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29 More Years To Go…

Sometimes I wonder if I’m meant to live in a world with other people or if my true wish is to be on a small island with only a handful of others.  My husband and I moved into a house in order to get away from cramped apartment living.  We were tired of sharing a wall, tired of people blocking our driveway, tired of kids playing right outside our back door in the shared yard, and just tired of not having a space to call our own.  Last October, we said goodbye to our townhome and hello to our house.

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I should have expected to still run into issues, and I don’t know why I thought that all problems would vanish once the ink was dry and we had keys in hand.  We have a house full of dudes on one side of us; they have at least five vehicles, possibly six, and initially tried to make the front of OUR home their permanent parking space.  The house, at max, is a three bedroom unit.  Three bedrooms, five dudes, possibly one younger female, a few older females who come and go, and occasionally a kid or two.  One resident wears nothing but a tank top and sandals, and just about all of them act like it’s a frat house.  At least the keg is finally off the front porch.

Across the street, the frat house’s friends installed a urinal in their garage to accommodate their guests during parties.  A garage urinal, conveniently located next to the full size garage fridge and underneath the wall mounted garage flat screen.  Oddly enough, since the garage urinal was installed, they haven’t had a single drunken party.  The last was the Mayweather fight where the guests left tire marks all over our driveway as they hurried to turn their cars around and speed off home.

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On the other side of our home is a family with four kids, one of which belongs to the couple and three that belong to the wife/girlfriend only.  I had high hopes for them because the guy was really friendly towards my husband and the oldest son was friendly towards our kid.  Didn’t last long.  They had a party where they not only blocked off the street with flashing lights (because… they own the street?), but had drunk idiots sitting in our yard and leaving cigarette butts everywhere.  They not only lose track of their puppy in our yard, but lose their baby in it as well.  Their baby.  They have thrown balls into our house multiple times, the parents only directing them to stop AFTER we stick our heads outside.

The middle boy is the worst kind of kid and will stand in the middle of our backyard while playing catch.  After upsetting my dog (who I value more than anyone in my neighborhood), I told the middle kid “I need you to please get out of my yard, you’re making my dog upset.”  Nicer than I wanted to be since the adults were outside having a garage sale, but he moved after glaring at me a bit.  After this happens, the delusional mom approaches me and the first thing out of her mouth is “did we do something to offend you?”  Seriously, lady?  Your kid is standing in the middle of my yard playing catch.  Not on the edge, not popping in to retrieve a ball, but just standing there.  My dog is upset by this because it’s his yard.  I tell him to move, very nicely I might add, and this is your response?  It took all my self-control not to go off on this woman, who thinks her family and children are so charming, that others should feel honored to be in their presence.  Every time their dog gets loose while she plays on her phone, I wish terrible things on her.

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No one puts their dog on a leash, and we had three dogs run up on our (leashed) dog and scare him pretty good, so now he hates the site of any of those dogs.  Not that the owners care.  I hate to have to worry about my dog biting another dog while trying to defend me, then having animal control tell me that my dog is dangerous, all because some twat decided their precious pooch was too good for a leash.  I don’t want to see a dog get hit by a car due to careless owners.  Unfortunately for me, everyone else who feels the same way I do lives on another street.  My street is asshole heaven.

Maybe I’m being too picky, but we are investing serious cash into this house and really aren’t asking for much.  Don’t make the curb in front of our home into your permanent parking space.  Don’t tell your kids it’s okay to play in our yard.  Put your dog on a leash.  Don’t throw shit at our house.  Don’t leave trash in our yard.  Keep your drunk asshole friends off our property.  Don’t play cornhole on the sidewalk right in front of my house when you have room to do it elsewhere and stay out of my yard.  Understand that there are shared spaces around us that need to be respected, AND that private property should be respected even more.  If everyone quit acting like they were the only people in the entire world, got out of their bubble for a minute and thought of how their actions affect others, life would be much happier for us all.

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Be Gentle

I don’t have very many female friends.  It’s not because I loathe other women, have issues with jealousy, or am incapable of getting along with people of the same gender.  I find that being friends with guys just happens to be easier.  They can be just as dramatic as females can, but I seem to mesh better with them.  I’ve also had my fair share of bad luck in the past when it comes to other women.  I went through middle school with a friend who would run off and date any guy I even mentioned was cute in passing.  I’ve had women older than me act like petty children and attempt to sabotage certain areas of my life.  I’ve had females say they’re my friends and then say horrible things about me when my back is turned.  I’ve become insanely selective about what females I’m friends with and how close I allow them to get.

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I recently found out that a female I was casual friends with, in her words, “never liked me.”  We stopped talking after she had a falling out with someone I’m close to, which is when the never liking me comment was made.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal whatsoever.  Hell, she could have just been heated and said it to get a reaction out of the other person with no ill will meant towards me at all.  I have no idea and no intention of finding out.  But damn it, I am more bothered by this second-hand information than I have any right to be.  She and I don’t really have much in common and if not for mutual acquaintances, probably would never have met and spent time together.  We are two very different people.  Even so, I never ever had the slightest hint that she felt this way.

I’m an annoying twat who can be incredibly bitchy at times, I’ll admit it.  We’re all somewhat intolerable at times; none of us are perfect and we all manage to get on someone’s nerves throughout the day.  I’m at the point in my life to where I refuse to put myself in situations that make me unhappy.  If I don’t care for someone, I’m not going to waste my time around them.  I don’t see the point of making myself miserable just to try to keep the peace when I can just not put myself in certain situations and make everyone happy.  If she truly never liked me, I don’t really understand why she not only was more than willing to be around me, but talked to me one on one when she had no reason or obligation to do so.

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This is a very personal problem that shouldn’t be a problem to begin with.  She has a right to say whatever she wants; whether it was out of anger and not meant to be malicious or if it was 100% truthful, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter to me.  She’s not a bad person, and neither am I.  She didn’t say anything that was even all that bad.  My initial reaction was to feel attacked, and that is the wrong way to feel and the wrong thing to hold on to.  It’s the reason so many chicks are at each other’s throats all the time.  One innocent offhand remark snowballs into something monstrous and evil because we’re mentally incapable of shrugging anything off and moving on with our day.  It’s taking me nearly a week to finally decide that someone never liking me isn’t something I need to feel bad about.  That’s pretty pathetic.

