The One Coworker I Dislike

I’m actually pretty chill with most of my coworkers. I don’t see or talk to any of them outside of work and make it a point to avoid any drama. Unfortunately, some people just manage to create drama on their own. The coworker I’m talking about had started in our current section about two months before me and has been with the company a year longer. I nod to her (very slight) seniority, but that’s about it. I’ve been wracking my brain for months now to articulate exactly what it is about her that annoys me. I think articulation is very important because being able to site specific examples is more powerful and credible than “she just rubs me the wrong way” or “she just pisses me off”. So this is my half rant, half practice explanation if my supervisor ever asks what my problem is.

We started off on the wrong foot. Normally that’s not an issue for me, but after everything else that happened- I’ve thought about it, the incident is still really off putting, confusing and irritating. I had just finished training for the new section and I was working a shift in my old section when she pulls me aside to confront me about a 1½ by 3 foot section of metal shelf that took her an hour to clean. She was basically asking if I had left the shelf messy because the manager had told her that the shelf “needed a touch up”.

Firstly, no, it wasn’t my fault that the shelf needed to be cleaned (and the closing shift person had verified this), it wasn’t my fault that the manager told her to clean the self, and it definitely wasn’t my fault that it took her an hour. I’ve cleaned that self since then, it takes five minutes, but what annoyed me the most is she called the interrogation she gave me “coaching” which is a term that managers use instead of “chewing out”. So my immediate emotional response was “you can’t say that; only managers can do that” and “you’re not the boss of me!”

But she was obviously upset, we were both still new, and I was willing to let the accusation and the incident go away quietly. I expected things to get better after we became more comfortable with the work which is very precised and detailed and sometimes stressful.

However, similar incidents kept happening. It’s the job of the opening shift to write up a task list for the day, but she always puts more on the list than necessary so not everything gets done. When things don’t get done she gets on my case about it. She also tends to push the time consuming grunt work on me so she can do more “fun” tasks. That actually doesn’t bother me as much since I get paid whether the work is boring or not, but I can literally only do so many things in an eight hour work day.

To be more specific, I came in one Thursday and the first thing she tells me to do is organize the walk-cooler. It took me 90 minutes to sort out a week’s worth of just throwing things on shelves and getting 20-plus pound boxes back in their proper spots without dropping or crushing anything. When I was done, I couldn’t feel my thighs.

After organizing the cooler she had me reorganize the display case before assigning me long-pain-in-the-ass-task number two; cutting 30 pounds of product into 12mm cubes and then cramming those cubes into plastic boxes. There’s no way to be fast about that because of how mind-numbing it is and it probably took me about two hours to finish up. I took a lunch sometime after that and then she went home, but not before asking me “can you do me a favor” five different times. I think I remembered to do, maybe, one thing she asked me to do before she left. I was going off the list she left, but I was only able to finish two or three things because I still had to do my closing procedures and cleaning AND I found out one of the products was tagged wrong so the supervisor told me to fix it. I was fifteen minutes late getting out because of that so I didn’t audit the mini fridge- oh, the horror.

We have specific cleaning duties listed for specific days. Organizing the cooler is a Saturday duty, but because a large shipment came in that Thursday she had me organize the walk-in cooler on Thursday so everything could be put away. This was a logical decision I agreed with. However, the actual Thursday duty is cleaning out the mini-fridge we keep samples in. That Thursday I didn’t do it because I had cleaned out the big cooler instead and all the “can you do me a favor” requests caused me to, well, forget. As long as we do the cleaning duties on a weekly basis it doesn’t really matter which day it gets done.

Later on Saturday she confronts me asking me why I didn’t clean out the mini-fridge and finish the list. My internal reaction was “are you freaking kidding me?” because she leaves things on the list ALL THE TIME because she “ran out of time”. She constantly leaves her dishes for the other section (we share a dish washing sink and prep area) to do and she constantly asks them to scrub her floors at the end of the night too. The other section complains about this ALL THE TIME. She seemed personally offended that I had found and corrected the messed up tags that she must have missed when she opened and me doing it was only acceptable because the supervisor asked me to do it, not because it was the right thing to do. She then asked if the supervisor had checked me out before I left which pissed me off because I don’t need to be babysat.

There’s only one person in the department that needs to be “checked out” and the only reason the supervisors do it is because she asks. Which, fine, I understand. It covers her ass if something happens because the super checks off on everything that did or didn’t get done, but my supervisors actually trust me farther than they can throw me. It actually annoys the supervisors and the manager when she does this because they literally have to stop whatever they’re doing so they can check her section so she can leave.

