Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Friday, December 05, 2014

When My Back is Against the Wall

We hear a lot about bullying these days, and the way it affects people, both young and old.  It's been around since Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden.  It'll probably continue to go on until the end of time. 

I've been bullied a lot in life, when you are overweight and wear thick lens glasses, you're a natural magnet for that kind of thing.  Frankly, as much as it hurt my feelings, it never led me to thoughts of suicide as it does these days for young victims of the act.  

Bullying used to be face to face, but now we can add cyber bullying to the mix.  It's not just children who bully.  Adults are capable of it too, and I'm not talking about the 'Biff' type of next door bully from 'Back to the Future'.  I'm talkin' about the type of adult bully that exists in the workplace.  The type who - whether male or female - use their position in management to make another person's life Hell. 

When the bully is on the same level as you, it's easy to avoid them just by stayin' away from 'em.  But when the bully is in a position of authority over you, it's easy for them to go after the object/subject of their mean streak.  I've been endurin' someone like that for the last several months at my job. 

It didn't start out that way.  We had another person on the same level as this person who tended to buffer that person.  This manager is well known by the workforce for her abrasive manner and her inability to empathize with people.  We have lost good people because of her.  Once that other manager retired, this one seemed to go hog wild with no one to reign her in. 

I lost all trust in this manager and all respect for her as a person when she called me 'annoying and frustrating' for bringing extraneous noise factors (people yelling across the room at each other in the call center or using foul language on the floor that customers could hear).  That kind of thing causes frustration for me when apologies have to be made to the customer; it is distracting to the extreme when the people working on either side of you are yakking it up about personal crap and the customer is upset that you can't hear them and they have to repeat themselves.  

I've never told anyone I've trained or supervised in my professional life that they annoyed or frustrated me; even if that was the case.  An employee is told to take their concerns to their supervisor first.  That's what I did, and being called out like that wasn't what I expected or deserved.  It made me very apprehensive about dealing with her, and the work relationship deteriorated between us so that a different supervisor was assigned to me. 

Unfortunately tonight, this particular person was working as team lead on the call center floor during my shift.  That made me apprehensive about the shift, fearing that something would happen between us that day.  I kept my contacts with her to a minimum, except to ask permission to go to break or lunch. 

At this point, this manager is also known by the employees for not listening to what people try to tell her if she doesn't want to hear it, which makes giving escalations difficult.  We use IM (instant message) to contact supervisors and team leads for questions. 

 The one problem with IM is that it freezes your computer system while you're working.  (Windows has a tendency to automatically make 'live' whatever program makes a movement, such as IM or a timed out web page). By freezin' your computer, you're knocked out of whatever you're working on until you click or otherwise activate the live program.  

This particular supervisor has a tendency to send multiple one line IMs, so that you can't do anything but read her missives.  This is not helpful when you're dealing with live calls, but she does it none the less.  

This evening, I had to deal with two irate clients over the way they were paged on their calls.  In the first case, I spoke quietly, kindly, and politely to the client.  Apologized for the problem, and assured him - as the call center manager had told me to do - that customer service/sales would be alerted to the problem (the paging service was sending out garbled information).  I did just that, after trying to get this manager to take the escalation via IM and getting the barrage of one line questions back.  By the time she agreed to take the call, it was over.  

Between dealings with other calls, I prepared a form to go to customer services - as I was told to do by the call center manager (her boss, in other words).  A few minutes later, there is an email in my box telling the customer services people to disregard my request; as it was an operator error and nothing they had to deal with.  (huh?).  Naturally, this went out to the entire call center instead of the customer service department because of the group address used. I was annoyed, but shrugged it off. 

Ever since I went full time, my job duties including acting as an assistant supervisor when assigned.  That means handling escalated/irate calls, entering account notes and/or on call schedule changes; answering questions for newer employees and helping train them, handling second and third step dispatch of paged calls between taking calls.  I was reticent about that; had worked in mid management before and didn't like the politics.  But, it was forced on me and I dealt with it.  It's hard to see to
do all that in between live calls, but one juggles as best one can.  Sometimes it is difficult to do.   

