For those of you who don't know, I work in a prison. This changes the dynamics of the work place just a little as far as what can/should and cannot/should not be said in front of inmates. Generally speaking, any staff disagreements should be handled out of earshot and, if possible, out of eyesight of the offenders. This is why a) I did not say anything immediately when it happened and b) I think my coworker was out of line.
I was standing at my post performing quick searches of satchels my coworker was handing to the inmates. There are approximately 10 different coworkers who hand out these satchels once and sometimes twice a day*. One of the inmates was supposed to have received something in his satchel a week or so ago. I thought I was being helpful by telling her in brief words that he had been checking for a week. Up until now, I've never had any of the coworkers tell me that it was annoying for me to do that. I honestly thought I was being helpful. Her snotty reply was, "It's OK, he can talk." I was taken aback at her tone AND the fact that she had talked to me like that in front of inmates.
I debated on saying something once inmates weren't around. Was it the worst thing she could have said to me in front of inmates? Not even close because she didn't undermine me or challenge my authority. Her tone was snotty enough, though, that one of the inmates (who she couldn't see) made that cat scratching motion and mouthed "meow" (that's how I know it wasn't just me who heard it that way).
This may seem silly, but I seriously debated asking her to not talk to me like that, especially in front of inmates, and if she had a problem would she please address me directly. I decided not to because it wasn't really that big of a deal. Now I'm not sure if I actually exercised my spine a little by recognizing I could use it or if I folded it meekly away by not saying anything.
Should I have said something or was it better to have not?
*Twice a day during my shift, my coworkers hand out these satchels. The coworker handing it out could be any of about 10 people. Sometimes the person who does it in the morning is the same person who does it in the afternoon, but sometimes not. I mention this because the inmate could have easily asked everyone else but this particular coworker about his missing items. This is why I thought I was being helpful.