I’ve been doing a lot of growing up lately when it comes to my relationships with other females.  Knowing that I can’t please everyone is something I’m still working on.  Knowing that assuming all women are nuts is a huge mistake is something I only recently learned.  Knowing that basing present relationships on past ones is stupid regardless of the type of relationship is something that also only recently slapped me across the face.  It’s all basic information that I refused to accept due to my fear of the past repeating itself over and over again.  If not for unrelated recent events, I’d probably be busy overreacting to her comment right now and posting a WTF blog instead of this one.  Believe it or not, me being slightly bothered for nearly a week and then writing this is a major improvement.

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It’s a shame that I can’t go back to visit my younger self and cram some sense into my crazy brain, but being able to behave like a rational person for once in this type of situation is pretty big for me.  This small thing has made me look at other things going on in my life and realizing that so little of it matters.  My coworkers are temporary fixtures in my life and I can’t afford to waste time worrying about making each and every one of them happy (or stressing over the BS they bring into the office, like my old pal Tubberpottimus did).  I have to understand the difference between friends and acquaintances and not expect the same out of both.  I sure as hell don’t like everyone I deal with, not everyone is going to like me, and that should be the least important piece of my day.

My husband and I are currently taking another big step in life together (not a baby… no one mention baby) and that has played a major part in getting me focused on what is important rather than on things that simply make me uncomfortable, hurt my feelings, or are otherwise superficial and meaningless.  I don’t want to be alone and lonely ten years from now because I was unable and unwilling to quit overreacting about everything that everyone does to me or around me.  I don’t want to become a bitter person who thinks the world is out to get her.

So, former friend/acquaintance/chick I used to know… I’m sorry if you never liked me.  Sometimes I don’t like me either, so I get it.  But I like you.  Sure, we could never be best of friends, but I always had a blast hanging out with you.  I’d love it if we could be civil when we see each other, but I won’t be offended any longer if you choose to act as if we’ve never met.  The bottom line is that I’m not angry, I’m not upset, and I harbor no ill will.  It took five days and a thousand words after I heard what you said, but I’m good.  We’re good.  And if one day down the road, a month from now or five years from now, things change and our paths intersect once again, I promise we will start with a perfectly clean slate.

Wandering The Halls

In our effort to stay in shape and to escape the boredom of sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, my husband and I do an average of six laps around the halls of our enormous building every day we’re here.  To give you a visual of how long a lap around this place is, here’s a view from Google Maps.  Notice the teeny tiny cars:

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Roaming the halls of this place has caused me to notice a few things about the behaviors and habits of people in my building and about people in general:

1.  Personal Space:  People get very attached to their personal bubble surrounding them and are very reluctant to shift it so that it doesn’t overlap with anyone else’s space.  This is mostly noticeable when we encounter two or more people walking down the hall from the opposite direction.  They will be taking up the entire hallway, walking side by side by side, and act incredibly irritated to have to have one member of the group fall back in order to accommodate people walking in the opposite direction.  If someone is approaching, move to give them room.  Unfortunately, people are determined to stay in their exact path regardless of what obstacles lie ahead.  In my opinion, the hallway should be split in two, with the flow of food traffic going in opposite directions down each half.  And while we’re on that subject….

2.  Flow of Traffic:  The hallway should be like a roadway; stay to the right unless passing a slow mover.  Not in this place; we get the rogue rebels who plant themselves on the wrong side and march down the hallway, oblivious to the fact that they are putting themselves in the face of everyone who is walking properly.  Unless you’re trying to get into your office, there’s no reason to go against the flow of traffic.  It’s frustrating, especially when the person sees that everyone is having to make an effort to avoid them, but doesn’t care enough to make the shift over to their right.  I’m not quite sure if it’s a mindful decision to go against the grain or if these people are from Europe.

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3.  Loitering:  I don’t know when it happened or why it happened, but somewhere along the line, someone decided that the middle of the hallway is a great place to hold a meeting.  It can be a group of people discussing a system implementation or a few friends talking about weekend plans; whatever the subject, people have developed the awful habit of congesting the hallways so they can flap their jaw.  It’s somewhat forgivable if they stand off to the side, but even then they become a hazard for everyone who is trying to get from point A to B.  They’ll laugh and flail their arms while acting annoyed at the people walking around them.  You know, the people using the hallway for what it was built for.

4.  Blindness:  Every few feet down any hallway in here, there is a door to an office, a utility room, a stairwell, or an elevator.  Common sense would dictate that anyone coming out of a door would take a second to glance down the hall to make sure they were not about to run right into someone.  This building is devoid of common sense.  People will pop out of doorways with their head down, sometimes focused on their phones, paying no attention to the people walking.  If they bump you or come close to doing so, they usually will react with shock as if it’s your fault for not announcing your arrival at the doorway or peeking in the door to ensure that their absentminded little self wasn’t playing with their iPod instead of looking where they’re going.

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5.  Bringing SexyBack:  I don’t know many people who haven’t, at least once, had an accidental slip of the pants that exposed a bit of butt crack.  Maybe you were lucky and it happened at home, or maybe you shamed yourself by getting cheeky at the mall.  Come walk the halls with me and you’ll see more crack than [insert your favorite celebrity addict here].  Aside from that, you will see fat stomachs hanging out from the bottoms of shirts, all the sweatpants your heart could desire, and spectacles that rival the People Of Walmart site.  I don’t know if working here for over 10 years makes you give up on life, but it sure as hell seems that way.

