Monday, September 12, 2016

When September Ends



I'm still not all the way back from what happened at the beginning of this month, or the myriad annoyances that have piled on since. But I wanted to summarize the past ten days while I can, in the hopes that it will get me back to blogging and commenting on a regular basis. (and thank you to John Gray and Mr. Shife for the kind words.) 


  


It's Friday. I said to myself. Try to be happy. If she says something, break the silence and say something back. You've made your point.

But she didn't say anything. She got the message. We're in a Cold War now, and it may never end. So be it. 

How long can I keep this up? I switched the default printer on my work computer so that I don't have to share hers anymore. I make fewer trips to the fridge and the bathroom, and when I absolutely must get up and walk around the office I take everything with me so as not to pass by her desk multiple times.

Looking down, looking away, looking in any direction but hers. Cannot even look that woman in the eye anymore. Don't sneeze anywhere near her. Either she'll say "God Bless You" and you'll have to respond..or she'll say nothing. 

Our corner of the office was always quiet, but the silence has been amplified tenfold. Does she notice what's happening? Does she know why? Is she going to report this to her boss? Maybe she's e-mailing him now. Maybe he'll call me into his office next time he's here. Can he fire me for not speaking to his secretary? I haven't gone out of my way to speak to anyone - just in case I'm wrong about her. But I'm not. And she hasn't said two words to me, either. Not since Tuesday anyway.

"Good morning." She said cheerfully. I ducked into my office and said nothing. Ohhh no, we're not doing that anymore. 

I made as many calls as I could stand. I did all my work - except anything that required the internet. I tilted my computer screen to face the door.

Then, shortly before 10 a.m. I had to get up. I had to put something in my boss's inbox. I had to pass her desk. "Good morning," she said again. I couldn't play it off like I hadn't heard her, or that I assumed it wasn't directed at me. She was already on a phone call, and held the phone away from her to greet me. She was casting a fishing rod with that second "Good morning." You're not getting away that easily. But I did.




She was on vacation the Friday before Labor Day, for some Christian church girls' retreat. And on that day I was called in to a meeting with two of the attorneys. Friday morning meetings with the boss are always a sign of doom, but I had been doing my job. As paranoid and pessimistic as I am, I could not think of any reason why I would be fired - especially since it would be a welcome change at this point in my life. 

It had been brought to my attention that the attorneys had seen some "inappropriate images" on my computer. "Whaat?" I replied. This genuinely bewildered me. I've never been the type to watch porn or look at sexually explicit images on my own time - and certainly not at work. I told my bosses that I occasionally read news while using the internet for work-related things like searching tax records or pulling new files.

One attorney did most of the talking, and he sort of assumed that would be my response. But he made it clear that this was not one isolated incident. There had been multiple reports of inappropriate images on my computer - and when I tried to suggest that they could possibly have seen some advertising that I wasn't aware of he rebutted that by stating that there was one report of thumb-nailed images of women in lingerie..or some such nonsense. 


When I am at a loss for words, I have a habit of looking away from the person I'm speaking to and staring off into the distance, as if searching for the right answer. I looked out the window and thought what the hell did they think they saw? What sites have I visited?

And then, a few seconds later.... Ohh fuck. The J-Law post. 

Do y'all remember this post I wrote, about my very strange and realistic dream featuring Jennifer Lawrence? I wrote part of that at work. And I searched Google Images for an accompanying pic. Not sure why I did that at the office, probably because I knew I wouldn't be able to write at home until after 7pm. My bad, I guess. But if you'd like to see what happens when you search Google images for "Jennifer Lawrence" please click here.






Once I solved the mystery of what they saw, I quickly deduced who reported seeing such "inappropriate" images...

When I was a freshman in high school I was bullied and intimidated by a much larger kid, someone who probably should have graduated three years earlier. He kept taking my lunch money until I decided not to give it to him, just to see what he'd do. He let me off with a warning and said if I was empty-handed again he'd beat the shit out of me. 

I reported him to the principal or the guidance counselor or whoever, and I was told that they'd handle it. The school security guard reassured me that I wasn't his only target and so they would tell him that "multiple people" reported him for "a number of incidents."

So when my boss tried to convince me that "If it was just one person, that would be one thing. But there were multiple people." I knew he was lying to protect someone. 

