So my story is about a coworker I had the pleasure of sitting next to during my time as a temp in a huge DC law office. I should start off by saying though, everything about this job was bad. As a temp in an elite, prestigious law firm, you can expect for the rest of the personnel to regard you as sub-human, but that’s a different story,
This woman, who we’ll call Medusa (I’ll explain in a bit) sat next to my cubicle for the whole 2 months I was there. The law firm doesn’t have those carpet wall cubicles most people are familiar with (not fancy enough for this place) but all of the desks are made of mahogany and high sides, almost like reception desks. They’re pretty, but you don’t get any privacy.
Anyway, my first day there, I’m seated next to to Medusa, who’s real last name incidentally, is the same as a type of monster from Greek myth. I later came to understand how fitting this was.
When I first heard her speak, I immediately noticed how LOUD this woman’s voice is. The way the building is set up, each lawyer has an assistant that sits at a desk directly across from his/her office. There’s about 5 feet of space between the office and her desk, so I have to listen constantly as Jane shouts questions and information to her lawyer, across the hallway, from her desk. This, I could have ignored. I thought, “Ok, she’s his assistant, she’d doing her job.” But then new irritations surfaced.
Because she claimed a problem with her neck, she used her speaker phone for EVERY phone conversation she had. I was forced to try and do my own work while being constantly distracted by her loud, boisterous exchanges with anyone she was on the phone with. Complete with much loud laughing every time. Gossip, bodily functions, financial information, all of it was broadcast down the entire hallway. In addition to talking to coworkers, she was also constantly conducting personal business and affairs at her desk as well. I’m certain at least once a day I’d listen as she called the phone company, the doctors office, the bank, the cable company, anywhere! At least every day or so, she’d call a business or a company (on speaker phone, of course) to complain about their service and demand special favors or free offers. Really by the time I left, I think I knew everything there was to know about this woman’s life.
If she had been a sweet, pleasant woman to be around, all of her grievances may have been easier to overlook, but she was always angry, frustrated or upset. She complained about everything. At least 4 or 5 times a day, she’d have a random outburst, complete with annoyed grunting and profanity when her computer lagged or froze. (I can understand her frustration, as the computers were horribly slow) But yelling profanities in a professional business environment? If it wasn’t the computer, it was another employee, and occasionally she’d stop me to rant about someone’s laziness or lack of work ethic. If it wasn’t another employee, it was the cleaning staff and so on. She was constantly talking to herself/me and expecting me to qualify her anger with some sort of response.
I recall once that her computer froze, and she needed to send a important email to her boss who was away on business. I would have offered to let her use mine, or allowed it if she had asked, but this was her way of going about it: I hear her on the phone with him going, “Oh yeah, I’ll send it, but I need to use the girl’s (GIRL???) computer next to me. Yeah, it’ll just take a minute, hold on. ” So she turns to me and says, “Can I use your computer for a minute to send an email real quick?!” I’m not sure how to decline this, since she had already assumed it would be OK by telling her boss she was going to do so. I utter a yes and stand aside while she does, feeling rather used.
All of the other employees on the same hall were irritated by her. I’d frequently see them get up, roll their eyes and close their doors when she got on the phone. Including the lawyer she worked for! Even he’d shut his door just to have peace and quiet. Having only a desk though, I was not so lucky.
When this place randomly terminated my temp contract a few months later, I was elated to not have to work next to Medusa any more. 08-08-08