While I was awkwardly navigating my way through my preteen and teenage years, I encountered my fair share of mean girls and then some. I can still remember the day when I realized that girls were a cutthroat bunch. My friend and neighbor, Mary, was having a party and I was invited along with nearly every other person in the neighborhood. A few days before the party, I got a phone call from Mary. She kept asking me what I thought of the new girl, Kelly. I would say that I thought she was nice, Mary would push me to say something else, until I eventually agreed with Mary that Kelly might not be the nicest person ever. All of a sudden, Mary revealed that she was Kelly. She HAD to trick me because she KNEW I didn’t really like her! I cried for a while, skipped the party, and dropped most of my female friends in favor of male friends.
It was a childish thing to do, but my 11 or 12-year-old mind thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happened. As I made my way through middle and high school, I was shown time and again that Kelly’s little trick was miles away from the worst thing I could expect to see or experience. I was lucky enough to find a good group of friends who kept the backstabbing and shady behavior to a minimum, but the things I witnesses females to do each other was nothing short of disgusting. High school was horrible, and college was only slightly better because it was so easy to avoid certain people and cliques. I always felt confident though that leaving school behind would also mean that the cutthroat behavior would be left behind as well.
Call me naive if you will, but I assumed that truly becoming an adult would also mean that females would stop being so terrible to each other over tiny things, and often over nothing at all. Little did I know that it seems to get worse with age. I lost quite a few male friends (and by friends, I don’t mean “we used to date,” I mean strictly friends) because their significant others couldn’t handle them being friends with a somewhat attractive female, even though I wasn’t single, wasn’t flirting, and wasn’t any sort of threat. I’ve been harassed at work by female authority figures who disliked me for reasons I’m still unsure of, but were clearly unrelated to my stellar job performance. And recently, I’ve been dealing with a woman twenty years my senior stand around my desk and take thinly veiled shots at me over some he-said-she-said BS that has nothing to do with her at all.
I’ve been free of Tubberpottimus for nearly a year and had hoped that the nonsense in the office would end with her retirement. Silly me. When one miserable sod leaves, there is always another to take her place. A female that will act hateful towards another, later patting themselves on the back as they brag about how many notches they took their target down. Smile at the wrong guy and you’ll be called a slut. Say the wrong thing and you’ll be called a liar. Forget the slightest detail and you’ll be called incompetent. Hell, you can do everything right and still become a target just because some woman doesn’t approve of you in general. Women will hate each other simply over wardrobe choices and hairstyles.
I am beyond tired of this behavior, especially when it comes from women who are much older than me and should have long outgrown the need to act like petty children. I can’t stand coming to work and having to deal with a sad middle-aged woman who has nothing better to do than spout off with “oh, better be quiet; don’t want any rumors to start” literally every single time she is anywhere near me. We’re all free to like and dislike who we please, but is it really necessary to be hateful and difficult, especially in schools and workplaces where we’re all somewhat held captive together for eight hours?
My dream is to fully escape this mean girl world. Work in a place where some chick isn’t trying to get me fired because I refuse to gossip with her or because I’m getting more attention than she. Go to the store and not be glared at by someone who assumes I’m looking at her man when I’m merely trying to find the cereal. Stop hearing the word slut thrown at any female who dares post a Facebook photo of herself at the beach. I want to be able to have faith in my gender instead of swearing off female friends every couple of years because I simply can’t cope with the nonsense.
I am lucky enough to know some amazing women, but they are unfortunately the minority in a bitch-eat-bitch world where rules are out the window and it’s every broad for herself. Last I heard, the Kelly from my youth was busy being a godawful person to everyone she came across, but even people who start as early as her can change. Stop looking at all other women as competition. Stop the jealousy. Calm the hell down and quit being hateful. These females who constantly target others are miserable people at their core, and it’s sad for them, but also sad for us who have to deal with their drama. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and ask themselves if all this hate, all the plotting, and all the gossip is truly worth it. Breathe in… breathe out… and ask yourself if your day is actually best spent on whether or not your coworker’s skirt is one inch too short for the office.