There are six non-lawyers in our office..all women. One of them works downstairs and rarely surfaces. One of them is my "work mom" and even though she knows how badly I want to leave this place, she would never take it upon herself to force my ouster. Two other women in our office don't often pass by my door, though I couldn't dismiss them completely. Then there's our secretary, who isn't particularly friendly or loyal, and she passes by my office plenty of times a day. 

Those five women have been working there long before I was hired three and a half years ago. I haven't been doing anything now that I wasn't doing then - just reading sports news, political news, or blogs. (In fact three years ago I was looking at Twitter and Tumblr so I'm actually doing less than before. But that's neither here nor there.)

That left only one prime suspect: the new hire who has been there less than two months and has made no secret of her Christian faith. It just so happens that she reports directly to the two attorneys who called this meeting. It just so happens that her desk is directly across from my office. 


Church girl. Of course.




Since then the incident has been buried in an avalanche of annoyances:

~ My first grader started soccer this week. She's never played before, and we were not informed until a week ago that she would be placed on an already existing team because there weren't enough coaches. Her first practice was Wednesday, and she loved it. Then she had two games - Saturday and Sunday. 

Her first game was played in 95F heat, and one of her teammates had to switch sides mid-game and play for the other team because of an injury. Then, when the score got out of hand, my daughter's team was told to stop scoring. Basically whatever you've learned up to this point (which isn't much) unlearn it and do the opposite. I understand why they did it, and it didn't matter anyway since my little one ate too many grapes during the injury time-out and couldn't finish the game. 

In the Sunday game, the weather was much better and we were all prepared with chairs and sunscreen and extra drinks. For some reason my daughter played more - which was hard to watch because she looked clueless out there. She ran up and down the field, chasing the crowd and going where she was told to go...but when the ball came her way she forgot to do something. Repeatedly. It was as if she assumed someone else was more capable of handling this very important job of kicking the ball and she just deferred to them every time, even if they weren't a teammate.

My wife could tell I was in a foul mood about this, but she kept assuming I was mad because my daughter wasn't immediately displaying athletic greatness. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was embarrassed for her, and angry at the soccer association for throwing her on a ready-made team as an afterthought, with kids who have been practicing together for six weeks and playing organized soccer for at least a year. 

Meanwhile...

~ The air conditioner in my upstairs room keeps leaking, and I had to take it out of the window. Which means that my sanctuary - where I write and watch TV and sort my sports cards - is fairly uninhabitable for most of the day. I have a fan up here, but it only makes sitting at the computer slightly bearable.

~ The Yankees won't friggin' go away, The World Cup Of Hockey hasn't even started and I'm already sick of it, and apparently the U.S. presidential election is a choice between a physically ill candidate and a mentally ill candidate. I'm about ready to vote for what's behind door number three:





I'll be back to blogging and commenting by the end of this week. Hope you're all enjoying the last days of summer.





~




22 comments:

  1. Auntie gladys had some sound advice for me when I felt in the same dark place as you....she said " this too will pass"
    Ok I think she stole it from the film MY BEST FRIENDS WEDDING , when the bussbiy says it to a distraught julia roberts
    But you may get the gust
    THIS TOO WILL PASS
    X

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    1. haha...thank you for that. Your aunt is very wise...even if she's quoting a Julia Roberts movie ;-D

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  2. That is some bullsh*t. Seriously. I don't think it's very *Christian* to go around hurling stones at fellow employees, but hey I guess that's just me.

    Amazing how many people think a bunch of 6 year olds can play a full game of soccer without real coaching.

    Stealing that giant meteor pic because it is hilarious.

    I hope this week is better than last.

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    1. I should probably have censored myself as you did, but I had to vent. Next time perhaps. Yes, it was a rotten thing to do - let (s)he who is without sin cast the first stone - but I s'pose it was her right. I just wanted to let her know that I know it was her.

      M's coach seems like a nice enough guy. It's a tough situation, and he's playing her enough so that's good. I just think she needed a lot more practice before getting thrown into games. We just seem to end up in those types of situations more often than most people. (she's already talking about how she'd rather play basketball than soccer...)

      I thought you'd enjoy Giant Meteor. I saw a car with that bumper sticker not too long ago. If I had the means I'd buy a dozen and stick them over all the Trump signs in my neighborhood (I'd do the same for Hillary signs but she's outnumbered like 30:1 in my area)

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  3. As someone who has been accused of similar things, I can certainly sympathize with you. Take care and don't let the little people get you down.

