I’ve had a most surreal experience in the last few weeks (I seem to be making a habit of that, lately, eh?). So odd, in fact, that I have designated it as one of my top ten weird experiences of all time.
About a month ago, I was hired to work for an accountant as her assistant. Actually, I was classified as ‘outside services’ so she wouldn’t have to cover the payroll taxes. I didn’t mind that much, since I’ve done it before and it gives me flexibility. The problem was that she wanted to treat me as an employee (read indentured servant) when it came to her stuff.
I so desperately needed the work that I did my best to please her, and do things that she needed done in the best way I knew how. I’m relatively intelligent and have a pretty good battery of skills so she made haste in taking advantage of all I could do – which wasn’t really fair since many of the things she asked of me really didn’t fall in with the pay scale and job description. But it was a five minute commute, she promised to raise the rate in a few weeks and occasionally she bought me lunch. What could be so bad?
It turned out that she was very difficult to work with – very critical, nothing seemed to please her and she had this uncanny ability to make me feel like I was to make her my number one priority. Even to the point of when the big fire was happening out here, she expected me to put her first and help her evacuate because she was worried about the fire, when I lived literally a mile down the road and was at least in as much danger of losing home, possessions and possibly worse. After that snafu, she dispensed of any social niceties and became pretty freaking snarly. Despite the fact that after I’d brought back roomie and his truck to help her evac over the fire scare, once I’d determined my home was okay and my pets and possessions safe. Nope, that grudge wasn’t going anywhere, it was there to stay.
As the next several days wore on, things became more and more tense and literally everything I did was wrong to her. I couldn’t get a darn thing done because she interupted me every five minutes to criticize me for one thing or another. When I got home that night I was pretty riled, so I wrote her an email trying to appeal to her sense of reason and to explain that I couldn’t work under these conditions and wanting to figure it out. What entailed was a flurry of increasingly nasty emails from her. No matter how much I tried to reason with her, she just came back with insults and denigrations.
Still, I was hopeful I could somehow talk her off the ledge and get her to regain some semblance of rationality, so I continued emailing back and forth trying to get her to calm down. She then indicated she expected me to work on Labor Day, which was pretty much my breaking point and I told her I didn’t work holidays and had no idea she would expect that – her response was that I should have told her that and should have expected that she would have expected that. Long story short, I told her I didn’t want to continue working for her. I offered to come in the week after Labor Day to finish out the week if she needed that. I didn’t hear back from her so I sent her my final invoice and promptly got another job.
She sent me one email querying something on the invoice I sent her, which was a typo, that I corrected and resent the invoice. This I took to mean she was planning to pay the invoice and it was over.
But….no…. Days passed and no word, no check. Nothing. I emailed her and she didn’t respond at all. It’s no secret I’ve been pretty broke and though she didn’t owe me that much money, I needed it so I continued to email her asking about it. Out of friendship, roomie even went over there to try to collect the check and she went ballistic on him.
I told him to forget about it and I’d figure it out later.
Then I got a flurry of emails, each nastier than the one before. Again filled with insults and angst. Accusing me of all manner of things and I started to wonder if she’d confused me with a boyfriend who had broken up with her. The insults were so personal and vicious that it was as though I’d known her for years rather than 3-4 weeks. As though I’d killed a family member of hers or something. And all indications were that she had no intention of paying me, though she never said. She simply just kept lobbing over the bombs.
Today, the check came in the mail (after another nasty email this morning), it had been written three days ago and mailed yesterday. And I had to scratch my head. If it had already been written and mailed why didn’t she just say so and leave it at that? Why would she continue with the nasty emails, trying to taunt me and doubt I was getting paid when in fact, it was already done? Honestly, it almost knocked me off my feet.
I mean, what makes a person do something like that? Intentionally rile and taunt another person just for sport? And I thought I should be angry, I should want to throttle her or something but really I just felt sorry for her. I thought her life must be horrible that she would take such pleasure in upsetting another person just for the sake of doing it. That her life must be tragic to derive joy or satisfaction from something like that. And I also thought, I’m glad I’m not her. I have my own demons make no mistake but my life is a cakewalk in comparison – I don’t need to hurt people to feel alive. To wound people to feel empowered. To drama all over someone else’s head to have self-esteem and self-respect.
Hey we all have bad thoughts, bad intentions, want to hurt somebody else because we’re hurting – but most of us, restrain ourselves because know it’s wrong. Maybe she’ll figure it out someday. I hope so. For her sake – because the rest of us will just be getting on with it, while she’s living in her cave of paranoia and resentment.