If my last entry was ‘Check My Vitals,’ then this one should probably be titled ‘A Foot from the Grave.’
I don’t know, my life is kind of turning into a carnival, and I’m kind of losing control over the situation.
Yesterday, my therapist, a seasoned, certified professional, with decades of experience and a bookshelf full of how-to’s on self-control, closed the session by commending me on my ability to stand up (you know, given all the shit hoisted on my back), and asked to give me a hug, after 6 sessions of, “OK see you next week!” 2 feet from my face without so much as a handshake. If there was ever a clearer sign that I need an intervention, I do not know of it.
I’m sure you’re all wondering, “Where you at right now, Frances? Where’s that head at?”
Nowhere safe, I assure you.
I guess I started warming to the idea of self preservation (finally!) after I found myself fantasizing more and more about going ballistic at work — and all the dramatic and violent ways that would play out. Definitely a flipped desk and several flipped fingers inches away from the faces of certain persons; in one instance, a burning building.
It’s to the point where the only things keeping me from living my daydreams are my no-cooking, fancy-feast dinners (aka a selection of Trader Joe’s cheeses and their cheapest charcuterie and smoked salmon options) and, of course, my Broke Bitch Wine Collection.
I want to go back to the fancy-feast dinner thing for a hot minute — it sounds bougie, sure, except how I eat it will happily burst that bubble for you. I love cheese, viciously, and without grace. I’ve been known to eat the wax to conserve the cheese; other times, when the droplet of shame that’s left in the empty vessel that is my person actually seeps under the skin, I’ll take that shitty serrated knife with the red handle—an inheritance from one of my roommates from nearly 3 years ago, and I’m sure the knife is from their college days—and scrape scrape scrape that wax right off as gently as possible so as not to cut into the sweet meat. And hell yea, if there’s a rind instead, I’ll just eat the whole damn thing. This isn’t even for the finest cheese money can buy. This is, like, Stop and Shop cheese. But, like, manchego though, so that kind of makes it better. Having said that, I’m sure any pleb Spaniard would try the manchego cheese I buy and spit it out onto my face and exclaim, ¡Que mierda! (or whateverthefuck the best translation would be in Spanish – I was never a good language student). “What horse shit is this?!”
Not that the rest of my life doesn’t resemble a whirlpool of shit right now, but the work situation, particularly, has backslid deeper into the bowels of hell. My boss is starting to come after people. Like, Trump Cabinet hit-em-up-style. Someone told her she was sensitive, and now she’s trying to get that person to either a) lose her job, b) resign, or c) commit suicide — I’m sure any of those options would be equally satisfactory as far as she’s concerned. And now she goes out of her way to tell me, “I’m not sensitive. You won’t hurt my feelings.” Au contraire, you unstable sociopath.
After a week of playing musical chairs with scheduling, we finally had my performance review last week — a time for us to be open, honest, and comfortable giving one another feedback … while trapped with no air circulation in the “safe space” that is her office, an unventilated room the size of a large area rug with just enough space for her to stretch out her bare bovine hooves like this cat (my boss is that boss who takes her shoes off in every meeting — in her office, the conference room, and, if given the chance without it being a health & safety code violation, the great outdoors). In my review, she gave me what is affectionately known as a compliment sandwich, where she gushed about how beloved and respected I am in the office, told me I’m scum (not really, but kinda), and then told me how much she appreciated me. She also agreed with my own evaluation that I need to self-advocate more. “I totally validate that feedback. But let’s unpack that further. What… do you mean by that…?” WELL. I talked about needing to advocate more for what I need, which she took with her and ran.
“Yea, yea yea. Your peers said you need to speak up more because when you do, your ideas are really valued. So, you need to be more empowered.”
“Umm, I don’t think you just magically become empowered.”
“Well, how do I make you feel empowered?”
“Isn’t that your job as my manager to figure out?”
“Well,” indignant. “I need specifics. All I’m hearing is this hopelessness. I need concrete examples.”
“Ok, well, for example, it’s hard to feel empowered when [redacted] was being racist and I’m the only darkie in the room and nobody said anything until I did.” (I didn’t say that, per se, but I did say whatever the diplomatic version of that is).
Then she started FULL-BLOWN CRYING. Beet-red face, watery eyes, slow crescendo of hyperventilation, allllll the tissues. BITCH, THIS IS MY REVIEW, and now I’m spending the next 20 minutes consoling you for God only knows what. “I’m just so mad,” she sobbed. A 48-year-old woman, who has all the authority over my salary, my professional growth opportunities, and my well-being in the workplace, was monsoon-crying and repeatedly whispering, “This isn’t about me, this is about you. This is your review,” while continuing on with this scene for another 10 minutes.