6.  Bathroom Parties:  Public bathrooms are gross.  Even the ones that have just been cleaned from top to bottom are gross.  They are nasty places and I won’t even get into the horrors I’ve seen here.  For some reason, these vile places have become excellent places to catch up with friends while taking a break from a hard day of work.  Right inside the doorway, a group will gab and cackle away while the poor people in the stalls are likely cringing and silently praying for the loud rabble to move along so they can finish dropping off the kids in peace.  It’s particularly unnerving when men make up part of the bathroom group in front of the ladies room; no woman wants to hear a deep booming voice as she tries to hover over the germy seat and not pee on her shoes.

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7.  NOISE POLLUTION:  This building is a finance and accounting center that does a lot of incredibly important (and boring) things for the military and civilians.  We have hundreds of offices contained within these walls, each with an important mission.  Don’t try telling that to anyone in the hallway though, as they seem to think that escaping the office into the hall is equal to being at a bar with their friends on a Friday night.  They will get loud, and then they’ll get louder.  The raucous laughter, the crazy high pitched shrieks, and the constant chatter can be clearly heard in offices with closed doors where people are trying to get their job done.  They may be en route to a break area to carry on frantically about the latest gossip, but you can be sure that they’re not about to keep the volume down on their journey there.

8.  Weak Arms:  There are a good number of restaurants that deliver to this building, something that most employees take advantage of.  Sometimes, people will place an order for a small group of people or order a few pizzas for the office.  Rarely to never will a person be willing to use a bit of muscle to get that order back to their office, opting instead to bring a rolling cart to the security area to carry their grub.  If someone has ordered something large and heavy, with multiple bags, I totally get it.  Qdoba catering, for example, definitely calls for a cart with all their containers and packages.  When I see a woman pushing a cart with a tiny Jimmy John’s bag on it, containing two subs and maybe some chips, I cry a little on the inside.

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9.  ScooterMania:  There are some people in motorized chairs in this building that have a valid need to be in one.  There are more of them in a scooter because they’re just too fat and lazy to walk around like the rest of us.  The scooter crew in this place act like an elderly gang of bikers.  Don’t get too close to them or they’ll run you down or attempt to kill your with their steely glare.  You better jump out of their way when they crank it up to 10mph on their way to the cafeteria or be subjected to as much wrath as an obese person can manage without running out of breath.  I don’t have issue with people who have to use a scooter, or even those who choose to.  It’s the entitled “I’m special, treat me that way” attitude that I cannot stand.

10.  Power Munching:  As I said earlier, my husband and I do laps around the building in an effort to stay healthy and not become glued to our chairs.  There are quite a few people in this building who do the same, donning an iPod or grabbing a buddy to hopefully walk off the effects of their lunch.  Sadly, too many people confuse a short brisk walk with a power workout.  They will power walk their way right into our C-Store for a bag of chips, or some will grab their snack and do their walk while eating.  There are people I know who walk enough to be in supermodel shape, but they’ll never get there due to their love of sweet and salty snacks.

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11.  Men Are Perverts:  I expect to be eyeballed by the dirty old man on the bench at the mall and by the group of guys hanging out outside of Target, but I don’t expect it when I come to work.  At least, I used to never expect it.  From janitors to young guys to old fat men to more janitors to leadership, no halfway decent woman in this building is safe.  It’s not only the bold looks at cleavage and rear ends, it’s the “hey baby, how you doin’, you lookin’ so fine” that reminds me of my days riding MARTA through Atlanta.  I suppose it’s good for the ego, but it’s also creepy as all get out.  In fairness, there are a few female offenders as well wandering these halls.  Very few.

12.  Hand Holding:  There are some couples who work here together that I suspect will wither away and die if they are not clasping their hands together whenever they are around each other.  Barely a hello is exchanged, it’s simply a frantic grab of the hand as soon as their love is within arms reach.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy holding hands with my husband now and again, but I also enjoy not having a sweaty palm while being attached to a 6’8″ man and trying to navigate these halls stuck to another human being.

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13.  General Rudeness:  Overall, one can’t help but notice that people have become poor mannered and oblivious to everyone around them.  No more “excuse me,” no apologies for anything, no care for anyone else’s personal space or desires; it’s a selfish world and it gets worse every day.  Doors get slammed in my face, women bump into me because they refuse to move and don’t care that I am already shoved against a wall, trash is spilled on the floor, messes left behind, and no one cares.  I enjoy my walks with my husband, but it’s frustrating to see the decline in our behavior.  On the positive side, the cast of characters we see always gives us a bit of entertainment as we make our rounds.

Panic

Yesterday was not my best day by far.  I was still shaken up and worried about my tubby coworker snapping at me on Monday, making a scene and then plotting ways to get revenge on me for some imagined slight against her.  She spent most of her day grumbling to other people about me before finally inventing a conspiracy about someone going through her desk to get personal paperwork and leaving it on the printer, something I was sure she was planning to blame on me somehow.  Since she’s tried to get me fired before, I couldn’t help but stress about her trying it again.

The highlight of my day was a trip to Wasabi on 82nd with my husband for some delicious sushi, but the great food did little to ease my mind.  I was on edge and became easily annoyed by bad drivers, slow drive-thru service, and literally anything else that should have rolled right off of my back.  I carried the stress into my evening, worrying about what my boy was doing upstairs when he should be getting ready for bed and getting antsy about getting enough sleep so I wouldn’t be cranky the next day.  My husband, who is the polar opposite of me when it comes to stress, managed to calm my nerves while no doubt getting a bit annoyed at my constant craziness.  I went to sleep with a promise to myself to make today a better day.

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When I was a child, I lived in a state of constant worry of my mother becoming angry with me, with people giving me a hard time in school, with friends and boyfriends coming and going, with grades and sports and my performance in other areas, and other things that normal people treat as normal parts of their day.  When I left for college and began living on my own, I had a brief period where I didn’t worry about a single thing.  Sadly, it didn’t last and the pressures of being on my own got to me.  I’ve lost everything and I’ve worked hard to gain it all back, but for some reason I cannot reset my brain back to the time where I was mostly carefree and simply dealt with issues once they actually became an issue.

