Swamp-Cooler Talk

I was going to lunch with my team.

Katelyn said, “I love working with F because she’s funny when she’s not even trying to be funny. She just tells it like it is.”

Some 30 minutes later, my boss and I are talking about a former coworker at our previous employer:

My boss: “…she just wants to be a big fish in a small pond.”

Me: “Too bad she turned it into a swamp.”


‚ÄčOne of the company cofounders comes over to our team. He pulls up a chair and sits next to the coworker beside me and says to her, “Just a quick question. Has anyone ever complained about X?”

Even though I am not the one he is asking, I respond first: I immediately burst out laughing. I laugh loudly. Loud enough to get the sales team to send someone over to shush me as they present to clients nearby.

My laughter, infectious, made the cofounder and my coworker also laugh.

My coworker: “This happens all the time. You ask what you think is a perfectly reasonable and normal question, and Fel just bursts out laughing.”

That Special Feeling

My coworker M was drinking a La Croix (they are all the rage these days, aren’t they?) It wasn’t a can I recognized.

“Ooh what flavor is that?” I asked.

M: Sandia! They do tropical flavors now.

F: Oh, damn but it has kiwi.

M: You’re allergic?

F: Yeah, my lips get tingly.

M: You know, some people like having their lips feel tingly…

F: I’m sure there are MANY things you love to have tingling—and thank god HR is not here to hear about it!

Working with a Druish Princess

I used to work in a small room (for 6 people, “the fish bowl”, we called it because it was an interior room with one glass wall overlooking the open office for everybody else.) A girl on the team at the time (almost two years ago) was the type of girl for which I could find no redeeming work quality: superficial in every way, fake and all up in everybody’s business, a gossip, no work ethic and sloppy, spoiled little “Druish princess” (thanks, Mel Brooks!), an embarrassment for myself just in having to accept she was part of the team and the reason people looked down on our team.

There was nothing about her that didn’t irritate me. She would badger me constantly, and each week asked either , “Are you and J getting married?” or “Has J asked you to marry him yet?” or “Am I invited to the wedding?” (Girl, you wouldn’t even be invited to the funeral.) It was especially a sore point for me because at this point in my life, the nights of rejections and lack of sex were starting to bother me and cast my doubts on our relationship–but not like I’d ever tell her that.

I was both relieved and disappointed when she finally was gone–the disappointment came from her being moved to a different department rather than fired. I really had wanted to see her fired, particularly since I would spend the next 3 months cleaning up her sloppy work.

I hate being fake. Absolutely hate it. I would still run into her here and there, and every interaction was painful. My colleagues (those happy smiling people) would laugh at witnessing our interactions because they knew it took every effort on my part to hide what I really wanted to say in those moments and hide my facial expressions every time she spoke to me. She’d catch me in the kitchen and exclaim, “F, I miss working with you so much!” My response: “Oh that’s…nice.”

The other thing my colleagues, the ones who really know me, is I don’t do small talk. It’s not my thing, at least not at 8am. They laugh when someone new comes along and thinks they’re going to really impress me by chatting it up first thing in the morning. Nope. Not even close. I enjoy being able to work in peace and quiet–especially when it’s early. I’m often the first one to the office and almost never late.

So of course this morning would be the day that I’m surprised to see the Druish Princess is in before 8 (again, the work ethic thing was never really her gig. When we worked in the fish bowl, she was late every single day.) As we’re the only two people in on that side of the office, she comes over to do her favorite: the fake small talk. (God, grant me the strength not to toss her out the window.)

“Are you and J getting married yet?”
“Are you two ever going to get married?”
“What?! Why not? Never ever?”
“Really? NEVER?”
“You don’t want to get married???”
“We broke up.”
“What! When was this? Why didn’t I know? Was it recent?”
“Yes. This year.”
“Oh. Sorry.” Then she backs away, finally having gotten a fucking clue.
It’s certainly not how I wanted to start my Monday.

A Relationship Designed for Damage

Things a healthy relationship should not make you feel:

– Lonely and alone
– Trapped and suffocating
– Neglected and invisible
– Unheard and ignored
– Rejected and not worth it
– Dead and empty on the inside
– More pain than happiness

And yet I have felt those things, all of those things in my relationship with JL. They were issues I raised when I tried to break it off last month. JL would go on binge Civ V playing–to the point where he could sit in the living room, not move for 6 hours, and then when I would ask for an hour of his time, he would say he was too tired or too busy. It was a horrible feeling, to feel as if my own existence meant nothing.

I would express my needs for intimacy. I would try to initiate things–and was rejected over and over, often for the same reason: Too tired. It killed me; it was a stab right to the heart each time, and that knife was twisted like a screwdriver whenever it happened after I watched him binge-play video games all weekend.

So here we are again. More empty words, more meaningless promises. He once promised me he would initiate intimacy because he kept rejecting me when I would try, and each time, it buried that knife deeper. So then I waited. And waited. And waited. I waited over a year before we fought again and I asked if he preferred I see other people and if we should have an open relationship. He scoffed and thought I read too much Savage Love.

