Workplace War Games

Now that I’m retired, I think back on the work days that used to drive me crazy. There always is a lot to put up with when you work; let’s face it, a lot of people crammed into one space all day can be hard on the nerves. My attitude toward work was to get the job done as well as possible, go the extra mile when possible, be honest, be polite; and most of all, don’t be a pain in the butt.

But when I worked for one woman, I found out a whole lot more about being in business than I wanted to. She told me all about ‘work place sabotage and how to get someone else blamed for something you did or how to get a promotion over another person. It was like walking on the dark side of the moon.

Here are some of the things I learned from her that I could never have done because I am a terrible liar (I crack under the slightest pressure like a soft-boiled egg):

  • How to look as if you’re working late (or came in early): Always leave an extra coat on the back of your chair, a purse on the floor, a cup of coffee on the desk and leave the computer on. This gives this impression that you are still at work (or came in earlier than anyone else), just away from your desk for a little while.
  • How to knock out the competition when you want a raise or new position: When vying for a new position, do your best to knock out the competition. Her weapon of choice was this: when she had a cold, she kept her used tissues. When everyone else had left for the day, she would rub the used tissues on her competitors’ phones so that they would catch cold and have to stay home. (Yes, I know; I’m gagging a little as I write this.)
  • How to cozy up to the people who can help you get where you want to go in the company: Find out what the highest-ranking person likes and doesn’t like, and go from there. If he/she loves M&Ms, then always bring them some. If they are partial to a tall soy latte mid-morning, stop by the person’s desk with a fresh one. Offer to take on a project that his/her department needs done ASAP. Find the right person in your own organization to do it; give it to the high-ranking person and then claim it as your own.
  • How to get rid of someone you don’t like: If there is someone you don’t like in the organization, start rumors based on a half-ounce of truth, covered with pounds of lies. For example, if she saw one of her targeted “I don’t like him/her just because” people, she would drop a word in the ear of someone who had the power to fire that person. The conversation might go something like this: “oh, by the way, I happened to see so-and-so looking through files on something that isn’t his/her project. I’m sure that they weren’t ‘up to anything,’ but I just thought that you might want to know. Just in case.” That little ploy inevitably planted a tiny seed of doubt in the person’s mind, and usually the target either got reassigned to another department or fired.

It’s all low-level espionage to be sure, but over the time I worked with her a lot of people mysteriously disappeared. Silly me, I just assumed that people were there to work, not serve the ‘alien overlords.’ I’m so glad to be retired!

What Are YOUR Definite Yes and No Issues?

The Kindness Blog recently published a thought-provoking topic called “What issue is black and white for you?” It made me think. Many things were listed, some of which I agreed with and some not. Overall, it made me think of what my own personal “black and white” issues are. Here are some of mine:

  1. When you think of getting married, it should be all about the person you are marrying, not the trappings of the ceremony; the dress, flowers, ring, reception, cake, etc.
  2. Infidelity is a deal-breaker–period.
  3. Children are not cute accessories, they are adults in the making. Raise them as such.
  4. Pets are to be treated with love and respect, given proper veterinary care (especially spaying and neutering, and necessary shots), and cared for as a dear family member.
  5. You don’t get something for nothing–there is always a price to pay.
  6. Always use your turn signals. Other people on the road can’t read your mind.
  7. Don’t litter–please.
  8. If something is just too good to be true, it most likely isn’t.
  9. There is no excuse for rape.
  10. Good manners are always in style.
  11. Let rumors and speculation about people you know die with you. Instead, pass on good things.
  12. Politics and religion are private issues–you don’t need to hammer me with yours, and I don’t need to hammer you with mine.
  13. We can respectfully agree to disagree.
  14. Interrupting people while they are talking is RUDE.
  15. Choose your battles wisely.
  16. When dressing, please remember to check how you look from the back. Enough said.
  17. When someone gives you a gift, thank them face-to-face. If not, send them a handwritten thank-you note.
  18. It is cowardly to shout something offensive to someone from your car and then drive off. If you are going to be rude to someone, have the guts to face them and take the consequences.
  19. Tell your loved ones that you love them each and every day, even if you are temporarily mad at them.
  20. Be your best YOU.

So–how about you?

Trolls, Troglodytes, Nematodes and So On

Trolls, *troglodytes, **nematodes, oafs, boors, and dufusses comprise a large section of the population. Why is this important, you ask? Because there are so dang many of them! Let me explain.

