Sunday, June 19, 2016

Blast from the past

I’m a bit overdue for an update. I had a bit of a tough time at work this week. I was thrown all the way back to the worst days at the old job. I find it still a bit painful to talk about…but here goes: my old horrible supervisor is now a client for my new company. Not her individually or directly, but a contract out of her division is something my company is working on. With my switch back to the housing group earlier this year, I started working on the project. I was taking on a larger role, slowly, and enjoying the chance to get hands on with the kind of work I’d previously been involved with from the other side. Maybe a week or so ago, ex-supervisor found out I was working on the project. And she tried to have me removed. The government isn’t allowed to tell a contractor who can work on a project, other than the “key personnel” and my company hadn’t yet put me in that status—though they were planning to. I guess she felt blindsided. Her arguments were along the lines of “we have a good team, I don’t want [Jamy] to take hours away from Fred or Steve.” She didn’t directly ask for my removal, but it was quite clear to my current boss that’s what she wanted. I talked to him about it and gave him some background. Two other bosses were involved in the discussion before I found out what was going on. They have no intention of removing me from the project, which is good. What got me really upset is the idea that she would try and block me from future work. I could easily be bid as the project manager—and would she find someway to eliminate our proposals—but really be biased against them on my account? Would I become a poison pill?

I was really, really upset on Thursday when it all came out.

Thursday night, I had a first date. As you might imagine, it didn’t go great. He was reasonably patient as I vented all over him…but I could see he was distracted and…bored? Or maybe confused. I rarely get as distressed as I was that night and pretty much never with a stranger. I was sort of hoping that he’d be a good, sympathetic listener and maybe provide some comfort. I assumed that, even under those circumstances, we wouldn’t have a second date. We did eventually move on to other topics but I dominated the conversation. That’s not always death but sometimes it is. I don’t expect to hear from him again (haven’t yet) and I have no plans to contact him. At some point in the middle of the date, he asked me to give it a grade and I said B- or C+ and he agreed. But, hey, I’ve had worse dates! He wasn’t an asshole or anything.

I was also texting with some friends and that helped. I have a few people I can talk to who understand and they helped me work though my feelings.

On Friday, I talked to another boss, a VP, at my company about the situation. He seemed to blame me, “This is a small town, you can’t burn bridges.” Wow. As though I didn’t try everything I could to repair things (maybe I didn't? I sure remember trying). At the same time, he also said I shouldn’t worry about it too much, they would keep me on the project, and I’d have work in the future. Both this boss and my direct supervisor told me stories about similar situations where someone took a dislike to them and wanted them off projects. The VP emphasized that they had to keep the client happy. He also gave me a mini-lecture about how I had to stop interrupting in meetings and do a better job listening. I pushed back on that—it was particularly galling because it’s the critique the horrible ex-supervisor used to give me. And it’s really unfair since I listen hard to other people and wait until I think the time is right to jump in. I think it’s a gendered critique and I told the VP that. But I also said I was willing to take any suggestions about how to change my behavior—that I would do any specific thing he asked. And I gave an example where I’d taken his advice in the past and changed the way I ran a certain kind of meeting. I have known this guy a long time, so I think it’s ok to have a frank discussion with him. The irony is that he’s actually a terrible listener! Oh well. I will talk to him again next week and make sure he understands I was upset and make sure everything is cool.

I did tell my direct boss about this exchange and he is totally with me. He got a similar mini-lecture from the VP about being a better listener. Haha! So, at least the person most directly in charge of me gets it.

I am feeling ok today but I had a kind of crazy whiplash experience where for a day I was thrown back into the past and had a concentrated dose of trauma. I talked to a friend from the old job who is working on the project in question. He said he defended me to the ex-supervisor, which was heartening. He said she was just upset because I didn’t like her. I reminded him that I didn’t start out disliking her. I was open to working with her but over time, it became impossible to bear her management style. I wanted to like her. I wanted to keep my job. She won. Can’t that be enough?

I stayed home all day yesterday. I was totally knocked out. I knit and knit and knit. I watched movies, tv, and knit and knit. Today, I’m feeling pretty back to normal. I’m going to try and keep the past in the past.

Grateful for: my new boss.


  1. Ugh. So sorry to hear this, it sounds awful. I can't imagine what I'd do if I had an encounter like this with my horrible ex-boss.

  2. I think it would have been hysterical if you'd graded it A+++++ and seen what he said! What a tool, asking for a mid-date grade. No loss it sounds like.

  3. I'm sorry to hear this--vindictiveness of that sort can be upsetting and hard to take. I still have to work myself with people I've had strong disagreements with, and it's challenging.

  4. Yes, it was pretty terrible. But I feel fine this week and I think it will be ok. I mean, we knew she was a terrible person, but this confirms it. Then again, from her perspective, I'm the terrible what can you do?

    RE: the date, well, he wasn't a monster and he texted me on Monday. I wrote back but haven't heard from him again. It wasn't a great date. Asking for a rating was amusing, at least to me. Weird, but amusing. I like the idea of giving a super high grade, though. :)


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