Friday, October 8, 2010

Beware the Snarl

So, about a month ago, I said I was back from my summer blogging break and would get all caught up. And that was the last you've heard from me.

Life's been crazy. And the problem was not the guys, it was our staff. We try really hard to be good supervisors. And we understand that we all have families and lives outside of our jobs, so we've been understanding. We've never written her up for being tardy. We've never told her no when she's needed time off (even when she had ZERO vacation hours.) We've let her run home and check on her kids periodically throughout the day, etc. I think we've been more than fair.

Since the job isn't sitting behind a desk, she works for eight hours and doesn't get a lunch hour. Mind you, a good portion of the day, our guys are in their rooms or at work so she would watch Judge Mathis, or Law and Order, or one of those true crime stories. There wasn't a lot for her to do, so we never really called her out on any of these things.

But recently, she started taking advantage of the inches we were giving. And boy did she take miles. It started with a "I'm going to drive through somewhere to pick up lunch." (Which was fine.) But then it became a "I'm running home to grab a bite." (Which was also fine, until it was more than just a bite.) For instance, she would drop off one of the guys at work at noon. She'd show back up at the house around 1:45, take another to work at 2:30, and we wouldn't see her again until she picked the first guy up a little after 4:00. So we were calculating a good 2.5 to 3 hours of her eight hour workday that she was hanging out at home.

We tried subtlety several times. It didn't work. So we finally hit a breaking point, where I very nicely told her that she needed to come straight back and couldn't have the company van at her house at all. I think most reasonable people would think, "Well, I got away with that for a long time, too bad the good times are over." But if you read this post about the cornstarch addiction, "reasonable" might not be the first word to come to mind when you think of her.

And indeed, she did not have a reasonable response. She yelled and got mad and blamed us. She even complained to Human Resources, who quickly informed her that she ought not be advertising the fact that she'd been away from her job upwards of three hours a day.

Things were extremely uncomfortable for about a month, but slowly getting better. And then the administration changed her hours. Oh, she was certain it was our doing. She claimed we were "retaliating" against her for taking her lunch. HR reminded her that we would have no reason to retaliate as we didn't lose anything, but she didn't seem to get that.

She quit talking to us completely. To us. Certainly not about us. We heard from several of our neighbors that we were "sneaky" people and they'd been warned to stay away from us. Thankfully, they knew the source and didn't heed the warning.

But all that's just the background to the war that broke out in the house earlier this week. Since she wasn't talking to us, it really made it uncomfortable to be on the guys side of the house. If we can't be over there, we can't really do our job. So it hit a point that we had to discuss it all. And we all got mad. And we all yelled. But when it was all said and done I had to laugh. I mean, it's not funny when someone attacks your character (and boy did she!), but some of the things she said were just so ridiculous.

She said we were "dark-hearted people with a sneaky side" who "wore nice clothes on the outside but were wolves on the inside." (Pretty sure she was calling us wolves in sheep's clothing, not commenting on our brand-name Goodwill/TJMaxx wardrobes, but maybe.) She said we were viciously angry people and that the day I told her she no longer got a lunch hour, I was so angry at her that my lip snarled up. (I've never known myself to have a lip snarl, but I've been practicing all week!)

All these things were, of course, hard to hear. But you know the old sticks and stones adage, so we were just rolling along with the argument, uh, conversation. Until this happened: I mentioned the fact that she hasn't spoken to us at all and how awkward that is for us and must also be for her. She responded that she will do her job, but nowhere in her job description does it say she has to "make small talk or be polite to her supervisors" so she had no intention of doing so. Well knock me over with a feather. Doesn't she know that I'm from the South and have never ever ever ever ever ever heard of such craziness?? Doesn't she know that I was raised such that if the spawn of Satan shows up at my door, I'm gonna just invite him on in, offer him a glass of sweet tea and ask him how his momma and them's doing?? Doesn't she know?? Call me what you want. Say I have a dark heart and a lip snarl. But don't say you don't have to be polite or make small talk. Because that's just not true! Small talk and politeness make the world go 'round! At least in my corner of the world.

It's just too bad we can't all live in my little corner of the world.

(And just FYI, I no longer have to worry about the lack of politeness in my home, because she is no longer a part of it.)