Saturday, October 23, 2021

Friends and (work) foes

My book club resumed our monthly meetings Wednesday night. Covid infection rates are way down in this area, and once again it seems safe to do so. Olenka was the hostess this time, and while she always puts on a really nice spread, this time she really outdid herself. 









We read The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni. I didn't bother to link to it because I thought it was a piece of crap. Everyone else loved it, or said they did, with the possible exception of my friend Marian, whose only comment was "Well, it's certainly no World According to Garp". I thought that a very apt observation, because the author really did seem to be trying to write a sort of John Irving-esc novel. Well, we can't all like everything. I borrowed the book from someone else so at least I didn't pay for it! 

Good book or not, I was grateful for the chance to get away for a couple of hours and spend time laughing with friends. We called Kathleen, our former group leader who moved away last month, and put the phone on speaker so everyone could say hi. We certainly miss her, and it was obvious she misses us too and is lonely. She's in rural New York state helping her (very) elderly mother at the moment. The only other member who didn't come was Sara, whose younger son has asthma and is still a year too young to get the Covid vaccine. We missed seeing her, too.

I'm feeling a little punky today. Yesterday I got a flu shot at work so I'm blaming that for the achy, tired, dragging feeling I woke up with this morning. I've also been under some stress at work which isn't helping. Two women who work with me in the office have suddenly turned into adult versions of middle-school mean girls towards me. I have no idea why.

 I've tried to think how I might have inadvertently offended them, but there really isn't anything. It would be easier if I had (offended them) because then we could talk about it and work it out. No, this is mostly a difference in personalities, but also something deeper. It's me. I attract bullies and always have. That's a hard thing to admit to, a shameful thing. Every day when these women ice me out, pretend I'm invisible, refuse to speak to me or make eye contact unless it's absolutely necessary (but then retreat to one or the other's office to whisper and laugh and gossip together for literally hours) I sit there feeling small on the inside. 

 This might have already been resolved if I were the type of person who could just walk up to them and have it out. That's really hard for me to do, though. I'm not very assertive, and to be honest, I'm afraid I'd cry, which would be humiliating. Of course, they save the worst of their behavior for when no one is around to observe it (particularly the administration) and I'm afraid to complain because of how popular they are with the rest of the staff. The principal is really nice, but he's a typical man in that he doesn't notice these kinds of subtle, catty behaviors. I can't help but wonder if he'll think I'm being overly sensitive or even paranoid if I say anything. 

I'm thankful they're not really creating any problems for me beyond hurting my feelings. The entire rest of the staff at my job is wonderful and I have plenty of good relationships. I might be overworked and doing the job of two or even three people, but I get a lot of respect from everyone except these two. I shouldn't let it bother me as much as it does, honestly. Most days I try to adopt a veneer of cool, distant professionalism and a blank face when they're around. You want to pretend I'm invisible? Ok, I'll ignore you right back. Since they only speak to me these days when it's absolutely necessary, I've starting doing the same in return. It's uncomfortable, but I'm not sure that there's a better solution at the moment.

With everyone else, the students and parents and the rest of the staff, I'm warm and friendly and welcoming. Helpful. Cheerful. I do still like my job, and I'm still very grateful for it. I just wish these two women would move past their (apparent) arrested development and start acting like they work in a middle school, not attend one!

File this under: at least some one appreciates me!  (Just kidding) :) The other day a really nice parent brought me a little Halloween treat as a "thank you" for always being kind and helpful to her and her daughter. It's a tiny s'more kit with a custom Halloween marshmallow on top! Isn't it adorable?



25 comments:

  1. I had to look up where you are from. The Book Club spread looked very yummy but South Carolina girl. I would have never thought. I would have guessed Pennsylvania. However, I get tired of Southern food too. So it would be a double treat to me.

    I'm sorry about the co-workers treatment. But truly, it is about them and not about you. The good part is one of them is not talking your head off while you are trying to get your work done.

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  2. Googled your book. I agree. It sounds like a piece of crap.

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    1. Oh my God!! It was awful! All the women were either saints or whores, for one thing. And the narrator kept decribing them as either being fat and unattractive or slim with flat bellies and sexy bodies. Ugh.

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  3. Bloody lovely ..I,m moist at the thought of it all x

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    1. Speaking of which, maybe all this sumptuous food is the reason for the extra erotic dreams I've had the last few nights! ­čś│☺

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  4. That is one big spread! And someone already took a deviled egg. Is that what you call them?

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  5. The workplace can be a real hellhole, no doubt about it. Nice that you received that little Halloween gift of appreciation and had a good meal at your book club. Man, what a spread is right!

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  6. That is a beautiful table of delicious treats! I'm glad your book club has been able to meet again. It does make a difference when you can get together with others like that.

    I'm sorry about your problems at work with those two women. I had a similar problem with a couple of women at my last job before I retired. It's really awful the way some people can be, but try not to let them make you feel bad. Remember, you are the better person because you do not lower yourself to their level. How sweet that a parent showed you her appreciation for what you do and brought you that treat!

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  7. You might find that it's your 'popularity' that they don't like. That would say a lot about them!

