my back is had

My alarm woke me up to the Barenaked Ladies’ cover of “Fight the Power” this morning, so clearly this means I will have a great day.

There was some extreme unpleasantness at work on Wednesday. The tears shed below weren’t ones of frustration so much as they were tears of utter humiliation – without going into too many details, I was ripped a fresh and shiny hole by a fellow manager via conference call, in front of a large room of people .. for two hours straight.

When everything was said and done, I steamed and stewed and yeah, I cried in a bathroom stall. I’m at the tail end of a huge project and I’m just as stressed as the next person – look at my calendar below; that one is fake but my real calendar is actually worse and not coloured like a pinata – but this was a verbal lashing the likes of which I hadn’t received in a very long time. Hindsight has shown me several ways I could have better dealt with the situation other than my chosen method of “utterly freeze and lose my focus”, but now I know what to expect and you know what it is they say about knowing: it is half the battle.

I’d feel better if I were armed with red or blue lasers, though.

After my tears had dried and my nose stopped glowing, I paced around the Lab for a bit. I was fine with keeping everything to myself until I walked through one of the departments that had been witness to the brutality of the verbal lashing – people were asking me if I was okay, and what was the deal with that, and boy he sure was angry, and and and –

It made me realize that I didn’t care (much, after I cried it out) that he had yelled at me over things I can’t control (seriously; I have NO SAY in whether or not a Microsoft product will work in Firefox and no amount of screaming is going to change my lack of power over Bill Gates) but rather that he had done so in front of SO MANY PEOPLE – 5 departments I work closely with were all represented in that room by multiple co-workers, in addition to the new girl I was training that had started that morning. Yell at me privately if you’re upset that I can’t strip a mandatory field out of the software, but don’t humiliate me like that in front of my minions. It is Not Cool.

So, I went to my boss. I had previously gone to him and offered him a puppy if I never had to work with the Nasty Man again, to which he laughed – he had heard it was a rough session, but that was it. When I went back a second time, I expressed my extreme displeasure that Nasty Man had done this in front of so many others and shared a few things that were said. He was disgusted, and suggested we immediately go see Vice President and let him know – so we did. VP was even MORE displeased, and apologized for Nasty Man’s behaviour, assured me that I was doing a great job, and said he would be dealing with it the next day.

As soon as I got to work yesterday, HR came to see me. VP had gone to her right after our conversation and relayed the situation, and she wanted to let me know something that floored me:

They had my back.

My back hasn’t been had in a very, very long time. Through all my years at Space Stations 1 and 2 I sometimes had a person going to bat for me, but ultimately my choices were to take the abuse or leave. Illegal practices? Name calling? Telling me that customers complained about my work because you needed something to reprimand me for? Lying to my face about my job? Taking credit for my work? Too bad, so sad. I was a contractor, a commodity, a replaceable (except not) drone – if you don’t like being treated like garbage, you’re in the wrong industry (said industry being any industry). If you complain, we’ll get rid of you.

Maybe this is completely standard, but to me it’s like winning a fabulous prize. Someone did something really, really nasty and I rightfully brought it up to my boss – and now there are consequences. Not for me, even, but for the Nasty Man. This is nothing short of incredible to me – you mean people are held responsible for their actions? You don’t condone abuse or humiliation as a tactic? Someone cares that I was upset and they’re doing something about it?!

Colour me completely floored, and very grateful. The word had gotten out – the people in the room told their managers – and my co-workers are coming around to say they’re sorry for what happened and they think I’m super. This, too, is great – as of Wednesday afternoon, I had pretty much lost any confidence I had that I knew what I was doing and was at all good at my job. That confidence is starting to come back though, and I’m fairly certain I’ll be back to my unorthodox methods in no time – like today, when I have to break the news of a process change to the team but I am plying them with a pizza lunch first.

It feels good to have my back be had.

9 thoughts on “my back is had

  1. Its awesome when stuff like that happens. Happened to me about two months ago. Only the offending party was actually fired – though, I suspect I wasn’t the only reason, the situation with me just added fuel to an outrageously burning fire.

  2. that’s awesome, kim. the reason for the back being had is decidedly NOT awesome, but so good that you’ve got people on your side when someone’s being a giant dill hole.

  3. Sometimes it’s (almost) worth it to go through a crap situation like that just to see how awesome your boss and co-workers can be about it. I sure hope this is the case for you.

  4. That’s awesome, Kimli. I was worried when the tears were mentioned. Being humiliated in front of a whole buncha people is nasty, but losing your confidence is worse, so I’m glad that you still know you rock. Also, good job, boss & coworkers!

  5. Having good and supportive management is one of the rare treats that employees get occasionally. Glad it worked out for you, and I hope Nasty Man gets flogged to within an inch of his life.

  6. A similar thing happened to me a few jobs ago. Except I wasn’t in the meeting. And the guy was management. I quit soon after.

    Even if your management/HR didn’t have your back, I can’t see this sort of thing doing any more damage than upsetting you for a couple days. Unless your workmates/management were evil, that is. I think it’s pretty easy to tell when someone’s getting angry and taking it out on someone else, and given that it was an inappropriate arena even if Nasty Man had some reason to be mad at you, he usually ends up looking horrible. When I see this sort of thing it’s usually due to the person’s own insecurity and worry about their own position; so they point fingers in hopes of having attention drawn away from their performance and making themselves exempt from blame for whatever shit’s going down. Luckily most of the population are grown-ups and can see through that.

    Of course, it’s extra-awesome that your higher-ups care about you and are on your side and even told you so. We all think they’d be silly not to.

  7. Having a had back is a wonderous thing, isn’t it? I’m boggling over it myself with my new job. I actually have company owners bringing up my happiness and satisfaction level weekly, and although the stress of upheaval sucks, my job has been changed twice in 4 months with the aim of making this little peon at the Speakeasy a happier little Cigarette Girl. WTF is up with that?

    Seriously, good for you. I’m happy you’ve got some positive juju coming at you for a change.

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