We’ve all heard of spectrums regarding such things as autism or genius; the scale can go heavy or light. Well, there is a spectrum of annoying people as well; a sliding scale, if you will. None of them is truly evil or harmful, really–just annoying.

Here is a handy scorecard to keep track of who’s who, placed in order of the ability to annoy, the most annoying first:

Troll: Trolls enjoy making trouble, and are found in online chat rooms, message boards, and all types of social media. The only truly creative thing they do is to make up screen names, such as MajorTroll1, URallstoopid, OhGoStufURself, HaterAde, and so on. They live to stir up trouble, then sit back with a beer and chips to enjoy the ensuing fights. When the fights start to sputter out, the troll goes right back in to stir up the coals.

Troglodyte: Trogs are not as bright as trolls, and not as destructive. They don’t like to venture out beyond their comfort zone, they are suspicious by nature, and they don’t trust anything unfamiliar. They would prefer to live quietly and follow their own routine each day without interruption. They firmly believe that their way of living is the only way, and they resent those who do not agree with them. (Which basically means most of the planet.)

Nematode: Nematodes are small-minded and selfish. They will happily live off others as long as they can get away with it. This includes sleeping on your couch for free as long as they can, sneaking food from your refrigerator during the night, using your expensive shampoo without replacing it, ducking out on paying checks, and they often rifle through your purse for small bills they think you won’t miss.

Oaf: Oafs are a single step above boors. They are nose-picking, knuckle-dragging, slack-jawed folk who are the proverbial bulls in china shops. They step on peoples’ toes, leave a mess wherever they go, they break things, they leave grease and dirt stains on towels, they cut their toenails on your coffee table, and they leave the milk out to sour. Poor things–they just aren’t that smart.

Boor: Boors are a lesser form of your garden variety boob. They interrupt constantly, they demand things be done their way and won’t shut up until they do; they complain, whine and moan about every little thing, and they refuse to use soap or deodorant. (The only good thing about that is that you can smell them before you see them.)

Dufuss: The dufuss is, as they say in the South, just sorry and simple. They can’t do anything right. You can send them off to the store with a $20 bill and a shopping list with four things on it; butter, eggs, bread and coffee, and they’ll mess it up. They’ll have spent the entire $20 on hairspray, bubble gum, the National Enquirer, Cheez Whiz, saltines, marshmallows, a six-pack of Coke, and, for some reason, an entire ham.

I pass this information on because it took me years to figure these types of folk out and I want to save you some time. I mean, it’s not as if these people wear badges explaining who they are–because if they did, you wouldn’t depend on them for anything. You’d know right away that you’d be wasting your breath. It’s sort of like what they say about trying to teach a pig to sing: it does nothing but waste your time and annoy the pig.

*Troglodyte: a person characterized by reclusive habits or outmoded or reactionary attitudes

**Nematodes are the most numerous multicellular animals on earth. Free-living species are abundant, including nematodes that feed on bacteria, fungi, and other nematodes, yet the vast majority of species encountered are poorly understood biologically.

Acts of Social Terrorism

If only we knew how our words affect others. But we can’t see inside the person with our eyes; we only see the outside. We often do and say careless things that we may forget in a second, but those who received the brunt of those words or actions may feel them for a long time.

I wish I never heard anyone say to a grieving pet owner who has had to put their beloved companion down, “oh, c’mon. It’s just a cat/dog/gerbil/bird/hamster/etc. Just go buy another one!” Anyone struggling with life-long trauma (PTSD, buried emotions, childhood abuse, etc.) knows that there is no time limit for what they feel. No one but them understands how there are days when they can’t even get out of bed, much less function in the world. Bullying these folks with a crisply spoken “get over it, already!” does no good and a great deal of harm. It makes them feel more isolated than ever.

Our technology today is a great place to hurt and bully people, and the victims will never know the bullies’ names. It’s an easy crime and causes a great deal of pain to the victim. I read where a teen was literally bullied to death by other teens in her school via social media. They taunted her with words like ‘you are a loser,’ and ‘why don’t you just do us all a favor and kill yourself,’ and ‘you are worthless’ to the point where she took her own life. Worst of all, one of the bullies on hearing of her death, posted this comment: “so she’s dead, so what. I don’t care.”