It’s a bigger problem than I’m willing to admit.  Sometimes I lie awake at night having imagined conversations with various people about problems that haven’t even occurred and show no real signs of occurring.  I plan ahead not just for the basic things but also for every imaginable possibility that could occur in order to prepare myself for whatever may come my way.  My stomach will become upset at the drop of a hat if I sense doom coming, regardless of whether or not there is a valid reason for worry.  I feel like a lunatic.

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I’ve had therapy, which didn’t help me at all.  I’ve been on medication, which also didn’t help whatsoever and is only masking the issue rather than fixing it.  The fact that I’m aware that I’m a bit nutty is probably a positive thing, as it means I am focused on an area of myself which is in need of repair.  My husband is amazing at calming me down and getting me focused, although I do get irritated at him when he helps.  I’m hoping that I can begin taking baby steps in the proper direction so I stop doing this to myself and stop projecting my stress on the people around me.

This morning was a big help and I’m hoping that I did manage to take a few steps.  My boy was dancing around naked this morning instead of getting ready for school, so it wasn’t the greatest start to the day.  It got a tad worse when I got to work when I was informed by a coworker that Tubbs had planned to complain to my boss and attempt to move my computer so I was facing the front doors (her reasoning is from a false accusation that I ignore people who enter the office).  My coworker was visible annoyed by the whole thing and also happened to have been present for the entire outburst on Monday.  Once my boss arrived, she informed him of what Tubbs had yelled at me, how she calmed her down, plus additional rants that Tubbs was spouting off about.  My boss’s response?  “I’ve told [Tubbs] before, she is not the mother of this office.”

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It’s like my husband keeps telling me:  things always work out.  The time for me to stress should have been if she had done something that resulted in my boss confronting me, if she had retaliated otherwise and either jeopardized my job or vandalized my property, or if something else actually came out of her yelling at me.  It hit me today that I wasted almost two days worrying about something that was ridiculous to worry about in the first place.  I should have done nothing more than come here to vent and then moved along with my day, not giving things a second thought unless it came up again.  I should have trusted that I was not in the wrong and no one would come down on me for being the target of a crazy woman’s madness.  I should have relaxed.

I’m trying to get myself to quit being stubborn and deal with things according to how important they truly are.  If I lose my job tomorrow, I should definitely be worried.  If I have to pay my Sprint bill a day late, something they never penalize me for, I shouldn’t give it a second thought.  I should listen to my husband more, even though he’ll tell me he told me so.  I should not take it personally when some idiot at work bumps me in the hallway because they are too lazy and/or oblivious to get out of the way.  I should trust that in the last five years, no crisis has entered our lives that wasn’t easily dealt with, so no crisis will come in the future that we cannot tackle and destroy.  I should accept that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for.  I think I’m getting there.  Fingers crossed.

Livid

I dragged myself to work this morning against all odds after a night of little sleep and lots of tossing and turning.  My eyes burning, I dove into my work to try to get my daily tasks done as soon as possible so I could switch to autopilot and glide through the rest of the work day.  As the clock approached 10am, my husband gave me a much needed break from my office as we took off for our mid morning laps around the building.  We talked about an awkward situation in his office, the boy and the pup, and other easy topics that our tired brains could manage.  After three laps, I left him to return to my desk.  My butt hits the chair and I get two characters into my password when I hear “JAMIE!  Hey!  Jamie??!?”

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This being the second time in a two-hour span that my tubby coworker has screamed across the office at me in order to get my attention, I slowly turned around to see what she needed this time.  Rather than tell me what incredibly important thing it was that she needed assistance with (earlier it was whether or not my email worked) she glares at me, cocks her head, and says “What are you giving me a dirty look for, girl?”  My first instinct is to laugh, followed by a strong desire to tell her what a vile person I think she is.  Instead, I decide I value my job and I just turn right back around and continue unlocking my computer, slowly shaking my head as I do so.  My computer unlocks and Tubby exclaims “Oh, am I not allowed to talk to you or ask you questions without you giving me dirty looks?!?”

At this point, I want to tell her that NO, she is not allowed to yell across the office at me without getting a dirty look.  But I know my place in this office and I know that I am not as highly valued as a contractor as she is as a GS employee.  I slowly turn and say “Really?”  She snaps back with “Yeah, really!  I am old enough to be your mother!  You show some respect, girl!!”  Now, calling me a girl when I’m 31 and not the one screaming like an idiot across the office struck me as a bit funny, and I couldn’t help but crack a smile.  I then said to her “I’m not going to sit here and act like we’re in high school,” and turned back to my computer to get on with my day.  Apparently that was just as bad as telling her to piss off because she again yelled at me, saying “Oh, THAT is how you want to play it??!?”  Muttering something I could not understand, she stormed away.

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I shouldn’t be surprised that she decided to get loud with me with numerous witnesses around, but it did take me by surprise because her yelling at me while I don’t yell back doesn’t fit her plan of Get Jamie Fired very well.  This woman has complained to my boss about me, saying that I am mean and don’t do my job.  She is a tremendous gossip and I’ve heard her discussing my life on multiple occasions, usually making up nonsense because I’m a pretty private person in the office.  She slacks off constantly, spending more than half of her work day on personal business, online shopping, anything related to her daughter, and other things that she is not getting paid to do.  She treats her husband like garbage and eats his lunch along with hers half of the time.  She lies and takes credit for other people’s work.  She has also called my mother-in-law a bitch, and my mom-in-law is a freaking saint.  My tubby coworker is one of the most useless and disgusting human beings on the planet, but she still managed to surprise me by yelling like a moron.

My boss happens to be out of the office today, but she has already been calling him like a madwoman since her outburst, leaving me with no doubt in my mind that she plans to complain to him once he returns about me giving her dirty looks or whatever she’ll come up with by then.  It concerned me to the point where I considered getting out in front of her and contacting my boss via email regarding what had transpired.  In the time it took me to write an email about the events and send it to my husband, I realized how silly it would be for me to do so.  She is treating the workplace like a playground, but that doesn’t make it right and doesn’t mean I have to follow suit.  So since her display, I have been carrying on with my day as if she is invisible.  Loud, annoying, but invisible.

