That One Annoying Coworker

Warning: this has nothing to do with writing, and is simply a lengthy work rant…or is it?

Everyone has that one coworker who needs to be bludgeoned and tazed into submission. Usually, this is someone who refuses to do his/her work and drags the whole team down.

My team has two of those. They irritate, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t the issue anymore. We have a very good supervisor who doesn’t take any shit and actually holds these assholes accountable for their negligence.

No, the issue, the fester, the canker on our team is ironically one of the best, smartest, and hardest workers.

Have you ever known someone who is universally seen as difficult? Someone who is just cantankerous and ornery and whose mood is subject to change without notice or reason? Yeah, that’s my coworker — we will call her Janice. And she sits right behind me. I’m strong willed and so is she. It’s lucky for those around us that we usually agree. However, she has systematically alienated the entire team with her abrasive, volatile, brazen evil, which borders on bipolar disorder.

But, when she is good, she is good. She’s smart, funny, and talkative. Gods help us, is she talkative. In fact, this is where most of our clashes stem from for the past year. Because of the way we sit, when she calls me, I have to stop what I’m doing, turn around, and attend to her. Usually, when she’s not Demon-Janice, I enjoy talking with her, but if I am busy, it gets old. And that’s when the horror starts. As an example:

Recently she called me and I didn’t hear her because I was doing a report for our manager, the director, the sales team, and ultimately the senior vice president (who had recently caught me researching Henry VIII, as I mentioned in a previous entry). I had my headphones in and my iPod turned up because they needed the report in a few hours, and I needed to block everything out. The whole team knew this, and was leaving me alone. She apparently called me. I didn’t hear. She called me again, louder. I didn’t hear her. We have IM. She could have easily summoned me that way, but did not. The third time she actually yelled my name. That, I heard, ghetto ass.

I tried to keep the irritation from my voice. “What’s up, Janice?”

“Did you hear me calling you?” Irritated. Already confrontational.

That set me on edge because I knew what was coming. I wanted to say, “Bitch, even if I did, my job is not to be your personal assistant, eternally at your beck and call, so ask me your goddamned question and let me get on with my work.” Instead, I said, “No, sorry. What can I help you with? I’m working on this and need to get back to it.”

“Uh, well, we’re ALL working…”

“Of course. What’s up? What was your question?” I tried to sound cheerier here, but my face is a traitor and always gives me away.

“I’m trying to ask you a question, and you’re sitting there with your headphones on, ignoring me. I don’t think you should have them up so…”

“That’s great. If you think I’m abusing the headphone policy, talk to our supervisor about it. I need to get this done.” I turned around.

“I was calling you.”

I turned around again and almost said I was sorry. But I didn’t because I wasn’t. “Okay, what can I do for you? Did you need something?”

“Yeah, I need for you to pay attention…” and started her rant again, about how I should listen and, again, berating me like I was a negligent spouse. Yuck. Never once did she ask me her question (I still don’t know what it is, nor do I care).

“IM me when you decide to ask me your question. I’m busy.” I was a total asshole, and I realize that. I could have handled it better, I am sure. I was doing this report and still being expected to do the same amount of work that everyone else on the team was, with no overtime. It comes with my slightly higher position and pay, so I try not to complain, but I was a little cramped for time.

I turned around to my monitor and was greeted by two IMs from people who heard the confrontation and wanted to commend me for dealing with it well. I don’t think I did, but thanks. The woman who sits next to Janice and knows my pain, said, “Well, if every question didn’t involve an hour long story, it would be easier to help her!”

My headphones were in, a song began. Janice was yammering on behind me, basically nagging me as though I was her husband. I worked on the report. That song ended, and in the space between songs, I heard that Janice was still nagging at my back. “…you ask questions, too, and if you…” and then the next song started, blocking out the kawing harpy behind me.

Incidents like this happen pretty much on a weekly basis. Think about that. Knowing you are going to have some ridiculous altercation every week because someone doesn’t feel like she is getting the proper amount of attention she deserves — even if it’s just for me to sit there and listen to her stories about her kid or for her to read an e-mail she thinks is ridiculous, or to just complain about someone else on the team.

I realized that I was walking into work every day, irritated and cranky, wondering what the bipolar hag would think of to harp on that day. I don’t need that kind of stress, thank you. I used to get along with her, so I figured it was me that had changed and my tolerance which has faltered. It’s not my fault, but in the past year, I have changed so that our former dynamic no longer works. Realizing that, I finally asked my supervisor if I could move. He said he would see, and I understand that. That was about a month ago.

For the past two days, Janice has called in sick. The team dynamic altered dramatically. We all chatted, laughed, went to eat together, talked about American Horror Story (without being told that this kind of television hurts the soul, half-jokingly or not), reminisced about Bates Motel (without Janice declaring for the umpteenth time that she didn’t understand how we like that stuff), talked about work, and enjoyed ourselves. Headphones were on the desks, unused. Yet, work got done. We weren’t hunkered down, trying desperately to look so preoccupied that someone wouldn’t interrupt us. I had a long chat with one of the managers and several people jumped in. It became a fun social call after the work nonsense was dispensed with. (I also didn’t have Janice jumping into the conversation, having heard a snippet, offering misguided advice, thus necessitating the conversation to begin from the start so I could refute her points, this time with her involved).

I have been dealing with this for five fucking years.

It has finally started plaguing me at home. I’m proud that it took me this long to be so affected by it, but still upset that I have allowed it to bother me at all. I am so exhausted after work that I sit and daydream and am too lazy and emotionally tired to do anything. Including writing. No, that’s not the only reason I have been having difficulties lately. I would be a whining, inappropriately projecting asshole if I even implied that. But I think it is a factor.

My supervisor pulled me aside today to tell me that three other people had complained about Janice over time and that he was going to move people around. He implied that it was my complaint which cemented the deal, because he apparently sees me as normally able to deal, even if I do get cranky. (Shocking news to me.) Since Janice is technically just annoying and not often work inappropriate, he has opted to not move her, but to move those around her. I will be closer to him (as I probably should be, considering my position), and will have a divider, a WALL of beauty between me and Janice. Two of my friends and coworkers will be moved away from me, unfortunately, but we eat lunch together every day, they come over and watch movies, we text each other outside of work, etc. And we actually use our work IM. I think our friendship will survive.

And I may not hate coming into work every day.

For those who have made it this far, thank you for reading. Hopefully, if you have experienced something like this, you can find some solace in my pain and not choke a bitch out. Feel free to vent in similar fashion in the comments. I am here to tell you that it helps take the edge off. Here’s hoping for serenity for all of us.

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~ by Darren Endymion on October 24, 2013.

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