The Self Righteous Employee

by admin on July 1, 2013

I worked with a woman I will call E, this woman was a pain in the…

She was in the office at 8am each day – we worked flex time, so could take back ‘extra’ time, most people arrived between 8.30 and 9am. She was ALWAYS the first in…

When we arrived she would start her dramatic,  “Ohh i wish I could come in ‘so late’ but I am FAR too busy.”

The at the end of the day she would be the last to leave, usually (she claimed) staying until 7pm to get ALL her work done.

At lunch she watched everyone come and go, and as her office was the top of the corridor she saw everyone leave and enter (we had to pass her office). Again she would start the,  “Ohh I wish I had time for lunch.”

This woman did not take her holidays, and then did the,  “I am far too busy, I wish I could take my holidays.”

But E was often even worse than this. I arrived before her a couple of times because of projects needing to be out in the morning… (She did NOT know I was there). I found that she spent the time from 8am to people arriving: making breakfast in the kitchen, eating breakfast in the kitchen, making and drinking coffee, nosing around other peoples offices! And then chatting with everyone as they arrived.

So yeah, she arrived at 8, but started work about 10.  The rest of her day was spent wandering from office to office, chatting (especially with one woman).

The one time she was off, her boss asked my boss if I could help him with something.  In E’s office I found a list… initials of everyone in the office, and lots of times and notes. She was making notes of when people arrived and left, and even how many trips to the bathroom they took!

At this point I found that her boss was 100% computer illiterate… And he was stunned when I provided him with some stuff he asked for. Turned out she was regularly telling him,  “Oh no, computers can’t do that.”  These things were basic things: tables, spreadsheets, flow charts, powerpoint stuff. When he found computers can do this, as I had, she told him that HER computer couldn’t do that and then she was really nasty to me when no one was around to witness it. Her boss believed her and had IT provide her with a brand new PC so she told everyone I was not doing MY job and she was having to learn new stuff so she could pick up my slack!

Then this woman NEVER called in sick, she came IN… Spreading her germs, then when others went down with whatever she had first, she would point out,  “Well I managed to come to work.”  Sure she came in, but spent her day going from office to office spreading her germs and letting people know how sick she was but was “just too busy” to take time.  I honestly believe had this woman actually been working rather than chatting, she would be finishing work at the same time as us but she loved to be the martyr.

She managed to cap all of this however when I ended up off work with a condition which was undiagnosed at the time, but one of the many symptoms was severe depression. In the end I was off work for 3months.   When I got back in, I found she had rearranged my office! (Losing items in the process) she also printed off my entire internet history and thought I would be in trouble…. I had a LOT of history, but nothing bad.  Silly woman was unaware that part of my job (PR) was searching the internet looking for mentions of our company and printing them, be they good or bad.

She had given my boss this “list” with what my boss called a “very smug expression” and said, “Have you seen how your PA spends her day?’ My boss looked at the list and said, “Judging by this… HER JOB!”

After my time off for depression she was always making snide comments:

Oh, I am so busy I am going mental.
If I keep working like this I’m going to have a mental breakdown.
If I don’t take a break now, I’m going to end up in the loony bin (UK slang for a mental hospital).

In the end of my time there my boss retired, and her boss was to take the department into his, she would then become my direct equal colleague, but she kept insisting she would be my manager…

I tried speaking to HR, but her best work friend was in HR and told her!!   Needless to say I quit.

I just had no idea how I could deal with this woman, although I often looked at the shredder and imagined ;)   0628-13

{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

Lo July 1, 2013 at 7:03 am

I worked with someone a lot like this actually. We’re a hard working bunch and most of us are willing to come early and/or stay late to pick up slack when needed. (I’m usually always early because I can get a lot done in the morning) We had a woman years ago who would routinely work ridiculously late hours and use it as leverage against people and an excuse to whinge about how no one worked as hard as she did

The thing is, there’s a point where if you “have” to stay late every single day (and not because someone’s asking you to) you’re just not doing your job properly. Either it’s not being done fast enough or it’s not being done competantly. It seems like people would want to have a life outside of work but some people don’t. So they use it as an excuse to complain, show others up, and be busybodies. And don’t even get me started on people who come to work severely ill.

I feel your pain and I’m sorry you had to leave the job. Glad it’s better now.

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Shelley July 1, 2013 at 7:20 am

That sounds horrible!
I have been lucky I’m that all my work places bar 1 have been plesemt work environments , the one that wasn’t well I was lucky again in that I could afford to quit!

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Justin July 1, 2013 at 8:09 am

Best way to deal with people like this is pretty much what you did, just do your job. Ignore them, do what is asked of you by your manager and others, and avoid as much drama as you can. You’ll find people like this at a lot of jobs, and in many cases they eventually get caught and called on what they are doing.