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    1. Now I'm curious of what you were accused of? And by whom?

      I'll do my best to let it go. If she catches me on a good day I might even speak to her.

      Thanks for reading :-)

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  4. Oh, dude, I'm so sorry for you. Please keep in mind that not all people who are church girls are the same. I'm a Christian. I have no problem with your blog. I think you're a brilliant writer, and I would not rat you out at work for nothing. I'm sorry to say this, but I recommend that you not use your work computer for anything personal. I'm sorry for your youngster, too. When my daughter was in high school, she tried a couple of sports she had never played before. I don't remember what the first one was, but she said that the entire season she didn't know what to do. The coach never explained the game. She assumed everyone already knew how to play. My daughter never tried that sport again. She also tried out for squash. Her first year she didn't make the team, but the coach encouraged her to practice with them. Her second year she made the team, ranked last. Third year ranked about tenth. Fourth year ranked second. Great experience for her (in college she tried to teach her boyfriend to play squash, which ended with him swatting her on the butt with the racket; they bowled instead and even started a college bowling club). Your daughter shouldn't have been tossed onto a team like that. I can't tell you strongly enough how sorry I am for what you're going through.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Oh Janie, I didn't mean to imply anything about all Christians or church girls - only that those who are very strict and have higher moral standards than the rest of us might take offense to certain things that other Christians (or non-Christians) would not. I don't judge anyone for having strong faith; My Favorite Girl is an Evangelical Christian and I fell for her in part because it was refreshing to see someone live by such standards.

      FYI, I actually consider myself a Christian - but I dont attend church or own a Bible. I just try to be a good person and have empathy and not judge people. Anyway...You're absolutely right - I shouldn't do personal things at work anymore. Lesson learned. I wont even read news anymore, just in case.

      I'm glad your daughter found a sport she enjoys and does well. Starting a sport in high school must have been very difficult, I can imagine how lost she felt. Tbh, I might have swatted my girlfriend on the butt too - gently and playfully though. I always imagined doing things like that but in reality I end up doing them wrong, or my women don't share in my humor. Oh well.

      Thanks so much for understanding and commenting. I feel bad I dropped the ball on BOTB but I will definitely comment on Thursday's round.

      :-)

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    2. I didn't do BotB this time. I was sick earlier this week. I haven't done anything except take care of the dogs and myself. I didn't think you were passing judgment against Christians. I don't think SHE'S much of a Christian, so I'm passing judgment. It's stupid that you can't take a few minutes at work to look up something on the computer, but now that you know about Nosy Britches . . . . I once worked at a newspaper where we only had one computer with access to the internet because one guy once upon a time had looked at porn. It was before I worked there. Can you imagine trying to do research and answer email when the entire newsroom only had access to the internet with ONE computer? Talk about people who go overboard. The decision was made by the publisher, who was an absolute asswipe and would go through the stuff on my desk when I left at the end of the day.

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    3. That sounds like a drastic overreaction - and an inconvenience would have made everyone's job much harder. I always hate it when an entire group suffers because of one person's actions.

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  5. First off, great song!

    That's BS about work, I have found that the most judgmental people are those who are taught not to judge, if you know what I mean.

    I have 2 kids, my daughter was great at Softball, made all-stars even, but had no competitive drive to get better. Just didn't care enough to try harder. My son, we talked him into quitting baseball because it was embarrassing. As he got older and the kids got better, he never progressed. I took it easier on my son quitting than my daughter quitting. So much potential wasted. I hope your daughter finds something she really enjoys, whether it be a sport or something else.

    I'm also stealing the bottom image, hilarious.

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    1. I think I know what you mean, Jeff. I'm a magnet for hypocrisy.

      That song has become a Sept. tradition for me. I really should buy that album, I don't have any Green Day CDs. (Not even Dookie!)

      My daughter is at the age where she's interested in everything, and starting to try it all out. I hope we're able to find something she really enjoys and succeeds at, and nurture that. I can understand why you'd be tough on your daughter for not fulfilling your potential, but I hope you weren't too hard on her. I'm sure their talents lie in some other field.

