Despicable Me

Despicable Me

Dear readers, this is going to be very hard to believe but some people don’t like me.  I know, I know – Kerry is so nice.  Nice is such an overused word but accurately describes me.  Not perfect, not fabulous, not evil; just nice.  In Scotland we have a perfect word that fits me to a T – “couthie”.  It’s the opposite of uncouth and is nice with a little extra kindness and warmth.  Gosh, I sound so wonderful that perhaps I am narcissistic?

I worked a long contract recently when I discovered that my niceness made some people contemptuous.  It is my job to charm clients, exude warmth and be as nice as ninepence.  Mostly, it works to my employers’ advantage and the clients.  In this recent scenario, the company I was contracted to had a nest of vipers working for them.  The first day I was upbeat and excited.  The second day, I was upbeat but trepidatious.  By the fifth day, I was ready to jump out the 4th story window.  In all fairness, I have been battling chronic depression and a respiratory infection but I was not alone in feeling the toxic environment.  The event was guarded and every day I would chat to the various security personnel.  On the fourth day, the guard was so concerned by my worried face that he said, “Miss Kerry, if you look behind you will see a rainbow”.  There really was one and I was almost tearful at his empathy.

I am realistic enough to see that the company toxicity preceded me and was so complex.  Who disliked who?  Why was everyone backstabbing?  Was it their comparative youth?  It was made worse by staff sharing confidences with me about personal and work situations.  I am an empath!  Just like Deanna Troi in Star Trek, I really hurt when negative emotions surround me.  This is also why I am so good with clients.  Most of the conference attendees gravitated towards me, rather than the organizers, because I smiled and made them welcome.  I made an effort to learn their names, ask about their country and business and was generally pleasant.

Every evening I would go home to Teddy and vent viciously about my contracted, temporary, employers.  This is not the first time I have worked for difficult people but when the generalized wrath finally turned on me, it felt like a knife wound.  It made me second-guess myself.  I can’t stand not being busy and constantly found something to do.  This also made me realize how little some of the organizers were doing.  So many personal texts and emails added to workplace venom.  Three of the days were 11 hour shifts with no real breaks, just occasional snacks and trips to the restroom.  Most of the job was sitting so it wasn’t hard work just mentally wearing.

What part did I play inciting the wrath of one particular person?  Well, I am straightforward and noted that the name badges were not alphabetical, making life a little harder than it needed to be.  My constant tidying of the workplace may not have sit well, especially when I asked the cleaning staff for a cloth to clean the coffee tables properly.  Perhaps my age didn’t help?  The majority of the clients were male and closer to my age, so they were putty in my hands.  A pretty accent and smiling face takes you a long way in Texas or anywhere else.  A few came up to me before they left and thanked me for my help or just talking to them.  None of this went unnoticed and my benign conversation with guests was often interrupted with a rather forced sales pitch.  Use honey not vinegar, darlings.

I would love to say this is the first time this has happened but many years ago when I was a small project manager, I had two paid staff and a team of volunteers.  One of the staff respected and liked me, all the volunteers did also but the other staff member really despised me.  She did once imply that my life should have been hers.  I was fat and unattractive yet married to a successful handsome guy (the same Teddy).  She was stunningly attractive with the husband from hell and wanted my job.  I thought I did everything I could to make her life easier and make the job more attractive and interesting but there were limits with funding.  After five years, I burned out and resigned, despite the President’s pleading, then she got the envied job with a good honest reference from me.  Within a couple of years the project disappeared.

I think I know my faults.  My honesty and tactlessness can be searing but rarely with malicious intent.  I am very warm but know when to draw a boundary line.  Delegation is not my strong suit and I prefer my boss to be straightforward with clear instructions.  I will put complaints in writing if I have to but usually prefer to talk it out.  So what’s the point of this post?  The soul searching was worth it – there are always aspects of our behavior we can modify.  Lessons are learned and we move forward.  I wonder if any of them thought about me after the event.  At the very end I received a hug and thanks from one of the nicer organizers.  The one who despised me still thanked me for all my hard work.

Onwards and upwards – I guess I could work at the White House or as an indentured servant at Amazon…

Postscript

There is a rather sad story about the photograph.  The little boy was badly affected by domestic violence aimed at him and his mother.  I was mostly unaware of this and then they moved away.  He was the son of my mum’s school friend.  Many years later we visited and he was a handsome older teenager with a car.  He took me for a drive with an open can of beer in the console.  Despite longing to date, something made me decline the offer.  He died in his 50’s of alcohol abuse.  Every time I look at this photo, I think of what happened to this sweet little boy.

 

62 thoughts on “Despicable Me

  1. Toxicity is, all over. An empath and a person who tampers down depression daily, i too have my battles. Daily. At work. There’s a particularly vicious woman who I empathised with when she lost her dad. She was miserable for years to me but still I tried. Used and abused, im considering resigning now. There’s some really ugly people out there and smiling and waving is not working any longer.
    I totally understand Kerry.