You can’t control other people, but you can control yourself.

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LizaJane July 1, 2013 at 8:13 am

Did this woman have anything to do with finances? It’s typical for embezzlers to never take time off . Also, as a previous poster said, people who never have their work done. And then, some people ARE just martyrs.

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Margo July 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

She sounds a nightmare to deal with.

We have an employee who is like that in terms of monitoring other employees comings and goings (which is not her responsibility) The thing is, she is, herself, a real jobsworth – she will make comments about other members of staff coming in slightly late in the morning or after lunch, but will leave dead on 5 p.m. every night, and will insist on taking her full hour for lunch, and timed 15 minutes breaks, even when there is a real rush on. Most of the other employees whom she critisises for being ‘late’, on the other hand, will not start shutting down their stations till 5, and will help out, and take shorter breaks when there is a mad rush on. So yes, I don’t care that sometimes it’s 2.05 not 2.00 when my secretary comes in after lunch, beacause I know that when I need her, she’ll be there at 1.10, or 5.15, because we have an emergency.

Also, anyone who is habitually in the office late and/ early then unless I know from their ultra-high productivity that they are working extra hard, I will assume that they are either (a) doing their own thing (which is fine – our policy allows staff to use the computers for shopping, social networking etc on their own time) or (b) badly organised and inefficient and therefore unable to do their job effectively in the reasonable time allowed.

We have an employee who is currently going through disciplinary procedures which could end up with dismissal. This person is frequently in late or at weekends, they are just incredibly slow and inefficient in how they work.

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PM July 1, 2013 at 8:18 am

Anyone who has to spend THAT much time touting how awesome she is, is generally going to be the useless person in the office.

And never trust people who claim to be so busy they can’t get their work done during work hours. We had a guy in our office, we’ll call him Pete, who worked an afternoon shift, generally ending around 8. But management noticed that he always stayed well after everybody else left. If coworkers left at 8, he wouldn’t leave until 10-11. He told them he was working on “special projects,” and so the management would praise Pete to the skies talking about what a self-starter he was to take on these “Special projects” and how we should be more like Pete.

After a few months, however, we noticed that these “Special projects” never materialized. We started asking questions, what was Pete working on? Was it something we could help with? Was he being paid over time for these special projects that seemed as substantial as the Emperor’s New Clothes? Pete and the management assured us that these special projects were indeed VERY special, and we should mind our own business.

Eventually, we heard that a female employee who’d had to stay late for a REAL special project had walked by Pete’s office late at night to find him looking up VERY adult material on his work computer. Sadly, this was the third or fourth time she had caught Pete doing this and the management ignored her complaints and assured her that Pete was doing a special project and they were sure she misinterpreted what she saw. I honestly think the management just didn’t want to admit that they’d bought in on special projects that didn’t exist and were paying a guy time and a half to look up p*rn.

(We had a pretty loose internet monitoring program because of the nature of our jobs. We had to look a lot of stuff up.)

The female employee went to HR to complain about management’s lack of intervention. HR was HORRIFIED that management had behaved thus and told Pete that if he wanted to keep his job, he would have to complete an employee counseling program and from now on, all of his internet traffic would be reviewed daily. He was highly indignant that they would treat their “star” employee like this, after all that work he’d done on his special project. (Yep, still sticking to that story.) And he quit. His computer was so chockfull of viruses and downloaded adult images that they chucked it.

And any time we got into minor trouble after that, the employees would say, “Hey! I’m working on a very important special project!” (When management wasn’t around)

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Wild Irish Rose July 1, 2013 at 8:20 am

Every office has this martyr. I usually ignore them and just do my job. However, I make exceptions for people who come to work really sick, especially while I was undergoing chemo for breast cancer. My immune system was already compromised, and I had no trouble actively avoiding sick people, but when they seeming followed me around, I would confront them–why should my very life be endangered by some idiot who couldn’t stand not to have a lot of sympathy because he or she was sick? STAY HOME!!!!!

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nayberry July 1, 2013 at 8:21 am

oh you met my ex-coworker???

one time i had d&v, so wasn’t able to come in, boss understood as they’d just had the same, cow-irker spread it about that i was hungover and faking it. luckily boss overheard her, walked over and reprimanded her, and then took her to HR to have a warning placed on her file.

she left about two months later, thank goodness!!

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Miss-E July 1, 2013 at 8:24 am

I totally get the thing about coming to work sick. I work with a ton of people who do that. And they do the same thing: they get other people sick and when those people are sensible enough to stay home and work they throw out comments about how THEY suffered through it. (eyeroll)

She sounds miserable. I hope you ended up with a better job with better coworkers. She strikes me as one of those people who just needs constant praise and attention. She wanted people to come in and ooh and aah over her great sacrifice for the company. I imagine her personal life is empty and sad. How else would she have so much time to devote to her job?

