I have a confession to make; it’s something I’ve only just realised and that I’m not very proud about. I’m in an abusive relationship. You can cross off the usual suspects too – it is not with family nor a friend nor a lover nor a housemate. It is with my bosses, my abusive bullying bosses.
It’s strange, I suppose, that after so long I’ve only just realised the extent of the problem. It comes back, when I think about it, to how I value myself, how I judge my self worth. I don’t think a whole lot of myself, I always compare and find myself wanting, always wanting to be better but feeling without the wherewithal to make it so. I’ve got to say, it’s been a while since I’ve felt this low, this kicked, this absolutely gutted by other people. Am I over dramatising? Maybe, today I’m just not sure.
It’s always been a very intense work place. A job that though poor paid and poorly regarded is also highly pressured and often quite stressful. Some of the stress comes from the work which is effectively customer service in a call centre but quite a lot of it comes from the attitudes and behaviours of those involved. The desire to create drama that is so strong in some people coupled with the power-trip that comes to those of limited intelligence who find themselves in positions of power. It sounds rather explosive, doesn’t it? Most of the time we just amble along without noticing or thinking about things – mostly the job is so immediate that there isn’t time to think about anything other than the task at hand. It’s also deathly dull and routine. Every so often, though, the ground splits and for a moment we see the hell fires. It’s a crap job but the atmosphere in which we work is appalling. A sensible person, a sane person, an un-cowered person would not put up with it, not for long anyway.
What am I talking about? What am I saying in my high drama way? Heightened drama, created pointless drama, incessant picking and pettiness – not by the plebs but by the boss, not even the boss, the boss’s minion, the 2IC – though to be fair I do think that the left hand knows and approves of what the right hand is doing. They both do it and we laugh about it, oh look, they’re playing good cop/bad cop again. Maybe I’m just bitter today because lately it’s been my turn to be the victim. There is always a victim – one without reason or rhyme and they frequently choose to leave rather than deal with the crap. Who can blame them? In just these last few days they have shown me exactly how little they think of me. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you. I’ve known for a while now that they’ve been after me – it’s mostly been little things that I’ve ignored or with which I’ve chosen to believe their lies. These are people who have forced me into a position where I nightly work until ten pm and then have to get public transport home – that last part is my own fault, you know, and I ought to be punished for never having learned to drive and for never having had the money for a car in any case. It takes me an hour and a half to get home. I live alone. I whinge, don’t I? The others don’t want to do it, you see, we don’t want to force anyone into working this shift, no-one wants to do it, either you do it or we’ll put you back to day shift [the implicit threat – day shift means the loss of penalty rates, the penalty rates that I could not survive without]. Never open, always veiled. So I’ve done it with them promising that soon soon soon they’ll find a replacement and I’ve joked, I always joke, I’m never serious, I’m always serious, and I’ve joked that they’ll only find that replacement when I find a new job. I hate being so weak and gullible.
The other day my boss approaches my evening colleague and me and asks us to come in early for this training thing that they must have known about for weeks. It’s one of their little tricks, changing shifts at the last minute, asking you to some in early or stay late or sometimes patting you on the head with a why don’t you leave early. Keeping us wrong-footed, constantly, is all part of the fun. So the next day I come in early, just an hour, mind, an hour’s really not that much. Only, you see, I end up working for nine hours straight because the forever-supremely-important-bitch pulls a shifty. She leaves early. A good half hour before my allotted break time – we must stick to our break times, girls, or we’ll put everyone out, it’s very important. She leaves two staff when there should have been three and walks out when it’s actually quite busy. She actually sneaks off when we are busy on the phones. She is, owing to some perversion of the universe, our superior. We find out later that she’s gone to the pub for a meeting with our boss and some other colleagues. When I finally have time I phone my boss with a furious hey what’s going on? Does it surprise you that she’d given the bitch permission to leave early, not quite that early but still early on the pretext that they had to start early the next day? Oh, that and the pub, apparently. She is annoyed about the break thing [I’m fat ergo it must all be about me feeding my lardy face] and I tell her that since there isn’t much choice she can damn well pay me for it. I’m actually quite polite at this stage, surprisingly. I’ve remained quite polite the whole time, other than the screaming and ranting behind their backs. What gets me, what really gets me is that this nasty, lazy old bitch of a 2IC walks out on us when we needed her. She saw how busy we were and she walks out.
I am a fool. I freely admit this. I have fairly high standards for myself [though being perverse I frequently choose to fail rather than fulfil] and sometimes expect others to have standards, any will do. Consequently, I rather expect that I will receive an apology the next day. I told you I was a fool. If I’d knowingly done something so cuntish then I would apologise. Hell, I’ll even apologise for things I don’t remember. I don’ get an apology I get several hours of being ignored before my colleague gets so pissed off that she demands one on my behalf. That gets them going. She makes an inappropriate scene. Make no mistake; they will punish her for this. So we have a little meeting where I get to air my opinion and my boss sits there thinking ‘all about the break, fatarse, and you’re jealous of us’, well, maybe not but her face makes it clear that she has formed an opinion and she is not really hearing anything I say – she weasel words her way around me and I eventually leave. Do you think we ever get an apology? No. I’m being ignored until they find a way to punish me. You know something I really deserve.
I realise that I come across as petty here and pretty ridiculous. But it’s been going on so long and I’ve lived with it for so long that it takes something as small as this and as big as this to make me realise how contemptuous they are of me, of us. I go to work, I work, I get paid, it’s a joe job, there should be no drama but the work itself. I should not come home feeling worthless because my bosses feel that I am. They should not be viewing their employees in such a light. I keep writing and I cannot articulate how I feel. I actually feel a bit depressed, I feel incredibly sad, I feel like I am worthless. I’ve been having the awful dreams of one who is beyond stressed, not proper sleep – fragmented, nasty dozes, half awake dreams that I’m still at uni that there are things due that I haven’t done, that I am not worthy, not worthwhile. I’ve been wanting to cry but haven’t until I started writing this. I have marks on my arm from where I’ve dug my nails into it in an effort not to cry at work. As overwhelmed as I feel they are not having that satisfaction. My body is fucked up and symptomatically my period is overdue – I can’t remember when I was last so stressed. I haven’t cried so much since I thought my cat was dying. I’d like just to have someone to give me a hug and tell me that I am not valueless. I’d like to have told my boss that I quit, like I felt like doing on Wednesday night, because we’d been let down again and I’ve really had enough. I really have had enough. I know, I’m smart enough to realise, that I don’t deserve this treatment that it’s a form of abuse rather than a legitimate way of dealing with other people, that I am better than this but in my heart I want to rip shreds from myself for being so totally weak. This is all over the place but so am I.