I remember my first day working at the office. This relatively short creature with a muffled mop-top hairdo and chintzy-looking plastic frame glasses, presumably made in China, grudgingly approached me. After formally introducing myself while shaking her hand in a naturally professional manner, she leads me to the training room. She says, “My name is Pauline. This is where you’ll be working. If you have any questions, just ask me or my associate, Pete”. I was delighted to become part of a new team. We began going over paperwork, policy, and procedure. The material was seemingly simple enough for me to excel through. Without any obvious delay, the hours had passed quickly and it was nearing the end of my first shift. As my first day at the office was coming to a close, Pauline was wrapping up the review of a technical procedure for loan consolidation. To reassess, I approach Pauline with, “So, just to confirm, by combining the loans into one would result in a consolidation to reduce the overall rate of incurred interest?”.
She genuinely yet sadly replied, “Oh that’s a big word!”.
Struck by a glimpse of unexpected confusion, I replied, “It is?”. Her face immediately turned red and her body language became apparently introverted as she swiftly changed the subject and enforced that I should “never show up late”. Through the corner of my eye, I noticed her associate Pete had glanced at her with a blatant eye-roll. This was the end of my first shift and the beginning of an unwarned pool of fiery torture.
Fast forward to 3 months later. I’ve been working to process and correct Federal student loan application forms. I was holding an accounting position for this company on a full-time basis accompanied by many sleepless nights, due to unnecessary stress from this job as well as many simultaneous hardships through my personal life- petty traffic infringements that evolved into criminal persecution, a brutal breakup, a series of bad dates, getting raped at a dorm, a series of expensive car repairs, a series of other court mandated appointments and classes, a series of expensive fines and legal fees, having my sister taken away from me and put into foster care because her birth mother got sent to prison. Life was gruelingly the bitch-slap to my face at this point. Months and month of harassment in the office from the most feared associate and award winning bully, Pauline, I was ready to leave this shit.
How many times did I have to get written up for me to get spoken to about something I didn’t do? How many times was I going to be verbally disciplined for having to request time off to attend a mandatory court date? How many times was my supervisor going to imply that I lack integrity? How many times would I have to correct other people’s mistakes without being recognized for my good efforts? How many times was I going to be the gossip-talk of this caddy little adolescent mentality of an office that considers itself professional? And then there was the whole sexual harassment issue that was swept under the rug. It’s probably because a gay man getting sexually harassed wouldn’t be taken seriously by people who conduct themselves in such a “professional” manner. If a closeted gay man (my associate, Pete) who poses as one of those oblivious straight guys (that nobody actually likes because he’s a hideous condescending prick in denial) finds the need to imply that I desire him because I am gay, will that cowardly backhanded test make him feel better? Believe me- I wouldn’t fuck him if my life depended on it. It was embarrassing enough that I had to work with someone who held more respect by others and who had more job security than I did. That just goes to show that not all companies reward you based on your skills and work ethic. Sometimes failing institutions such as this will loudly pride themselves with confidence and social status rather than actual accomplishments and positive teamwork. I was lucky to have made alliances- mostly young mothers who were busting their ass to feed their children and biting the bullet through this shit-show to make a living in this small “city”.
I quickly realized that when people are so tremendously insecure with themselves they will seek you out as a threat to their safety and compete with you by attacking your weaknesses in attenpt to bring you down. They are sneaky and manipulative. They will stop at nothing to destroy anything that they are secretly intimidated by and they will do so by dishonest means. They do not support teamwork. They support destruction as a result of self-loathing.
Finally, I decided to part ways. I told my boss that I would like to resign from my position after all of the turmoil and chaos of such a horrendous and humiliating experience with this company. My boss bribed me to take a few paid days off to reconsider and then come back into the office on Monday for a fresh start. So I took him up on his offer and came back on Monday. As soon as I arrived, I was called into his office by my supervisor and her colleague. My boss was not present. I was asked to get my belonging and leave. I was backhandedly fired. This was truly a bittersweet relief. As I gathered my things and left the office, I saw the sad look on my co-worker friends faces as they already knew I was being asked to leave. A piece of my heart broke at that moment. Even through this dark time, I had the pleasure of meeting others who shared the same core values but who were also undervalued and overworked. That piece of my heart still belongs to them.
Fast forward to a year later. I now have the peace and convenience of being able to work from my home office with a company that cares about my success and well-being. I have been informed by several inside sources that the company I used to work for is getting sued by the Federal government (again) for several cases related to breach of confidentiality. There is also word that they are completely shutting down since so many long time employees have been getting laid off. Since I was formerly affiliated with this company, I was offered free identity theft protection from the federal government. I no longer attend any court hearings. My lawyer is paid off. My fines are paid off. My sister is now in good hands. My car is repaired and in storage and will be ready for me to drive again once I get my license back. I also started a new skincare line that I released for sale to the public and plan to expand it. I’ve established new and healthy friendships. My financial situation and home life are so much better. I may not be exactly where I want to be but I can assure anyone that things will get better from a place called “rock bottom”. It’s not an overnight change and it may ache during the process but it will surely get better if you work hard and do your best with the given circumstances. And as far as a “work-at-will” company that contrastingly thrives off of working with “integrity”; karma came to give you a kiss. True justice will always find the light of day. For that I say, “thank you for the opportunity”.