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Anonymous July 1, 2013 at 8:32 am

I think the best way to deal with passive-aggressiveness is to pretend to take the person for face value. For example:

CO-WORKER: “It must be nice to be able to come to work at 9, and leave at 5!”

YOU: “Yeah, it’s perfect, because choir/Zumba/whatever starts at 5:30. You should join me sometime.”

CO-WORKER: “I can’t take a break/vacation/sick day, because I’m SO BUSY!!!!”

YOU: “I find that work is easier if I recharge by taking breaks, and I stay home when I’m sick so I don’t infect everyone else.”

CO-WORKER: “My computer doesn’t do XYZ.”

YOU: “Actually, we have the same model, and mine does XYZ, so I’m pretty sure yours does too. I can show you when it’s mutually convenient; how about tomorrow?”

This will probably bother Co-Worker, but there’s nothing technically rude about any of these responses, because all of them are positive.

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Angel July 1, 2013 at 8:41 am

I second Lo. If you have to work late every day you are not doing your job properly. I’m sorry you had to deal with this OP. Judging from your post there was really nothing else you could have done differently. In a situation like that it’s best to polish off your resume (or CV) and start job hunting. People like this rarely leave their job because they are allowed carte blanche to behave however they want and manage to fool a lot of other people into thinking they work so hard. And if she has a friend in the human resources department their is pretty much no way she’s going anywhere. Unless the friend is fired lol. My husband works in a government job for our state and there are plenty of incompetent jerks in his department who are there until they retire. And there is nothing they can do short of killing someone that will get them fired. A few companies are like this too and it’s unfortunate. It gives no one any incentive to do well in their jobs.

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Cat July 1, 2013 at 8:41 am

If it makes you feel better, your co-worker has a twin sister in the States who worked in an Adult Education Center. She complained about how busy she was and then spent the day on the phone chatting to her son, her daughter-in-law, and making appointments for lunch/hair dresser/etc. She had no creative ability at all and would ask me for ideas. She then would put out a memo captioned with “Ideas by (her name)”. We found the brochures she produced were exact copies of those put out earlier by another adult center. She would have “accidents” and take paid time off from work. She did break her wrist by standing on a chair to water a plant and then asked me to lie to my principal and say that she had tripped over a chair. I don’t tell lies, refused, and learned that the principal had already been told the truth by an office worker who saw her fall.
It was a joyous day when she quit.

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psyche July 1, 2013 at 8:48 am

It reminds me of a Dilbert I once read. The title character had a co-worker who apparently thought working late without being asked to do so would somehow disguise his incompetence and simultaneously kiss his boss’s butt. Truth was, they informed him, was that said co-worker was so inept at his job that many of them were were also working late-to fix his mistakes! When that blunt statement didn’t seem to penetrate his thick skull, they all dragged him, bodily, out of the office and told him to go home.

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NostalgicGal July 1, 2013 at 8:59 am

Been here done this, glad you survived, OP. If HR is her friend there isn’t much you can do with a coworker like this except find a different job.

I worked for some years in a confined environment (for security reasons) and we had 140 people in a fairly small location… and if anyone had a germ, we all had it. It was really bad during cold weather and everyone’s kids in school… It was so bad I just planned for a monthly cold and drank 2 quarts of OJ a day (with calcium) to try to stave some of it off.

Only nice thing there, we had a few BB’s like this and managed to catch them on their come in early, stay late, come in weekends…. OR CLAIM TO. One fellow had lots of back issues and we finally caught that all his Saturday ‘makeup time’ while there was no management there; wasn’t. Yes I was there because of project X and working on that upgrade software (I was WRITING the software, this was a long time ago when PC’s were more of a toy and there was no internet) and yes they had my cardkey swipes and no I didn’t see (Dude) at all, I would have known he was there…. He countered with a massive lawsuit that he lost pretty quickly.

One temp job I came early and worked late, but the person I was replacing needed two people to do her job, and I heard someone on Wednesday say, I can’t believe she’s still here, last year we went through three temps in a week when she was on vacation… and when I turned in a timecard for 50 hours, the guy said ‘only 50′ and signed it. I guess they knew how overworked the gal was but didn’t see the need to add a position! They’d expected 60…

Sorry for you OP, glad you could bail!

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Garrett July 1, 2013 at 9:10 am

If someone constantly moaned to me about their workload, I would tell them “maybe you should talk to your manager because your workload is so heavy.” Not that it would help. These people love being martyrs and it sounds like she was just all around nasty. Unfortunately if the management won’t step in, there is little you can do except ignore them.

