03 May, 2009

You Can Run But You Can't Hide III

Interested readers might need to refer to the two previous posts on this matter just to refresh the memory.

The union rep at work is one of those people you just instantly warm to. For me, it was because she reminded me in looks and manner of a former colleague I liked a lot. But beyond that, she's a voluble, witty and clearly caring person who is passionate about what she believes in without beating anyone over the head with it or taking herself too seriously. I needed advice about what to do after the incident with Michelle so we went into one of the interview rooms and I went through it all with her.

She was sympathetic, but rational at the same time. She warned me against catastrophizing. I could see her point, but I felt like I'd stumbled onto something considerably ugly about my workplace to which there didn't appear to be an easy remedy. We consulted the staff handbook and it didn't have much to offer so she advised me to take it to my manager and see what could be done via the organization's structure.

When I told my boss about the incident she was typically forthright: "Why didn't you just tell her to get fucked? I would have." I had to laugh at that but pointed out that it might then have degenerated into an ugly scene for which I would have had to shoulder some of the blame. She told me we'd need to consult the CEO, who I have every confidence in. He's a bloke who knows all of the legislation and regulations back to front and is pretty good at explaining it all.

He gave me two options: one, to approach Michelle and try to sort it out myself; or two, to make a formal complaint, which would mean an investigation. I chose the latter because I didn't want to run the risk of making a mess of any approach to Michelle.

Unforunately the investigation was unable to verify my claim. Colin had taken the safe option of not remembering and Michelle denied that there'd been anything untoward, adding that she was prepared to apologise if she'd said anything offensive. Qualified apologies aren't worth a pinch of shit but the manager in charge of the investigation had organized mediation if I was interested. I wasn't.

Both the CEO and the manager confided that Michelle had come under notice for similar incidents but no-one had put in a formal complaint. They both indicated that they believed my version and were sorry that it had happened and also apologised that the investigation had been inconclusive.

I rejected mediation because I wasn't prepared to give Michelle any opportunities to save face or manipulate the situation any further. What if she was to say something that pissed me off during the session and I reacted, or worse, overreacted? Then I'd come out of it looking like a ratbag. So I politely declined, but added that if Michelle could be quietly advised to give me as wide a berth as possible from here on, I'd consider that a good outcome.

So that's where it stands. Her husband Jeremy and I get along just fine, Colin too. I don't have any ill-feelings towards them. They were both stuck in the middle.

Michelle's still on Family Leave but will be returning. When she does, I intend to avoid her like the plague. I hope she's got the good sense to do likewise. That might just make the situation manageable.


Melanie Myers said...

I tend to avoid right royal cows like the plague as well. They are rife in the teaching profession, as you probably well known. I think your avoidance strategy is perfect. Nothing like completely ignoring someone to make your own pathway through life-at-work considerably more pleasurable and free from angst. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid. There's nothing cowardly about it, you're minimising the opportunity for conflict, that's all.

Lad Litter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lad Litter said...

Thanks for that. I think you probably understand in a way few do. If I was to try to resolve the situation, or give as good as I got, it could very well get worse. If she's taken such a dislike to me then no interaction should be fine by her too.

Ed said...

Hopefully the situation is resolved or at the very least manageable from now on.

I probably would have made a right mess of that situation. It is where age and experience come into it when dealing with bastards at work.

I have no clues so just get smashed and then piss people off by getting angry about being smashed. Anyway... sorry for no comments for ages too.

Anonymous said...

Damn her. You know, the best part is she's likely miserably unhappy with herself (as bullies such as these often are) and this is how she tries to make herself feel better. So you don't need to do anything. Just smile at her and think 'glad I'm not you'.