Do you ever get to a point in your day where you feel like giving up on the world? I hit that point pretty early on today. The kid being perfect for my husband but ignoring every word I had to say didn’t give me the greatest start to my day. Annoying my husband by having to repeat myself to the child over and over didn’t help either, so I left feeling pretty crummy. After dropping the boy at daycare, I was almost t-boned by a Mustang who was paying zero attention to the world around him and total attention to whatever was in his hand (I’m assuming a phone, but it was dark). This happens quite frequently around daycare; people from all directions all either assume they have the right of way over everyone else or simply pay no mind to any car or pedestrian that may be in their path. If my husband and I weren’t accustomed to it (which we shouldn’t have to be), I suspect we would have been in an accident or two by now.
After getting the hell away from that Mustang, I ended up stuck behind a white car that not only insisted on going 25 miles below the speed limit, but insisted on trying to brake check me every 100 feet or so. When I reached a point in the road where I could pass the car, it swerved over to straddle the middle line, leaving me no room to pass. Lucky for me, the car turned onto a different road after a few minutes and spared me the annoyance of being stuck for too long. When I lived in Connecticut, cars that wished to drive slower than the speed limit would always pull over to let cars pass. It happened less frequently in Georgia, but still enough to keep my hope alive that people do care about others around them. Now? I can’t remember ever having this happen unless you count the occasional farmer that pulls his massive equipment off of the road to let cars pass. No one cares who they slow down and everyone seems to get incredibly offended if you dare try to pass them.
On the flipside, yesterday it was my husband and I that were too slow. In the morning, we were politely passed by a car that felt we weren’t accelerating quickly enough after passing through a four way stop. In the afternoon, we were passed by a thoughtless dickhole that was seemingly offended by our decision to go the speed limit on a country road. The car passed us and quickly cut back in front of our car. This bugs me to no end. I can almost excuse it if the person you’re passing is driving like a moron and you want to silently tell them to get it together. But the car that passed us had no valid reason to be annoyed and no urgency to get back over, as there were no other cars coming. The guy/girl just wanted to be an ass. Whoever you are, I hope you end up in a ditch.
When I arrived at work this morning, I had to change parking spaces because of the moronic way people choose to park in our giant lot. I then had to weave through security while three middle-aged women with backpacks on wheels decided that they were handicapped in some way, skipped the line, and went through the handicap accessible entrance. This bugs me just as much as when people steal handicap parking spaces. The handicap doors and line is not for lazy, entitled people. It’s for the guy in my building with no arms, the lady with one leg, the people in wheelchairs, and those on crutches. If the blind guy that works here can go through the regular line, you suitcase toting folk can do so as well. Fat and/or tired is not a handicap.
The whole abuse of the handicap line definitely bothers me more than it has any right to, but I don’t think it’s okay for people to skip the regular line and breeze through the automatic doors simply because they think that the extra 20lbs on their body gives them the right to do so. There have been times when the security guard checking badges will tell these people to use the regular line, but for the most part he doesn’t have the time or the patience to do so, so the lazy crowd takes full advantage. What gets me is the feeling of entitlement that these people have. Newsflash: you aren’t entitled to special treatment. You’re not special. I’m not special. Quit acting as if the world owes you something.
I swear, if not for Twitter and being able to vent here, I would go postal and snap at people in public. I’m exhausted with the incredibly rude acts I see on a daily basis. People don’t care anymore about anything that isn’t in their tiny little circle. I’m not saying I should be important to whoever I happen to be around, but I would appreciate being treated like a human being and not as if I’m a gnat that won’t quit buzzing around their head. I’d love for people not to block the entry way to the restroom and then act as if I’M the problem for trying to navigate to a stall without having to hug the gross wall as I pass by. I’d love for my cashier to say “hello” and make eye contact instead of ignoring me completely as they continue a conversation with a fellow coworker about things no one needs to hear said out loud.
I’ve noticed that people seem to think that you either have to kiss everyone’s ass or you have to only look out for yourself. They see no middle ground. Unfortunately, that middle ground is where it’s at. You CAN look out for your best interests and still manage not to be an intolerable asshat to everyone around you. You CAN take care of yourself and your family without ticking off everyone around you. Being a dickhole takes the same amount of effort as slapping a smile on your face and holding open a door for the person behind you. Make an effort. My sanity depends on it.
