I started working at my current job over eight years ago. I have a great job…I’d like to say I’m lucky, but frankly I worked my butt off to get the education and the job, and I’ve worked my butt off to be successful.
When I started there was a woman who had started a month or two before me. We work in education. She was my counterpart in another grade level division.
How can I describe her? She is judgmental, snippy, backbiting…and a martyr. She has always belittled me and tried to be in competition. She would drop by my office on Friday afternoons and say, “I put in 55 hours this week…how many did you put in?”
Well, frankly, I’m very focused and am able to get my work done in a reasonable amount of time. I also have a life outside of work, and every hour I spend at work past the time of true production, is an hour I’m taking away from my family and my mental health. I believe in balance.
Please don’t get me wrong. I have my faults and weaknesses, but I have tried over and over with her. I have included her in conferences I attended, meetings I planned, emails I sent – just so she would be part of what I was doing. I believe in keeping people in the loop and informed.
She is secretive and suspicious and questions me relentlessly about what I’m doing and why. I have made every hotel reservation, every flight arrangement, every registration form for her for eight years. And I always keep an extra copy for her because I know she’ll lose the first one I give her. She operates twenty minutes behind all the time.
I have defended her to other employees for eight years. (Other people have had problems with her as well.)
Last week we took a group of principals to an out-of-state conference. (I made ALL her arrangements for that.)
She treated me like a dog. She was rude to me, and she rolled her eyes at my professional contributions. The principals noticed, and one female principal asked me how I could work with her and why I was putting up with that treatment.
Let me say that I am a strong, confident, independent person, but I did not want to engage in any disagreements or petty sniping in front of anyone – or in private for that matter. We were there to learn and her comments were hurtful and embarrassing. But then was not the time to engage her – and I have refused to engage her at work either. Only once did I do that when I told her that if she thought she could do a better job than me, she was welcome to the project. That shut her up for a time being.
The night before our last day of work at the conference, we all were at dinner. I received a phone call during dinner that one of my best, sweetest, most supportive friends had lost her battle with cancer. I was heartbroken, but not surprised.
That night, I had a sore throat and I couldn’t sleep because of my throat and because I couldn’t stop thinking about my friend and her family and what a devastating time the past two years had been for them.
The next morning we all met to finalize our plans. We were brainstorming to develop our final product and she kept saying, “You aren’t making any sense. You said we couldn’t do this. You are all over the place.”
I was stunned. One of the principals dropped his head – he told me later he fully expected me to come back at her. The female middle school principal said, “Gee, I thought I left middle school girls back at school.” She also said she couldn’t believe I didn’t respond to her remarks.
The third principal literally sat there with his mouth open. He and I have been friends for years, and he said he couldn’t believe that she would do that to me knowing my friend had died just the night before and that it was clear I was exhausted and sad.
All three did remark at that time that they thought this was a brainstorming session before the final plan and that they thought we were on the right track.
I wanted to leave and have a good cry, but I felt a responsibility to the group to finish the work and minimize the drama.
She seemed quite satisfied that she had “won” her point.
While she went to the restroom, the female princpal kept remarking how uncomfortable she had been and frankly she thought D was a bitch. She said, “There’s just no other word for it.”
I said, “Well, at some point today, she will either say she has a migraine or she’s sick to her stomach or under a lot of stress or something. Then she’ll say she hopes nobody took her the wrong way but she’s just so sick she doesn’t know what she’s saying.”
At the airport, that’s exactly what happened. She went on and on about how sick she felt and how she had a headache…and nobody said a word to her.
I have had it. I’ll be 55 in June and she just turned 55. We have a new boss who hasn’t seen through her yet – she’s all over him. AND…I’m not going to a boss and complain and whine about her treatment of me. THAT is middle school. We have no Human Resources Department that mediates in these instances.
I am seething because I feel like if I say something to her, the martyr syndrome will kick in and she’ll run to the boss and cry and whine (her standard mode).
If this was just ME who has these feelings, I’d say the problem is me. But I have some very, very good friends in our system who are honest with me when I ask for advice or clarification. I have asked them – and given them permission – to BE honest and tell me if I have provoked her or done anything to deserve this treatment.
They say she is jealous of me and feels insecure. Again, I have included her in everything and have been supportive.
Help. I would change jobs – but I’m almost 55 – and changing jobs doesn’t happen that easily.
I need someone to tell me how to handle this. Do I just ignore her and keep my distance? Do I confront her and risk her running to the new boss and poisoning his opinion of me?
Do I exercise like a mad woman, march on, be myself, and try to forget it?
Sorry for the long post…I had to get this out of my system.