It was eight years ago this week that I walked away from my corporate job. I’ve never really delved into this aspect of it, but I was actually escorted off the premises. Did I burn the building down or have a screaming fit? Nope. I stood up to a bully. Or at least I tried to.
There are many aspects of working for an international company that were delightful: the daily interaction with people all over the world; the chocolate gifts that co-workers would bring me after business trips to Europe; and the opportunity to see how business is conducted around the world.
There were other aspects of working for my former employer that were not so delightful. Many of those negative aspects I believe run rampant in corporate America. The primary aspect I could no longer tolerate was the number of people who came to work with agendas that had nothing to do with the betterment of the company.
Because this particular company was owned and managed by a company in Europe, there was a constant battle over who was going to be the person in charge in our local office. I frequently compared the atmosphere to watching bulls in spring butt heads as they struggle for dominance. It wasn’t pretty and if the directors who lived and worked abroad had been stronger and more concerned with what was happening in Kansas City, then the constant maneuvering for position might not have been so overwhelming.
The one person in our local office who took this maneuvering to Olympic levels was a woman. I knew enough about her history to know she had spent her childhood feeling out of control. I understood this and sympathized with it to a degree. However, when her struggles for dominance reached a level where she was bullying people who were on the lowest pay scale, I could no longer by sympathetic. I also could no longer keep silent. It’s one thing to try and bully your peers, it’s quite another to bully those who aren’t in a position to stand up for themselves.
So I stood up. I went to the site manager on many occasions to let him know what this unpleasant woman was doing. He not only didn’t care; he did his best to minimalize my complaints to my personally not liking the woman. On one memorable occasion, he even referred to my concerns as a “cat fight.” Yes, even in 2014 a man felt comfortable reducing valid concerns to that level.
Finally, I knew I’d had enough. I gave my notice along with 5 printed pages documenting the bullying episodes I had witnessed or been told about. Amazingly, my boss was shocked. Despite my complaining for months, he could not fathom I would actually draw a line and say enough. He actually expressed grave concerns about my leaving without having another job to go to. He didn’t see any way I’d be able to support myself without a corporate job.
After I gave notice, I agreed to stay until they had hired my replacement. However, as the days ticked by, and especially after my two-week notice period was up, I found it difficult to not voice my opinions about this woman’s behavior. Finally, the site manager called me into his office and lectured me that I needed to quit talking and complaining about the other woman.
As I looked at him, I am sure my jaw literally dropped. I couldn’t believe that he actually thought that I gave a damn about what anyone at that company thought. Even more incredulously, that he thought he could chastise me when at that point I was only staying to accommodate him.
Knowing that things could turn on a dime once I told him I was quitting, I had cleared my office out before I even gave notice. So, sitting in his office, being lectured on my bad behavior when the other woman’s bullying had been more than okay with him, I did the only thing I knew how to do. I told him that if that was the case, and since I was already past my two-week notice, that I would consider that day my last day.
And that was how I ended up getting escorted out of the building, one man on either side of me. What they didn’t realize was that I wasn’t angry or upset at that point; I was elated to be leaving that toxic environment.
Am I angry or bitter towards the woman who was such a bully? Hell, no! I give thanks every day that her unpleasant behavior pushed me out of a job that hadn’t been a good fit for years. I hope she’s had a chance to work on her issues and I hope she eventually gets to a better place. If she hasn’t already paid the price for her behavior, she will eventually and I don’t need to be there to see karma do what it does. In the meantime, I am reveling in the life I get to lead every day.
Which just goes to prove; the best way to get even with a bully is to move on and live a life that they can only dream of.