroding, rotting, and molding in these archivally unstable storage containers. The — Disaster Plan was last updated in May 2002 (when I graduated high school). Each of these issues seems to be a more pressing one than berating me about the location of the — files.

Your email is symptomatic of the targeted harassment you’ve shown toward me since the hostile interaction you initiated earlier this year when no one else was in the office (re: my tasking). Quite frankly, I am tired of your scare tactics, your immature demeanor and attitude in the office, and your unprofessionalism. You have repeatedly shown systematic aggressive communication with attributed intent (e.g., intentionally leaving me out of buildings-related email traffic-e.g., the cupola thread-regardless of if I respond to the thread or am the POC); repetitious manipulation of work (e.g., your attempts to take the — webpage management from me; micromanaging buildings projects/inserting yourself into them when you are not the SME); nonverbal aggression (e.g., your refusal to communicate with me directly or acknowledge my presence; your distribution of Suicide Prevention Awareness cards to everyone in the office-even those not present-and intentionally skipping me; antagonizing me about furniture rearrangement that facilitates my productivity in my office); and social ostracism (e.g., asking everyone else in the office if they’d like to eat in the back and intentionally skipping me).

Former staffers and others outside this office share my concerns and thoughts on these issues, so I am not alone in this assessment; I am merely the only one left who has the courage to stand up to workplace bullies like you. Others who have “pushed back” against you and your behavior have met similarly unprofessional ripostes and treatment. I have to deal with harassment, bigotry, and generalized discrimination every single day of my life, so I know what it looks, sounds, and feels like. Everything that you do to undermine my abilities and professionalism in this office, and every way that you act toward me, falls within one of those categories. Your callous behavior is reprehensible, and I am tired of taking the brunt of it.

If you take issue with anything that I do in this office, I ask that you be professional and address it with me directly rather than revert to passive-aggressive emails after I leave the office. The fact that you cannot speak to me, or acknowledge my presence in the office on a daily basis, speaks to your unprofessional, disrespectful behavior that has long pervaded the office.

Respectfully,

Matt

***

Today is the day that my mind is clear.

My conscience clean.