Tuesday, February 18, 2014
The Woman with Four Names
I was writing something very different today. It was going to be an essay about how the bus is the best human observation experience. But then I got to work.
There is a woman in my office who has hated me for reasons unknown for the last five and a half years. If you've ever hated someone you have to see practically every day for that amount of time, you know it can't be easy. You could argue that maybe she doesn't "hate" me, maybe she's just been really deep in thought or had "a lot on her plate" for five and a half years, but it's a lie.
She hates me. I know this because she did not hate me the first six months I worked at my job. She was really nice to me, invited me to breakfast meetings and pizza parties she was having for her research assistants, would actually exchange pleasantries with me. But not anymore, not anymore since November 2008
This woman whom has hated me all this time has four names. Her first name is a singular name made up of two names, like my grandmother, Norma Jo, or author Louisa May Alcott. Her last name has a hyphen, like Winter Olympian Noelle Pikus-Pace or actress Catherine Zeta-Jones. (This distinction has little to do with the rest of the post, but I felt it was important to explain the title and how I'll refer to her.)
I have a myriad of responsibilities in my job. My email signature is like 10 lines long. I do some administrative things for The Four-Named Woman, though she doesn't admit it. Any time she needs something to be done by me, she gives it to my co-worker Rebecca. If she wants something done a certain way she does not let me know, either by face-to-face conversation, email, a note left in my box or on my desk, telegram, Morse code, or smoke signals. I am not telepathic; I cannot tell when she wants something done a different or specific way unless she communicates that to me.
Today she went so far as to delete my email from a "reply to all" response which I had previously been CC'd on.
And I wondered (channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw) how much time and effort it must take for her to go out of her way to avoid me, to delete my email from a reply, to ignore me and create a middleman when she needs me to do something. Isn't it exhausting to hate someone for five and a half years?
It takes so much more effort to hate someone than it does to even tolerate them, let alone like them. Maybe that's why the world feels so tired, because of all the hate and animosity that consumes its space. I think the Sixties slogan "Make Love Not War" was really onto something. Of course, you can preach love and friendship and tolerance all you want, but it takes seven billion people willing to love each other and tolerate each other to make it a reality.
Maybe it starts with one. Maybe I tried for a year with The Woman with Four Names to "kill her with kindness" but her hard candy-coating shell was uncrackable. But I gave it my best effort, and perhaps that's all the "love not war" mantra can ask.
Because I avoid confrontation like I avoid any infectious disease, I let it go. And for most of the time, or some of the time depending on the week, I go along with it and it rolls off my back like droplets of salt water when I walk our of the ocean.
Today was a different story, obviously, because it inspired me to forgo my previous subject and write this little rant. The following quote from Mean Girls went through my head after I was forwarded the Four-Named Woman's aforementioned reply: "Why should Caesar get to stomp around like a giant while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What's so great about Caesar? Hm? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar. Brutus is just as smart as Caesar... And when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody, huh? Because that's not what Rome is about. We should totally just STAB CAESAR!"
Don't worry, I'm not going to go postal at work because of this one woman. Going postal isn't exactly my jam. I'm not even going to go complain to my boss about her because this isn't grade school. I'm going to allow myself to be irritated by her until I finish writing this, then I'm going to take a deep breath and repeat a "Serenity Now" or two, and move on.
She's not all bad. When my kidney rejected she donated something like 100 hours of her vacation time so I could get paid while I was on medical leave. Granted, she'd gone from hourly to salary and couldn't use it anymore, but still. She didn't have to, and she did.
Posted by Sarah at 3:20 PM