At work I have a bully, a nemesis, a jerk… And honestly, I’m not really sure how this came to be. A few years ago when we first met, he seemed normal. We even had a few pleasant conversations in passing.
Then one day, everything changed.
It was around the time that everyone stopped calling and started texting. Someone decided to have an entire conversation with me via rapid-fire text. This guy resided just over the cubicle wall from me, so he heard every “ding” before I could silence it.
He reported me to my boss for the noise. At the time I just figured he didn’t like noise. Soon after that first incident, he reported me again when I forgot to silence the critical stop on my computer. I was learning to write code, so my critical stop beep was going off a lot. It took me, my boss, and my manager quite a while to pinpoint the source of his discontent since the critical stop beeps were so quiet.
Because of this malcontent, I’ve had the ringer on my phone on silent for almost 10 years now. Yes, seriously. I forget to enable the ringer when I’m not at work. This, of course, makes my life a little more peaceful, but it also causes me to miss a lot of calls/texts when I’m not wearing my Apple watch.
For a long time I thought I was in the clear since I hadn’t been a “noisy neighbor.” Then my manager told me that a co-worker had noticed that when I had suffered a terrible cold, every time I blew my nose, this guy would loudly “hock a loogie” into his trash can. Whenever I cleared my throat, he would clear his throat louder. He’d started mocking my bodily functions back at me. This was ridiculous and absurd, but above all that, it was bullying.
I thought about it. I talked to my friends about it. I posted about it on Facebook. A few people asked if perhaps he was autistic. (He’s not, BTW. He’s just an asshole who likes to pick on people.) I moved offices to be farther away from him. This didn’t stop him. I got a lot of awful advice from people who just wanted to start trouble, but the best advice I got was to confront him. Fight passive aggressive with straight up in-yo-face aggressive.
I swore to myself that I’d give him one more time and if it happened again, I’d say something to him directly. After all, if I didn’t stand up for myself, who would? If I kept allowing his bad behavior to continue, it was partially my fault.
Sure enough, it happened again. I’ve had an ear infection for a while now because my Eustachian tube doesn’t drain properly and it causes sinus pressure, so I blew my nose. I didn’t think it was too loud, it was just what needed to happen at the time.
Like clockwork, the loudest, most disgusting loogie was coughed up by this jerk. It was deliberate and disgusting. I sat for a minute and almost just shrugged it off. Then something inside me said, “NOPE… NOT TODAY. YOU WALK OVER THERE AND YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR BUSINESS MISSY!”
So I did. And just to let you know, I’m not a fan of confrontation. I did, however, relish this revenge fantasy for a few months before seeing it come anywhere close to fruition, which alone is satisfaction enough.
Me: “Do you bully other people in the office or is it just me?”
Him: (grumbled) “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Me: “Because every time I sneeze, every time I clear my throat, cough, blow my nose, I hear you over here.”
At that point he looks directly down as if he thinks not having me in his sight-lines will make me disappear… like when you’re late to class and refuse to make eye-contact with the teacher. Surprise. I’m still there.
Me: (I almost walk away, then I stop) “You know… others see it too.”
Just as I pass out of his sight, I find myself in the cube of another co-worker that he’s been mean to. I didn’t realize he was right next door, hearing this whole thing transpire. He was doing the most awesome silent cheering thing I’ve ever seen.
As I walked away, I called the guy a dick under my breath.
It literally could not be contained behind my teeth. The word forced its way out before I could stop it.
I left this part out when I told my manager about the whole incident. My co-worker didn’t. My manager just came to pat me on the back.
Sometimes it’s like that.
I’m liking this new “Take Charge” Me with no filter.
(Okay, we may have to tweak the filter part just a tiny bit…