I don’t like my job. I’ve said that about 10,000 times over the last two years. But as I’ve been reflecting on my time here, I’ve come to the conclusion that my job is fine (well, fine enough) — its my crazy-making co-workers that I’m not particularly fond of.
Not liking your co-workers is probably a normal occurrence — it’s just not one that I’ve ever experienced before.
It wasn’t one major thing that happened to make me feel this way. It rarely is. It was just the slow accumulation of knife wounds over the past two years leading up to the final straw.
The final straw was four words: we had a meeting. Actually, it was only the one word, “we” that was the straw.
My co-worker said these words and her voice was all shaky. She was nervous about whatever it was that “we” were going to tell me. What are you so nervous about? I wanted to ask as I shut the office door. I narrowed my eyes and looked around at my co-workers. This was either bad news or something that I was not going to like.
It was definitely the latter. What she said isn’t important. In fact, it didn’t actually matter. What mattered was that:
“We” had a meeting,
and “we” interpreted an email that I had sent,
and “we” decided that this is what you obviously meant.
I know you’re probably thinking that this meeting must have been rather important. There were time-critical, lives-hanging-in-the-balance decisions to be made. And I had irresponsibly –magically even — flown off the ship to Timbuktu and couldn’t be reached for comment, leaving only this cryptic email behind that they had to interpret. All by themselves. Oh the horror!
Except I was down the hall with a phone, two walkie-talkies, and within easy walking distance — I’d even passed through the office several times before “we” had a meeting.
We is an interesting word, isn’t it? Being a twin, I use it all of the time even though my twin lives six states away. I am eternally a part of a we. It is the language of community — of belonging. We are an entity. We are a team. We are together. We think alike.
We is also the language of betrayal. Your adulterous husband tells you that “we” fell in love – only you are no longer included in that we. We is now in direct opposition to the singular and lonely, you.
And that pretty much sums up how I’ve felt about my working environment over the past two years. There was me and then there was everyone else. And I was never going to be a part of the “we” in my office.
Perhaps it seems petty that people having a meeting without me would be a final straw, but that is the nature of final straws. It’s always something insignificant to everyone else that matters the most to you.
Of course the rift in my office is visible to everyone. The one in my heart is much easier to conceal –sarcasm and anger are my makeup of choice.
My boss notices it though. Today, during my performance review, he suggested that “my sensibilities had been offended.” I told him: “you’re saying betrayal incorrectly.”
When he asked me what my strengths and weaknesses were, I gave him eight strengths but completely floundered on my weaknesses. I finally settled on I guess I could delegate more and I’m not much of a details person. Neither of which was particularly true (I’m definitely a details person), but it was much easier than admitting that I have a hard time with forgiveness
I couldn’t say to him that I struggle to love my neighbor as myself — that I don’t even want to love my neighbor right now! I didn’t know how to describe the aftertaste of charring and arsenic from the bitterness on my tongue when I speak, and I hesitated to tell him about the shotgun shell of resentment lodged at the bottom of my ribcage. I stopped just short of yelling: why couldn’t any of you just help me when all of that stuff happened? How could you just stand there and watch while I drowned?
Because that’s really what it was like in my office for the past two years: drowning in the depths while my coworkers stood on the sideline watching (and had meetings without me). Can’t someone at least get me a life preserver?
*sigh* I have thirteen short days left to figure out how to resolve this hell. I think prayer might be a good place to start.
I think forgiveness might be the next best step.