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Abby July 1, 2013 at 9:25 am

There are plenty of people who come in early, stay late, regularly work through lunches, and don’t take PTO. These people are also extremely busy working and don’t have time to walk up and down the aisles telling people how busy they are. It appears that E is putting in her 8 hours of work a day- just spread out over 12-16 hours of the day. I guess if she wants to spend that many hours in the office so she can afford to walk around clucking her tongue and track other people, that’s her business. But it should be inherently obvious by her workload that she isn’t putting 12-16 hours of actual work each day.

I find it shocking though, that in this day and age she could get away with telling someone (even someone largely unfamiliar with computers) that her computer was unable to do spreadsheet functions. I mean, that’s almost as bad as saying you can’t type on a computer. I don’t expect people who didn’t grow up with computers to know all the functions that can be performed, but it seems that spreadsheets are, next to the word processer, the most common purpose of computers. But if her boss believed her, and HR was her friend, I guess you were SOL, OP. Here’s hoping you found a better job with more competent management.

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InNM July 1, 2013 at 9:33 am

Does anyone else have a couple questions, like
1) Was she reprimanded for going through another employee’s desk?
1b) How did she get access to another employee’s web history? I’m thinking there are 3 ways and all of them would get her fired. If she hacked into the OP’s computer, that’s illegal. If she installed keystroke malware, that’s against company policy. If she had IT report it to her, that would be a violation of company policy and a fireable offense. So how come she did not get the boot then?
2) Why was HR discussing confidential employee concerns with someone else? If I have a concern about a fellow employee and raise the matter with HR, HR shouldn’t go tell that same employee that I said I had a problem with them. This is a serious matter and once again, can get them fired.

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Mae July 1, 2013 at 9:57 am

OMG, if there had been no mention of the UK, I would swear this was written by someone at my office!! We have one exactly like this- come in early so she could be first one in, eat & drink in the breakroom before others arrived, nosing about our cubes, noting arrival & departure time, even the notebook (list) with comments and dates!! She even stays late to rack up that “flex” time, then complains she’s too busy to take it. Comes in sick but has a conniption fit if anyone else comes in with sniffles (even if it’s just allergies!). Complains about taking up the “slack” but it’s her own slack because she is too busy making notes and spying on people to do her job!

OP- I feel your pain. Luckily, you don’t have to deal with it anymore!

I think some people do this thinking it will make them look good with the boss and maybe, in some places, it does. Mostly, it just make all their co-workers despise and avoid them!

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siamesecat 2965 July 1, 2013 at 10:02 am

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she now works where I am! As my bosses’ boss. We are all salaried, so we have some leeway in our hours, but generally everyone works the same hours. My one boss, however, comes and goes as she pleases, coming in late, leaving early, “working” from home, and taking extra long lunches, all to carry out her personal business. Now I get that every now and again you might have to come in late, leave early, or take a longer lunch for an appt, and I’m lucky we have the flexibility to be able to do so. But this boss does it pretty much on a daily basis, and when she is here, spends very little time actually working, but instead chatting on the phone, talking her to buddies, and so on.

She spent on day last week, pretty much all day, making travel plans for her and a group of friends. I kid you not. Lately, she’s been forgetting due dates and so on, making us scramble to get things done, and having to rush and be stressed. And her boss, our head honcho, works from home 3 days a week, and on the two he is here, has his head so far up his posterior, as long as she gets him what he wants, he could care less, and pays no attention to any of her nonsense. It’s really very demoralizing, as we are working our butts off, and she’s la de da-ing around, doing as little as possible.

And when she does have more than on thing going on, the sighing and carrying on about just HOW very busy she is is almost laughable. she seems to think that having to work is such a burden!

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TeamBhakta July 1, 2013 at 10:15 am

“She was making notes of when people arrived and left, and even how many trips to the bathroom they took!”

I worked with 2 people like that in a fast food restaurant. Both women very vocal about “I’ve been in xyz position for 15 years, the boss is totally going to promote me to a manager for being a tattle tale.” One kept a list about “Suzy and Mark were exactly 2 minutes late at the clock in station” and “I overheard TeamBhakta and some guy quietly planning to go on a date after work hours.” The other one tattled about “TeamBhakta’s pants are dark dark navy blue and not actually true black. Also, she tucks her pants in, but she doesn’t have her entire shirt stuffed into her pants and the pants pulled up to her chest like an old man. Tell her she needs to wear her pants old man style.” Both of them are still in the exact same positions now, just at other fast food restaurants.

