Friday, January 5, 2007

Office Politics

Character List:
Marlene: Nearly retired lady that I work with at night. She's there between 4 pm and midnight; though 90% of the time doesn't roll in until about 5.
Linda: Middle-aged lady that I also work with at night though she is casual. Very opinionated with a "know it all" attitude.
Hilda: Middle-aged lady that works day shift 9 am - 5 pm, I see her for about 2 hours a day between Monday and Thursday.
Carla: Middle-aged woman who works Sunday - Thursday 8 am - 4 pm. I see her for about an hour a day.
Sharla: Transcription Coordinator for all of our sites.

The Plot: I am the lowest person on the 'totem pole', so to speak, and so I am an easy target for office gossip.

The Story

(bear with me, it's a tad long).

During the summer I was involved in a small media series put on by one of our newspapers and the main news channel for our area. Myself and 4 others competed in a "fitness" challenge over the course of 3 months. July 5 - October 5. The goal was to lose as much weight the right way as possible through good old fashioned exercise and proper diet control. This was encouraged by the personal trainers from a gym we all worked with 3 x a week for an hour each on top of one of the top dieticians in the area helping plan our meals and the like. We were scored on how many pounds we lost, how many inches we lost, our attitude in the gym, how many events (such as the Breast Cancer Walk) we entered, our daily food logs to the gym owner, and our weekly write ups in the paper. The winner at the end of the 3 month challenge won a trip for 2 for a week to a health resort/spa in Brazil; in case you were wondering - I was the one that won.

During these 3 months I had to take transit every second day into another city (which isn't as odd as it sounds since transit here is all connected between three/four large cities) and then to work by 3 pm. The bus ride alone from the gym to the train station which would take me to work took about an hour; the train ride about 45 min - one hour. I scheduled all of my gym appointments for before noon so I could leave by about 12:30, after showering and all that, and be at work on time. Unfortunately, the bus route was/is under heavy reconstruction and so it was really hit or miss on how long the ride would actually take. Some days were better than others. Also, the train tended to be quite slow during the summer months and there were several problems. One incident was that instead of stopping at each station for 45 seconds, we were halted for 5 minutes thus making me over an hour late for work.

Around the end of July, the day before my first scheduled 30 minute massage (complimentary of the contest), Marlene got a hold of me (figuratively) just as I was leaving for the night. It was one of the days that I had been late due to transit issues. She went off on me and it sounded something like this:

Marlene: "You know, I don't understand how you think it's O.K for you to walk in here over an hour late for work. You do realize that many of the girls here are talking about it, a lot of them are angry that you're always late and you never seem to make up the time? Who do you think you are showing up to work late? You could at least stay late and make up the time you know. There's lots of them here that are really starting to complain, they're sick and tired about what you're doing."

(Side note: Marlene is supposed to be at work at 4pm, yesterday she didn't walk in until 8pm. Most days you're lucky if she's there by 5pm).

Since this was the first time Marlene had ever been like this towards me, I was rather stunned and my only response to her was "Let them talk, Sharla knows why I'm late and she's not concerned by it at all. It's none of their business." Still angry I left and subsequently was irritated throughout the weekend. Sharla did know, in fact, and she was cool with my reasons for being late and took a lot of the time that I was late out of vacation days so I didn't lose any pay over it.

Now, flash forward to tonight.

Marlene: "You know, you said earlier that you like when people say things to your face instead of going behind your back. So I have to say something and it's more of a heads up and kind of a motivation for you to change but: There's word going around that you're going to be fired by the end of the month."

Talk about dropping a bomb on my already bad day (I got yelled at by my landlady for the plugged toilet this morning).

Needless to say I was immediately defensive, as anyone would be in my situation.

Me: "And just who told you that?"

Marlene: "Oh I don't remember and even if I did I wouldn't tell you; it was told to me in confidence but it was told by a number of the girls. They're tired of you sitting on the internet and assigning yourself easy dictations as soon as the boss (Laureen) leaves. And you know you do, you can't deny that you are on the internet too much." She's right, I can't deny that. It's been a serious issue with me ever since I was about 12 and found out about the internet; I'm hooked. Like a junkie is to crack, so am I to the internet.

Me:"Excuse me?! I do not, ever, assign myself easy dictations as soon as Laureen leaves. Whoever told you that is flat out lying. The only thing I assign myself is at the end of a shift and I assign critical care reports like Oncology and Respiratory. Exactly like you taught me. Second of all, I don't care what people are saying. Let them talk."

Marlene: "Listen, I'm telling you this for your own good. I'm tired of it, Linda's tired of it and many other girls are too. They look at you and all you do is sit on the internet. You don't even make your quota. You piss around on the internet until 9 o'clock and then you're rushing to get your work done and look stuff up and you're constantly bugging Linda for help - enough is enough!"