I’ve been married for slightly over five years now, about as long as my two previous longest and most serious relationships combined. I’ve gone from being a paranoid nutcase to a happy nutcase, settling into married life and becoming part of something I never thought I would have. I’d be lying if I said it was an easy journey; my husband and I butted heads quite often in the beginning and we still do so now in a much gentler fashion. We threw ourselves headfirst into a relationship after spending less than two days in each others company, relying solely on the emotions we felt through our digital relationship and the confidence that we had found our other half. It was a big risk but one I’m so glad we took.
Every happy ending is prefaced by heartbreak, and I definitely experienced my share before finding happiness. It taught me a lot and has made me sensitive to others who are unlucky in love, turned off to relationships for personal reasons, or stuck in bad situations. Too often, I see friends on Twitter venting about failed relationships or feeling as if they are not meant for love and destined to be single forever. I’m always glad to see the handful that are comfortable with their single status and immune to the pressures of finding someone and settling down, but they are sadly outnumbered by the miserable crowd who wants nothing more than to find true love. Dating can be rough and it’s quite the challenge to find someone who fits your needs to a T.
The desperation to find love can make even the most intelligent person turn into a lovesick teenager, reaching out for anyone who will give them a chance. I’ve seen strong-willed men and women crumble at the feet of a person they want to love but who is all kinds of wrong for them, sacrificing parts of themselves in order to appease the other person in their search for happiness. I was that person once, always anxious to hear those three little words and willing to do whatever it took in order to hear them. It was never something I admitted, not even to myself, but that need grabbed hold of my life for far too long and kept me prisoner.
Desperation is what kills you. Half the time, you’re blissfully unaware that you have become desperate, but it’s clear as day through actions and words. Maybe you’re unable to enjoy a girls night out because your pretty friend is getting attention from men while you go ignored. Perhaps you cling to flirty words on Facebook, regardless of who they come from, because you want to feel pretty and wanted. Maybe you feel pangs of jealousy whenever you see a couple holding hands or a post on Twitter talking about love. Acknowledging the signs and adjusting your behavior is key, but it rarely happens. It isn’t fair that everyone else is happy while you’re lonely and stuck on the outskirts, and it’s natural to have a strong desire to change that.
When the emotions cloud common sense, people make mistakes. Some will settle for a person who isn’t good enough for them just so they can have someone to cuddle up next to at night. Some are looking to fill a gap left by a previous love and show a lack of care for who they choose to fill that gap. Some are quick to sacrifice friends in order to maintain their relationship, siding with their new love without question or thought. They blame others for any hiccups in their relationship but never blame themselves or the person they are with. They shut themselves off from the world, creating their own little universe around this “perfect” person. It’s a dangerous path to take, but countless people are walking it right now.
I hate that I’ve lost friends because of their relationships. It stings a bit to know that I can be cast aside so easily in favor of some girl or guy, but it saddens me more to know what a big mistake they are making. True love does not require one to break friendships and become someone different. Love does not give ultimatums, spoken or otherwise, that cause a person to compromise parts of themselves in order to keep the relationship going. Love does not say “your friends aren’t worth it, take my friends instead.” It shouldn’t be selfish, closed off, take it or leave it, or hurtful in any way. Love shouldn’t make you choose between that person and the rest of your world.
I lost a lot of friends when I was with my most serious ex because I chose him over everything else, casting everyone aside and immersing myself in an unhealthy relationship. I know too well when someone else is doing the same and it pains me to see it happen. Just as I ignored warning signs that flashed in front of me, I see people turning a blind eye to all kinds horrible actions from their love. And there is nothing I can do about it. I didn’t allow anyone to help me and let advice slide right off my back, so why should I expect anyone else to do any different? I can only hope they come to their senses before wasting any more of their life on a person who isn’t good enough for them.
Good things come to those to wait, right? Annoying saying, but it’s true. As I’m typing this, I’m listening to a coworker on the phone with a friend, talking to her about her failed marriage. In regards to her own marriage, after listing complaints about her husband, she said “well, I guess I could do worse.” It’s a perfect example of someone who failed to wait for a good thing and decided to settle for what was available, leaving her needs unsatisfied and her heart desiring something more. At nearly 60 years old, she is venting her regret for not having a better husband. That shouldn’t be anyone’s reality. Take a deep breath and take an honest look at your life. If you want better, go out and get it. Just be patient and be smart about it. No one should be forced to settle for anything less than what they truly deserve.
