Sunday, March 17, 2013

Off With Their Heads!

A lot has been going on, but not a lot has been going on that I can blog about.

I've been going to the gym. I've run the treadmill a few times, which bores me to death. But the treadmill allows me to focus on things that need work, like old injuries and bad form and various weaknesses. It's mind-numbing, but if I am to avoid an injury like I had to deal with last year at this time I think it is necessary.

I've been focusing mostly on legs lately, because of the coming race. I hadn't intended to join a gym just to prepare for a race, but that's only because I had forgotten that the race was coming up so soon. So far a big problem I've uncovered is my knee. It doesn't seem to be very happy. It's been several days since my last run, but it still hurts. It's a cranky bastard.

I found ... I don't know the official word for it .. a jump box? Many gyms these days are reacting to the rediscovery of the value of old-fashioned ideas like kettle bells and medicine balls and dynamic exercises like jumping. So they're equipping their gyms with stands for people to jump onto and off of. My new gym has 2, one very small and one larger stand. It looks like a stool that you'd drag around a library to reach higher shelves, but in fact it is for jumping on. I've been using it. It's easy to get because no one else uses it. I jump and jump and jump. And my knee doesn't much like it.

I also did a few sets of negatives with the leg extension machine, focusing heavily on my weaker and most frequently injured knee. I make it do extra sets. I go heavier and lift the weight with both legs and then force my weaker knee to slowly lower it. I do this over and over until my leg feels like it is going to fall off. I suspect this has something to do with my knee still hurting me all through the weekend. But I don't know that for sure. Hopefully its just soreness and complaining from the exercise and not an actual injury. With this particular knee there is just no telling.

"Off with their heads!"
Things at the office are starting to get ugly. This has nothing to do with Drama Queen or my coffee cup. It relates more to an attitude much higher up that filters down and affects all the rest of us. It's a bit like Alice and Wonderland and the Queen of Hearts' - "off with their heads!" No mistakes or its your head. Ah, but go fast, fast, fast and no mistakes. Faster, dammit, but NO mistakes. Go blindingly fast, don't slow down to think, but don't make even a perceived mistake that isn't a mistake or else its off with your head. Did you ever see the episode of "I Love Lucy" where she worked in a chocolate factory and the assembly line kept going faster and faster and faster? Yeah, its a lot like that.

So anyway, I have to stop here. I'd like to say more, but so much can't be said openly until I change my current situation.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Crazy Coworker Drama and the Coffee Cup

OK, so I had written before about someone in my office randomly and repeatedly stealing my coffee cup and stashing it in the break room for no particular reason. This has gone on for over 6 months, and yet no one has ever identified themselves to me or confessed. Instead, what has happened is that the coworker who sits directly across from me, out of the blue, asked if anyone had stolen my cup recently.

This was instantly suspicious to me. She is best friends with Drama Queen, the office screamer who sits in the cube right next to mine and has refused to talk to me for at least 3 months without ever giving a reason. We didn't fight. I certainly didn't do anything to her. But over the last several months she went from bugging me with questions and rude observations about me to refusing to speak to me at all.

During the week of Valentine's Day, the office administrators went around and stuck hearts to the overhead storage space above everyone's desks. Drama Queen, without asking or being given permission, climbed up on a chair, reached over the cubical wall, and tore mine off. This happened not long before the coworker across the aisle asked me about the coffee cup.

And then, just last Friday, Drama Queen EXPLODED out of nowhere.

I had just come back from the gym and sat down in my cubical. Drama Queen was having a conversation with a coworker who was sitting in his own cubical at his own desk. Drama Queen isn't what anyone would call physically fit or active. And she has a huge ego. So she feels entitled, if you know what I mean. She was sitting in her chair shouting across the office to this coworker, chatting about nothing important. I sat down in my own cubical, pulled a Kleenex out of my drawer and blew my nose. Drama Queen, in mid-sentence/shout, interrupted herself to scream at me, "DO YOU MIND? I'M TRYYYYYING TO HAVE A CONVERSATION! I SWEAR, YOU ARE SOOOOO RUDE!"

I ignored her and began to eat my lunch at my desk. It was lunch hour, after all, and that's what people do during lunch hour. I finished my sandwich and began eating my potato chips. Drama Queen, who was no longer having a conversation with anyone, suddenly jumped up on the cubical wall and screamed again, "CAN YOU AT LEAST EAT WITH YOUR MOUTH CLOSED! I SWEAR, THAT IS SOOOO LOUD!"

I WAS eating with my mouth closed, as if it were any of her business in the first place. This time I shouted back at her, now turning to see a red-faced, sweating, greasy, gorilla hanging from the cubical wall that divides us (she's very short, like maybe 5' tall at the most) "I AM eating with my mouth closed!"

