Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bitch, you are not making friends like this.

Wanda went on vacation last week and was supposed to be back in the office on Valentine's Day. She didn't show. She didn't show Thursday...or Friday, for that matter. This is an issue for a couple of reasons.

First, Wanda and I are two of 19 members of a breakfast group in the office. Each Friday, we members take turns bringing breakfast in for our colleagues. Some do something as simple as grocery store doughnuts (though if you want to make friends you'll bring in Krispy Kremes--there's only one KK store in the whole state, so their breakfasty glazed confections double as currency in some locales) or bagels and cream cheese. Others , like moi, bring homemade goodies like Orange Bread and buttermilk biscuits with honey, butter, and jelly. No, I do not bring gravy--bring your own damn gravy!...where was I? Oh, yes, so back in January, Wanda asked me to trade breakfast days with her for some reason or another. She looked at the date I was supposed to bring breakfast and said, "Oh, I should be back from vacation by then!" I switched with her, but that meant my breakfast day was four days from the day she asked me, and I was only able to bring Orange Bread because I was tired as hell and had to bake after getting home after a four-hour drive back from a Wheatlands site visit.

Well, kids, her breakfast day was Friday.

Though being back in town for three days, she sent no emails to anyone in our group saying, oh I don't know, i won't be in tomorrow so can I trade with someone please, or something along those lines. Nope. All she did was call or email Liz at 6:30am to say she wouldn't be in. Let me say that one of the worst things you can do to 18 other breakfast-starved coworkers is let them down. It's one thing if you had an emergency. It's another if it seems really apparent by your previous absences in the week that you knew you weren't going to be in on your day. Corrine, the administrative assistant who also runs our group, sent out a civil-but-zingy email to the group reminding them to let her know if they would not be able to make their day. By the time Sarge and I got to lunch, I was ready to eat glass and ask for seconds.

Wanda also committed the cardinal sin of not letting the front desk know that you're going to be out. It's actually better for folks if you call or email the receptionist and say, "Hey, I'm ill today and won't be in; would you tell Howie and Liz please? Thanks!" Phone calls come through the front desk, and the receptionist can better direct an urgent call if she knows you're not in. If she thinks you're in, it's going to your voicemail. If she knows you're not in, she'll direct the person to someone else. Also, if the receptionist is in your breakfast group, not telling her you're not coming in puts you on her Shit List twice.

On Thursday, Sarge came down to my desk to loiter while waiting for a meeting to start. "It's some kinda CAD meeting for Wanda to understand what we did with the sheets while she was on vacation. Hopefully, these changes should leave her with less managing to do and more time for architecture," he said.
"I don't think she's in today," I said. "Might wanna ask Liz."
Sarge left and came back two minutes later. "Yup, Wanda's out today. We've rescheduled for tomorrow," he said.

So Friday rolls around, and Wanda phones it in. Sarge dropped by Liz's desk, ready for the delayed CAD meeting. Liz, he reports, was clearly perturbed at having to re-reschedule this meeting, the purpose of which is to clear up file structure for one stubborn individual who refuses to listen to her coworkers. Sarge told me later, "I have to wonder if Wanda's not rethinking her employment situation here at DA." If she is rethinking it, more power to her. She doesn't seem to be trying very hard to fit in.

Inspired by Wide Lawns Subservient Worker as well as what I've learned in studying yogic philosophy for the past few years, I'm trying hard to have compassion for Wanda, trying to put myself in her shoes and see what might be going on with her. I'm trying to have some empathy for her, because that might help me understand what I can say to her or do for her to relax her defenses, help her understand that we all want to benefit from her professional and organizational abilities, but we can't when (from where we're standing) she won't listen to reason, won't ask for help, and talks down to her coworkers like they don't know how to use the software even though they've had more training on it that she's had. Furthermore, she won't take the time to learn the way WE do things. She is the new person in our office, not us; she is going to have to learn our way first before she can change it. It's possible that all procedures in life can be changed or improved, but a lot of the ways we do things at DA are ways that work. that's why we do them; after all the experimenting and trial and error, setting up the files and sheets like this or that allow for the least amount of work in the long run and allow for the most efficiency in drawing or changing.

So, I'm not proud of myself for hoping she'll quit. I also know, though, that she's seemed pretty set in her ways, even while she's the only person in the room thinking the way she does. If she's still here when Jacqueline comes back, it's gonna be ugly. And I can promise you after watching Jacqueline versus the big, cranky contractors: Jacqueline will win.


BaxterWatch said...

ugh. sorry. I've been there. And sorta been Wanda, however, my fellow teenage females in high school gave me quite a bit of feedback on the whole, "listen, chick, we know you're trying to be helpful, but you're not. And the eye rolling? Thats because no one wants to listen."

See? A very good lesson in the non-verbal cues. Wanda should buy a clue. So when I see the eye rolling, I shut up and go with the flow, excepting when flow is headed over cliff. Then I quietly step back and watch.

Not-Jackie-But-Jacqueline will eat her for lunch. Excepting for the awkward emotional turmoil, I don't know why you would object to this...? I like to think its Karma. If Wanda wants to be sucessful, she will need to LEARN. So you need to think of it this way: At least if she learns at your place, at least you know SOMEONE will care about her.

but bitch better be bringing in some Krispy Kremes if she knows what's good for her.

faded said...

Wanda has two days of unexcused and unnotified absences? If one of my employees did that to me I would pack their stuff in a box and tell them to come get it. She would be gone! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

This is not a question of you having compassion for Wanda. It is question of Wanda honoring her commitments, being responsible and cooperative.

My question is, where are the PM and the big boss in all of this? They should be all over her behavior

Where do you want me to send the beer?

sarge said...

Hmm... faded, I think MHP needs something a bit stronger than beer at this point. But, the box is a good idea.

Mile High Pixie said...

Baxterwatch: I have to wonder if I shouldn't say something to Wanda if she starts her crap again. I can tell she's got a lot of talent and skill, but her mannerisms are getting in the way. Thank you so much for listening to your friend. It must've been hard to hear someone say that to you, but the rest of the world appreciates you learning the difference between assertiveness and aggression.

Faded: Almost the whole Pomme de Terre team was in Taterville last week, so I can only assume that she called or emailed them while they were on the road. (They all have access to email on the road.) Perhaps she will get some comeuppance when Howie has a chance to observe her behavior more now that the big deadline has passed. As for the beer, send it towards the nuclear glow out west....