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Chocobo July 1, 2013 at 10:30 am

OP, if you ever encounter someone who “complains” that they are just “so busy,” in the future please go ahead and say “Oh I know, there’s always so much to do, isn’t there? But gosh, I had no idea you were having so many difficulties. Would you like me to show you some good computer shortcuts? They really save time and help me get all my work done during the work day.”

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Lisa July 1, 2013 at 10:44 am

I found a list… initials of everyone in the office, and lots of times and notes. She was making notes of when people arrived and left

I worked with someone who did this exact same thing! She was one odd little girl. I just have to wonder what she thinks she’s going to do with that information.

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Harley Granny July 1, 2013 at 11:12 am

I think every office has one of these…..

The one in my office used to say…quite loudly…..when my boss was nearby…that it sure was nice that I got to go home early on Friday’s.
He had finally had enough and said to her (before I could) If you got here when she did and didn’t take breaks and most of her lunches like she does….btw she does that because she needs to cover your desk when you aren’t there….you’d get to go home early on Fridays too.

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Kristin July 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

I worked with someone who would claim things like, “I worked 60 hours last week!”. SIXTY? Really? Do the math, lady. Yet she always found time to leave the office for a full lunch break each day.

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Huh July 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

Been there too! One that kept track of all the breaks people took, one that came in early, left really late, and yet was doing less than everyone else in the dept., so kept asking for help in catching up (and was a supervisor.) The worst one was the most recent one, who would passive-aggressively stand and talk about how stupid/worthless I was when I was sitting right there doing my work! It wasn’t just me, she’d do it with other people too. I complained to our boss a couple of times, and was told, “Well, I know you two just don’t get along.” I had no problems with the cow-irker and had never said much to her ever, beyond, “X is finished, just waiting on Y.” When our dept. got merged, she decided she didn’t like me and tried to get me fired, going back and changing my work (many times making it completely wrong, other times just changing the asthetics because that’s what SHE liked better.) She ended up getting mad and just walking out/quitting one day.

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Abby July 1, 2013 at 11:29 am

@InNM

I am assuming she just went to view web history, and did a screen print of every website the OP visited. I guess while OP was out, she might have been sitting at OP’s desk, but I would still think printing out the OP’s computer usage would be considered out of line. As far as HR spilling the complaint, yeah, you’re not supposed to do that, but it, um, if it’s HR doing it, then who’s left to complain to? All the HR rep would have to say is she didn’t do it, and it’s her word against OP’s. And that’s assuming there’s more than one HR employee. There might not have been.

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NostalgicGal July 1, 2013 at 11:30 am

@ Abby,

I worked in a data call center once, you called me to place phone orders for merchandise. The workstations we used had a module that plugged into the back, (don’t ask me further, it was about an inch and a half square and half an inch thick) and for the same reasons I have issues with timepieces and alarm clocks, the module on my station ‘half burned out’. I could data entry of straight orders but not any of the other three functions I was supposed to be able to do. 95% of my time was straight order entry so. They replaced the module; it cost approximately $1k. And that one burned out within a week to nothing more than being able to straight order entry. They were going to replace it again and I said don’t! If you want me to do address updates or something, move me to another station for that shift only. And for (deity’s) sake, get me one of the ground mat and strap sets. Oh.

I was seasonal so when I left for the summer they put that module away, and put it back onto my regularly assigned station for the next session (about 5 months employment a year).

Also way back in the day, I ran a Linux Box OS for three years on my personal computer, and there were some issues with that setup (someone else set it up for me) that a good half of things didn’t work. I finally (long story) GAVE the system back and they found out that I wasn’t making it up, half the dropdowns didn’t work and I couldn’t fix it because I couldn’t even get AT some things… and it was the install. It was repaired thus and I only gave up running that OS because of some software that had NO equivalent in Linux and I didn’t have the skills to program what I needed. (I did NOT have virus issues though, everything was targeted at Windows OS). In this sort of case someone might not have something work that other systems would; by running a totally different OS. (operating system)

I doubt though that the BB’s system the OP mentions; had that sort of hardware fault issue or software issues. If her software package (usually entire company uses the same package set) wasn’t allowing her to do certain things she either had a corrupted install, had managed to mess up or delete/deactivate certain parts; had a virus issue that was causing problems (in which case her system needed an overhaul) or she plain doesn’t know how to use the software available to her and needs to learn/be taught or be terminated for ‘not being able to and/or wanting to, do her job’.

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Calli Arcale July 1, 2013 at 11:35 am

Horrible, having a poisonous person like that in the office. I’ve not had to deal with someone like that, but if she had brighter managers above her, you’d expect them to have noticed either her lack of proportional productivity or a suspiciously high turnover rate in her department. But then, due to evolutionary process, she will only settle out in a place with gullible management. She’s queen of the roost there; you’re well rid of her, OP.