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  6. the length of this post... *prepares self*

    i've read your last post and i just hope that you're coping well. you need to focus on yourself more often. i think you need a little breathing space too. when weird things happen, tragic things that invoke change, i find that it's hard for our heads to wrap around it. and it's alright if it takes forever.. and it's alright if you never do wrap your head around it. i find that we know how to take care of ourselves in situations where we're the most depressed than others do. i do know that lying down in my bed and refusing to do life somehow amplifies it. yet doing life somehow exhaust me. but it's just a thing of finding out which is easier to bear than the other. but that's just me. now, about you... i hope you're taking care of yourself.

    hopefully, i've not offended you/i won't offend you with anything i say. it's very easy to harm someone when they're not thinking properly and i hope that i don't.

    i'm reading this post and i'm not sure where this is heading but all that anxiety will wear you out, mister! you look after yourself yes.

    what? "inappropriate images?" oh dear God i won't even comment on this. this is ludicrous. *opens that post* NONE OF THOSE PICTURES ARE WITH HER IN LINGERIE WHAT THE HELL and even if they were, dear God, if i wanted to see a woman in lingerie, i'd just walk outside and stare at billboards. or wait a minute, JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE. i bet you'd find more "inappropriate images" staring outside the window at three in the morning!

    even looking her up - most of her "skin" is around the neck and cleavage. it's not like she's bloody naked! or in lingerie for that matter!

    i can't believe this. all this worry and anxiety and the actual situation is just appalling! i can't understand how you aren't fuming!

    now onto other points of this post:

    oh wow. i hope she picks up soon. but as long as she's having fun, right? or is it that she's noticing that she's not as good as the others? either way, she'll get there. 6 weeks isn't much time when you think about it.

    take care of yourself, alright? xxx

    again, hope i didn't offend you with anything. i can't reread this as i'm watching cartoons (i know!), so i just have to keep me fingers crossed i've not said anything awful!





    -Sam Lupin

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    1. I think you didd an easier job reading/replying to this than I did with the comments. Gah I'm so far behind! But I had to take the time for myself you suggested. Kinda didn't have a choice, the family pulled me away and then my body just sort of forced me into shutting down.

      Not sure what you thought I would find offensive but rest assured I am not that type of person. But I knw what you mean about being unsure of your posts/comments when your mind isn't the clearest (which is why I didn't rush these comments.)

      I'm glad that you share in my incredulity at these so-called "inappropriate images" as has been said, it was probably bad form to do this at work but those JLaw pics were worlds away from porn. Maybe if someone actually knew what they were looking at instead of doing a drive-by assumption on a screen that would have been at least six feet away from them...ah well. I'm over it. Still not talking to that person though.

      WHY HAVEN'T YOU POSTED ANYTHING SAM?!??! :p

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  7. I hope things are improving for you at work. I know all about crazy despicable work politics crap. I'm sorry you're dealing with it right now, but as John said, this too shall pass.

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    1. Thank you Jennifer. I think it has, mostly. On to the next source of stress! :-)

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  8. What a hassle. Glad I don't have to deal with workplace politics anymore as they can turn into big problems. Hope things have gotten adequately resolved so you can be back to Battle of the Bands and other similar trivialities that make life more fun.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. BOTB was fun and I want to try it again one day. But I have more blog ideas than time, and as you can see with the delayed comments here, I probably cant hold myself to much of a schedule.

      Blogging does make my life more enjoyable. It's the only thing besides sleep that relieves my stress and doesn't cost any money!

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  9. I do hope that you are doing better, and that you'll be back to joining us with the BOTB soon. It's always best to do the research, etc from home. You never know what you'll run into online.

    Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

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    1. You're right Mary. I guess I have to do all my blogging from home. Which is safer...but slower. I'll try to get back to BOTB some day soon. It was a lot of fun but I don't trust myself to stay on schedule.

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  10. I can definitely sympathize and understand your aggravation over getting called to the carpet because of a person who has their panties in a serious bunch. I go through the exact same kind of crap at my job and I work in the public sector. It took roughly 9 1/2 long years, a complete changeover in HR and career semi-suicide before everything resolved itself.

    Hang tight, keep your chin up and don't take no crap from no one.

    Father Nature's Corner

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    1. Thanks G.B. I don't know how you endured the work BS for all that long but I salute you for that. Keep grinding, yes. I'll do my best.

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