Me: "I most certainly do, and if I don't I'm only a few minutes away from it. Besides which, it's not like you or Linda who has been here for eons, I'm still learning. Just yesterday I had a 15 minute vascular surgery report that took me near 3 hours to complete because a) the doctor was talking too fast and b) they were using equipment and procedures I've never heard of. And maybe if Linda was willing to help me when I initially needed the help, I wouldn't be stuck leaving my blanks until the end of my shift and then rushing to try and fix them; or maybe if she and you mentored me like you're supposed to be doing, I wouldn't even need help!"

Marlene: "Ok alright so you may make your quota but what I'm saying is you're on that internet too much and everyone is getting sick of it. They're saying you're going to be fired within the month and I'm just telling you. And another thing, you never to echoes (echocardiograms). The night before last Linda and I were stuck doing them all while you sat on reports; how come you never end up with echoes?"

Me: "Because they don't come to me and I've been telling you that for 5 months when you brought this up the last time. And as for sitting on reports, I was working on 10 minutes of Dr. Marblemouth and their horrible rendition of a heart surgery. I wasn't just "sitting" on them and not doing anything. Besides which, last night I took 20 of the 30 echoes that were there, even though I originally assigned myself all of them."

Marlene: "I'm not talking about last night. I'm saying that even Linda was irritated the other night because you never seem to do any of the echoes..."

Me cutting her off: "Not true. All I did on day shift was echo after echo after echo; and of Dr. Speedy to boot! Honestly Marlene, they do not come to me and I don't know why."

Marlene: "Listen, whatever O.K? Just know that we're all getting tired of you sitting on the internet, do you think that's fair to everyone else who has to work for their quota and you come in here and assign yourself all the easy ones. Everyone knows that's why you went to day shift, so you could be monitored."

Me: "I do NOT assign myself the easy ones. I have not for a long, long time. Yes I know you caught me a few times in the summer but I learned and I do not do it anymore. And no, that's not why I went to days Marlene" - the last part said terribly sweetly.

Marlene: "Why did you go to days then?"

Me: "I'm not going to tell you."

By now I was yelling, not caring that there was a doctor in the dictation lounge or the health record girls next door being subjected to this battle. Surprisingly, I had managed to squelch the crying that had started at being bombarded by her again.

The argument continued for about 15 minutes with the same issues being repeated: That the rumor was going around that I am going to be fired by the end of the month. All I can say is that if the rumor is true, I have a very good idea on who started it: Hilda.

Two weeks ago when I had been an hour late for work I assigned myself at the end of my shift a 10 minute psychology report. She asked me, point blank, if I assigned it or if it came to me and instead of lying to her I told her the truth. She then flew off the handle and raved about how wrong it was and etcetera ad naseum. I told her that I did it because I needed the extra minutes, I was almost at my quota before I left; she said she didn't care. She made me feel bad enough that I rejected the job and went home early.

Coincidentally I happen to have a meeting scheduled with Sharla on Tuesday for what she calls "Progress Review".

The truth is I do have an issue with the internet. As I said I've had one since I was about 12, it's been a curse all through high school "SuperStenoGirl is a bright child but she gets too distracted around the internet", "SSG is a great student but I find around computers it's easy for her to lose focus". I know it's been troublesome at work, I know that I rush to get work done when I realize how late it has gotten. My new years resolution is: Stay off the Internet as much as possible at work. So far, I've done a fairly decent job; today I was not on it at all until 5 pm and then it was to check my e-mail.

The worst thing about this is: Am I going to get fired? Now I have to wait until Tuesday, stressing over it, worrying over it, praying it won't happen and hoping for the best. I used to think that stress didn't effect you physically but I'm a complete convert now; ever since she told me this little rumor, my whole body has been tense. My stomach is in knots and I've thrown up a few times. Being fired may not seem entirely important to anyone else but to someone who was told over and over again by teachers and occasionally parents that I'd always fail at something, that I'd never be able to "make it" on my own, etc. the thought of being fired and thus "failing" is terrifying. Luckily though, my parents have my back this time. My dad has been helping me learn about all the ways to raise shit through the union; harassment, etc. and how to deal with coworkers like Marlene. It's hard though since Marlene is usually my friend but she is a bitch. She is, afterall, the woman who swears and gets angry at doctors to their face, throws things and generally has a temper tantrum when things don't go her own way.

So is she lying about this?
Or is it true: that there is a rumor going around. If so - what should I do about it?

I could worry myself sick being scared about it and all that, but what would that accomplish? Nothing.

I suppose in the end, if I'm fired I'm fired. I have options. I can look for another job, or I can move home (god help me) and go back to school.

I just hope I'm not fired though; I really hope I'm not fired. I'll mention to Sharla though in our meeting, if it comes up, what my new years resolution is. Hopefully that will keep me in the good books.

Wish me luck. :(

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I used to work with someone named Marlene who was the EXACT SAME WAY. She would roll up to work late and leave early, pick fights with everyone, criticize people and their work, etc. I feel for you!