A few of you will know about my recent travails at work, with a colleague who - sympathetic at first about my Asperger's - has taken against me. She stage-managed an incident that led me to have a meltdown after she got the opportunity I know she'd been looking for to shout at me. I got reprimanded over that, but my employers have taken due account of the situation and have made reasonable adjustments so that I no longer have to work around this woman. They've also fixed up fortnightly 'catch-ups' with me to make sure all is okay. I've unfortunately had to report a few incidents of passive-aggressive comments and behaviour - but nothing I can really draw on as 'evidence' of a bullying campaign because they've all been done either out of earshot of others, or in ways that could easily be 'explained away' as something quite innocent. I know the agenda, though. I've dealt with this kind of thing enough times in my life. I almost expect stuff to happen - and I know that, if it comes to a complaint or mediation, I won't be able to make anything stick because I have no hard and fast proof. She'll deny there's any problem or need for mediation, anyway. And if it gets that far, then I know the pressure will increase. She won't back off. She'll become even more crafty at attempts to wind me up or wrong-foot me. I know she has the knives out.
Yesterday, on the way to work, I popped into a filling station for diesel. As usual, I used the opportunity to look the car over. I know every tiny dent or scratch. It was clean. Then I drove to work. I parked in a small private car park where we have three side-by-side parking bays that we're allowed to use. I don't usually park in there, and nor does anyone else because there is room along the road. But yesterday, I did. I backed into the right-hand bay, so I was facing out when I came to leave. The car park is enclosed by hedges, so can't be seen from the road. It can be seen, though, from one window on the top floor of our building. I happened to be working on the top floor yesterday, and at one point I looked out of the window and saw that this woman had also parked in this bay, right next to me and facing inwards - driver's door to driver's door with mine. My first thought was that that was odd because she always parks in the road (she arrives about an hour after I do). My second thought - only fleeting, but there - was that if she's as spiteful as I think she is, she'll scratch my car (she knows it's mine). The thought came back to me during the day. In fact, I almost decided to ask for 5 minutes so that I could go and check my car and move it. But in the end I thought I was probably being paranoid, and I left it. It was at the back of my mind all day, though.
This woman left work about 5 minutes before I did last night, and when I reached the car park she had gone. I looked at my car. There was a V-shaped key scratch in the paintwork, right by my filler cap (where I would certainly have noticed it earlier). At the level and position it was, it looked like it had been done by someone reaching out of a car window.
Well... you can imagine how I felt, and now feel. I didn't sleep last night. This morning, when I got to work, I was in such a state of anxiety that everyone who came in kept asking if I was okay. I told my manager to keep this woman away from me. I then rang a senior manager, who knows all about the case, and filled her in. I said that I couldn't prove anything, of course. But it wasn't there when I parked, and it was there when I left. So... if this woman hadn't done it, it would have to have been done by someone else in the short space of time between my arrival and hers. The SM is going to get in touch with HR about the best way to handle everything, and asked if I'd thought about mediation. Again.... I said as I said above. I've been through it before. It doesn't work with people like this. They deny there's any problem. Then they ramp things up afterwards. I said to her it'll only be resolved if one of us leaves. And, the way things are going, it'll be me. My nerves won't take it much longer. I was feeling so bad by late afternoon that I had to come home. I couldn't focus on work.
So, now I'm back to where I was. I have no proof, but a good deal of circumstantial evidence. Which will mean nothing! And she, like I said, will deny there's even any problem. I know she will. She's bullied other people - including one guy who eventually got the sack thanks to her fabricated allegations against him. She won't stop until she's driven me out. And then I'll be another notch on her gun barrel. The whole episode will simply be dismissed as something in my head.
I don't know where to go from here. Except sick - and stay that way until they let me go. I can't think of another option.
Sorry for the long post. Thanks for reading.
Play detective. Where you parked your car, see if there is any cctv. It’s worth a go.
Also keep a log of everything you do. Also, you may want to consult Citizens Advice about possibly bringing a case for constructive dismissal on the basis of there failure as an employer.
Cctv is key. Keep your phone on you and try it ready to record if you hear her say anything.
Gather the evidence that is key.
