Author Topic: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....  (Read 5389 times)

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GrammarNerd

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Let's say I work at an establishment that provides a service.  There is a woman there (patron) who is unpleasant, outright rude at times, and has personally wronged me.  The other factor is that she has a disability that affects her motor skills.  I hesitate to mention the disability, but it is a factor in the situation.

I do not interact with her as part of my job.  But our paths do cross.  Before she wronged me (I don't want to get too specific), I made a general comment about bad weather outside to a few other people in a common area.  This woman was there and went off on a rant that totally misconstrued my comment.  After that, I made it a point to not engage her.  I asked my boss about her and she said this was a good idea and that's how boss deals with her; this woman was prone to do that type of thing and has done this in the past to her and others.  Boss told me about how it almost seems this woman likes to create a situation where she can complain or rant about something. And her rants are often related to her disability....basically, a disabled special snowflake.   Now, I get that things are more tough for her.  But I also don't believe that her disability gives her a free pass to yell at people, be rude to them and wrong them.   So anyway, after that, if the woman said something to me, I would give a smile and a pleasant reply, but that's it.   

So then came the incident where she wronged me.  After that, I wanted nothing to do with her.  Basically, cut direct.  I can tolerate a lot, but I will not tolerate someone doing to me what she did. 

However, I still see her, and because of her mobility issues, she often asks people to do things for her, or she wants things a certain way that accommodate her and her alone.  For example (not the real situation), we're in a library with a bank of computers.  Every day, she comes in to use a computer.  However, she likes to use a footstool to prop up her leg.  Footstools are typically kept across the room, so while she could get one, it would take her a while to walk over there.  So she asks various people to get her one.  Also, there's a fan above the computers.  It's on a timer and the switch is several feet away from where she sits.  So after she gets someone to bring her a footstool, she asks someone to turn on the fan.  And after the fan cycle is done, she'll ask someone to turn it back on.  So if you're using one of the computers around her, you can also feel the fan.

Now, the problem is that when I'm done with work, I like to use the computers for a couple of minutes; not more than five.  But I don't want the fan blowing on me; it gives me a headache.  So I've been avoiding using the computers because she's there and I don't want to deal with her.  However, this kind of annoys be, because I feel like I'm letting her  win; like she can dictate what I can and can't do just by her surly attitude (one time, someone didn't want the fan on and she got verbally nasty with the person, and kept insisting that the person turn on the fan). 

So anyway, I get that she has a disability, but she also has the expectation that she should be accommodated with whatever she wants, whenever she wants, but whoever, and I don't think that's right.  Her general attitude and nastiness, coupled with the fact of what she did to me, makes me not want to engage her in any way, like I said.  If it was anyone else, I would be happy to help them, and in fact, I have helped people many times.  I'm a sociable person.  But I have no tolerance for THIS person because of what I have personally witnessed and experienced.  However, I'm starting to resent that because she's basically dictating what I can and can't do, because I don't want to engage her, and I KNOW that she'll try to get me to do something for her or will at least ask to turn on the fan.  She's 'winning' with her surly attitude.

So if you made it through that, is there any way that I can politely avoid her, yet not let her dictate my enjoyment of the computers?  Seriously, she's always there.  If she asks me to turn on the fan, would a polite "no, thank you" suffice, or would I have to go into more of an explanation? "No, thank you.  The fan gives me a headache."  Or do I just have to suck it up and turn on the stupid fan?

And please, no flames.  If anyone wants the real story, you can PM me. 


TurtleDove

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2013, 10:59:30 AM »
I would say, "I prefer to not have the fan blowing on me."  If she rants, let her.  You certainly do not have to cater to her.

MindsEye

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2013, 11:09:16 AM »
Now, the problem is that when I'm done with work, I like to use the computers for a couple of minutes; not more than five.  But I don't want the fan blowing on me; it gives me a headache.  So I've been avoiding using the computers because she's there and I don't want to deal with her.  However, this kind of annoys be, because I feel like I'm letting her  win; like she can dictate what I can and can't do just by her surly attitude (one time, someone didn't want the fan on and she got verbally nasty with the person, and kept insisting that the person turn on the fan). 

...

So if you made it through that, is there any way that I can politely avoid her, yet not let her dictate my enjoyment of the computers?  Seriously, she's always there.  If she asks me to turn on the fan, would a polite "no, thank you" suffice, or would I have to go into more of an explanation? "No, thank you.  The fan gives me a headache."  Or do I just have to suck it up and turn on the stupid fan?

And please, no flames.  If anyone wants the real story, you can PM me.

Hmm.... okay.  Well, here is my opinion.

When you are on duty, she is a patron/customer and you are obligated to accommodate her to the extend that your manager requires you to do so.

However.

In this situation with the computers you describe, when you want to use them briefly when you are done with work and "off the clock", she is no longer your patron/customer and you are no longer obligated to accommodate her any more than you want to.  So if you want to flat out ignore her ("cut direct") when you are off duty, I think that you would be fine to do so.

I think that if you want to respond to her, simply saying something like "No thank you, I am off duty."  Is just fine because you are A) acknowledging her, B) letting her know that you will not do as she asks (demands), and C) why.  I wouldn't explain further... telling her that it is because you get headaches is too much information.  Just keep it short and sweet.  And if she gets verbally abusive with you, just ignore her and report her behavior to your manager.

