I got a fair amount of feedback after my last post. I was afraid that I’d made some excessive comments or had been cruel. For the most part, most people said that it was good that I learned something from my bad experience at my last job.
I don’t want to rue but I also wanted to get off my chest the final piece of my bad feelings at my last job. To recap: at face value, I was let go from my last job after 1.5 years of work because of financial problems. That was the official reason. I sense that this outcome had actually been carefully planned as I feel like for at least 6 months, some of my responsibilities had been stripped away and that I was basically put in a position where I was redundant by design.
I also think I was let go because I was becoming a nuisance to the leader of my team. For some time, one team member has been behaving in a way that seemed increasingly inappropriate. By the end, after nothing was being done, I reported this to HR because it was becoming a morale killer for multiple members of the team. This entry is my retelling of that situation because I want to share it but also because I want to share what I have taken away from what I will consider one of the worst professional situations that I have experienced to this point in my career.
I struggle to figure out where to start the story. There’s a whole other situation that was happening at work that influenced this situation. But I think telling that part of the story is more gossipy so I’ll stay focused on the member of the team that I had the most problems with. My initial opinion of this person was that she seemed like a snob. I didn’t naturally get along with her. One problem I had with her was her tendency to lecture while at the same time being a total hypocrite about diet. She was a follower of the Paleo diet and would constantly critique other people about their food choices. Mind you, a majority of the people on my team (myself included) are Asian. We are skinny as fuck. Seriously, my body mass index is insanely low. So to have a person who is (pardon the bluntness) “chunky” lecture us on our healthy diet choices while pushing an extreme diet (of questionable dietary benefit) was not so fun. Furthermore, she would pretend to be on this Paleo diet all-the-while pounding beers all weekend. She also once tried to do a cleanse before work and only accomplished vomiting all over herself. So needless to say: she was pretty annoying.
She was also exclusive. One time, I approached her and another coworker discussing a book they were both reading. The book is called “Grain Brain” but said quickly, it is hard to understand the title of the book. When I asked the coworker to repeat the title, she cut in and said, “It doesn’t matter– she eats grains anyway.” Rude, right? I mean so so rude.
So I didn’t really like her. But then I started hearing and experiencing even worse behavior– many of which falls within the boundaries of creating a hostile work environment. She would loudly critique other coworkers (like their clothing choices)– so loudly in fact that I heard her comments from 15 feet away. When I mentioned what I had heard to the person to which the comment was directed, she admitted she would have felt bad had she heard it. This individual was rolling her eyes at team members during team meetings. She was going up to a team member at her desk and making critical comments about her work and rolling her eyes.
So at this point, I’m thinking: this doesn’t seem right. I don’t think it’s reasonable for a team member to making nasty comments to coworkers, acting rudely in team meetings and generally making people feel uncomfortable. I brought this up with my manager who mentioned it to the VP of the team. When I sat down with the VP of the team to tell her some of what I was hearing or observing, do you know what she told me? She told me, nearly verbatim: “not everyone has to be friends.” She treated me as if I was a child tattle taling on someone for not being my friend. I could not believe it.
The abuse continued and I was starting to feel really miserable. So I met with the HR director just to ask her if any of this behavior was bad enough that it needed to be addressed. She said it was worth talking to the VP about but I asked her to let me manage it through my channels because I didn’t want the VP blindsided. I again brought it up with my manager but the issues were never addressed. So probably 4-6 weeks after our original discussion, I went ahead and lodged a formal complaint with HR because I felt like the impact on team morale was getting increasingly severe, for myself included, and I just needed something righted.
I tell this story because I truly believe that this has some impact on why I was let go. I think that I was perceived as difficult and the VP really likes the bullying coworker and resented my complaints.
So this is the story behind kind of a bitchy comment in my last post about the company retaining shitty employees. This individual is a cancer on the team. She’s a cancer to anyone who comes in contact with her. Her work isn’t even that great (she barely understands Excel and once miscalculated an entire data set, presenting recommendations to the company that was directly opposite to what the data indicated.) She brings down morale. She is negative. She is rude to others. She is two-faced. She is a hypocrite. Retaining people like this on staff and letting them mistreat others is something a failing company does. I truly believe this.
But if I am to move on, I need to think about what I have gained from the experience. I wish I could say that I would look out for myself the next time around: that I would not make myself seem burdensome and be more conservative in the things that I say and share.
But I can’t say that.
I can’t say that because I know time and time again that when people look away as terrible things are being inflicted on others– the outcome can only be worse the longer it is allowed to continue. I can’t say that because I know that my value in the world– the value from my intelligence, from my morality, from my empathy– is predicated on my ability to assess situations and share my opinions. And I also can’t say that because it’s just not who I am. It’s not who I became after earning my undergraduate education at UC Berkeley– the lifebood of the free speech moment. Quiet, meek and agreeable are not traits that I aspire to.
I guess my takeaway from the experience is that shitty people exist in the world. Avoid them. They will only bring you down. And then when they aren’t getting the attention that they are seeking and actively seek out ways to make your life unpleasant, you fight them. You always fight them. You fight them because they have no right to do that to you or to anyone else. I still feel this way. I will never feel like I did the wrong thing pleading with leadership from my former employer to help make the workplace better for those of us who work so hard.
And as for the leadership possibly using this as a reason to get rid of me: it’s fine. They’re the ones missing out. And there is karma in the world, I believe this. And I need to let the karma do what it needs to, all-the-while continuing to conduct myself with honor, love, and respect.
With this entry, this is done. I need to move on and I won’t think about this any further.