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At this moment, I am livid.  More at myself than at the useless pile of fat that is my coworker.  I’m irritated at myself for not chasing her down in the hallway, getting her alone, and letting her know in great detail what I wish upon her every time she cracks her gum at 8am, talks trash about people who don’t deserve it, lies on the phone about being busy so she can schedule mani-pedis, or otherwise behaves worse than a barn animal.  She not only opened the door for me to let loose, but she rolled out the red carpet and sent a limo.  I had my chance and I let it go.  Damn it.  For once I’m wishing this WAS high school.

Here’s where I need your help.  Obviously I’m not going to rage in her face, as much as I know she deserves it.  I’m not going to seek out revenge in some underhanded and sneaky way, even though I would feel 100% justified in doing so.  But what do I do, if anything?  The “oh, is that how you want to play it” remark makes me think that she interpreted my fictional dirty look as the beginning of some sort of war.  Is this a justifiable thing to think or am I being paranoid?  To be clear, I don’t care if her feelings are hurt, plus we’ve never been friends; I just care about how this may affect my job, if at all.  And yes, she IS the kind of person who will lie, cheat and steal in order to get what she wants.  So if you were in my shoes and thrown back onto the playground because a coworker wants to go postal, what do you do?

 

Two Little Words

I’m very big on manners.  I was always taught to say please and thank you, call adults by their last name unless otherwise instructed, and to be polite to people regardless of their own attitudes and demeanor.  In the workplace, my need to be polite is magnified, as I have to deal with my coworkers in a friendly manner as well as deal with whoever may come in the office or call with an issue or concern.  It can be challenging, especially when people yell at me over the phone about things that are out of my control, but I make due and just make fun of them later in private or take a walk around the building to cool down.  It does take more effort to be nice at times, but I think it’s worth the effort.

I received an email this morning from one of my coworkers that just rubbed me the wrong way.  We have had a new person handling all time card entries for our civilians and this new person has been making mistake after mistake.  His paychecks are a mess, as well as everyone else’s, so he wanted to get copies of his time cards for the entire month of December in order to try to get his issues fixed.  I don’t mind getting these to people at all, but the way he asked just bothered me.  It wasn’t “can you get this for me,” it was “Need a copy of what I submitted.”  No “thanks” at the end, no “please” anywhere, nothing remotely polite.  Just “need a copy” with the expectation that I’d get right on it.

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I sat on the request for as long as I could, which was about an hour since I can’t stand to have things unfinished.  I sent the information along to him, expecting some sort of response.  Nada.  I know he’s here because he’s been sending me memo requests all day, along with follow-up emails fifteen minutes later to see if they have been forwarded to our branch chief.  If you can do all that, sir, the least you can do is type THANKS in a reply email and make me feel like I didn’t just waste my time pulling up documents that you should have already had and emailing them along to you.

An employee’s daily duties don’t warrant constant thank you’s, but it is nice to give them a nod in appreciation now and then if they are helping you out.  Everyone loves a compliment and it can work to increase productivity and lighten the mood.  When an employee does something that goes outside the scope of their duties however, especially when it’s in response to a request for help from you, you owe them a please when asking and a thank you when the task is complete.  It doesn’t matter how big or small the ask is, it needs to be presented politely and rewarded with a bit of gratitude.  It doesn’t even have to be sincere as long as it is said in some form or another.  Expecting heaps of praise after helping a coworker file some papers is silly, but you are well within your rights to expect and receive a thank you.

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Part of the reasoning behind the lack of thank you’s is that certain people feel that they are above other people, therefore they can make demands rather than requests and expect them to be fulfilled without another word.  Perhaps they have seniority over you, maybe they’re the head of their department down the hall, or they just might see themselves as more valuable than you.  Whatever the reasoning, this view of “I matter more than you” can cause people to forget basic manners and turn requests into demands.  Working your way into a position of power is something to be proud of, no doubt, but it won’t kill you to throw a thank you to the person who empties your trash every once in a while.  It’s not about doing it because you have to, it’s about doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

Another reason is that we’re simply used to rude people.  I’ve had more doors slam in my face than held open for me, I get bumped into more than I hear “excuse me,” and I get flicked off by drivers who cut me off in traffic.  It’s not surprising that we forget our manners in the workplace after dealing with rude people in virtually every other area of our lives.  It’s even forgivable in a way for someone who has dealt with angry customers for eight hours to then be a bit snippy with their coworkers.  That all said, it’s still the wrong path to go down.  Your coworkers shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re beneath you or as if they don’t matter just because you’re having a crummy day.

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As I was typing this, two emails came in for me, both requests to set up a total of eight teleconferences.  The request was as follows:  “I am trying schedule a teleconference.  [Dates, times]”  That’s it.  Broken English and all.  Honestly, I don’t need to get a bucketload of “pleases” to process something, but I at least would like it phrased “Can you schedule these for me?”  The one person in my office who requests the most and who is also busy as all hell always throws me a please and a thank you for handing her conferences.  Getting these two emails from my coworker just bummed me out.  I was planning on ending this on a positive note but now I’m left feeling as if there is zero hope of things ever getting any better.

At the very least, I urge you to take a minute and think about how you interact with people.  Do you say “get me ___” or do you say “can I get ____?”  Do you say thank you or do you remain silent, assuming a thank you was implied?  Are you generous with compliments and words of thanks or do you think it’s undeserved when people are “just” doing their job?  Are you happy with what you get from others or do you feel that you deserved a word of thanks after going out of your way to assist a coworker or supervisor?  Do you think that all of us can maybe do a little better than we’re doing now?  Will you make an effort?

My Anger Monster Is Escaping

Last Thursday morning was one of those mornings that is best spent under the covers.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, my husband and I went into work an hour late.  Since my boss was out and the second in command was also out recovering from surgery, I called one of the other supervisors to let her know I was running a bit behind.  There’s nothing dictating I inform her, but I felt it was right to let someone in the office know instead of just showing up an hour late without warning anyone.

