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Friday, May 20, 2016

I Was First

After I wrote about the inequality of pay regarding males versus females, it made me think a lot about my manager in the training department. She had been my manager when I was on the phones as well, and the promotion of both of us did little to improve my interactions with her. I remember a day when I was still a fairly new phone banker and couldn't find the procedure or information I needed for the customer I had on the phone. Jane, as I will call her, was a bit unhappy to be disturbed and proceeded to essentially tell me that she thought I was stupid, saying something to the effect that I had a slow learning curve. This only reinforced my natural desire to be the best possible performer of my job, as well as really chapping my backside. With my personal history, as well as the fact that I am not The Village Idiot, I hate having someone treat me as though I am stupid. 

There was one other time that she really burned my backside when I needed some help. Jane, like many managers, would wait until the last day to complete her various reports. From time to time, she would inform all of her team members that she would be working on reports the next day and should not be disturbed unless absolutely necessary. I was pretty self-sufficient, and many of my teammates would come to me for help on the days that Jane wanted to be left alone. Naturally, I received a call that involved some issues I had never experienced before. I combed through all of my available resources to try and find a solution, but there was nothing to be found. When I gave in and went to her desk, I said, "I'm sorry to bother you." Her reply? "Then don't." I went and found another person to help me, but harbored some resentment because of her unwillingness to help someone who was always so self-sufficient.

When the training position became available, we both applied, along with one or two other managers. I had been told that I had the position, but I knew that I had to keep it under wraps. When Jane told me that she and another manager didn't get the job, she made a comment to the effect that someone must have been hired from outside the bank because she knew that I didn't get the job. That was way too dismissive and insulting for me. Let's put it this way - I'd had it! So I looked directly at her and said, "Actually, that's not quite true." She continued the insulting attitude by saying, "You're kidding me! You got the job?" And I told her that I most assuredly was not kidding her, I had indeed been hired for the training position.

I think that seeing the person whom she considered to be so unworthy hired as a trainer before she was was an unforgivable sin. Through the years, especially after she became my manager again, she found ways to undermine me or to punish me in her own bizarre little ways. When my fellow trainer, whom I referred to as J in my last piece, lost his job, she came to work the next day completely flummoxed. Jane had no idea what to do next or how to handle the situation. I told her that I knew exactly what we needed to do, and that we should go to a private place and discuss it. She was so lost she asked me if she should bring a pad to write on, and I had to tell her to do so. We went to an empty office and I laid out the plan that would get us through the next days and weeks. She left to speak with the site manager about how the training department needed to handle the situation, and was told that what she proposed would be just fine. 

She came back to our area and told me that he accepted her proposal. Jane then proceeded to tell me that she didn't let him know that it was my idea. She glibly told me that she said it was her idea because it would be more likely to be accepted if it came from her. I was furious but didn't show it. After all, this was the same woman who told me, the most successful trainer in the department, that none of the management in the call center had any respect for me whatsoever. It did my heart good when I asked one of the managers if it was true that nobody respected me. She looked at me as though I was speaking gibberish. I told her why I asked, and she told me that Jane was confused. Not only was I respected, I was beloved, and routinely respected far more than my manager.

This was to be a common and ongoing part of my relationship with Jane. I came up with all of the great ideas, and she routinely took the credit. I have to wonder about how much her creativity dried up after I left. It put me in a terrible position. If I tried to tell everyone that all of the ideas were mine, I would look like a childish, jealous, and unprofessional person. And I would make the whole department look bad.

It made me think of when I was much younger and my best friend and I went shopping. I took her to a store that had a jacket that I really wanted to buy. Come next payday, it would be mine. Boy, was I surprised when I came to work the next day and my best friend was wearing the jacket I wanted so much! She was apologetic about buying it first and I told her it was okay. I never bought the jacket because if I did, it would look like I was copying her. Telling everyone that I was first wouldn't make any difference.

This was just a jacket though, not the appropriation of knowledge, skills, and ideas. It created a resentment that burned deep within me the entire time I worked for Jane. I still came up with ideas, though, because I had pride in the work our department did every day, and wanted it to be the best that it could be. When my doctor put me on a leave of absence because of depression (as well as PTSD and anxiety) and I called her to let her know, she told me to "get over it." This was followed by "I'm kidding," but I knew that she wasn't. In fact, she let a rumor circulate through the call center that I was dying of cancer because she found it too embarrassing on my behalf to tell the shameful truth that I had mental health problems.

I occasionally wonder if Jane has continued climbing the corporate ladder on the backs of other people. Then I remind myself that wondering about her is not worth my time. And when it comes to her possibly continually taking advantage of others' ideas and skills, it gives me no pleasure to realize that in all likelihood, I was first.


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