…sometimes you’re the bug, in the immortal words of Mark Knopfler.
Nowhere is this truer than in the world of work. Unless you truly work for yourself, and even then, you’re never completely free of control by others.
Long, long ago, I contemplated dropping out of college due to a battle of wills between me and one of my professors. I deemed him to be a scumbag of the first order (which he was) and was in full this-isn’t-worth-it mode. My boyfriend at the time, himself a college professor and much older than I, gave me two pieces of advice that, looking back, I now realize were completely formative of my life to come.
Piece of Advice #1: You don’t do well with people telling you what to do. There will always be people who tell you what to do, but having a college degree considerably narrows the list of who can.
Piece of Advice #2: You quit, he wins.
The occasion for this post is that for the past year, now that I trace it back, I’ve had serious issues with an employee. Six months ago it escalated, and approximately three months ago it escalated further into “locked in mortal combat” status. I wanted to fire her that second. Enter Human Resources Department. (See: Dilbert.)
Again, looking back, I suppose it was a good idea to proceed in a cautious fashion. She is certain to sue us…for something or the other. (My take three months ago was: if she’s going to sue us anyway, why not get rid of her now?) But even I will have to admit that the past three months have given her time to make a complete fool of herself. Her easily disprovable accusations have reached epic proportions. (“Grasping at straws”, as Human Resources put it.)
So the past three months have been, to understate the case, hell for me. Because the focus of her discontent is strictly: me. Not to put too fine a point on it, she hates me. I can truthfully state that this has never happened to me before. As bosses go, I’m pretty good at it. But she thinks that she would be better. And she is delusional. It’s been like being stalked. It’s all well and good for the Ivory Tower people (See: Human Resources Department) to say they need documentation of this or that…knowing where we were headed. It’s another to leave me locked in a room with a cobra. But I guess that’s what it took.
I started to regress into isn’t-worth-it mode. My boss said, Hold on. We are smarter than she is. I heard an echo: You quit, she wins.
Yesterday, I got the word from the Ivory Tower. You can fire her now. Except you have to wait until next week. You kidding? I’ve been waiting for months now, you think I can’t wait until next week? Happy New Year and Happy Birthday (December 29th), Fakename.
Certainly it will not be over even then. Since we are all fairly certain she will sue us (we are also fairly certain she will lose, but it’s a free country and you can sue whomever you choose), I will be in the position of defending my every action and statement, but what’s new? Thanks to her, I’ve gotten a lot of practice at that in the last year.
The good part is that I will have to do that without her continued presence. The cage door has opened. The cobra has left the room. Today, I’m the windshield.