Serial Killers and Office Bullies

Don’t give him the gift of your power“, one of the therapists at work advised a colleague who was getting fed up with the behaviour of another.

The colleague in question I’ve previously referred to as ‘Work-Hubby’ as he bears not only the same name, but is also bald and has a beard just like Hubby does. He is a great guy – superb at his job and a wonderful colleague, and with 23 years of recovery under his belt he has taught me so much. The colleague who had riled Work-Hubby I will have to nickname Jobsworth. If you look up the definition of the term itself, it sums him up to a tee:

“A low ranking official who follows their instructions and procedures to the letter, and upholds petty rules even at the expense of humanity or common sense – often just to piss you off and to make themselves feel important.”

Needless to say, it’s incredibly frustrating to work with someone as toxic as Jobsworth is. Rude, mean-spirited, abrupt, spiteful and small minded is just the preamble. Part of Jobsworth’s role is to look after the stationery. Someone recently asked him for Post-Its and was given three loose ones as opposed to a pack. Someone else asked for an envelope but got a loud telling off in front of clients and other staff, and was then instructed to justify the need for one. A fucking envelope. And don’t get me started on pens. I asked for one once (never again, lemme tell ya) and the reaction I got was as if I’d demanded Jobsworth let me have his entire family to sacrifice to the Norse gods in a viking style ritual.

Last week, Jobsworth went a step too far and Work-Hubby walked out. The most serene man on the planet walked out. Work-Hubby isn’t someone who gets emotional and storms off in a huff over nothing – this is a guy who recently showed me a photo of a tree he’s planted in his garden along with a fence and stone feature around it. This is where he and his wife have scattered the ashes of the son they lost to addiction early this year. The man buried his son and has therefore had to endure that unspeakable torment no parent should have to go through – burying your child – yet he spoke of it all with a sense of peace, closure and even, amazingly, gratitude. I say this by way of pointing out that Work-Hubby doesn’t sweat the small stuff, OK? Through all that life has thrown at him, this man has kept his sights on what matters and I can tell you with pretty steadfast certainty that he’s not very likely to let a Post-It rumble him.

This has been a case of continuous bullying, belittling and minimisation and eventually he’d had his fill. Enough is enough.

So it’s been building for a while and I don’t know exactly what happened as I was in a different part of the rehab doing some archiving at the time, but from Work-Hubby’s text it was the last straw and he was done with it. I asked him to reconsider and speak to Rio, and I hoped he would but I also suspected he is a man of his word and the camel’s back was irreversibly broken. Perhaps this is one of those times when all I can (and should) do is accept it’s none of my business and it’s not for me to get emotional about it, but if they had gone and lost one of the rehab’s best team members over a moron like Jobsworth I knew that then my loyalty would be in question too.

As it turns out, Work-Hubby did come back and I believe the situation is now being dealt with through standard HR procedures – official complaint and then down to management to untangle.

What struck me as slightly strange however, was how another colleague simply told Work-Hubby to “work your program” by way of dealing with the situation. Personally, I think that’s precisely what Work-Hubby did when he walked out. In order to keep himself – and, most importantly, his recovery – safe, he risked his job to do so. He was willing to go to any length to stay sober and getting fired was the better option than allowing resentment building up further. Resentment, as most of us know, being the number one reason for a spectacular relapse or, indeed, why we stay trapped.

Whilst I absolutely agree that we should always reflect and ask what our part might have been, I don’t for a moment believe we should let things go if we’ve been mistreated. Jobsworth actually went as far as getting up from his desk and trying to intimidate Work-Hubby by challenging him with “let’s go outside and sort it out now” and unless I’m really missing something here, that shit doesn’t belong in the workplace. It doesn’t belong anywhere. And to further emphasise how ridiculous this all is, this invitation – presumably a punch-up – was down to not being aware that an Amazon delivery had to be logged. It’s mindboggling stuff, really.

Just because we learn to reflect, accept and let go, surely this doesn’t mean we have to forever turn the other cheek? Or does it? Hell, to me that’d be like saying “ah well, Ted Bundy killed your entire family but hey ho, just work your program“. Hell no! Mr Bundy should be held to account, no? Imagine telling all victims to recognise their part and work their programs, end of. Nonsense if you ask me and I don’t care if we’re dealing with a serial killer or, as is the case here, an office bully. If someone gets treated badly in whatever way, we should speak up, no?


Today I’m not going to drink.

13 thoughts on “Serial Killers and Office Bullies

  1. What sucks most is how it will harm the people you are all trying to serve… If people like jobsworth are managing to push out people like work hubby, from the way you’ve portrayed them, the clients will ultimately suffer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve often found that people with ‘petty officer syndrome’ are struggling with mental illness, and their belligerence stems from that. Not excusing the behavior, but possibly trying to understand where they are coming from. Or maybe they are just an asshole.

    Liked by 1 person

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