Once upon a time the 'assistants' were allowed to go off line long enough to handle the additional dispatches, on call changes,forms, etc., that are part of the job.  This manager changed the process so that we can't go off line when calls are in que.  The first day she implemented that change, I fell victim to her IM one line barrages and we had a verbal confrontation about it that didn't go well.  It was witnessed, but it still didn't do me any favors. 

Anyway, later in this evening, around 9pm, another irate client called in about the page he had just received. Again, from listening to the client, it sounded like a network paging problem.  A gentle tone, apologies, assurances that customer service would be alerted to the problem and a note on the account that the client requested for the rest of the night pertaining to his pages.  

Prior to his call, I had taken a text message from one of the clients that required a change of the on call schedule for their account.  I tried to enter it correctly, but somehow got a duplicate posting.  I alerted the person actually assigned to be the 'assistant' of the problem so she could fix it. While I was dealing with the irate, I could hear the manager complaining about someone 'messing around' with the on call schedule.  

The minute I was off the irate call and was entering the note the client requested, the manager came over to my cube and informed me that she was overriding what the call center manager had told me to do about those situations.  I was to send them to her and SHE would decide if a referral to customer service was necessary.  She also brought up the mess I'd made, making it sound like a deliberate action on my part. 

I erased the referral, and told her that the duplication was not a deliberate action to cause extra work for anyone.  Since I"d worked through my break and was due for the next one, I asked to go on my break.  I was tense from the irate and tense from her dictatorial behavior.  Getting away for my 10 minute break was a good opportunity to relax. 


Though I was allowed to go on break, this person decided to follow me and escalate the friction.  I was in the break room talking to the trainer, with the door shut, about the override of the call center manager's directive.  The trainer was always willing to listen, and often cleared trees so I could find the forest.   The only people in the break room at the time were her and I.  

Next thing I knew, here was this supervisor pushing her weight against the door to come in.  She got in and immediately started in on me.  I held up my hands and said "Please.  Don't.  Not right now.  I just can't." 

Granted, breaks are paid, but as she told me once when I wanted to meet with her on lunch and get something out in the open, she was not gong to talk to me on 'my time'.  Yet, when it suited her, here she was on 'my time' escalating an uncomfortable situation.  

I honestly believe this woman was trying to goad me into hitting her as an excuse to get rid of me.  Fortunately, I didn't strike out at her, but my PTSD that comes into play when someone has my back to the wall was on the rise, and it was difficult to keep control.  As it was, my emotions got the better of me.  

One of the things this woman said to me was that she 'knew i was off gossiping about her' and that was what she was there to prevent.  I let her know her use of 'messing around' to me was unprofessional and uncalled for, to which I was told she didn't have the time to baby me.  She told me that she'd been on pins and needles during the entire shift because she feared I'd get emotional and make a scene.  (Just as I expected she would pull something on me during the shift).  

She then told me she was sending me home and I could clock out because SHE felt I would mistreat the customers.  "The fuck I will!" was my response to her demand.  So she left to call the call center manager, who told me to go home and we'd talk by phone the following morning before work. 

I don't expect to have my job anymore.  Though I did nothing to provoke the incident, this supervisor has had her chance to tell her side, and the fallout will land on me.  That's the reason I posted the 'does anybody care' post.  I felt like the entire world was against me. 

What's weird is that all I've ever asked for is the same common decency other human beings are entitled to.  I try to treat people with respect until they do something that proves they're not entitled to that respect.  Then I stay away from them as much as possible. 

 As a person training other people, it's always been my style to teach by example; and try to bolster the person while explaining the problem/error and how to avoid it, instead of harping on the matter and making them feel stupid.   

As a co worker, I try to be respectful of the people around me, so don't talk loudly to other reps (that's what IM is for, eh? smiley face here) across the call center in a distracting manner.  Sometimes we vent, that happens to everyone.  F bombs and S bombs get dropped, but my bombs are the only ones this manager ever talks about; is consistence in discipline too much to ask?  

Well, after she walked out of the break room to call the manager, I called the HR complaint line to request a call back from them.  It's the second time I've submitted a complaint on this manager for unprofessional behavior.  The first time was by calling me annoying and frustrating.  

I appreciate all y'all bein' supportive.  This wasn't a fake cry for attention.  I was hurtin' deeply when that post went out.  

Hope I didn't bore y'all.  

Much love to you. 


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