Now... the correct response would ofcourse be: you're getting paranoid, you're hyperfocussing, calm down, you're stressing out over nothing. Try mediation and everything will return to normal.
But, unfortunately I've been in a similar situation. Apart from the ridiculous amount of stress it caused, it also let me to expect something or other to happen everyday, trying to see what was going to happen in advance, trying to prepare myself and just about bringing the event onto myself. Like a magnet. And you feel as if you're walking on eggs.
I did the mediation Martian Tom, and it was by far the strangest thing I've ever done. That colleague was someone who repeatedly logged me out of my computer, claimed my desk, saying: no one was sitting here at all, etc.
We had to go sit in a room, first with our supervisors there with us, then later the two of us. It went like this: please tell each other what you admire in the other person.
I was like 'WHAT???', Fine, went along with it. Mumbled something along the lines of 'she's a good organisor, always has her stuff organised...' All the time I was thinking: she is really dumb, sorry to say, hope this organisation comment is enough. Please let it be enough, because I know nothing else.
Mentioned something along the lines of: good with the agents on the floor (NOT).
She said something about me always being up to date with new changes and all the theory and always knowing everything blabla.
Then afterwards my supervisor asked me if I was happy with the outcome. I was like: wth was that about. So what on earth was her issue with me then? Never got an answer.
She went to another floor with her team. They reorganised teams (probably linked to this incident), and some months later we were back in the same building, same floor, doing the same training. For months. That really did me in. It isn't even that anything much happened that time, except for the looks, but I just never got over the fact that anyone that blatantly stupid and mean could be doing the same training as I was. I had worked so much harder, and she was known to be not the brightest.
I quit due to another incident not long afterwards. Well... wentbon sick leave for months first to do some kind of psychotherapy thing.
I wasn't diagnosed at the time so that can't be why she seemed after me.
So basically trying to say: it will be okay.
But if it goes the way I expect it to, it won't resolve itself. You've got to accept the mediation though. And whatever you do, don't quit yourself.
Thanks, Creek. I've already reported it to the Police and asked them to check CCTV at specific times.
Thanks, Blank. That's as I feared (fortunately, I'm in a union). From experience, I know that these people are very clever, and will usually only do something when it's either unable to be proven 100%, or it's 'your word against theirs'.
I know it was her. There was no one else it could be, and she had motive. It's a war of attrition, grinding away at me until I quit - which is what she wants. From what someone else was saying this week, it seems she might be jealous of my popularity both with service users and other staff. She needs to be top dog. She also doesn't like being disagreed with on certain things - which is why everyone else plays ball with her, because they know what they'll get if they go against her. Control or what?
I won't quit. But I also know I won't stand too much more of the pressure.
I did mediation in another job, with the most horrendous bully. It was a waste of time. It made her worse - because someone had dared to suggest that there was an issue that needed resolving. I know it'll be a waste of time with this particular harpy. In fact, it'll be playing right into her court. She'll love it. Because she'll know that she's got me on the ropes.
Jealousy sucks, sorry to say. It was apparently the same with that woman at my previous job. That is what people told me.
I didn't get it. My life was terrible at the time, hers was stable, happy with house, husband, kid. There was nothing she could be jealous of.
Maybe she didn't like me for my freedom. I had a female boss before who didn't like my freedom thing and not in the box kind of thing. We had to be separated and they made HER boss my direct boss. (I've been in such funny situations.)
I guess some people have a strong sense of smell when it comes to that.
I look back on her sympathetic attitude towards me when I started - I remember her saying to me one say 'I expect you've endured a lot of bullying' and when I said 'Yes' she said 'Bless you' - and think it was all part of the game: feeling me out, seeing where I was vulnerable if the opportunity arose and she decided to use it. She would be passive-aggressive online, then as nice as pie at work - as if nothing had happened. And then she chose her moment. I know she's not well liked. But because she's clever, no one's ever been able to pin anything on her.
My one consolation... and I feel really awful about the schadenfreude, but... yesterday, one of the service users had a meltdown and punched her in the head. Maybe he was channeling me and was on my side.
He should phone the police about the assault on his hand :-D
Apparently, it made her feel ill for the rest of the day. Shame. Not ill enough to be unproductive with her use of keys, though.