Saturday, March 20, 2010

Part 2

Thursdays, in the past, had usually been long, hard days. For some time, when I first started this job, I worked a 12 hour shift on Wednesdays. So by the time Thursday rolled around, I was already tired and sore. About 2 months ago, when the boss decided to cut staff hours (and I was now working my shift alone), it was set up that this co-worker was scheduled as well that day. Since we had different jobs, she was scheduled for her thing, me for mine. Unfortunately, the two jobs work hand in hand. On Mondays through Wednesday, there is someone else scheduled during that time (and she works in the evenings, after I leave). I do believe the boss thought this would work better for us not to work together. But due to availability, I presume he had no choice but to have her work Thursday, during the day.

For the most part, it wasn't terrible. She basically stayed away from me, and I from her. At first, the boss also stuck around - whether by design, or not, I don't know. Then, a few weeks ago, we had a minor run in. It was not anything big. She simply was acting obnoxious towards me and let me know (in harsh words) how much she disliked me. Every word from her that day was dripped with disgust. It happened to be an exceptionally busy day and of course, I couldn't work fast enough for her. Admittedly, by 1:00, I was quite sore and moving quickly was not something I was physically up for. The boss has known since the beginning that I have this physically liability. But as he told me more than once, he will not add staff to help me unless we are so busy the staff passes out.

So I simply bit my tongue and did my best to ignore her snide remarks. After all, I'm a 47 year old man who has seem death up close. I have had more life experience in the last 10 years than she has has had in her entire existence. As the adult, I can rise above such pettiness. However, also on that day, for no apparent reason, the boss was also in a foul mood. Normally, the reason he gets that way is due to business being slow (no thanks to the economy). But that day was not the least bit slow - in fact, it was one of the busiest days we've had since I began there.

Still, he was in a terrible mood and of course, took it out on me. I could do no right. Any question I asked was met with shouts of "figure it out yourself!" Even a simple question that I had - which another co-worker asked me to find out for them - was shouted down, as if I were the stupidest person on the face of the earth (my 138 IQ not withstanding). It was pretty uncomfortable. Then, to make matters worse, this co-worker (the one who hates me), decided I was not doing the job she wanted me to do (as if it's her decision) and told the boss (sweetly) how incompetent I was because I was not keeping up. Now understand, it isn't rocket science and no one is going to die if I take an additional 2 minutes to do something the right way.

But that was enough for him to get in my face over it. He threatened to fire me if he heard another complaint from her. It mattered not that the complaint was a fabrication and it mattered not whether she was also guilty of some of the same things she deemed I was wrong about. All that mattered was she was complaining and he didn't want to hear about it. I wasn't worried about being fired over it. What upset me the most was that he was screaming at me in public, in front of our customers. One lady, who is a regular, came up to me afterward and expressed shock that not only would he yell at me like that, but he would yell at me over something so meaningless. I wasn't shocked like she was, because that's just the way he has always been. There have been times when we've lost customers who have walked out over his verbal abuse (not just at me).

After work that Thursday, I contacted someone I know who is involved in the business and let him know I was looking for another job. This person told me he would speak to the boss (which would probably make things infinitely worse). I asked him strongly not to until I found something else. But I have long ago learned not to rely on anyone who doesn't have a vested interest in helping me. So I just dropped it and never called him back.

I discovered the following week that the boss did in fact tell my co-worker to back off and leave me alone. I have no doubt whatsoever that they both got a nice laugh out of it. But that is just them, and as long as she leaves me alone, I could live with it. But as I said before, then came this last Thursday.

The day started innocently enough. Because of the pain in my legs, I was not in a particularly good mood. But I took my Vicodin early and it helped. At around 1:00, the health inspector showed up for a surprise inspection. She is not the most popular person in these parts and at times, we have been (we believe) singled out for violations were most places would have been overlooked. In fact, another store - who like us deals strictly with the Jewish community - has informed the commissioner that this particular inspector is not welcome to be there without a supervisor present. Personally, I think she was just doing her job. Perhaps she has certain anti-Semitic feelings, but the law is the law, and a violation is a violation.

Well, she arrived and we immediately went into clean up mode. While there, she noticed one piece of equipment was faulty and because of that, by law, all the contents within had to be thrown away. It wasn't a huge amount of stuff and she agreed that some of it could be saved. I was in another room when she told him this, and so he called me in and told me to empty the contents. Unaware that there was a problem, I asked him if he wanted me to move them to another place, or simply clean out that particular case (which we do from time to time). It was a simple, understandable question and considering how painful it can be to get down on the floor to clean that out, I wanted to know what I was getting myself into.

Well, he immediately flew into a rage and started screaming at me to do what he told me to do. When I again tried to ask him fir clarification (I didn't want to end up doing the same thing twice, if I got it wrong) I thought he was going to have an aneurysm. Then, he turned his attack on the health inspector. With a voice loud as thunder, he called her a Nazi, an anti-Semite and a few other choice words. She immediately fired back saying she did not have to listen to this. He then told her he hated her f*cking guts and that he was leaving before he said anything worse!