Regardless, I wasn’t going to let my pricklier emotions get the better of me because I had more important things to do, like my job, so I was going to let the matter go. She ended up cleaning the mini-fridge that day which was i thought was fair since she didn’t have to organize the walk-in cooler. Still I could tell she was pissed about the mini-fridge because aside from the why-didn’t-the-list-get-done conversation she had said all of 12 words to me that day. I know she said 12 words because I was bored and I kept count. I actually would also like to note that the last time she reorganized the walk-in cooler we literally couldn’t find anything afterwards, so it was better for everyone that I had been the one to organize it.

Sunday rolls around and I had to spend half of my shift helping out my old section because they had a no-call-no-show. She comes in on her day off like a crazy person and as I’m walking by she asked if I had seen the mini-fridge because apparently it was immaculate and prefect in every way. Like, seriously, what the hell? If she’s looking for validation she’s asking the wrong person because I had cleaned out a fridge 20 times bigger three days earlier and she never said anything about the awesome job I did. I happened to give myself three pats on the back for the walk-in because I was sore as hell afterwards because cheese wheels are really heavy especially when they’re cold.

So, I wasn’t impressed with the mini-fridge because I hadn’t even seen the damn thing when I wasn’t even working in that section that day. It just made me irritated that she wanted recognition for cleaning out a mini-fridge, but once again I was willing to let it go.

One of the sections in our department was closed down suddenly for remodeling. We knew it was coming for years, we just weren’t sure when it would happen so we weren’t prepared when it actually happened. Everyone’s hours took a hit because we had a loss of profit for a couple weeks and the reopen date got pushed by another week. My hours dropped from 40 to 24. Then this week I was only scheduled two days. My I knew my wallet was going to take a hit, but (and I almost hate to say this) it was totally worth it not to see her for five days.

On Thursday my boss called me saying that he messed up and I was supposed to be on the schedule. He wanted me to come in and help her out and close that night. I had already made dinner plans with my parents, but it would work out if as long as I got out on time and changed in the locker room. I was at work 40 minutes later and her reaction was pretty much “Why did it have to be you?” and she sent me to the back to work on long-pain-in-the-ass-task number two because she was using all the counters in our area for her “fun” task. After that I did the “not-fun” task of cutting a 40 lbs block of cheese into 8 smaller pieces. Then once again I was told to organize the walk-in cooler (which took me considerably less time because it was still pretty clean from last time). I was able to do six more things she had on the list before I had to leave. She had to leave an hour early because she had stayed an hour late the day before and our department can’t afford the overtime.

An hour before I had to leave I realized I had forgotten to take a lunch break and the supervisor is freaking out because I HAD to take a lunch break because policy said-so.

I used some time-card-fu and “clocked out” to lunch and left a note for the admin to clock me back in 30 minutes later and then clock me out of the shift. The timing was a little tight, but I was able to make it to dinner with my parents which was a BLAST. We went to a 21+ event at the Children’s Museum…–I promise it makes sense in context– The Museum had been renovated and they were doing a circus-themed event for adults to drum up interest and advertise the museum. A bunch of heavily intoxicated adults running around a children’s Museum and playing with all the exhibits was very entertaining to watch, but my favorite bit was a traveling Science Fiction, Science Future exhibit that was worth the price of admission alone.

Finally, today I was doing my work thing and she confronted me again asking why the list didn’t get done. She literally asked me if I had only finished one thing after she left. It didn’t matter that I had only come in as a favor on my day off, it didn’t matter that I had worked as hard and as fast as I could in the 6 hours I was there, and it didn’t matter that I did the menial tasks that she never wants to do without complaint- that section is her world and everything has to be perfect or she freaks out.

On some level I understand that, but don’t think it’s healthy or productive. She’s allowed to freak out and I’m allowed to be mad. I’m allowed to be mad that she nit-picks. I’m allowed to be mad that every time she talks to me it sounds like she’s being condescending. I’m allowed to be mad that she has a double standard.

She’s very passionate about the section in a way that I will never be. I’m just there for the rent money, school tuition, and free samples. She’s adopted the section as her world and she can totally keep it because she’s still not my boss.

My actual boss thinks I’m wonderful and reliable and it just so happens that they need somebody wonderful and reliable in the hot-food section because one of the guys is going on leave for a couple of months. I picked up my new uniform today and I start training next week. I’m not excited about the work, but I am excited to be on the opposite side of the store from her.

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