I cannot wrap my mind around such thinking, and wonder if that poor sad child would still be living had just one person sent her words of kindness and encouragement.

While hurtful words don’t always cause death, they do cause pain, and in my book, that’s an act of terrorism. As the object of terrorism is literally to terrorize, this is an act of war on someone’s heart. I wonder what kind of personal pain can cause someone to inflict such acts on another.

Too many times, we judge without bothering to know the truth. I once worked with Jen, a tall redhead who was beautiful, feisty and frank, and was also gradually succumbing to an irreversible disease, *ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Basically, the bones begin to fuse together due to calcium forming in the ligaments and joints. When I knew her, she was still able to drive her sporty little red convertible, which had a handicap plate.

One day as she parked her car at a mall in a handicapped space, two women commented loudly about how “some people will do anything to get a good parking spot, even fake an injury. She doesn’t look like she’s handicapped!” Jen walked over to the women and gave them a brief rundown of her disease, including how it took her and her husband an hour and a half each morning to break up the calcium deposits in her body so that she could move.

By the time she was finished, both women were in tears and telling her how sorry they were. I’m sure that they never made such a snap judgement again.

However, the smallest gesture, the briefest kind word, or a quick smile can do worlds of good. If we can put aside judgement and assumptions, perhaps it will help us choose better words. We can’t know what is really going on inside a person, but we can choose to lift someone up instead of putting them down, compliment instead of denigrate, help instead of hurt, and offer a word of encouragement now and then.

It costs us nothing to be kind but a moment, but that moment may last a lifetime to someone else.

*Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is a type of progressive arthritis that leads to chronic inflammation of the spine and sacroiliac joints. It can also affect other joints and organs in the body, such as the eyes, lungs, kidneys, shoulders, knees, hips, heart, and ankles. However, AS primarily affects the axial skeleton, including the ligaments and joints.

This disease causes stiffness, aching, and pain around the spine and pelvis. The disease can eventually lead to a total fusion of the spine. This occurs when the vertebrae (spinal bones) actually grow together fusing the spine due to calcification of the ligaments and discs between each vertebrae. If the vertebrae fuse together, the spine is robbed of mobility, leaving the vertebrae brittle and vulnerable to fractures.

Source: Ankylosing Spondylitis | University of Maryland Medical Center
University of Maryland Medical Center.



The Colds of Winter

Well, despite all the elderberry-zinc lozenges and homemade chicken broth the Crankke Yankee (my husband) and I have downed this month, I’m afraid that the colds of winter are upon us. Although we are not bedridden or trudging around the house in robes and slippers, our pockets full of used tissues and ancient cough drops–I think the colds  are winning.

One of my favorite poets of all time is Ogden Nash, so this morning I’ll let him speak for us through his poem, “Winter Complaint.”


Winter Complaint

“Now when I have a cold
I am careful with my cold,
I consult a physician
And I do as I am told.
I muffle up my torso
In woolly woolly garb,
And I quaff great flagons
Of sodium bicarb.
I munch on aspirin,
I lunch on water,
And I wouldn’t dream of osculating
Anybody’s daughter,
And to anybody’s son
I wouldn’t say howdy,
For I am a sufferer
Magna cum laude.
I don’t like germs,
But I’ll keep the germs I’ve got.
Will I take a chance of spreading them?
Definitely not.
I sneeze out the window
And I cough up the flue,
And I live like a hermit
Till the germs get through.
And because I’m considerate,
Because I’m wary,
I am treated by my friends
Like Typhoid Mary.

Now when you have a cold
You are careless with your cold,
You are cocky as a gangster
Who has just been paroled.
You ignore your physician,
You eat steaks and oxtails,
You stuff yourself with starches,
You drink lots of cocktails,
And you claim that gargling
Is a time of waste,
And you won’t take soda
For you don’t like the taste,
And you prowl around parties
Full of selfish bliss,
And greet your hostess
With a genial kiss.
You convert yourself
Into a deadly missile,
You exhale Hello’s
Like a steamboat whistle.
You sneeze in the subway
And you cough at dances,
And let everybody else
Take their own good chances.
You’re a bronchial boor,
A bacterial blighter,
And you get more invitations
Than a gossip writer.

Yes, your throat is froggy,
And your eyes are swimmy,
And your hand is clammy,
And your nose is brimmy,
But you woo my girls
And their hearts you jimmy
While I sit here
With the cold you gimme.”

Ogden Nash