Office Politics: What Doesn’t Kill You…

The reason why I can effortlessly sustain this blog is because I have a vault of horror stories as a job seeker/hoodrat, and for as long as I’m unemployed, the good times will keep on comin’!

Everyone who works a 9 to 5 has his/her gripes with corporate culture; though my existence within this space has been limited, I am still no exception. Below is my favorite emotional scar from such a time before I became a sarcastic bitch, when I was anime-eyed and my bumper sticker read ‘I break for hugs’.  I’m sure more stories will come to the fore once I allow myself to recall all the nightmares that’ve been pushed to the darkest corners of my memory.

On one of the many occasions when I was an intern (aka indentured servant, office bitch, free labor, etc.), I managed to land my dream scenario at a mentorship conference for people who want to get into the sports industry. I accosted one of the top-table speakers, someone pretty high up on the totem pole, and got him to sit down with me for advice. That was, I believe, the very first time in my life that I was ever forward. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “All you need is someone to say ‘yes’, someone to take a chance on you.” So, on this occasion, I bluntly responded, “Well, would you take that chance?” Either out of the goodness of his heart or discomfort from being put on the spot like that, he said yes.

Two months later, after gymnastic coordination with the Human Resources department to let a non-student intern for a week or so, I started my ‘work experience’ as this man’s shadow.

I doubt that he told anyone on his team that I was coming. They didn’t understand why I was there (or why he would induct me at such a busy time), the only two girls in the department were Mean Girls kind of bitchy (I mean, they even talked shit on their own boss, who at one point was standing right behind them), as were the people in Customer Service–where I was dumped for an hour because no one knew what to do with me, so I ended up being left to sift through their hate mail–and when they weren’t terribly uncomfortable with my presence, they were eager to capitalize on finally having someone around who was lower down in the food chain. The week got progressively worse, and the veneer of a dream come true slowly evaporated.

It was a very exclusive office, so every morning I would wait in the lobby for my ‘person’ (for whom I was his shadow) to come fetch me. I remember one day reading the news while I was waiting about the massacre at Houla, all the horrifying details of the slaughter. When he arrived, I asked him if he saw the paper. “Well, I haven’t really read much into it. I mean, our concern is in the sports section, so I don’t really pay attention to much outside of it, unfortunately.” Elected ignorance is one of my greatest pet peeves.

On the third-to-last day at the office, I took 3 coffee breaks and 6 bathroom breaks out of boredom. I also read several newspapers for two hours because no one had anything for me, and having a shadow, he realized, actually came to be very awkward. On the second-to-last day, the day of an event, one of the aforementioned [department] girls confronted me at the building entrance and begged me to help out her team upstairs. I went upstairs, and to my (un)surprise, her team was giving out sponsor product to event attendees, and as soon as I arrived, they all left. “We have to do our jobs now.” I was there, alone, for two hours. Finally, the other girl came to relieve me. “Do you want to watch the event now?” I was livid – the day before, when we ran through the event schedule, I was specifically told that I would not be with her team, that I would be with my ‘person’.

Well, he didn’t even know that I was in the building until he saw me in passing at the event, three hours later. He was busy doing his job, so again, I was left with his department team. I asked one of them if they had any clue what I was meant to do that day, and he replied, “Frances, I had nothing to do with your schedule. I have no idea what you’re doing here.” Another person in the department told me, “Yea, it’s a really busy time for us. We don’t have time to induct anyone new.”

After the event was over, I wandered around the premises, by myself, for another hour or two trying to find my way back to the office or find someone whom I could be of use to. When that failed, I finally gave up and decided to go home. My ‘person’ was obviously too busy, and I was inconveniencing everyone else, so I found the elevator that led to the exit, and who did I see coming out of it but my ‘person’! He was reading emails on his Blackberry, looked up for a second to say ‘Hi’, looked back down and kept walking. “I’m leaving,” I said. No reply.

I HAULED ASS to my friend’s wine bar in the center of town and drank and cried for two hours.

drinking problems

Then, I got an email from my ‘person’: “Frances, are you still here? We’ve been looking everywhere for you.” I responded, “I left three hours ago, and I said goodbye to you on my way out.” Once he was off work, he called me and left a very diplomatic voicemail, apologizing for the fact that I was “left to my own devices” and imploring me to come back for my final day. Reluctantly, I agreed, and that was also a mistake. This time around, his department didn’t even pretend to tolerate me (my guess was because he sent them on a wild goose chase searching for me). He himself was very attentive, though. He introduced me to journalists and media, all of whom were absolutely mind-boggled by me (Asian, American, female … the perfect mindfuck trifecta). Once the day was done, my ‘person’ very cordially told me that if there was anything that I needed, I should feel free to contact him. We haven’t spoken since.

I failed to mention before that the ONE person in the office who was warm and friendly to me (aside from the part-time assistant who was only in for two days while I was there) ended up taking a lad’s holiday to Southern California. As a “thank you for being so nice to me,” I got some girlfriends together to play tourguides, since I wouldn’t be there myself. Well, one of my friends got drunk and he tried to take advantage. Upon returning from his trip, he sent me illicit messages on Facebook, but with the additive, “Please don’t tell anyone we talk. It’ll look bad, me talking to the work experience girl.” Of course, he was very careful not to have said or done anything while I was interning. So, in sum, the ONE person who was nice to me throughout this entire experience just wanted to get in my pants. Ain’t that a bitch.

To wrap up this long-winded story, I’m going to leave you with some Nicki Minaj. This ONE experience is the reason why I haven’t given up, and probably never will. I’ve got a lot to prove, so hate on haters.

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