There is a legend that goes around my company about an employee with, ah, suspicious hours. I never met the fellow; he’s used as a cautionary tale. He was pulling long hours, and because he was so busy, he was very hard to get a hold of; he’d spent very little time in his office. This isn’t that uncommon here; he was an engineer, and a lot of work happens in labs. But he was surely pulling that time, because people would see him come in, put his coat on his chair, turn on the lights in his office, and then get to work. Only nobody would be able to pin him down until the end of the day….

Long story short, he’s the reason they now have an automated service monitoring the security doors. He was coming in to work, logging in, answering all of his e-mail and voice mail, and then slipping out a side door to go to his *other* job, and was able to get away with this double-billing for some time before getting caught and then unceremoniously booted.

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Jewel July 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm

The OP’s former company was just “sick” all the way around. The management was oblivious to how “E” bamboozled them. They gave maintaining the status quo more priority than they did to trying to improve a bad situation even to the point that they allowed good employees to be run off by the bad ones. They were weak as they continued “E’s” employment even after learning of her duplicity/manipulations. And, at least one manager was so technology inept that he was basically worthless (had no spreadsheets, didn’t use a computer himself, etc.). If that company, or that department of the company, is still viable I’d be surprised. The best thing that the OP did was leave that cesspool of dysfunction.

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Shyla July 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm

This person works in a lot of offices. There is nothing you can do about her. Your management is for some reason unwilling to deal with her. That is bad management. You can think about it this way though: this woman has a terribly pathetic life. She has nothing to do outside of work. She has no friends or hobbies to occupy her mind other than spying on coworkers. The best thing to do is take care of your own life and ignore her. Getting another job was wise.

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NotCinderell July 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Woe betide the person who replaces someone like that. My mother took a job as an administrative assistant at a house of worship, answering the phone and doing other office-related tasks. One of her tasks was to make up the announcement pamphlet that was put in the pews at services. The woman who had previously held the position before my mother was always getting this job, among others, done under the wire, in a mad rush. My mother would have all her work done by 3 in the afternoon, and would have the announcements done promptly every week with no rush.

The problem was, she had way too much time to do her job and not enough job to do. Her boss started getting annoyed with her that she always seemed to be reading books, playing solitaire, or chatting on the phone, but the truth was, she was finished with her work! Nobody seemed to view this as a good thing, and nobody thought to remedy the situation by giving her additional work to do.

She learned from a coworker that her predecessor had used company time to do coursework for a master’s program she was in.

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June First July 1, 2013 at 1:17 pm

The only time I ever made a list of coworkers’ activities was when my supervisor frequently visited “adult” websites on a shared work computer. I wrote down the dates and times from the browser history before he finally learned how to delete the browser history. He and the boss were BFFs, so I was just keeping the list for when I’d need it. I used it after another coworker found him visiting said websites during regular business hours.
The kicker? He still works there. He didn’t get fired.

I really like the “Oh, I can show you some shortcuts on your computer!” suggestion. Otherwise, just roll your eyes and remember that you’re “working smarter” than the coworker.

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Kirsten July 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I think I would have complained to someone else in HR once my confidential complaint was passed on to her by her friend…or I would have saved myself the trouble and left too. It did happen to me once – I left my job over it, but the HR manager was her superfriend so I couldn’t really do much.

However, I did make sure that I listed every single grievance about her in the procedure, and then several about her friend in HR, and refused to sign off/not go to a tribunal until it was all made official and went on their files/the CEO had seen it.

I don’t suppose it made much difference, but it really embarrassed them both so I felt it was revenge!

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Brenda July 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm

This is the kind of situation that requires a titanium spine and proactive behavior. When you are a mature adult it can be difficult to understand and deal with someone who is living their life as if they were still in middle school. You have to do something. Nothing will change for the good by trying to be the better person.

In the OP’s situation, where the co-irker is friends with HR, then it’s a good idea to get your boss and as many other employees on your side as possible. Co-irker’s actions were detrimental to the company, costing them money by her failure to do her work properly and on time. Co-irker’s other behavior could be considered harassment, to the point of creating a hostile work environment, which is an important phrase when it comes to dealing with HR and the powers that be. Anything that carries a whiff of a possible lawsuit is usually enough to spur action.

Co-irker’s going through the OP’s computer is surprising to me. Most companies require users to have logins and passwords. If another employee has to use a shared computer, those logins and passwords should keep them locked out of another user’s information, including history. Information has to be secured. If someone at my company were able to get in and explore someone else’s computer, it could cause security breaches. I would suggest that OP always use a password on her computer from now on.

1. The first person in HR’s door is the one who is believed. If you go in second, you not only have to prove your case, but disprove the original complaint. It’s almost never going to happen.

