Thursday, February 10, 2005

the battle with napoleon

the battle w/ napoleon has been going on for almost 4 years now, but sometimes it rages more intense than other times. lately, we've been in a more intense phase. napoleon is my assistant manager at my second job. she's the typical short person that is searching for control of the world and is often guilty of micromanaging things. she's a nice enough person, but she doesn't realize that her dictatorial attitude doesn't work well w/ some people. specifically, it doesn't work w/ me at all and tends to make me want to rebel more than normal.

well, the story starts out like this. we've recently been having trouble at work w/ people not doing their assigned tasks -- namely, folding laundry. some people are really bad about it, and a couple people haven't been doing their jobs overall. about 3 weeks ago, my manager called in the middle of the night to tell me that her mother had a heart attack and asked me to call the assistant manager (napoleon) in the morning and let her know that she would need to cover for the boss. I did that, and when i talked to the assistant manager, i let her know that the person working before me for the last 4 weekends hadn't been doing her job at all. supposedly, this conversations was in confidence, so i told her honestly what all had been going on. well, the "in confidence" was a total lie, as she went to the other person and said that i had been complaining about her not doing her job. that, for starters, really pissed me off because i don't like to be lied to and i don't like for someone to embroil me in a mess.

that was a sunday morning when we had that conversation that was supposedly "in confidence". the following wednesday night, i was left a basket of laundry to fold while working the night shift. i folded my big yellow bin of towels and left work at 6:30 in the morning (i leave 30 minutes early on school days to allow for the drive time to work). there was a freezing fog that day, so i still didn't get to school until 8:30. i signed off on my papers stating that all my jobs were done when i left. well, friday night at 11 pm when i arrived at work for the next shift i worked, i had a sealed envelope from the assistant manager with a write up in it. according to the write up, i hadn't folded the sheets that were left for me on the previous wednesday night. well, that's believable, since i didn't have any sheets left for me to fold!

needless to say, i was pissed. i was written up for not doing something that wasn't there for me to do. and then on top of that -- even if i hadn't finished folding the laundry, that's not an offense that deserves being written up for when it hasn't been a problem in the past. i was doubly pissed and it was just getting worse as the evening wore on. the person working the shift before me was also the same person that wasn't doing their assigned jobs. not just part of them, but getting absolutely nothing done on them, which is ridiculous. i opened the envelope and saw that i had the write up, and i was just floored. i had no idea or warning it was coming and felt there was no reason for it to begin with. i told the other person that napoleon had left a write up for me (but didn't call her napoleon!), and she said, "yeah, i know. she told me. and she said that if you were mad that you should call her and not the boss b/c of her mother's health." ok, i was already mad about being written up, but then i found that my privacy was violated and the confidentiality of the personnel folder was worthless. i was terribly embarrassed to have this other person, who hadn't been doing her job for several weeks, know that i had been written up and she had suffered no consequences for her lack of performance. it felt very much like a personal attack.

things were bleak already, but as i read the comments on the write up, i was furious. now remember, i was being punished for a situation that didn't exist and then it was announced to another employee. that sucks ass already, but it gets worse. as i'm reading the comments on the write up, napoleon stated that i must complete folding ALL laundry that is left for me, which is not the rules or expectations from the boss. then she says that this is my 2nd write up, and if there is another one that i'll be fired. well, for starters, i had never been written up at work or the write up had never been given to me. i knew that i didn't have a write up, and i was tempted to make her write me up the next night just to prove that she didn't have the power to fire me. she might want to, but i knew that the boss would never let that happen. the boss trusts me too much and relies on my honesty and dependability too much. anyway, i checked the employee handbook, and the rule states that if an employee is written up 3x in 12 months, that employee will be fired. not to be mistaken for 3 write ups built up over a long period of time. i guess she doesn't know what is in my file nor does she know what the employee handbook says.

i started writing a reply as soon as the other employee left work, but i thought it would be better to put it off until my temper cooled down. i took my write up w/ me, planning to talk to the boss the next week when she returned. the next night when i arrived at work, there was a note demanding the write up back. i thought it was my copy to keep, and i didn't have it w/ me. needless to say, it's not like a letter of commendation or an award that i might want to show to people. i left a note in return stating that i thought it was my copy, and i had taken it home and would bring it back the next time i worked. i have to admit to some intentional orneriness here, as my attorney once advised me that possession is 9/10ths of the law. well . . . the only record of the write up was in my possession. h-m-m-m.

a few days later, i called in and talked to the boss and she was very eager to talk to me. i gave her my side of the situation, and she understands the feelings between me and napoleon. she was understanding of my view, but she couldn't really answer for the whys of my write up because she wasn't there. that's understandable. she asked that i talk to napoleon and work things out, and i said i thought it was a waste of my time and that it probably wouldn't happen. she said, "look, all i want is for things to be like they were. i want you guys to get along. i know you've had rough spots before, but you worked them out." i assured her that i would continue to do my job, just as before, but i wasn't going to call napoleon and set up a meeting.

it had been 12 days since the write up when i got a call at school, my real job, from napoleon. she asked if i got her message the previous day, but i hadn't. needless to say, she thought i was avoiding her or so angry at her that i was just not returning her calls. of course, i'm not like that. if i get angry, it's usually over an injustice or an unfairness, and i'm usually over it fairly quickly. well, i still had a little simmering anger burning for napoleon and the situation, but i wasn't worried about it. i had adjusted to the fact of having a write up in my file and had written a response to all the points of contention that i had w/ the actual write up and napoleon's management style. well, the point of her call was to request a meeting w/ me to work some things out. my first beliefs was that the boss was making her do it, but i've later realized that she probably was mostly motivated to do it on her own. although i'm sure the boss let her in on some things that i said during our discussion, such as "i almost turned in my notice over this." or "she behaved unprofessionally and unethically by revealing things from my personnel file." those comments would be good motivators for her to call me and schedule a meeting.

so i finished writing my response to the write up and let it set for a couple days. i did stall a couple days on the meeting, just because i was the one now in power and i knew this was gnawing on her conscience. anyway, i had my response written and ready to go in my file w/ the write up. we met on a thursday afternoon at 4:30 and had a real nice chat. as it turned out, the write up was withdrawn, she apologized, and we worked out our differences. we both realize and acknowledged that our personalities drive the other one nuts some times, and that's just a fact. we both like the other one as a person, we just want to strangle the other one at times.

so, the battle with napoleon has been squelched for the time being, but we'll have to see if another battle is waged in the near future. i imagine that she'll be fairly careful for a while. i'll have to be fairly careful, too, because my rebellious nature would encourage me to take advantage of her sensitivity at this point. life is just full of fun and games, huh?

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