I’m not the most important person in this office by any means. I answer to the Branch Chief in the National Guard’s Financial Services division, but my actual employer who issues my paycheck is located in Virginia. I’ve never met the guy who hired me or even knowingly been in the same state as him. I’m one of 63 people in this office and if I vanished tomorrow, life would go on without too much of a hiccup. That being said, there are quite a few important things I get my hands into, one of those things being the handling of time cards for fourteen people in my office who really appreciate getting an accurate paycheck every two weeks.
Due to a policy change from my boss’s boss, it was decided that someone on her end in Virginia would now handle time cards for our office. This is quite unusual; it’s standard to have the timekeeper on site, but it’s not my place or my boss’s place to question her decision so we didn’t push the issue. As soon as the time card responsibility left my hands, the problems started sprouting up like weeds. A request for 8 hours of annual leave was processed as 16 hours, overtime hours went uncounted, and various requests were denied as not having the proper documentation. The new timekeepers reaction? Blame Jamie.
It has been nearly two months since this new policy has been in effect and the initial cry of “Blame Jamie” has become “why in the HELL isn’t Jamie doing time cards anymore??!??” Things have gone to shit and whatever reasoning the new timekeeper had for placing blame on me has been crushed under my shoe and no longer means a damn thing because I save EVERYTHING. Every email, every document, every bit of correspondence is saved and filed away somewhere I can easily get to. There is no “Jamie didn’t do _____” because I can pull put the proof in less than 10 seconds flat.
I don’t care if it’s something as important as making sure my coworkers are getting paid or as tiny as making sure we have paper for the printers on order, you have to cover your ass at work. Regardless of your level on the totem pole, there is always someone you have to answer to, be it a supervisor, your customers, or the general public. At some point, your performance and abilities will be called into question. Things go wrong and the easiest way out of it is to point a finger. That finger will eventually land on you, and you need to be able to get out of it and have the blame swing away from you and onto the person or people who deserve it.
There is also the issue of dealing with people who are just total assholes, looking to trip you up and get you reprimanded or canned. My tubby coworker, for example, has tried this with me quite a few times, still not realizing that I have made it impossible. I dealt with someone similar to her at the medical office I worked at, I’ve dealt with it prior to then, and I’ll deal with it in the future. Some people are simply miserable, others are incompetent, and these are generally the people you need to look out for. If you slip, they’ll watch you fall and then tell everybody.
I can’t count how many times I’ve saved my ass by saving every single bit of work I do for every job, big or small. It’s a little bit of paranoia on my part, but it’s not only an effective way to keep your job, it’s a great help when something comes into question and your coworkers need assistance. I’ve become the go-to person when it comes to locating the most obscure documents, which my boss has noticed and which makes me look a hell of a lot more useful than I probably am. Covering your ass doesn’t have to simply be a self-preservation tool, it can be of use to everyone.
Part of surviving in the wild world of employed life is becoming an asset to the company, someone who is not easily replaced and someone who is noticed for the right reasons. We all want to earn more money, but that doesn’t come easily if you’re just another employee. You want to be the one your boss can’t live without, who your customers love and request, and who your coworkers respect on one level or another. This is accomplished in many ways and by doing many things, too many to name here, but it’s all for nothing if you forget to cover your ass and protect yourself from all the bullshit that can potentially get in the way of your success.
My office, like many offices, loves to have pitch-in luncheons. To those of us who count calories, are on a diet plan, or simply trying to be more mindful of their weight, pitch-ins can be hell. Tons of great food is brought in; chips and various homemade dips, pulled pork, chili, meatballs, all kinds of casseroles, vegetable and cheese trays, sandwich platters, dinner rolls, potato and macaroni salads, and more. Then you have the desserts; cookies, pies, brownies, and other decadent treats. The employee who lacks in culinary skill will bring an array of sodas, punch or sweet tea. I gained a pound just writing that paragraph.