2. Document, document, document. This is serious. Dates, places, quotes, actions, reactions. Going into your boss and/or HR with a stack of papers forces the issue.

3. Complain immediately. This loops back to 1., but this includes complaining to your superior and to sympathetic coworkers. Organizing a group around a central issue is very important.

4. Be clear. Immediately stop the co-irker, in front of witnesses, and make your complaint. “Co-irker, why did you go through my personal items and company paperwork while I was out? You were not asked to do this, and several things have gone missing. I have made a list of things that I am unable to locate. I will be forwarding a copy of the list to my boss, your boss, our supervisor, and HR.”

5. Remain calm. Don’t raise your voice. Do not say anything that may be construed as threatening. Do not use foul language.

6. Learn how to cry on demand. This depends on the situation and the people involved, but sometimes shedding tears works.

It really is sad that you have to do these things, but there are plenty of sociopaths, psychopaths, and just plain jerks out there, and you will run into some of them at work.

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Shannan July 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

A lot of people do enjoy playing the martyr. An above poster made a very valid point though that usually people who have to continually stay late, never take lunch vaction time, or sick days are people who can’t do their jobs effectively in the time alotted.

I have to wonder though: did your company not have to pay OT? Also, how is it that not even her boss noticed how unproductive she was?

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Ergala July 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm

My husband had a coworker like this. My husband worked on the store’s delivery truck so he couldn’t just punch out for lunch…he was on the road. He’d have to do a paper timesheet for that. Every single week she’d make a snide remark about how he was “forgetting” to punch out on the computer. She knew he wasn’t in the store to punch out. Well one day he noticed she wasn’t punching out to go pick up lunch from Applebee’s. Or to do her Christmas shopping. He was friends with one of the managers and planted the bug in his ear that she wasn’t punching out either. What she was doing was ordering take out, leaving to go get it, and then she’d punch out when she got back and take the full lunch time. She didn’t say boo to my husband after that.

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Nicole July 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I work in finance and am a former auditor. If one of my employees did this it would set off all kinds of warning bells! People who are committing fraud rarely take time off, so their fraud never comes to light.

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Snarkastic July 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm

InNM brought up some good questions. Aren’t individual computers often password protected? Is that not a thing anymore? Why is no one (higher up on the food chain) addressing her oddly aggressive behavior towards the OP?

Oh, working for a living. Am I right, folks?

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Wild Irish Rose July 1, 2013 at 3:14 pm

“She was making notes of when people arrived and left, and even how many trips to the bathroom they took!”

I actually had a coworker doing this to ME–no one else, just me. I had been on maternity leave, and the managing partner of the firm where I worked (who happened to be close friends with this coworker) had it in for me because I’d had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, and his son and DIL had lost their first child. Somehow that became my fault. Anyway, this woman was telling him each and every time I left my desk for whatever reason, and when I found out about it, I mentioned it to my boss, who was a partner in the firm. When he failed to go to bat for me, I found another job. I really liked that boss, but there’s a limit.

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LonelyHound July 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I had one of those in my very first place of work. Only this person would arrive when everyone else did, stay late and keep track of people’s comings and goings. I have always been a better morning worker than afternoon worker and had the added benefit of being recently discharged from the USAF. So, I opted to come in very early and go home early (I liked my afternoons to run and run errands). The nature of my job also had me working full time during the day then putting in a few hours at night as well- just the nature of the beast, nothing more. Well, little did I know this person was keeping tabs on me. To allow people to save money on gas/get a free day off my work switched to 4 10 hour days. Immediately the person tracking me contacted my boss. Apparently, I was still leaving at the same time every day even though our hours had been extended. My boss said that yes, he knew of this and this was because I came in well before this person, left after a 10 hour day and still had to sometimes put in night work. This person was told to mind their own business and if they had nothing better to do than track other employees my boss would talk to theirs and more work could be arranged. We won’t want him/her to be bored after all. :)

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Marozia July 1, 2013 at 3:37 pm

@Chocobo & @Anonymous have the best ideas for this passive-aggressive Know-It-All.
We have a ‘moaner’ as well. I never list to the BS she gives. If she starts on anythings, I usually say “That’s nice” or “Gee, what a shame”. I have my own work to do, never mind about her moaning about people who don’t do work.
Glad OP is out of that place.