Good luck.  It can be so difficult dealing with snowflakes like that!

GrammarNerd

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2013, 11:14:13 AM »
OP here....also forgot to ask that if I'm already there (like she's late) when she comes in, and she wants me to get a footstool for her, or do something else for her, is there any polite way to refuse?  I know that sounds....not nice, but I have no desire to do anything to assist this woman after what she did to me, disability or not.  Anyone else?  No problem at all!  But not this woman.  I have a pretty high tolerance, but this person has exceeded my tolerance levels.

MindsEye

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2013, 11:18:21 AM »
OP here....also forgot to ask that if I'm already there (like she's late) when she comes in, and she wants me to get a footstool for her, or do something else for her, is there any polite way to refuse?  I know that sounds....not nice, but I have no desire to do anything to assist this woman after what she did to me, disability or not.  Anyone else?  No problem at all!  But not this woman.  I have a pretty high tolerance, but this person has exceeded my tolerance levels.

"No thank you, I am off duty." works for this situation as well! 

You don't like this person.  You don't have to be nice to her if you don't want to be nice to her.  Polite, yes.  But polite is not the same as nice, and nice is not the same as polite.  You can politely refuse to be nice!

Just put a little bit of polish into your spine, and politely refuse to accommodate her.

TurtleDove

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2013, 11:21:59 AM »
OP here....also forgot to ask that if I'm already there (like she's late) when she comes in, and she wants me to get a footstool for her, or do something else for her, is there any polite way to refuse? 

I think you can just say, "No, I am busy."  She is asking you for a favor.  It is never impolite to not agree to do the favor.  And if I am understanding correctly, she can get the footstool herself, she just prefers not to.  This is a want of hers, not a need.  And you certainly do not have to cater to her.

Twik

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2013, 11:22:43 AM »
Unfortunately, while on the clock, I don't think you can refuse to serve her as you would any other customer, unless your employer has specifically authorized you to avoid her, or you can find other work that takes priority over getting her footstools and turning on fans.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

GrammarNerd

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2013, 11:33:45 AM »
Thanks for the responses.  And to clarify....I am not working when I see her or potentially interact with her.  At that point, I am a patron like anyone else.  My function for my job doesn't intersect with her at all; we just happen to want to use the same facilities (the computers), and at that point, we're both patrons, basically. 

I just worry about how it would look to other patrons if I refuse to do something for her that I could do more easily than she could; if it would reflect badly on me when people don't know the backstory.  After all, they know me as an employee, even though it would be obvious I'm not on duty.

And that very thing actually did just happen last week; I was happily using the computers when she wasn't there and I was chatting (softly) with a coworker.  I saw NastyWoman come in and I started to leave.  She was right in front of me and as I stepped around her, she asked me to go across the room and get her a footstool.  The only thing I could think of doing on the spur of the moment was to say "No, I really have to get going, but you could ask (coworker)."  I HATED throwing coworker under the bus like that, and I apologized profusely to her a few minutes later when coworker left, after explaining the backstory.  Coworker was very nice and said that with the backstory, she'd probably feel the same way.

TurtleDove

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2013, 11:38:21 AM »
It might help to know some facts about what this person did to wrong you, but depending on what she did I think you could also say, "I am not working right now, and given the way you _____ I am not going to help you."

MrTango

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2013, 11:59:21 AM »
I think the disability, no matter what it is, is irrelevant.

It might help to know some facts about what this person did to wrong you, but depending on what she did I think you could also say, "I am not working right now, and given the way you _____ I am not going to help you."

I think the OP would be fine with saying "I am not working right now"  once (and only once) and then going about her business.

peach2play

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2013, 12:18:22 PM »
I'm afraid that won't be possible.

TurtleDove

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2013, 12:39:27 PM »
I'm afraid that won't be possible.
The problem with this is that it begs the question, "why isn't it possible?" Because it is possible, the OP is simply choosing not to do it. Honesty is the best policy, I think. If someone told me something "wasn't possible" when I know it is possible, I would argue the issue. If someone tells me they don't want to do something or are not going to do something, I accept that. Pretending the OP has no choice and it is out of her hands because it "isn't possible" doesn't sit well with me and I suspect it would backfire. Because it IS possible. That doesn't mean the OP should do it.

mj

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2013, 12:41:18 PM »
Stating that you're off duty is what I would do.

But I think talking to your boss about the additional info about rude lady is the more desired way to go.  As a company serving rude lady, they need to find ways to accommodate her if they want her patronage so much so that they are utilizing other patrons to serve her.  Because that is the bare bones of the situation.

JenJay

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2013, 12:46:24 PM »
I would say, "I prefer to not have the fan blowing on me."  If she rants, let her.  You certainly do not have to cater to her.

This is what I would do, and I would probably add "I'll be finished in about 5 minutes and I'll be happy to turn it on when I leave."

Clear this with your boss first, though, because it sounds like it's pretty unlikely the woman will say "That sounds like a good compromise." but will instead freak out and tell your boss on you.  ::)

TootsNYC

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Re: How to avoid someone unpleasant and make the least amount of waves....
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2013, 12:48:31 PM »
I don't know why all these people are suggesting you say "no thank you" when she asks you to turn the fan on.

Say "I prefer not to have the fan blowing on me."
Or say, "I'm in the middle of something."

Add a "sorry" if you want to.

I like "I'll be finished in about 5 minutes; you can turn it on then."