The seemingly simple solution is to skip it, however this is not looked kindly upon in some offices, especially when the pitch-in is organized to say farewell to a beloved employee or to celebrate a promotion. You don’t want to be the guy who didn’t care that Mike was leaving after 25 years and couldn’t be bothered bringing a plate or eating with the group. The other solution I see recommended a lot on various health and wellness websites is to load up on fruits and veggies. Sure, you could do that, but it’ll be at the expense of missing out on Becky’s famous baby back ribs and having to explain over and over why you couldn’t be bothered to try them. Instead, let’s try some practical solutions that can allow you to enjoy without stretching your waist band.
HYDRATE. Drink a full glass of water, diet soda, or anything low to no calorie immediately before the pitch-in begins. After you fill yourself that way, make sure you drink throughout your meal. This will help you feel full quicker and hopefully cut down on the amount of food you consume.
TAKE YOUR TIME. Don’t rush to be first in line, although it is tempting to do so. Let the vultures go before you and squeeze yourself in line after them and before the stragglers. Putting yourself towards the end of the pack will prevent you from being the person who is sitting around, done with their meal, but still wanting more due to their coworkers chomping and munching around them. As you’re eating, people will be going for seconds. Take a minute and feel good about yourself for not being part of that pack.
SKIP THE BREAD. Dinner rolls are amazingly delicious, especially Hawaiian rolls. They are also loaded with carbohydrates and calories (90 calories for a regular Hawaiian roll, upwards of 200 for certain dinner rolls and burger buns). As these will rarely come into your pitch-in in any other form than store-bought, you won’t be offending anyone by passing over the bread. If you are being served burgers or hot dogs, just skip the bun. The meat is just as great bun-free. Also try to go easy on chips and crackers.
PORTION CONTROL. One cup of potato salad is, on average, about 400 calories. One meatball, floating in sauce, is about 100 to 150 calories depending on how it is made and how large it is. If you don’t want to miss out on either, have a single meatball and aim for a quarter cup of potato salad (about the size of a golf ball or a chicken egg). For half cup servings, aim for tennis ball or light bulb size. Stay away from large portions of rich foods, such as cheese dips. Use one standard size plate for your trip and stop filling it when you reach the point where adding any more would require you to pile food on top of food.
GO EASY ON THE CONDIMENTS. Avoid mayonnaise on your sandwich (and avoid dishes that contain it if you can). Don’t add sauce to items already cooked in a sauce. If there is salad, pick a light dressing and try not to be tempted by the think French and Honey Mustard dressings. Regular mustard is your friend; at around 5 calories per teaspoon, you can add it to burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches guilt-free.
DO NOT GET SECONDS. If you can, survey the table prior to food being ready for service. Pick out what you absolutely must have and make a plan to just get those certain items. Once you have cleaned your plate, you are done. Do not go back for a second sandwich or a second scoop of baked beans. If you forgot dessert, that’s just too bad. And speaking of dessert…
DO YOU NEED IT? Do you normally have dessert with your lunch while at work? Are you even hungry after finishing your meal or just tempted by the tiramisu sitting a few feet away on the table? Don’t grab dessert just because it’s there. Wait an hour or longer, see if you’re hungry, and if there is still some left and you’re dying to have a bite, go for it then. If you have the option to cut your own dessert portion (brownies, cakes, pies, etc), cut a piece no bigger than a hockey puck.
IT’S OKAY TO BE A LITTLE WASTEFUL. You have some macaroni and cheese on your plate right next to a bit of pasta. The problem is, the mac and cheese is horrible. Unless you have really creepy coworkers, no one is going to notice if you don’t clean your plate. If you don’t like something, don’t finish it. Don’t stuff your face simply because the food is in front of you. When you feel done, be done.
I’m anything but a morning person. The minute my alarm clock goes off, my mind starts coming up with reasons for me to call in to work and go back to sleep. My love for a hot shower is overshadowed by my hate of being awake before the sun has risen. I can’t quite conceal the bags under my eyes and always fail to mask my exhaustion no matter how sharp I can get my makeup to appear or what direction I comb my hair. Once I’m halfway decent looking, I tend to the overactive dog and cranky child. My husband generally wakes around this time and his reluctance to get out from underneath his blanket makes me want to crawl under one myself. When we finally pile into the car, it’s a 40 minute drive to our boy’s school and then to work, dodging mopeds and slow drivers and hoping not to catch every red light or the train along the way. We stagger through security and collapse at our desks, mine on the first floor, my husband above. And then the fun begins.