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SimplySam July 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Years ago, I worked with a “princess” who would probably have been best of friends with your coworker. L was 22, still lived at home with her mom, didn’t have to pay rent, or any kind of bills, and had no clue as to how to take care of herself (this was something she would brag about). She worked in my department in a very small, family-owned business. I later found out that I was technically her boss, as I was head of the department we were both in; however, we were both given stupid and confusing job titles (i.e. update dispatcher–hers, e-mail operator–mine) and no clear seniority was made with the exception of the owner. I was never allowed to use any kind of authority when it came to how our department was run. She however, was given special projects, the one that I remember the clearest was the training of the staff on new software that we were switching to. While she was training, I was to take over her tasks along with my own. She had made up a schedule of the employees she was training (both those in our office and those out in the field), and wouldn’t you know it, she stretched that task out to cover three weeks, with me being the very last person she was going to train–quite impractical since I needed to be savy rather sooner than later. Well, the three weeks came and went, everyone was trained, and she kept finding reasons why she couldn’t pick up her regular job duties. She’d spend all day in some non-essential task, while I struggled to get both of our jobs done. I had learned not to complain as she had me “officially reprimanded” for asking her to move back to her desk one day when she was monopolizing mine once (L was protected by an older employee, who the boss felt beholden to), but I finally had enough of her and her lack of work. I purposely scheduled to have my wisdom teeth removed so that I would have to take a long four day weekend to recover. I knew that while I was out, she’d have to go back to her job, and cover mine as well. I came back to work the following week, and miraculously didn’t have to do her job in addition to mine as well.

I ended up staying there for about six more months before I finally had enough of the madness that office was. One of the last straws were when I found out she made a full $2.00 more an hour than I did when I had been working there much longer.

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Angela July 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I was in graduate school when my advisor hired a new lab technician. (We were parallel in position; neither supervised the other./0 Soon it was clear that she had it in for me, although she wasn’t that abrasive to others. (It’s very seldom that I have trouble getting along with other people; I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me). I wasn’t even there all day, since I had classes and the lab was off-campus. A possible reason was that I was in a Ph.D. program and she had a Master’s. In fact, we heard about her Master’s on a regular basis: how hard the program had been, how she was specially qualified for this job because of her Master’s, how the other students had complained about the program but she just kept plugging along…
I ended up running my rats late in the afternoon so I could avoid her. I went home in pitch dark but it was worth it. My ordeal ended after about 6 months when her boss found that she hadn’t finished the Master’s program and in fact did not have this much-flaunted degree, and fired her.

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LizaJane July 1, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Nicole,

Up.

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LizaJane July 1, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Yup.

Darn autocorrect.

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Stacey Frith-Smith July 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm

OP, I regret the experience you endured wherein this person foisted her twisted view of the world off onto you routinely but your frustration indicates that she occupied a lot of space in your head that could have been better devoted to living your own life professionally and personally. It’s probably impossible not to become provoked with a person like this but to allow her more than a moment’s time in your head is a victory for her. She wasn’t your supervisor, and your post doesn’t show that your work was in any way dependent upon hers. Ignoring people like this is your prerogative and a good general policy.

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Nina J. Hodgson July 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Has anyone audited the books lately? Sounds like a classic embezzler to me.

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Jays July 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I used to work with someone a little like this. (We still work for the same company, actually, but I moved to a different department.) The difference was that this person (I’ll call her “L”) is really very nice, and a good worker. But she was also what we called a “work martyr.” SHE could never take all her vacation days, because the office needed her SO much. SHE could never take her breaks, because she was so so busy. SHE had to come in early and stay late, all unpaid of course, because what would happen if she didn’t??? And she would point all this out earnestly whenever any of the rest of us (oh, the humanity), took a vacation day or a break or worked merely our assigned (and paid!) hours. I’m not sure if she was trying to make sure she was considered invaluable or if she really thought the company would go under without all her unused vacation (weeks worth) or unpaid overtime. A lot of others were intimidated by her constant comments to do the same thing (she was a veteran), but I eventually just started ignoring her. The world didn’t end. As far as I know, she’s still doing this, still losing oodles of time and still convinced she’s holding the company up single-handed. (She’s not. But they’ll take advantage as long as she lets them.)

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Lauren July 1, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Your coworker is mental. She should never be put in a position of authority, because she is one of those weirdos who think that if they get to order people around at their lowly jobs then they have POWER. I’ve worked with so many people trying desperately to order other people around, when all it did was make them look desperate and grasping. The successful people at work work hard, but make it look a bit easy so that they got more and more responsibility. Uptight whiners never get anywhere.

I just don’t get this mindset. Unless you are in the room deciding on employee bonuses or own part of the company, you have the exact same amount of power as the people cleaning the offices at night…most people don’t seem to grasp this concept.

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Aje July 1, 2013 at 5:27 pm

TeamBhakta, I think I know those girls! We had the same thing going on in a deli-gas station I worked. They would complain and say nasty things about other people constantly… it was ridiculous. I finally left, because they were just grumpy and nasty to be around.

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