She rolled her eyes like a 12-year-old girl and said "OH PUH-LEEZE!" At this point I want to point out that Drama Queen is the only person in the office who talks like a 12-year-old on a regular basis despite being closer to 45. She says "for reelz" instead of "for real" and "ridonkulous" instead of "ridiculous" and other, truly idiotic and juvenile things that no adult says. And she's the office screamer. She randomly screams like a banshee whenever she wants some attention. It's ear-piercing, but consistent with the middle-school-girl theme she seems to be going for.

Anyway, at this point, seeing her face so red and sweaty and her eyes big and crazy and spinning, I realized that Drama Queen was on the verge of truly going postal, like for reelz. I also know she owns a gun, because I heard her very loud and obnoxious conversations about it many times. And I know she hates my guts even though I have never done anything to her, because she has a GIGANTIC ego and doesn't respect boundaries. People like her frequently end up in wars with their neighbors because their egos push the boundaries defining what is theirs and what is the neighbors until they imagine that the neighbor, even as he sits in his own house minding his own business, is somehow encroaching on her territory. These are the people who put fences across the property line and try to claim a chunk of the neighbor's yard as their own. These are the people who routinely park in 2 parking spaces at once.

Speaking of which, she does that every single day. She parks her pearl white Lexus, with stick-on "look at me" eyelashes on the headlights, across multiple spaces in the far corner of the parking lot every single day. And she LOVES LOVES LOVES to tell people that she drives a Lexus. She loves to talk about expensive cars and even convinced a recently college graduated coworker to spend his last dime, despite being in debt for school, to buy a brand new BMW. Or as she put it "everyone has to have their FIRST Beamer!" As if it goes without saying that you HAVE to buy a BMW or else, well, what are you?

On her Facebook page, because I looked, she has as her header a photo of a glass of wine, indicating either that she is an alcoholic or else wants to portray herself as upper class. Her profile photo features her in extreme closeup (because she's fat) with her head thrown back feigning laughter. So she's a laughing drunk, basically, or at least this is how she wants to be seen by family and friends.

So she's going postal in the office in the cubical right next to mine, and it is me that she's focusing all her irrational, 12-year-old, "ridonkulous" rage at. And I know, being a white heterosexual male, that no matter how I respond to Drama Queen, HR will side with her and fire me. So I do the only thing that I can do. I email my boss and tell him what is happening.

He calls me over to his office and says "take the rest of the day and go home. Let's get you out of the situation while I go talk to her manager and see what can be done."

I already know what can be done. Nothing. Nothing at all. I work for a company where every single decision, right down to where each employee sits, must be approved by the top guy. And since separating me from Drama Queen, even though she is going to go postal and shoot up the place resulting in a massive lawsuit and scandal on the national news, still he will not approve moving either one of us. Not only that, but she won't be fired or written up or anything. But I would if I stayed, even if I simply sat in my chair and did nothing while she climbed like a monkey over the cubical wall and stabbed me repeatedly with sharpened office supplies.

So I went home.

Come Monday, she was still there. I knew she would be. And I knew something else, too.

She is the one who has been taking my coffee cup over and over and over again. The very first time I reported it, the executive assistant said "its that group that sits around you. It's HER." She and her friend across from me were the only ones questioned about it.  But this was when I was still new, and she was still speaking to me and pretending to be nice. She pretends to be nice a lot, but when you really listen to her you realize she is talking down and insulting you. Since most people aren't so extremely nasty everyone always assumes that she is just kidding. I was still assuming she was nice so I actually defended her and her team when she was first pointed out as the most likely culprit.

"No, I'm sure it isn't them. They're NICE to me."

No, it is them. But it's not just them. It's her. And her friend in the cubical across from mine knows it, too. The whole team knows. They talk all day long, day in and day out. When they aren't shouting to each other across cubes, they are on Instant Messaging or writing an email chain back and forth to each other, always talking talking talking.

So anyway, I think I'm going to be cut at the end of this month. I'm almost positive. So I took my coffee cup home and put it in the sink, where it will stay. I drink my coffee out of a paper cup at work now. All the contractors who were always everywhere, everywhere, everywhere are suddenly gone. And full-timers like me are suddenly being treated badly, criticized in the extreme for our work with examples given that make no sense or actually show the opposite of what is intended. My team lead disappeared suddenly. There is hostility coming from above directed at me and a fellow team member. I think we're both going to be cut. I heard a rumor that it's going to happen at the end of this month. So all this drama, and the coffee cup crime-spree, is all going to end very, very soon. I knew when I took this job that it was probably going to be temporary. There is a culture of perfectionism, unreasonableness, demanding the impossible. There is a constant churning of employees. And I am about to get churned.

And then I will be looking for the next job in the worst economic depression since Roosevelt. And Drama Queen and her crew will no doubt once again strip the empty cubical bare, steal the desk keys I leave behind inside the desk in preparation for stealing more personal items from the next victim who occupies that cubical, and start off pretending to be nice to the new person, only to slowly slide the mask off and reveal the crazy Drama Queen that hides beneath.