There is no shortage of awful people in the large government building we work in. My husband recently posted a blog about behaviors that are unacceptable at work, behaviors we both tend to witness more than we should have to. This morning we got in early and I beat both my boss and my office nemesis, not-Paula Deen, in to work. Our drive was stress-free for once and I was feeling optimistic about the day until not-Paula opened the door and filled the quiet office with her shrill voice and cackling laughter. Her cell phone, volume on high, began to ring and she immediately came over to my desk even though hers is just five more steps (or waddles in her case) in the other direction. She throws both her bags onto my desk and begins rifling through one, small items falling out and clanging onto my desk. She finally finds her phone and begins a loud conversation; she is one of those people who fails to understand that technology has advanced and you don’t have to shout into phones to be heard. I stopped working on my current task and turned around to attempt to murder her with my stare. I failed to do that but I did succeed in getting her to piss off and go to her own area. Hardly a victory since I doubt very much that it crossed her mind at all that she was invading my personal space and behaving in quite a rude manner.
I’m big on having my personal bubble go unviolated. My husband can invade it freely as noted in our marriage license, my close friends are another exception, and of course the family I get along with and my pup dog are welcome. Coworkers, strangers, simple acquaintances, and store employees however must remain outside of my bubble unless I verbally grant them permission to enter. I don’t think it unreasonable to not want foreign bodies near my body or not want other people’s belongings in my work area. I get that my desk happens to sit in a public area of the office and I expect people to make use of the group of chairs to my right or to stand to my left and wait for my supervisor to be free. I do not expect people to get in my face, use my phone without permission, reach over me to grab paper clips, or to throw their crap on my desk without even asking “is it okay if I set this here for a minute?” Not-Paula knows I can’t stand her bloated face and gossipy ways, obviously she also knows I don’t want her in my space, but like many people in this building she lacks the tact and respect for others that prevents the average person from imposing on someone else’s space.
I’m starting to wonder what happens to a person’s mind after they work in this building for a certain amount of years. It’s a weird group phenomenon that takes place with bad behaviors; one person will decide it’s okay to use nail clippers at their desk which leads to 4 or 5 people clipping their nails in the office. One woman will begin taking loud personal calls during working hours and soon half a dozen people are yakking away to their friends while you struggle to have an actual work related phone call. There is a mess in the bathroom which makes others not feel guilty about leaving their own mess behind as well. It’s like a horrible game of dominos.
A behavior going unprotected does not mean the behavior is acceptable. As much as I’d love to politely tell not-Paula that her constant gum cracking/popping is incredibly distracting and to please tone it down, I know that the only thing that would come out of it would be her whining to my supervisor about how mean I am and me having to have another “talk” with him and be told to try to ignore her. People have hung signs in the restroom about the filth, but they’re eventually torn down and the mess just multiplies. No matter what policies are put in place or what rules are laid out, people act how they want to act and oftentimes that means they act like pigs and jerks.
My hope is that there are more people who think the way I do in the world; people who eat with their mouths closed, thank those who hold doors open, treat drive-thru workers with respect, and are quiet during movies. People who give a damn about how their actions affect those around them. I hope not-Paula falls off a cliff, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect her space and property. My personal feelings for an individual (or lack thereof) don’t dictate my behavior and don’t justify me acting like an ass; coworkers are a captive audience and an office should strive to be a place of peace, not treated like everyone’s living room or bedroom. I shouldn’t ever have to hear my husband tell me that the guy next to him is frantically Q-tipping his ears in the middle of the damn office rather than at least excuse himself to the restroom to poke around in his orifices.
In elementary school (or preschool for some), we are taught manners that we are expected to carry throughout our lives; please and thank you, eat with proper utensils and with a closed mouth, wash hands after using the restroom, and so on. The things we learn as a child should stay with us throughout our lives, not be dropped and forgotten during our years of teen angst. I stopped going to church years ago, but I recall being taught to treat others the way we would like to be treated, and I believe that’s a lesson that should stick regardless of your religious preferences. Hopefully my actions will inspire others to act better and be mindful of others. In the meantime, if you plan on engaging in rude and obnoxious behavior, know I am silently judging you in person now and openly mocking you with my husband and proper friends later. You damn dirty pig.