Saturday, May 1, 2010

Radio Silence

This lack of programming has been brought to you by three things: The Crazy, The Sick, and The Lucky. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Part One: The Crazy

I'm going to try to tell this story as briefly as I can. It's over now and I am kind of loath to think about it any more. That said, it's the kind of story one doesn't have the opportunity to share often (thankfully) and it would be awfully rude of me to leave you all hanging after my last post. Read if you're interested, skip if you're not.

What you need to know: I work in a federally-funded, decentralized system and I am in a supervisory position. This means that my professional peers are scattered around half a dozen different sites in our region of the state. We all report to a single supervisor in our region (Boss Man), and several state directors above him. We also share a central support office and one of the employees in that office is tasked with training our staff. Which is a joke. Because he does nothing. Nothing. It must also be noted that I do not report to this person in anyway whatsoever, nor does anyone else in our system. For the remainder of this story, I'll call him Train, as in train-wreck, not train-er. At my worksite, there are two people above me - my direct supervisor (DS) and the woman in charge of everything (ED).

Tuesday, April 6: I attend a meeting with the other site supervisors, DS, Train, Boss Man, and two guests from the state. We are meeting to discuss (read: contest) the roll-out of some new policies that are very problematic and it's like banging our heads against a brick wall. We've been at it for something like three hours when Boss Man does something objectively bizarre. All of the supervisors around the table roll their eyes at one another, myself included.

Wednesday, April 7: I come in late because E had a doctor's appointment that morning. When I get there, DS calls me into her office and shows me an email both she and ED received from Train. It blasts me specifically (and only me), stating that I was making "sneers and awful looks" behind Boss Man's back. He went on to rant about my "gross professional misconduct" and stated that if my behavior continued, he would pursue an official grievance. I told her the only thing I could think of - the part where everyone was rolling their eyes a bit - which I knew she knew about because she was one of the people I exchanged looks with at the time. DS said that everyone present at the meeting had mentioned that same thing... when she'd called them that morning. She went on to explain that she'd followed up with every person in attendance, including the two state guests. Every single person she called said they did not witness any misconduct on my part and if the one time where everyone displayed a little exasperation was the problem, their names should be added to the list as well. DS read me the email response she had ready to send. It was very long and informed Train his complaint had been researched and found to be groundless and went on to say (in many more words) that he should mind his own damn business in the future. About two minutes after she sent it, she received his reply stating that he appreciated her thoughts but as he and Boss Man preferred to "maintain professional decorum" in "their" meetings, he would continue to notify her of situations like this in the future. I won't bore you with the rest of the day's events but the situation continued to smolder with emails and phone messages back and forth - not necessarily escalating, but certainly not deescalating either.

Thursday, April 8 - I am called into ED's office. She has received an email from Train. The email says that he will no longer be able to discuss the situation with her, by order of his attorney. He goes on to explain that through this situation, I (K) have caused him "physical and emotional harm" and is pursuing legal action. ED tells me she has a call in to our attorney and she will keep me posted. About an hour later, I am called back into ED's office. Train has now called her on the phone and claimed that - you may want to sit down for this - immediately following the meeting on 4/6, I took him into a private area of our office, threatened him not to tell anyone how badly I behaved in the meeting, and kicked him in the crotch. He told ED that he was on his way to a doctor's office to have his "abrasions" treated and to obtain documentation for his lawsuit. ED asks if I went into a private room with him after the meeting at all. I state I did not. Not only that, I cite half a dozen people who can verify our respective whereabouts. ALL of us had walked out of the conference room together and to the lobby of my office. Then, DS and I stayed in the lobby talking to some of the other meeting attendees while Train and Boss Man left together and had lunch with the guests from the state. Seriously. He went out to lunch with three other people IMMEDIATELY after the meeting. As I relay all of this to ED, I realize how far out of touch with reality he is. That's when I really start to freak out. ED asks if I've ever had any problems with Train before. I tell her no and that I thought we were friends, and then I get tearful as I recall that we rarely had a conversation that didn't end with me showing him the latest pics of E on my phone. Who knew I was showing pics of my baby to someone so unstable? ED gets in touch with Train's boss. She says that Train is out of the office for the rest of the week but she'll try to track him down and speak with him. Later that day, I am told she cannot get in touch with him but she believes it is because he is out of town for the weekend.

Friday, April 9 through Tuesday, April 13 - Believe it or not, very little happens. I am told nothing, despite my requests for updates. I get off the elevator a floor below mine and sneak up the stairs each morning, afraid the doors will open on my own floor to find him waiting there for me, and I jump out of my skin every time the phone rings. After work on Tuesday, I call a friend who works in the same office as Train and beg for any information. He tells me that Train resigned that day but will be working through May 14th, and no one was given any details.

Wednesday, April 14 - Train's boss announces his resignation in a public meeting. She claims he is leaving to care for a sick family member. She says he intended to be at the meeting but something came up at the last minute, and he'll try to make the next one. She encourages people to call or email him with support because he's very sad to be leaving. I nearly go postal. I call a mentor who helps me get my thoughts in order.

