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Trouble In The Office: Paracetamol, Coffee and a Little Fiction

Updated on November 22, 2016

When You Dread Going Into Work

When coffee and paracetamol are all that get you through the working day, you have to say to yourself, well, at least it’s not scotch and coke. Although I sometimes wonder if it’s a bad thing when you’re forced to remind yourself of that. Like counting your blessings. And you can hardly class coffee as a totally harmless 'drug'. Not considering how strong the inhouse coffeeshop espressos are.

Workplace Bullying: Where Do You Draw The Line?

Black Coffee and Butter

Creative Commons Licence Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Creative Commons Licence Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Source

I had always suspected that Marian was a demon from the darkest pit of hell. Looked at objectively, however, she was Assistant Human Resources Officer at Fishmabroggle Bros., unequipped with either horns, scales or trident. And not even my boss, so how much havoc could she cause in my little life? Rhetorical question, of course, and a dumb one at that. Plenty, was the answer.

Toxic Workplace, Toxic Co-workers

I did wonder, a couple of times when rage was boiling in my bile-ridden veins such that I found myself writhing on my own living-room carpet at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, spitting out her name and a curse on all her progeny, if perhaps I should just get another job.

I had tried once or twice, but her vendettas, her reasonless rages, her double standards and lack of insight into her own flaws – i.e. inability to admit she had any – sucked my energy to such an extent I became my own worst enemy, colluding in my own moral destruction.

Toxic Bosses - How Do You Deal?

So I hung on, but I couldn’t deny the feeling – no doubt erroneous – that I was hanging on for a reason. That fate, life, would not dish me out such an experience, were there not a pay-off worth waiting for at the end of it. So we delude ourselves and fritter our lives away.

That Monday morning it was especially hard to drag my feebly submissive body into work. The body willing but the spirit weak – it was all wrong. Last Friday – have I mentioned that for no good reason we share an office – she had accused me of removing and losing one of her files, the one she required right that minute, right now! (Our work has no areas in common, there was no reason I would want this file, other than spite or kleptomania).

In fact the tale had, theoretically, a happy ending. I knew, perfectly well, that if she found it herself she would keep mum, less from embarrassment than from a refusal to admit herself in the wrong. So some just God caused her direct line to ring when she was out of the office for a moment, leaving me to finish answering it as she returned. Bidding farewell to Andy in accounts as she moved in on ‘her’ personal space, aggressively looming over me and silently conveying the offence she took at me daring to do her a favour – I noticed a purple file – she only uses that colour for really important files - peeking out from under the corner of the desk, beneath her disgusting old trainers. (She power walks into work. Dear God). Who knows why it was there: like God, her ways are mysterious. She would find the comparison apt.

Mediation, Unionisation, Meditation: Can They Help?

She hasn’t removed my spine quite, not yet. In a low, clear, spittingly precise tone, I asked, ‘Why, Marian – is that your file? I think it is, don’t you?’

No, it didn’t make me popular. She snatched it up, and in a barely audible, faux-casual tone, eloquently replied, ‘Oh, yeah, is it, hm.’ And then refused to look at or speak to me for the rest of the afternoon, especially the words, ‘I’m sorry, I was quite mistaken, Fiona.’


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