This is what comes of being labeled "the nice one".
Background: Rowena is a professional librarian who was hired almost two and a half years ago as part time. (To be fair: Stonecold hired her and four other people, completely cold and without interviews, from a pile of resumes. We were lucky with three of those hires, but Rowena and one other were not a great fit. The other person quit after six months when she realized that her full time teaching job and a part time job two hours away from home was not the greatest fit...also, she seemed to have the impression she would be in charge, which was not the case. We probably can thank Stony for that one, too.)
Rowena also struggles under the notion that she should have been promoted to some much higher office by now. Who knows what Stonecold told her when she called to give her the job. The problem with Rowena is: though she is originally from Poland, she has been in this country for twenty five years and barely speaks English. Anyone who works on a desk with her usually has to field all her phone calls because she cannot make herself understood: won't speak up, mumbles and, even if she does speak up, her use of the language is so poor, you may end up with a book on hippopotamuses when what you wanted was help on the internet (which she is afraid of).
There was a time when we all felt sort of sorry for Rowena and tried to include her in discussions and lunches, but as time has passed, we have discovered that she is less a na´ve 55 year old with poor language skills and more of a manipulative weasel with poor language skills. She asks very personal questions about pay grades, retirement and health, as if she thinks she might find a weak spot in someone's armor and move them out so she can take their place. Thing is, this has happened at least once already and she was amazed she didn't get the full time job. She has, in fact, gone into Stonecold's office and demanded a raise and a promotion and been turned down. More shock. (Stonecold only promotes those who are her friends or who pose no threat to her. We have several staff members who were hired because she met them in a bar and talked them into working for the library, but that's another story.)
Anyway, the small group that used to include Rowena has fallen away and guess who is stuck with her? The "lovely, kind, sweet, delightful" (that's Rowena talking) woman who first showed her the ropes of the job. Apparently I sucked at teaching her because she has had two other teachers and none of us got it through to her.
So now she calls me at least once a month to go out to dinner ("And let's go shopping sometime, sweetie, or to a movie and you can help me out with what's going on...." oh no.). I've managed to make it a less than every three month thing, but even that is painful.
1) Rowena repeats everything you just said while you are saying it or recites it all back to you. I'm guessing to learn the language?
2) She won't talk about her personal life at all. None of us know anything about her except what we observe on the desk.
3) She asks very pointed questions about Stonecold and what we think of her, which we deflect (and which I definitely deflect) and why Stonecold won't promote her.
4) She asks personal questions of me Why am I not married? (None of you business.) Don't I have kids? (Ditto) When am I going to retire? (Not now.)She has cheerfully implied things about me because I am not married and currently have no interest. (No, Rowena, I am not g@y, I am not mentally ill, I am not a serial killer....I just never got asked and have now stopped caring because there's too much else to worry about....not that I actually say any of this to her. I usually say "It never happened for some reason" and then turn the conversation back on her.)
5) She tries to pump me for information on my friends who are also her supervisors. She drives my closest friend crazy, coming in in skirts that are so short they might as well be belts or, most recently, a thin nude colored dress that showed very clearly that Rowena wasn't wearing undergarments. Friend sent her home to change. She returned in the same dress wearing a black bra and a thong. Friend sent her home again and she returned in a low backed, short skirted number and friend made her wear her own sweater the rest of the day. Is friend uptight about the human body? (Yes, I know some things are cultural, but I really doubt that librarians in Poland go to their jobs wearing bikini tops and sarongs.)
6) After dinner (even though we usually go to the same place each time) I have to drive her around the parking lot in my car so she can find the exit, then drive her back to her car and have her follow me out of the place so she knows where to go--even though she drives this route to get to and from work. One time I thought I was going to have to drive her all the way back to HER house and then back to the restaurant, then show her how to get home by leading her there. I suspect this woman would be dense in ANY language--and yet she supposedly speaks at least three.
So...after all that,it comes down to, how do I keep saying "no" to dinner? And if I break down occasionally and go, like once every four months, how do I keep her off her favorite subjects? And would it be rude to put my hand up in front of my face when she gives me her usual greeting and farewell: a big fat kiss on the mouth. (Okay, just kidding about the hand...but this IS her greeting.)
I am seriously at my wits end even though I don't see her that often. Help! And sorry for the length.