Monday, November 28, 2005

Co-Workers

I have the co-worker from Hell right now.

I've started a new day job, only so I can gather together as much skinny as possible so we can make the trip to the States next year, and so far it's not been all bad. The first couple of weeks we were in training, some of what I learnt there did bother me somewhat, but hey - no government job is flawless I guess, and procedures are procedures. And yep, you got it right - I now work for the South Australian government as a regional support clerk. Don't ask me what that means because to be honest I have no idea. I sit there all day, email people, do some work and read news updates. Most people around me work hard on their resumes and job applications and inbetween times they do some of the tasks that they're given, but mostly they just look for saps to handball their workloads onto.

My first week on placement (I'm doing contract work) was damn good. I had three girls training me, all at different times and they were bloody amazing. All was good with the world, and everyone was happy. Then they went on training and I got stuck with the co-worker from hell.

First up I'm not a racist. Having said that is it too much to ask that someone who is working in a position where they have to answer the phones and answer difficult questions to at least have a basic grasp of the English language? Half the time I can't understand her and she gets through phone calls fairly quickly. I expect a lot of that is due to the fact that other people can't understand her and think that our department have outsourced the call centre to Poland or some other Eastern European country. So when she's not on the phone she's doing one of the following:

1] Swanning around and socialising. Yep, she has pals there and she'll spend a lot of time just yapping away in her pigeon English and generally avoiding work. This is when I get a lot of my work done as she's not there telling me where I'm going wrong.

2] Working on her resume and job applications. See above.

3] Going home sick. Since I've been in this department I've seen two people do all three weeks worth solid. The rest take various sickies (hell - I even threw one and nobody batted an eye). In the case of my co-worker in the past two weeks she's turned up on Monday, gone home halfway through Wednesday and stayed out on the Thursday and come back on the Friday complaining of feeling poorly, thus giving me the workload, which I don't mind because if she's not there then she's not telling me where I'm going wrong, right?

Wrong.

This brings us to fourth and favourite pass time - telling me what I'm doing wrong.

Ever heard The Troggs Tapes? There's this great bit in it where Reg Presley tells the drummer what he wants to hear, tells him in detail and as soon as the drummer hits the skins, before he's even played, Reg yells, "You're doing it fucking wrong!!!!" and laughs.

Well that's my workplace for me right now.

I'm new, I accept that. I don't know everything there is to know about then job, and what I don't know I'm not afraid to ask. Week one was good, week two, with the co-worker (affectionally called the Sausage for obvious reasons - she's Polish) wasn't nice. Each time I went to do something she'd ask me if I knew what I was doing. I'd say either yes or no. If the answer was no then, for the time she was there, she'd get someone to help me. Last week was hell on Earth.

On the Tuesday I was tasked in the last afternoon with two duties. I grabbed the first, sat down, opened the file and before I'd done anything she screamed - that's right, SCREAMED - across the room, "You're doing it wrong!!!" I looked dumbfounded and said, "But I've not started it yet." She answered, "Yes but I could see you were about to do it wrong."

Great - a mindreader. She took over the task, made sure that plenty of people saw her doing it and finished it - poorly. I then picked up the second task. She again screamed, "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!!!" This time I had enough, "I've haven't bloody done anything yet. Jesus, give me a chance to actually do it??" Nope, she took it over, explained to the managers that I couldn't do much, was basically useless and finished it off - poorly. Again.

The next day she went home early, leaving me to finish her tasks for the day. I say day because it takes her a day and a half to do what I finished in thirty minutes. She then calls in sick the following day and this is the conversation:

Person A, from across the room, "Danny, Sausage wants to know if you finished the allocations yesterday."
Me, "Yes, tell her all's fine and it went..."
Person A (cutting me off), "She says you did it wrong."

She wasn't bloody there, she didn't see the end result yet she knew I'd done it wrong. I felt like saying, "Yep, I probably did do it wrong because she showed me how to do it in the first place" but I held back and quietly, through clentched teeth, replied, "Tell her I didn't do it wrong, Persons B and C assisted me." Just knowing that I didn't do it alone was good enough. She said she was still very ill, but yet she managed to be fresh as a daisy the next morning and attend a job interview at 9am Friday morning.

She's one of those people who'll sneak around and tell everyone how inept I really am, and how clever she really is. She'll give me tasks, allow me to almost finish them, finish them off herself and hand it in as her work. She'll make sure that the right people see her when she actually does work. Yep, she's one of those - the office suckhole. Everyone has one. She'll attack me and I know that if I fire back then I'm going to look like the bastard. She's built like a twig about to snap and is about 5 foot 6. I'm six three and not exactly thin, I tower over most people, so you just know that if it comes to it then I'm going to be the one in the wrong, no matter what.

Today I snapped.

Like any government department we have a shitload of filing that needs to be done. However one of us needs to be in the area in case the phone rings. As I've been on my own for the past two weeks the filing has built up. I've started going in at 8:30am just to clear the trays, but, well it built up. So I darted back and forth between calls, doing tasks and managed to get the filing down to a level where I'll be able to finish it just after 8am tomorrow. So she says (mind you she did absolutetly nothing today other than tell me I'd lost a file, because I originally registered it, never noting the fact that at least five other people had referenced the file since and left it on their desks), "It's been a hard day, and you weren't much help because you were slack and just filed all day"

I had several phone calls, found a difficult file, got yelled at by some silly old bag, did several tasks and managed to get some filing done. I'd spent about an hour in total, if that, on filing. I had enough.

"I only did the filing because you can't be arsed doing any yourself. You're clearly too precious to do filing."
"It hurts my shoulder." (hey - it hurts my back and knees too but...)
"Well the files don't file themselves, so somebody has to do it, and as you can't be bothered, then it's down to me."

She didn't like that and stormed off. I was happy. For a little while. I've decided that if I have to spend one more week with her then I'm going to throw the job in and go back to writing full time. The money just isn't worth it - I'd rather be poor and happy.

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