He did leave and she was visibly shaken. I saw her take out her cell phone, took a few pictures of the faulty equipment and then excused herself to, I assume, collect herself in the bathroom. When she emerged a few minutes later, I tried to comfort her and tell her that was just the way he is (not meaning to excuse him). She then told me she was stunned by how he treated me when I asked him such an understanding question. My co-worker, who has at times fanned his flame of anger by turning others against each other, then told the inspector that he really was just angry at my "incompetence" and that she shouldn't take it personally.

First off, there was no reason for her to even open her mouth. Secondly, there was no evidence of any "incompetence." That is just her way of trying to make me look the fool. The inspector looked at her and said, "you are out of your mind." She smiled at me and then left. I looked at my co-worker with absolute disbelieve and she simply smiled and walked away.

At 3:00, my co-worker got a phone call from another co-worker - who happens to be the person who replaces me when my shift ends. At 3:35 (5 minutes after I’m supposed to leave), I asked her (nicely) if he called to say he was coming in late (since he wasn’t there yet – and I was in tremendous physical pain from my ankles and knees). She ignored me, so I asked her again (nicely,again). She then turned to me and said “none of your f*cking business!” So, I said, “excuse me?” I just wanted to know who was coming in next so I could leave.”

To which she replied, “I don’t give a sh*t what you want. If you need to leave, find someone to cover for you.”

Now keep in mind, she is in charge of the scheduling! So she would obviously know the answer. But I was in no mood at this moment to deal with her crap. I just said, “whatever.” To that, she said “just don’t talk to me, a**hole.” To that, I just snapped and I said, “F*ck you.” Now understand, I rarely (if ever) curse. But I was really not up for this. She retorted, “that’s how a a religious person talks? F*ck you, too.”

Now, I would have left it at that, but she then walked close to me and said, “if you ever tell me that again, I will beat the crap out of you.”

Ooooh, scary. So I said, “excuse me, f*ck you!” At that point, she smacked me hard across the face (and knocked my glasses off). I immediately reacted by smacking her back.

I have never in my life ever struck a woman. Her response was “I can’t believe you did that!” Well hello??? It was a reaction to her smacking me (hard) across my face! She then muttered something and went to the bathroom. I gathered my coat and left. Now two things t keep in mind – two of the workers in the kitchen witnessed the entire thing. Also, my daughter happened to have just arrived as well, was there. While she didn’t see me hit her, she heard what she was saying to me. And it wasn’t the first time she overheard her treating me that way.

Keep in mind as well, that this wasn't the first time this co-worker struck me. Remember, as I wrote yesterday, she punched me in the arm when I finally had enough abuse and called her a "bitch." I doubt seriously I was the first to ever call her that. Regardless, it is very unlike me to call anyone a name like that. For those who know me well, they know that I am an absolute teddy bear who woudn't hurt anyone - verbally, or physically. In 20 years of marriage, even by the time I was so angry at my ex, I never, ever called her a bad name, or certainly never raised a hand in anger. As you can tell by my writing about it, it bothered me a great deal when I said it.

But slapping me in the face was the final straw. And I just reacted. Part of me was sorry because I wished I simply beat the crap out of her. But again, if slapping her made me so upset, beating her would have sent me to a place I never want to be. Part of me regretted it because had I just taken it, I'd probably have had cause to file a lawsuit. I might still, but I'm not planning it at this time.

So what is my recourse? I'm not concerned about her pressing charges simply because I have witness who saw her strike first (as well as witnesses who saw her strike me the first time). I know that o matter what happened, the boss will always side with her. So on Monday (I'm scheduled for Monday night, instead of my usual Monday morning this week as a favor for someone else), I am going to come in early have have some words with the boss. I'm going to tell him there will no longer be any time that I will work with her. This includes this Monday night, when she in scheduled, or on Thursdays. I don't care if I lose one days income because I'm prepared to tell him that if he doesn't like it, he can find someone else to abuse.

As far as employment is concerned, I'm not the least bit worried. I do have my disability income and because of the need to stay on Medicare, I can only earn a certain amount of money before I jeopardize it. So if I earn less per hour in another job, I'll just work more hours. On the positive side, I will no longer take a job that causes me to be on my feet for so long at at time.

It's ironic because the last time I found myself out of work, I had just broken up from a long-term relationship (that very week). This time, I've been broken up from another one for just a month. I find it amazing how timing comes into play. There is a reason why these things happen when they do What the reason is, I have no idea. But the good news is that it allows me a clean break from stresses I should not be dealing with.

Perhaps I should have ended both the relationship and the job much, much earlier. I certainly had the reason to do so. But I'm not really good at recognizing what is clearly right in front of me sometimes. I guess I've always needed to be slapped in the face (not always physically) before I really open my eyes and see.

It doesn't take courage to hit someone - especially a woman, n0 matter how horrible she is. But every one has heir breaking point. It isn't anything I'm proud of. But I also know that in a similar situation, many of you would not only do the same, but perhaps worse. No one really deserves to be physically attacked, unless they are attacked first. I don't feel that bad about it because it was simply in reaction to her initial blow. If it were a guy, I probably would have beaten the crap out of him. But as miserable a person she is, I know that I am far stronger than her. That alone kept me from going any further.

Anyway, I just felt this need to be said. I initially rejected the idea of writing about it because I didn't wish to cause myself anymore trouble. But now that I've decided that I really don't care if I stay at this job or not, I thought it best to come forward and share my story.

1 comment:

Samantha Desatnik Kuznik said...
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