    Liked by 7 people

    • I am so sorry that you empathize but hope you found some camaraderie in this strange world. I hope you find a way through this and perhaps a new job? Thank you for your understanding and I am sure that most of your colleagues are so grateful for your presence. K x

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Such a sad story behind that sweet photo, Kerry. And I’m so sorry to hear about those ghastly to work with people – what a nightmare! And what a funny coincidence – I know we talked Star Trek before, and like you I also think of myself as an empath like Deanna Troi! It can make life quite difficult, especially when confronted with people that I call by myself emotional vampires. They suck out all your energy and you feel literally empty after having to deal with them. One can learn to avoid them in private life but it’s tricky in business. Wishing you lots of rainbows and positive energy, my friend! ❤

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Some of the places I’ve worked were very much like what you describe! I did meet some marvelous people and others, not so much. Employees trying to undermine each other and taking dislikes to some individuals for no reasons. Sad situations for sure.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. I was in management for much of my working years. I learned long ago some will and will not like me. I treated both the same and never gave it much thought. I guess you could say I did not care. My friends and family were all outside of my job so they never mixed. When you come home at the end of the day and the dog is happy to see you and the children at least smile at you and you have the love of a great wife (in your case husband) what happens at work can’t touch you unless you let it. Stay strong and say a little prayer for that security guard, we need more people like him. Here is an extra smile. 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

    • Thank you so much for your insightful comment. Sometimes I can ignore difficult work environments but my health made me more sensitive. It was encouraging to read about so many other people in the same situation but sad too.

      Like

  5. Sending hugs…. I hope you’re finished with this job soon… it hurts and I’m glad writing about it helped – hope it did!

    I love your honesty! It’s a character trait I love and would describe myself as – honest to a fault.

    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 5 people

    • I now can see the light – thank you, Steve. My depression and anxiety got worse because I tapered off Prozac because of Parasthesia. Had to go back on Prozac (discontinuation syndrome) and then tried Transcranial Magnet Treatment (TMS). I was the 5% who felt intense pain so had to stop but I can see why it would work with few side effects. Back to Prozac 10 mg with a supplement (MoodBoost), cut booze and altered diet. It has been a long haul but getting there. Phew! Are you sure you really wanted to know…🤪

      Like

  6. What a heartfelt post Kerry. It’s no fun working in a toxic workplace, especially when you might be trapped with no other options. (At least you had an end date.) I once had the hopeless task of implementing a company-wide system across three departments, none of whom would speak to one another, and all of whom saw me as some sort of enemy. Fortunately I had options.

    Sad about the little boy, but common enough.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I was so glad I had an end date! It seems funny looking in the rear view mirror… In the course of my varied career I have worked with some awful people and companies but some amazing ones too. Yin and Yang, I guess.

      Like

  7. Strong and touching is what I feel about your words. I sense the introspective thoughts you put forth with the fear of mistakes, yet the power of knowing you do you best based on the god given skills you have and are not afraid to use. You are indeed a great person in my eyes and I am proud to call you friend.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. This was a difficult post to read. Toxic people are everywhere and they will try to step over you in the workplace. More often than not, you need to schmooze to make yourself to the top. Using foresight is so important at work, and it helps you in deciding if you should stay or go depending on where the organisation is headed. Good on you for making a move when you were a small project manager…and giving the staff who disliked you a good reference. Karma comes around as always.

    Liked by 5 people

    • My post seems to have struck a nerve with readers and that makes me feel less alone. Thank you for your insightful comment, Mabel. We have a saying in Scotland, “Always be nice to everyone on your way up because you never know who you will meet on your way down”. That has been particularly apt for my husband who was laid off a few years ago. He was headhunted after 6 months off and just last month offered a great new job at the age of 61. All word of mouth about what a great guy he is.

      Like

  9. Oh Kerry, I am so sorry for all of this, happened with you. It’s really hard to manage in such a situation. Hope you are doing well now. I always think why this type of incidents happen to such a lovely faced people’s. Thanks for sharing Kerry.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I didn’t know you were a empath… you must’ve been so relieved when the contract was over! No matter who or how you are, somebody out there will find reasons not to like you.
    Couthie is such a good word. Thanks for the lesson! 😊
    How sad about the boy in the photo…
    On a positive note, so many of us like you and enjoy reading your writing. 😊❤

    Liked by 3 people

  11. This was a difficult read Kerry. Your work experiences in toxic environments and the story of this young boy in the photo is so sad. I can imagine how hard it must have been to work with these people. Poor you. Thankfully, you had that wonderful security guard giving you some positive energy. I hope your road will cross the path of many other lovely people like this man.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. This post resonated. My wife worked in such an environment for over 20 years and it really messed her up. The corporate world encourages this toxicity by encouraging people to compete with each other rather than collaborate. Throw years of corporate reorganisations and job losses into the mix and it just made things worse as everyone was desperate to look better than their colleagues. I firmly believe that the company concerned ( a global pharma company) deliberately did this to drive productivity up at the expense of the mental health of their staff.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Greed and ambition are not good qualities yet we revere them. Our President is an appalling example of this. This reverberates through the workplace with a true mental health cost. Thank you so much for your comment and I wish your wife well. Shortly after this contract, I worked with a gas company and they were delightful.

      Like

      • Thank you. She was paid off in 2011 and used the money to retrain and is much much happier in her new career.
        Whilst I dislike my job I am very lucky to have great colleagues and senior management. Immediate management however…😉
        Totally agree and our UK government are pretty appalling too. Brexit is entirely about protecting certain wealthy individuals from the new EU tax laws that start in January, at huge cost to the rest of us.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am so glad your wife has a new career. My husband was deeply unhappy in his work until six weeks ago when he was unexpectedly offered a job at a different company, at the age of 61. So far, he loves it. He works in the oil industry though so we are always prepared for slumps.

        Liked by 1 person

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