I arrived at the office at nine and began to double check the accountability report; this needs to be sent to the main office in Virginia as well as to our branch chief and must list everyone who is absent or taking leave for part of the day.  As I suspected, Tubberpottimus, who sometimes does this report when I am out, had marked me as absent for the entire day.  As I went about fixing the report, I noticed she had also marked me on the shared office calendar as absent for the entire day.  I deleted the entry, repaired the report and resent it to the main office and to my boss.

My next task was going through my emails.  The supervisor who I had phoned earlier in the day had forwarded me an email she received from Tubberpottimus.  It rudely stated “Well, I guess I’m stuck doing the accountability report, so send it to me.”  The supervisor had replied “My apologies for not telling you, but Jamie will be a little late today.  She phoned me this morning since [my boss] is out today.”  So obviously, Tubberpottimus had the information that I would be in and STILL informed the main office, my boss, and put on the public calendar that I was out.  She also went back and added a bunch of entries to the calendar stating I was off on days I was present for work.

Obviously I was present and I made that clear by sending the correct accountability report; I don’t have remote access to my work email and have no way whatsoever of sending that email unless my ass is in my office chair.  That properly takes care of covering my ass, as does phoning the supervisor this morning since my boss was out today.  After deleting the incorrect calendar entries she had created for my “absences,” I changed her posting permissions so she can no longer post any entries whatsoever to the shared calendar.  The purpose of the calendar is threefold; it allows me to mark absences and appointments on my accountability report with ease each day, it allows easy viewing of teleconferences and other events, and it is a reference to the office on who is out each week.  There is no point or purpose in going back weeks or months and marking absences, real or imagined, because no one needs that as a reference after the fact.  Tubberpottimus was simply being petty and I’m tired of it.

This beast of a woman has made it clear from the second week of my employment that she doesn’t like me.  Since I refused to gossip with her about a drama-filled employee, among other things that are none of my business, I have landed a permanent place on her shit list.  Since I’m a private person at work, she has resorted to making up gossip about me since there isn’t any real gossip to tell, such as I have snuck off to have a secret lunch with a soldier in the office, who I can’t stand by the way and who I supposedly had lunch with at a time I was stuck in a staff meeting.  Throughout my employment here, she has tried multiple times to get me to gossip about various people in the office and even my own mother-in-law.  Each time I refuse, she despises me more.

She’s tried multiple times to get me in trouble with my boss, claiming I take personal calls at work (I’ve taken maybe three within almost two years, while she takes at least three per day, usually more).  She has complained to him about my “rude behavior,” which he dismissed since he has never once witnessed me being rude nor has anyone else ever complained about me.  On multiple occasions, she has CCd him on emails where she tries to claim I have failed to do my job properly, something I always prove wrong, as I save every email under the sun (Covering Your Ass, the most important part of any job) and I always am able to forward the emails proving I did what she claims I failed to do.

She calls me a bitch, a brat, a spoiled little girl getting by on her looks alone, lazy, and countless other things under her breath throughout the day.  It would bother me if not for the fact that she’s morbidly obese, smells like old cheese, and is so unhappy with her pathetic existence that the only job she can get out of the day is from belittling others and vicariously living through her daughter as she prepares to be married.  Tubberpottimus is a pathetic excuse for a human being and someone like that isn’t going to hurt me by calling me a stuck-up snob.  Truly, throughout all her nonsense, I feel sorry for the woman at the end of the day.

I am sorry to say that I did end up bothered by what she did today.  I detest the woman, but I’m not rude to her, I don’t call her names (out loud), I don’t belittle her or try to do anything to jeopardize her job (even though I could easily, as she spends the majority of her day doing things that have nothing to do with work and has been planning a wedding on company time), I don’t spread rumors about her, I don’t post her name on here and attempt to embarrass her publicly, I don’t try to get her in trouble with her own supervisor; I do nothing but treat her the way I treat every other person in here.  As much as I would love to tell her what a vile and worthless person she is, I refrain from doing so and mind my own business.  I have done nothing to deserve her wrath and done nothing to deserve the kind of treatment she doles out.

You don’t have to like your coworkers, you only need to tolerate them for the duration of your work day.  Once the clock hits your clock-out time, they cease to exist and you get to leave them behind until the next day.  They don’t need to become friends you see on weekends or people you exchange fun emails and text messages with.  You’re not obligated to buy them birthday and Christmas presents or ask them about their kids on a regular basis.  Just be polite, be civil, do your job and don’t cause trouble.

As far as Tubberpottimus goes, she is set to retire by the end of the year and I only wish it was coming by the end of the month.  I truly don’t know if I have the self-control to hold back and not say something to her fat face before she retires because I feel that by not speaking up, I am telling her “I am a weak person, please feel free to treat me like garbage.”  I don’t go to my boss and whine as she did because he’s too busy for elementary school nonsense and it’s not his problem.  I do desire to do something though, as I’m beyond fed up and I don’t get paid enough to deal with her bullshit.  There has been a Tubberpottimus of sorts at every job I’ve held, but she has been the worst, hands down, and while she isn’t pushing me to a breaking point, she is pushing me to the “I’m going to get in your face and make you cry” point.  I’m just at a total loss as to what to do….

Eating In Peace

My desk is one of the first you’ll see if you step into my office.  I sit to the left of the door, just outside of my boss’s office.  Directly in front of the office door is the call center’s cubicles and to the right is Tubberpottimus.  Generally, about a third of the people who wander into this office unsure of where they are heading will stop off at my desk and ask for my help.  Sometimes “asking” translates to mean they will come in and stare at the back of my head, trying to use their gaze to get me to turn around, but in general, they have enough common sense to speak up.  It’s part of my job to ensure people aren’t lost, at least for the majority of my day.  While I’m eating lunch however, I want nothing more than to be invisible.

