You ever work with someone you just couldn’t like? Like no matter how hard you tried? Someone that everyone thought was a seemingly normal person; however, you could see right through that facade of bullshit. I worked with a person like this once. I thought I could get over it (I couldn’t) and keep it cordial (I didn’t). So shame on me for not handling it better, but this woman was incredibly infuriating… and I had to work with her for one WHOLE year.
My brief time working in the oil field was mostly a normal experience. Got paid at a slightly inflated rate since the oil field basically equals money. It was a worldwide company, but still much smaller than any of the larger names in that field. I had been working there for about six months when she joined. She, let’s just call her Karen, was supposed to help me. Karen was to take on the chaotic thankless clusterfuck of a job of travel coordination, something that I naively and politely agreed to take on (note, the person previously coordinating refused to continue doing it… hence why it was passed to me). It doesn’t sound too bad at first, especially since we outsourced to a company for booking the flights, but when you get calls at midnight to change three days of work because the schedule changed… it sucked. I was thankful that management recognized I was not the correct person for this particular job because A. I am a scheduled and extremely organized person who doesn’t like last minute changes B. I was underwater with the work I was originally hired for and C. ain’t nobody got time for that.
My first encounter with Karen was interview day. One of my coworkers, Mary, had previously worked with Karen. She warned me, before extending the interview offer, that Karen was a little “different”. I was confused by this, but I was so desperate for help that I skimmed over the thought. No one wanted this job, I mean NO ONE, so if that meant dealing with some “different” woman then I thought it would be worth the trade. I doubled as a back-up to the receptionist, so I was the first to greet Karen.
My first impression was actually pretty good. She was fairly tall extremely well dressed, I even noticed she had a Burberry headband, which I liked! At this point I had every reason to like her: she was taking on a bunch of work I LOATHED. Karen was extremely polite, but who is going to be an asshole to possible future coworkers before you get hired?
Day One – Training
It was a beautiful spring day, the birds were chirping, trees were blooming, and the most wonderful part of spring in Texas is that wildflowers are everywhere! (There is a law in Texas that you cannot cut or pick the wildflowers while they’re in season, thank you Laura Bush!). But alas, I was in the office and couldn’t see any of that.
Our office building was standard issue gray with gray on gray cubicles, gray walls, gray carpet, and no pictures. There was one blue-gray wall, but I couldn’t see anyways because my dark gray storage above my desk blocked any joy. I looked around my clean and perfectly organized desk and sighed. Then my boss swiftly walked up with Karen following behind him. “And this will be your cubicle.” he announced as he pointed to the left of me. “Have you met Benny?” he questioned Karen. She giggle and said, “Oh yes, we met on the first day I came here for my interview and she is so nice…” It seemed she wanted to keep going but resisted herself from oversharing. Our boss checked to see if we needed anything and asked me to start training Karen.
So I did. I told Karen to pull her chair around and I would go through the routine of my day. I knew Karen was at least 15 years older than me, I assumed mid-forties with the way she had presented herself so far. So as I explained in detail what I did, I kept in mind that she was fully competent in travel field. As I began to touch base with how we coordinate with the external company, she grabbed my shoulder and softly instructed,
“Oh honey, I’ve been doing travel long before you have, I don’t need to be trained.” Well, it took all the power in me not to flip my shit in her face at that condescending remark, but I looked at her and said, “Okay.” I’m sure the expression on my face was saying every word I wanted to say to her. What was the point of that comment? Not all companies function the same way… and most good employees will be trained how it is done, then improve once they have learned. I told myself not to let it bother me, but I had a feeling this was the beginning. The beginning of a long road with Karen. Well that was that for training, since she knew it all, and I wasn’t going to waste anymore of my time talking at her. We both got to work at our desk. If she had questions obviously I’d help, but I could tell we weren’t going to be friends.
To be continued.