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  8. It's entirely possible that you never did anything to offend those two nasty creatures. They probably need a scapegoat and they've made you theirs. They live to gossip. At some point, maybe they'll move on to someone else. They are sad, insecure people. I attract bullies, too.

    The table makes me hungry, as does the gift from the parent and student. I've never read that book and certainly won't bother. I'm always a bit shocked when I read a book or see a movie and it's horrible and everyone else seems to like it.

    Love,
    Janie

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  9. It's shameful to BE a bully not to attract them!

    How many are in the book club? judging by the food, about 20. What a glorious spread

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  10. I shall not be showing those wonderful food photos to my book club!! It is my turn to host soon, and they will get a variety of crisps. ( chips to you I think?). Maybe some chopped up veg and a dip if they are lucky. It isn't the thing here to do an actual meal! We are reading " Call me by your name". It is very insightful re the emotions of a relationship ( between 2 men) but rather explicit in certain ways, if you get my drift? I had not read it before making it my choice!!
    Sorry to hear that your co-workers are making your life a school unpleasant. I had a female boss many years ago that bullied me.....I kept quiet and got on with it, as I thought saying anything would make it worse. Actually another colleague/friend said something to her after I talked about it , and things did get better. Could that be a solution for you?

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  11. What a shame you have to tolerate such childish behavior from co-workers. The Smores kit is great. Can I join your book club? For the food?

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  12. Wow, that spread looks like it was prepared for at least 20 people! I bet it was wonderful,tombe with your friends.
    You are right, the two women at work are very childish. You are not, and the fact that everyone else, including parents, appreciates you makes it clear that it is them (the two women) and not you.
    Not sure whether talking to them would be helpful; they seem to be rather set in their ways. Hopefully, at some stage they will tire of your non-reaction and drop it.
    By the way, how is Little P doing?

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  13. What a food feast. I should have been there.

    I think I am more like you are at work. Once I did get stuck into a smart arse for something he did that he would not tolerate himself. Twice I had a quiet word with two separate people about outing me as being gay. I choose who knows what about me.

    The most dramatic when I yelled, screamed and swore strongly at my manager in front of other staff. He deserved it. I walked away and I stopped speaking to him and acknowledging him at all. About two months later I was summonsed to his office and he told me he had handled things badly and apologised to me, which I accepted. I would not have if he had not admitted he handled things badly.

    I guess the point is, it is not something to make a habit of, but at times you have to wear your heart on your sleeve and there is nothing wrong with seemingly to shed tears of upset and anger.

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  14. That is bullying at work and they need to grow up. I am surprised that you had any time or room for discussing books with that table in front of you.

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  15. Good lord girl, that is one book club I didn't know one needs to bring a pair of stretchy pants too!

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  16. Have you discussed the bullying with your manager?

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  17. In case you're wondering, men can be just as catty. I work with several middle-aged men who seem to specialize in bullying those they feel inferior. Some take it very hard, and these guys get away with it because... I have no idea.

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  18. That food! I haven't seen such a fancy spread ever in my life, I think! Honestly- who cares about the book? Your book club wins for repast. No wonder you stress out when it's your turn to host!
    Did you read about the dream I had two nights ago? Where I told the bitchy women off? I do believe I said, "F#*k you bitches!" Perhaps you should try that with the women who so obviously deserve it at your school.

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  19. Ah yes, workplace drama. We never quite escape it, do we? My boss and co-worker sort of do this same thing -- they sit in my co-workers office and whisper and laugh and then I come in and everything goes quiet. I've come to accept it. I figure they're just talking about their personal lives and don't want to share them with me, which is certainly their right. I can't help but feel a little bit excluded, though!

    I love the ceramic (I think?) pumpkin in the middle of Olenka's table. Quite a spread!

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  20. My book club keeps it simple when it comes to food. Cheese and crackers and some fruit is our go-to. We focus more on the red wine. That spread looked amazing!

    Your work situation sounds horrible. Years ago, when I had just begun teaching at a new school, I experienced some meanness by the school secretary. In her defense, it was a school with a demanding parent community and she didn't deal with stress well. Since I was new, I didn't realize she didn't like questions coming from staff members. I guess I asked one too many. She snapped and snarled at me fairly regularly those first few months. In the end, someone advised me to give her the cold shoulder. For whatever reason it worked. We actually began to greet each other cheerfully by the Christmas break. I know you've tried not speaking to them and it hasn't been successful. One of your followers suggested talking to another colleague, (not the principal), who can speak to them on your behalf. They need to know how painful this is for you and they might see that their behaviour is "bullying" when someone lays it on the table for them.

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  21. if they served food like that at our book club I'd join them.

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  22. Sorry for the crabs at work. Thank goodness most of the people there sound like nice, normal people who like you and admire your work!
    That food looks fabulous!

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  23. If it makes you feel any better, I didn't like "Sam Hell" either--or I should say that I thought the first part had promise, and then the rest turned into a sappy and unrealistic Hallmark movie. I didn't even recognize the characters and the writing got very cheesy. Did the author just get tired? I love my BC but we have only a dessert and not all those other treats. Wow! Those bars look delicious; what are they?

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