Today was one of the worst lunch breaks I’ve had in a while.  My mother in law came to visit me to show off Easter photos of her granddaughter.  Not a big deal; this woman is a freaking saint, so I let my salad sit for a few moments while she beamed in the way only a proud grandmother can.  I started to get a little antsy though when people began coming over to us and engaging her in conversation as I’m cutting through my lettuce and trying to cover everything with dressing.  Finally the conversations end and I bid my mom in law farewell so I can dig into my lunch.

Alas, my salad will have to wait a little while longer.  Two soldiers, accompanying a visiting (and high-ranking) soldier, have decided to begin a heated discussion at my desk.  The senior enlisted soldier puts his things down on my desk (it’s U-shaped and people sometimes think the part to my back is a free for all area) and starts loudly talking to the other two.  I have a mirror near my desk that allows me to see people coming into the office and I can clearly see that one soldier is eyeballing me as I try to eat.  I’m weird about people watching me eat, so I put my fork down and sadly wait for the conversation to end while taking time to glare at the mirror every few seconds to make my discomfort obvious.  Finally, they depart.

I sigh and dig into my salad.  Two minutes pass, maybe three, with me blissfully left in peace to eat and read articles on Cracked.com.  I’m halfway through an article when a female decides to park herself near my desk and stare at me.  I ask if she needs something and she shakes her head.  She stands there and stares at me and my food as if I have a plate of earthworms and I’m eating them with my toes.  Feeling weirded out, I again abandon my fork and get to work on a spreadsheet that I have no interest in.  Finally, she tires of gazing at my profile and takes off.

Wondering what the heck her issue was, I get back to eating.  I open up my crackers and notice a lot of movement to my right.  I turn to see a coworker juggling soda bottles and trying to be amusing.  He departs and is replaced by a janitor asking if I need my area dusted.  I decline, not wanting dust in my salad.  I then get asked if I have a lighter.  I’ve worked here for almost two years and it’s common knowledge that I don’t smoke, so I’m not sure what that was about, but this person was insistent I could locate a freaking lighter.  My croutons are getting soggy at this point, but after about three more odd interruptions that have nothing to do with work, I’m able to finish my lunch.

Part of this is my fault for being uncomfortable when people watch me eat and for eating lunch at my desk.  That being said, I believe there is an unspoken rule that states that if a person is eating lunch at their desk (not a snack, but a legitimate lunch) during the regular lunch hour, coworkers should assume that person is on break and give them space and leave them alone.  I’ve unintentionally interrupted people during their lunch and as soon as I see that they’re eating, I say “Sorry, didn’t realize you were on break, I’ll come back later.”  9 times out of 10, I get a smile and a thank you, with the minority willingly setting aside their meal to assist me on the spot.  This leads me to believe that most people are like me:  when they are on lunch break, they want an actual break.  Exceptions being critical tasks of course; I’m happy to stop for a moment and lend a hand if it’s a critical issue.

The lack of proper manners is what really gets to me though, as I understand that sometimes work can’t wait.  Most of the lunchtime interruptions I experience have zero to do with work, like today.  It’s rude to have a loud conversation right in front of someone’s desk.  It’s rude to stare.  It’s rude to throw your belongings on someone else’s desk without even asking permission or apologizing for the intrusion.  It’s even ruder to do those things when someone is attempting to enjoy their lunch break.  I get that my desk doesn’t become a 5 star restaurant when I pull out a Lunchable, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect people to act with a bit of tact and try to respect the personal boundaries of other people.  If your issue isn’t critical to your job and needing to be addressed immediately, kindly piss off and let me eat.

Honor Thy Neighbor … Or Something Like That

I haven’t been quite so focused on this blog for the past few days; my family and I just moved into a new place and we’re still getting adjusted and trying to get all of our things from our old place into the new.  Our lease doesn’t expire in the old place until the end of February, so we have the luxury of taking our time.  One of the many reasons we chose to leave our previous residence was due to our neighbors, their behavior, and their constant barrage of creative ways to disrupt our life.

One was a serious litterbug with her cigarette butts and dog waste, never kept her two dogs quiet regardless of the time of day or night, and let her child play and make lots of noise right by our front door.  Another had at least 4 cars (you are allowed two and then must use the overflow parking lot) and as a result, we had to park well away from our place.  One loved slamming kitchen cabinets and closet doors and we’d get to hear their door closing symphony at all hours.  People can be quite selfish when it comes to their personal space and often have complete disregard for the way their behavior affects those around them.

As I write this, I am listening to my work neighbor crack and pop her gum loud enough so that I can hear it over Hugh Laurie singing the blues on my iPod.  At her desk, she feels free to be as obnoxious and irritating as she wants.  Likewise, people in their homes give themselves the license to do what they wish, even if it could be disturbing to those they share a wall with or live above.  My first apartment was a downstairs unit with an obese man and his elderly mother living above me.  The man had the bedroom above mine and stomped around like an elephant beginning at 5am almost every day.  He also had the bag habit of throwing his trash over the balcony rather than walk it down the stairs to the dumpster, treating me to falling bags of trash directly in front of my patio.  His mother must have been losing her hearing because she blared the television and radio.  Their noise obviously didn’t disturb them since they were used to making it, but any noises I made were unacceptable and they frequently called the police to complain about the noise coming from my place (the police never did a thing other than show up and check, never finding that I or my roommate/friends were at fault).  I could dedicate an entire blog series to the ways this man and his mother made me miserable.

Unfortunately, as long as you are choosing or need to live in a place where you share a wall or ceiling with a stranger, you are going to be subjected to their noises and habits.  Unless you have assigned parking or a garage, you will have to deal with losing your amazing parking space when you get home late or go out over the weekend.  If you have a dog, chances are you’ll have to dodge kids trying to pet him as you try to walk him, other dogs, and people who act oblivious to the fact that all you’re trying to do is get your dog to do his business in peace.  Calling the property management can sometimes fix certain issues, but there is only so much they can do if they aren’t witnessing certain actions and behaviors themselves.  Our old place’s management team would put out newsletters with empty threats whenever they were complaints such as trash bags being left out a day before pickup, children destroying property, or dog waste left in the grass and bushes.  The fact that their threats were never following up on gave the residents the freedom to continue the bad behavior; they knew the worst that would happen to them was having to read another letter promising a $50 fine.