Imagine having the grave misfortune of a boss who patronizes and condescends to you an estimated 6,340 times a day while touting the righteousness of working at a rights-based organization; who regularly says, “I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear…” when we both know damn well that she ain’t sorry worth a shit and that was actually a backhanded criticism of your inability to mind-read; and who takes her shoes off in meetings—exposing her crusty, chapped soles and the chipped nail polish that’s been clinging on for dear life to the tips of her talons since you started this job 8 months ago—when you have a very real, bile-conjuring aversion to feet.
I can safely say that the entire episode achieved nothing for me. After she mopped up her face, my boss gave me the immediate feedback to go back and edit my own self-evaluation because she didn’t like how I worded some things. I NEED CONCRETE EXAMPLES, she kept hammering.
“The whole thing is very unsettling, Frances… Is she white?” (My therapist identifies as a white, cis, hetero, middle-aged, upper-middle-class woman, who’s very insecure about being all of those things as my feelings-steward.) “She just sounds very disturbed and, frankly, unhinged. And now you’re left taking care of this woman.” WELL, SHIT.
On Monday, my boss summoned me back into her office to review her requested edits and read my concrete examples. “I’m sorry to make you do this, but I’m not comfortable with this.” She pointed to the example I provided under ‘Feedback for Your Manager.’ “I just can’t commit to this, and I don’t want to be held accountable for it.” Ok bitch. FIRSTLY, this is a subjective section of the self-evaluation. It is my opinion. You don’t have to agree with it, or approve of it.
Except she did have to co-sign it.
“I’m not signing this unless this change is made.”
“[Redacted], I gotta say, I’m kind of uncomfortable with you asking me to change my review. I’ve already edited it. This is my self-evaluation.”
“Well, I’m sorry you feel weird about it, but I’m telling you that I feel uncomfortable signing it the way it is. I see this as a contract, and if I sign it, and I don’t do it, who knows how this will be used against me.”
“…Can we just ask HR how this document will be used? Maybe that will help alleviate one of our concerns?”
“Frances, I just don’t understand why you’re not being considerate of my feelings, here. I’m not signing this. So, we can escalate it, if you want…”
By the way, what made her so uncomfortable was the suggestion that she put an agenda in her calendar invites so that I can come prepared. You know, empowerment via knowing what the fuck is going on. BUT NOPE. CAN’T DO IT. TOO MUCH TO ASK.
NOT SENSITIVE, HUH?
Later, I told our HR manager. Subject Line: Is this ethical?
“Hang tight, she wants to talk to me. Maybe it’s about your review.”
At the end of the work day, I saw HR walk into my boss’s office. Mind you, the walls in this office are very thin, and my boss’s voice cuts like a weed wacker. And with the office floor emptying out for the day, I could hear nearly every word as if I was in that machine-gun closet of an office myself. “In my experience, this is how HR works at a rights-based organization …” HOLY SHIT. Is this bitch really telling HR how to do her job?! Creeping volume. Arguing. SHOUTING.
What the hell is going on in there?!
I start making small talk with the other person left in the office, who happens to be only 2 weeks into the job (and whom I didn’t want knowing what kind of Texas Chainsaw Massacre situation she just stepped into just yet) to drown out the noise. After 10 minutes, FUCK THIS. I packed up my things to leave and walked past my boss’s office. Through the window [to her office], I saw her crying. AGAIN?!
Later, HR: “I didn’t believe you. Well, I believed you, but I didn’t really believe you until I saw it for myself. I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Listen, your boss is an extreme narcissist and, I think, a sociopath, yes. Maybe it’s time to look for another job?”
WHEN HR TELLS YOU TO GTFO, YOU GOT F**KIN’ PROBLEMS, A$AP ROCKY.
So here I am, bitches. My life now consists of the following:
- Hiding out in the bathroom and applying for jobs on my phone until my ass is numb from molding itself to the toilet seat;
- Pretending to have a healthy work life by eating my lentil medley (which, honestly, just smells like microwaved grass clippings and tastes like I don’t know how to cook, because I don’t) in the communal kitchen, when really I’m just trying to be anywhere other than my desk;
- Racing home to shove as many blocks of cheap-o cheese into my mouth as physically possible before my dog’s bladder can’t wait anymore and he pees on the secondhand rug because he got so excited that I came home and expects a walk within 30 seconds thereafter;
- Drinking too damn much; and
- Wondering the meaning of life and how I always manage to be the decaying cabbage in any given shit stew.
This is not normal. And this sure as shit is not sustainable. I don’t know what to do, because I need money, and with the exception of my psychotic overlord, I actually really enjoy my job.
Send help. Or more wine.