Thursday, April 15 - I request a meeting with ED. I tell her I am extremely dissatisfied with the way this situation has played out and especially the lack of information I have received. I deliver my manifesto (as designed during the conversation with my mentor) and she is relatively responsive to it. She admits to me that she received a final email from Train on 4/8 that she neglected to tell me about in which he disclosed he had not actually spoken to a lawyer. I tell her I really wish she'd told me this at the time. She has no answer for why she didn't. She agrees to request more information from Train's boss on my behalf, but she asks that I write the email and she will simply forward it. Fine. Whatever.

It takes me several days to write the email. I keep having to dial back anger and frustration that nobody but me seems to care about my involuntary involvement in his breakdown.

Tuesday, April 20 - I learn that Train has been attending meetings with other staff in our system. So much for my theory that the May 14th date was only on paper. I send email to ED.

Wednesday, April 21 - ED forwards to Train's boss.

Friday, April 23 - Reply from Train's boss received and shared with me and DS. Train's boss confirms that Train is still working in system but will probably be done by May 1, not May 14. She also says that the conversation with Train (which did not occur until 4/13) was very calm and professional and he showed - get this - "a high level of insight." Oh, except that she didn't talk with him about that whole falsely accusing a co-worker of a criminal act thing. She and HR decided that "would not be productive." So, they just talked about the email he sent and how it was very inappropriate. He said he'd been under a lot of stress lately because his sister was in a car accident and perhaps it would be best if he left work so he could tend to her full time. And that was that. She did say that she asked him if there were any lingering issues between he and I (but again, avoiding the whole physical assault thing) and he said no, the problem was his own and had nothing to do with me. ED concluded ourmeeting by announcing three things:

(1) If I choose to pursue the situation further (i.e. defamation lawsuit), I'm on my own. She and our attorney consider the situation to be fully resolved.

(2) She would like DS and I to recognize that either one of us could have prevented this situation, me by refraining from rolling my eyes in the meeting and DS by "taking the high road" (read: backing down) when Train sent his first email. (Oh, right, and did you hear the one about the rape victim that shouldn't have worn the low cut shirt? ) DS argued back on this one. I knew immediately what direction she was going in and decided not to waste my breath.

(3) We should all feel good about the fact that the situation had resolved with no harm done to anyone. Again, DS contested this a bit. I checked out even further.

And that's pretty much the end. I haven't seen him since the meeting on the 6th and hopefully I never will again. I have several theories about why he said the things he did, the most probable involving serious substance abuse and/or an attempt to fake a mental health disability claim. Maybe I'm just telling myself those stories to make myself feel safer, but I think they are more probable than him having the degree of psychotic break it would take to make the specific claims he did, then reorienting himself quickly enough to send a back-peddling email to ED Thursday afternoon and show "insight" during a meeting with his boss the following Tuesday. Really, I'll never know what happened or why. I'm grateful that my professional reputation was strong enough to bring me through this without a scratch, but I'm resentful of the extreme stress it caused me personally. I suspect it fed into delay #2, The Sick, but that's a story for another day.

Thanks to everyone who sent good vibes after my last post. I was really grateful to have you all as a touchstone when everything started spinning out of control.


N said...

Wow. That is some crazy. ass. shit.

I'm so sorry you had to go through it, but am REALLY glad he's leaving the company. Ooof.

Two Moms, Two Monkeys said...

Yikes! What a nut job! Glad it all turned out "relatively" well and its great that he is leaving. At least you won't have to worry about running in to him in the future....hope you are having much better days now.

CyberSue said...

That is out of this world. I thought that maybe you were having trouble with one of your supervisees!
To be accused of something you didn't do, based on something trivial that everyone did, is so wrong. I don't blame you for feeling unsupported and like you were in a parallel universe.
Management and HR= shove it all under the rug and blame the little lady!
I am glad it's "over" - and I hope you don't have to expend any more energy on this. But those things tend to linger on. I was just thinking, though - he sounds like one of those psychos that no-one suspects until they do something absolutely nutso like go postal - so I am really glad he is gone.
I think it reeks of sexism too, but that's just me!
take care and hope you get some much needed rest!

CyberSue said...

PS that was Tireegal using my DP's account by mistake!

Inlocoparentis said...

I think this situation was very poorly and negligently handled. Understand why you want to move on, but there's so much wrong with the way your employer responded. I think they need a different lawyer, frankly.

anofferingoflove said...

holy hell, what a nightmare. im glad he is leaving and you wont have to deal with his craziness any more.

(i am going to be super careful from now on when i have the urge to roll my eyes in a meeting!)

Strawberry said...

Jesus Christ...that's insane! What a horrible situation to have to deal with at work. I'm so sorry. Thank goodness he's outta there. Insanity.

tbean said...

Wow K. That guys is capital I INSANE. Crazy pants. What a horrible and scary month at work for you. I'm so sorry you had to go through all of that.

Melissa said...

WHAT THE HELL?!? That is so so very crazy. I'm so sorry you weren't more protected and supported by your superiors. That must have been so stressful and scary.

jay said...

Um. Wow. That's what you call a bad time at the office!