Our new place is quite different and has a low tolerance policy for bad behavior.  Considering that they also do background checks on potential residents and require renter’s insurance, I wasn’t surprised to hear about the policies in place to ensure all residents are able to live in peace and comfort.  Even so, there is always going to be some sort of overlap between your life and the life of your neighbor.  We have a door slammer, which I can forgive because the doors are quite tight.  We have a crying dog who whines near his owner’s garage for about 10 minutes.  We also have a private and attached garage, a quiet and secluded porch and backyard, an amazingly large bedroom and master bath, a roomy kitchen, a bigger bedroom for our boy, and overall a living space that we are proud of and comfortable with.  It’s silly to focus on the negatives when there are so many positive things to occupy myself with.

Once my husband and I are ready to buy a house with a white picket fence for our 2.3 kids, we’re going to get a more permanent type of neighbor once we’re locked into a mortgage.  Foreclosures aside for a moment, homes don’t get the type of turnover in residents like rental properties do.  The process of buying a home generally doesn’t include a meet and greet with your future neighbors and a preview of their habits.  You hope they won’t block your driveway, neglect their lawn, let their pets invade your space, or party during hours you’re trying to catch some sleep.  Short of scoring a nice piece of land and surrounding your home by trees and other natural buffers, you’re going to deal with neighbors for better or for worse.

I feel confident that our current property management will handle any potential serious problems that could arise, but I think that I’ll be able to relax enough to not let anything escalate to that level.  First, I can’t expect it to be totally silent except for my noise because that simply isn’t a tangible thing in any living environment.  Second, I must resist the urge to retaliate with my own bad habits, the way I did with my chunky neighbor (he would stomp, I’d bang on the wall, and repeat) because the annoying saying that you can’t fight fire with fire is a truthful statement.  Third, I need to remain in a positive state of mind; is hearing a door slam once a day better or worse than having kids throw things against my front door the way they did in our previous residence?  And finally, possibly most important, I need to learn to block certain things out and RELAX!  Is it worth being annoyed at a loud car passing by or getting in a Who Can Make Their TV Louder war?  My biggest problem isn’t the disturbances themselves but my kneejerk reaction to them.  Hopefully understanding that is the first step among many in letting things be and not turning speedbumps into massive mountains.

Moving On Up

My husband and I have been in our current home for nearly four years now.  I was absolutely in love with it when we first moved in, both because it was our first place together as a couple and because it was a nice looking place in a fairly quiet area.  We had a blast buying new furniture and necessities and even spent our first wedding anniversary engrossed in a weekend long painting project to try to get our home as perfect as could be.  Our first couch was a donation from a friend, the second was a gift from my mother-in-law that we chose in red to match our kitchen.  We spent quite a while sanding and painting our balcony and storage room with the plan to buy some outdoor furniture and have a nice spot to sit out and enjoy a bit of nature.  As time has passed, my husband and I have made various upgrades to ensure we’re comfortable and that we have what we believe we deserve.

Unfortunately, as we have been trying to move up the ladder, our neighborhood seems to be content edging downward.  What was once a clean and quiet community has become overrun by slovenly people displaying a total lack of pride in their home.  New management brought new signs and a hastily paved parking lot but failed to make any improvements aside from meaningless frills.  The maintenance team replaced our dishwasher due to a leak but failed to address the plumbing problem that caused the leak and also resulted in the garbage disposal malfunctioning.  We’re not big on using the dishwasher, but it would be nice to have the option to use it when the dishes pile up and we’re feeling a bit lazy.  The frustration of living without a working garbage disposal doesn’t need any explanation.  The other plumbing issue is in the second bathroom; for some reason the bath water will not stay hot for longer than a minute or two unless the washing machine is also running.  The sink will scald you, but the tub thinks cold showers are in style.

Those plumbing problems are annoying but fixable and I would definitely be pursuing property management to call in the experts to get it repaired if not for our main issue with our place:  the neighbors.  Whatever wiring is shorting out the light in our kitchen can be fixed.  The lack of consideration from our neighbors can not.  We come home to find trash and cigarette butts scattered around our front door, often thrown in the bushes that the kids have trampled during a game of hide and seek.  The one year we tried growing flowers by our front door, kids ripped them out of the ground and threw them all over the sidewalk.  Our front door has been used as home base for tag, the end zone for a game of football, and a makeout spot by the teenagers across from us.

I’m not a cranky old lady trying to crush the childhood joys of all youngsters around me, but I do expect a bit of respect for my space and an attempt at parenting from the adults that are supposed to be in charge.  I expect parents to tell their kids that it’s NOT okay to throw things against cars and front doors, to tear down parking signs, or to sit on the hoods of cars while waiting for the school bus.  I shouldn’t have to worry about my property being vandalized simply because young adults are bored and their parents can’t be bothered supervising or disciplining.  Bringing up concerns with management results in nothing more than a general notice handed out to everyone, stating the obvious of where trash should go and how people should behave.  As adults, we should all have enough sense to clean up after our pets, yet my husband and I often feel like we’re the only ones who prefer not to step in a pile of doggie presents.

After one too many nights of being disturbed by the two tiny yapping dogs downstairs, we decided to take a drive and find a new place to live.  On Sunday, we got to view a lovely two bedroom place with an attached spacious garage, an adorable patio and backyard, and an amazing kitchen twice the size of what we have now.  The bedrooms are also bigger than what we currently have and the layout is much more appealing than what we’ve become used to.  The leasing agent told us that he is quite familiar with many of our complaints from people coming from where we currently live and was very confident in saying that those problems are nonexistent in their community.  The cost is slightly higher, but we’re getting an entire garage and a yard to ourselves, two things we can’t say we have now.  We’ll also receive a discount on our cable and internet and have access to a wooded dog park.  At least, we will if we are approved.  Wish us luck!

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