Thursday, January 10, 2008

The inexorable, inevitable, sickening THWACK! of the falling ax

After my last post, Baxtersmum made the observation that I should tell someone about the myriad of unnerving things Pete has done and said to me. For the record, I've never felt like I was being sexually harrassed, just socially annoyed. He annoyed Derek in the same way when working with him on a recent project (constantly trying to distract him and chatter on and on about unrelated things, asking lots of questions to the point of making things way too complicated and overthinking things), and Pete would even try to drag me into the conversations with Derek (from which Derek would try desparately to extricate himself). After the cell phone incident, I realized that i was going to have to be pretty fierce--even perhaps rude--in order to defend my boundaries against Pete.

I asked for and got some time with Jann on Wednesday afternoon. I explained to her my history with Pete: the constant invitations to hang out with his wife and him, the trying hard to get me to go to dinner with him so he could describe all the problems he had at his last two jobs ("and of course we'd invite our spouses so they wouldn't freak out!"), me refusing to give him my cell phone number to arrange said dinner in every way except flat-out saying "you can't have my cell phone number, piss off", the comment about me not being his Advocate because I was "a cute little woman" that he doesn't want to have to explain to his wife, the usual annoyances that he's visited on Derek, and then the cell phone thing. Jann was incredulous and extremely creeped out.

"I feel like he's had enough chances," she said. "I feel like I should just talk to Sutherland." While Sutherland is Pete's Advocate, he's also the main guy in our office in charge of hiring and firing.
"I'm not trying to get him fired, Jann," I reasoned. "I just want you to know that if I have to work with him in the future, I'm gonna have to really have to be "bitchy" to set limits with him, y'know? And I just wanted you to be prepared for him complaining to you about 'Val's not a team player or being nice to me' or anything like that."
Jann nodded. "I'll think about it," she replied.

This morning, she called Derek and me into a conference room. "Pete's last day is tomorrow. I talked to Sutehrland already. I've had enough. He's been hard to work with for you Derek, and he's even exhausted Jerry because he's so distracted and distracting. Jerry even saw him on eBay for hours yesterday." This last bit was a surprise to me. Jerry loves the Grateful Dead and Phish; how annoying do you have to be to wear down a person whose blood type is weed?

"Plus," Jann said, gesturing towards me, "what with the cell phone business and the Advocate thing, I've had enough."

"Look," I said, "I am willing to work with him if you want, i just wanted you to know what he's done int he past in case you got some blowback from my management of him."

Jann shook her head. "Pixie, you shouldn't have to suck it up to deal with someone who's a problem employee for everyone. My other interns whom we took aside at reviews and told them of their deficiencies, they've taken steps to correct them. But Pete acts as clueless as he was before. It's like he thinks of work as his social hour, and he can't stay focused. If he has ADD or something, we can't help him, and none of you should have to put up with it. Plus, you mentioned he hasn't used CAD since version 13--that came out ten years ago! He can't focus, and he's misrepresented his skills to the firm."

Jann, Derek, and I had a brief discussion about what could we have done and some philosophical ideas in general. I brought up this one: are we remiss in not just getting in Pete's--or anyone's--grill and literally saying 'here's how you are annoying', or teaching him in some way some social skills that he's obviously missed? At the same time, shouldn't someone in his late-30s (at the youngest) already know this shit, and if not, shouldn't he see a therapist and work that shit out elsewhere?

Later this afternoon, Howie came to my desk and knelt down. "Pixie, I think I've done a bad thing. I gave Pete your cell number. I thought he was working with you the way you and I work together."

"I'm not mad, Howie, I was wondering where he got it," I replied. "Under most conditions, I would have no problem with you doing that. It's just that with him, nothing he was doing for me was so urgent that he needed to call my cell phone." I then explained a few of his past actions towards me, and Howie got extremely creeped out, so much that he shuddered and wiped his arms liek he was trying to wash the ooky off of him.

Jann emailed Derek and me. "Plan to be gone on Friday for an early lunch around 11:30." So, she ax, she falls.

I feel not as bad as I did earlier. I feel like I was the nail in Pete's coffin, but as Guy observed, I'm one of several nails over the past several months. The whole thing's got me a little queasy, especially in the evenings here lately. But I guess it needs to be done. As Jann noted, "He's done this to himself."


Ms. Theologian said...

Yeah, Pixie, he definitely put those nails in the coffin himself. It sounds like he is loaded with issues about boundaries and doesn't have any sense of appropriate ones in the workplace (as well as a half dozen other problems too!)

Mile High Pixie said...

That's what I ultimately figured, Ms. T. And thank you immensely for commenting--I know you have a lot on your plate right now.

BaxtersMum said...

Well, it also sounds like he's been counseled. And then counseled some more.


Have a groovy weekend!

ms. kitty said...

You know it's possible he'll continue to try to hound you. Do you have a plan for handling that?

Andrea said...

Oh that's a terrible feeling. Like students who suffer a really terrible consequence for cheating (I had one who lost her visa). You can't help feeling bad/responsible a little, even though you know you're not. But you didn't do it, he did. And you didn't make the decision - you were willing to continue working with him. All you did was let people, who have a right to know, know what was going on. Hope work is a much pleasanter place next week. As the saying goes, "What's right is what feels good after."

Xtine said...

It is most definitely not yall's place to try to socially educate someone if you don't want to.

Especially when that someone apparently has no interest in bettering themselves.

St. Blogwen said...

One thing I would hope-- given that the deed is done by now--is that Jann was clear with Pete that it was the boundaries and focus issues that got him canned, that she didn't trot out some lame neutral explanation about "not having enough work in the office to fit your skills." Just what the profession needs-- a guy like Pete handed an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for his own problems. If Jann was straight with him and he refuses to own it, that's now his issue, not yours (pl).

Miss Kitty said...

What a weirdo. He had a ton of chances and blew them all. And I bet he'll still represent himself at future jobs as "persecuted for telling the truth" and crap like that. Ahh, the martyr. Nobody wants to work with THAT one. Good riddance to him--you did the right thing.