I have been vocal about my needs. I have been the best GGG (Good, Giving, Game) girlfriend I can be.

But I can’t be that anymore for him.

He asked me to judge him by his actions over the next few months. He’s been going to NA meetings, and has gone to four this week.

I don’t care. I don’t care what he does. He should live his life because I am going to live my life, and I am not going to waste my time waiting for anyone.

For him, it’s easy to say and ask to give our relationship time: he wasn’t the one who was getting more and more hurt for the last three years. Even he has had moments of realization where he has acknowledged that his behavior towards me in the past amounted to “torture” and was “terrible”.

I had an epiphany back in February when our team had a disagreement style workshop. As I read over my answers, I realized it was exactly what I had been doing my whole life in relationships and why I had stayed in relationships longer than I should.

My top three styles (all tied): release, maintain, decide by rule. It’s the first two that got me teary-eyed in a room with my team, who probably didn’t notice the sudden seriousness that overcame me.

Release is dropping it, letting go, deciding it’s not worth further discussion, and letting the other party dominate.

Maintain is just letting things continue as they are and taking no action.

I have taken these two approaches for too long. Five years of my life have I wasted in relationships I shouldn’t have. Essentially my last two relationships were twice as long as they should have been (JL – 6 years; P – 4 years).

I confided in my coworkers Tuesday because otherwise my only confidant was C, and I wasn’t sure if I should keep some distance for a while. They had the same conclusions I had already made long before this week: 

The thing with addiction is people have to reach rock-bottom before they can change. As long as I am in a relationship with JL, I don’t think he has a reason to change. He hasn’t lost everything; I am his crutch. He has to deal with his depression. He can’t love me before he loves himself.

As Mikey put it beautifully yesterday, “Right now he has loved you the best that he can. He has to love himself before he can truly love you.”


Our team hired a new guy 7 weeks ago. We were all excited about him joining. Big mistake.

Scene from Detective Mittens (1940): "What do you mean I only see things in black and white?"

L’Idiot is arrogant, aggressive, selfish, and rude. He makes assumptions all the time and often is wrong, but he gets defensive if you point out his mistakes. Yesterday he even threw a tantrum and vanished for an hour because the whole team told him it was wrong to do what he wanted to assume would be correct.

And he makes a lot of mistakes. He doesn’t focus on the details unless it’s to argue over the nuances of “suspicious” as it is used in two different places in a document. He then overlooks actually important details like if we need to place a hold on new accounts for a client.

I am a very patient person. People compliment me on my patience all the time: “You have the patience of a saint.” If you have worn out even my patience, then something is seriously wrong with you.

And something is seriously wrong with L’Idiot. This is just a small sample of shit he’s done:

– Cut the lunch line with no sense of shame whatsoever.
– Seriously consider stealing the banana off a fellow teammate’s desk because, “He won’t notice, right?”
– Outright refuse to help a teammate with our normal job duties when asked because L’Idiot was too busy assigning himself projects no one asked him to do instead.
– Invite himself to a coworkers birthday party and then creepily ask her for the phone numbers of her friends. (Keep in mind he is over 40 years old and the coworker who had a birthday is mid-20s.)
– Ask a coworker with too many girls in his dating pool to send some girls his way (Ewww!)
– Refuse to read documentation about our role at this job; instead, he makes sweeping generalizations about everything and makes terrible assumptions.
– Waste time, waste time, waste other people’s time. He has spent many days sitting at his desk emailing others in the company, trying to schmooze, and not getting any work done.
– Never listens to the team. We have a meeting and talk about X and how to handle those cases. 5 minutes later after the meeting, I hear him ask a coworker, “What do we do with X cases?” God.
– Doesn’t pick up on social cues. The guy has 0 emotional intelligence. People have abruptly left the lunch table where he is sitting because they can’t stand hearing him continue to rail on about shit no one cares about. We witnessed one occasion where at least 4 people sat with him (the only open lunch table) and leave within a minute of sitting down when they realized they would be better off eating alone at their desks.

There are definitely stupid questions, and he will find them. I was ready to flip some tables when he told me, “I was looking through your documentation on ABC-LA. Does it apply to ABC-MN?” No. NO NO NO NO. WHY WOULD YOU EVEN THINK THAT! One is rules for Louisiana… how would those apply to Minnesota?! Is the document titled ABC- LA and MN? No, it is not AND FOR A REASON.

Before this, my team had been fairly lucky in hiring good people who were great team players; the team dynamics were harmonious and we were a close-knit group–and we have the most diverse team in the office. Other teams would comment how cute it was that our team would sit and eat lunch together when we already spend all our time together at our desks.

But L’Idiot’s presence has quickly become toxic to the whole team, and we try to time lunches to avoid him sitting with us. He is such a miserable failure at life that I really want to talk to his references. Who could ever recommend this guy for ANYthing? And how has he gotten this far?