Saturday, February 18, 2012

Life's ambition

When I was in school - I was bullied .......a lot !!  My mother used to love to tell a story about how in grade 1 I didn't return from school one afternoon...... and she came to find me.  There I was wrestling with a boy twice my size in the school yard.  Turns out he had bullied me and I just flat out took him down.  No one was gonna say things like that to me!

As I 'matured' I didn't have the same "take 'em down" attitude I had had in grade 1.  I tended to internalize a lot of the bullying.  BUT I did add to my list of "must do's" ........ I was never gonna let another kid suffer at the hands of a bully if I could help it.

I like to believe I have worked long and hard to protect/educate/ stop bullies since I joined the education field.  Oh I don't believe I am going to stop it........ my rose coloured glasses aren't THAT rosy!!  BUT I do believe I can make a small dent.  

Now our government is getting involved.  Oh they have the answer - something no one has every thought about before (see me gag) they have legislated bullying..... making it a big NO NO.  YAY for our legislators.

But this week has brought bullying to a whole new level in "my world".  

I have an employee who is .......... for lack of a better word ...... a little bit strange.  I am the new kid on the block and have tried to give each of these employees a fair chance... trying very hard not to judge them until they get used to me and my ways.  BUT this woman is always on the edge of my consciousness.  For some unknown reason there was something that just didn't set right with me about her.  She appeared to be the clown.. the good time girl...... but there was something just under the surface that my "spidey senses" picked up on.

During the week - this woman whose job it is to use a walkie talkie to call children down to the main door for dismissal had started getting "agitated".... I couldn't figure out why..... but she flew into my office a couple of times yipping about how no one was listening to her.  I made some suggestions - and she bit my head off.  I put it down to "one of those days" - hell we all have them - me as well........... so I let it slide.

Then Thursday two women showed up in my office .......... both in tears ....... both saying this woman was bullying them and they were intimidated (my words - used for brevity)
I convinced them to go to the principal and file a complaint .......... I would go with them.

So Friday morning off we went to visit with the principal.  I thought the meeting went well.  The wounded parties felt they had been heard - and felt that a solution was near at hand.  The principal asked me to inform this other woman that she and I would meet with the principal on Monday afternoon.

I went about my day thinking how well it had gone.  One more simple meeting and everything would be running like a well oiled machine again.

The afternoon went well - in fact so well that when I was leaving I spoke to one of the women who felt 'intimated' and mentioned my positive feelings.  She agreed..... she said how well things were going.  

I went home thinking "problem solved".  EXCEPT I should have realized - the problem wasn't solved because we hadn't had our meeting with the principal so why would things have turned around???? Yes she knew about the scheduled meeting - I had mentioned it to her earlier in the afternoon.........but still ??!!  such a turn around?

It was Friday - my one day to leave as early as I possibly can.......... I admit I might have ignored this personality turn around because my weekend was calling to me........ 
oh those "what ifs, should have's and could have's" do haunt you from time to time don't they???

Anyway at 6:40 last evening I got a phone call from one of my intimidated employees she was frantic and panicky and it took a while to get the whole story out......... 

Turns out when their shifts were done.......... my 'intimidater' went in search of my 'intimidatee'  and absolutely lost control - yelling and screaming at her - getting in her face - accusing her of all sorts of things..... even playing the 'black' card saying "I know YOU all - I know YOU want to see me gone because I am black"......... It got so bad that one of my other employees called down to the office and brought my replacement running.  Even the night janitor (whose office is in the same hallway) came down to be in attendance - just in case.  They all felt this screaming banshee might lose it and do bodily harm.


I got my employee calmed down some........ made her promise to write the whole incident up and bring it to me Monday morning.  I sat down and fired off an email to my principal (emails go to her cell phone so I knew she would get it - maybe not respond - or even read it - but it would be there) 

Then this morning I decided I had better learn about work place bullying.  Obviously I have it......... and obviously I know little about it.  I read and read - even made up a point by point list of what bullying looks like and how to handle it for the work place.  

Then I went one step further.  Somewhere in the dark recesses of my memory I was sure I had read some school board policy on intimidation ............ and was pretty sure there was a section on adult to adult intimidation.  I went looking and found it.  I printed it up.  I want my reference material at hand when I go to see the principal on Monday.

Bullying has NO place in my world....... and I will do my best to stop it........ whether it is between children (which I expect - don't like won't accept - but I do expect it) or between adults (which I never expected - definitely don't accept - and will put a stop to it!!)  How in god's name do we expect to stop bullying within the groups of children if the adults expected to stop  it are doing it???!!!



  1. Anonymous11:04 am

    OMG, morningstar, feeling your anger, stress and pain. If education and all the 'pressure' that comes with it from the outside (here in the states..we're scapegoats for all social ills), and problems children and parents bring to school, isn't enough to stress you out daily, now this... hang in have your facts, are being rational and have witnesses. Your last sentence, "How in god's ...." is so on target! I wish I knew the answer... Sending positive thoughts and energy your way. You will be successful!

    PS: I'm so happy to be away from all that 'stuff'. Blood pressure returned to normal upon retiring...

  2. Anonymous4:35 pm

    I so know what you mean. We have a bully at work in the form of the director's administrative assistant. We are moving our archives this month, and she was the one scheduling the movers. She took that to mean that she was in control of all parts of the move. One Monday, I told her (for the 2nd or 3rd time) that I would be moving the more delicate materials myself to a place they would be safe during off-gassing from new paint. She screamed at me that "xxx" was the mover; yelled at me that I was to told to follow the plan; then teared up because I wouldn't accept help. I was speechless. Here I was helping her and saving the org. money by moving some thing myself, and she lost it. Last week after discussions between the director and my supervisor, she was told hands off. Since then, I can go to work without my stomach clenched in knots.

    Bullying exists in every aspect of life, including the lifestyle. Good luck in handling the issue at your school.

  3. Anonymous4:36 pm

    damn, I lost my comment.

    In brief, I recently experienced bullying in the work place complete with screams, yelling, and incipient tears. It exists; it's hard to believe that adults can act like this; I'm sure you will prevail.

    Good luck on Monday.

  4. Can't remember ever being bullied. Had the hell teased out of me more than once, but never bullied.

    Living in fear has to be a horrid feeling.

  5. alyson7:57 am

    I worked for a bully for 2 years. Luckily for me, I had someone else in the layer in between me and her, but it wasn't always enough. I spent 6 out of the last 9 months scared I was going to get fired. Then the last 3, once I knew I was quitting, I almost hoped she'd actually go through with her threats to fire me since then I could have collected unemployment. To give you a sense, a bit over a year after I left the company they closed out a retirement fund that it turns out they'd put a little bit of money in for me (didn't come out of my paycheck and they never actually told me). The week it closed out (I was unaware that it was being closed until after it had been) I had 2 major surgeries (neurosurgeries, both of them). She then got upset with my parents (they wouldn't let her talk directly to me) because I refused to make a decision immediately on how I wanted to get the money, despite the fact that 1) their own paperwork said I had 30 days from receiving the paperwork to decide and 2) I was so drugged for the first 10 days or so post-surgery that I doubt I would have been legally competent to make such a decision anyway. It was ridiculous. My father actually apologized after that because he hadn't realized how bad the 2 years working for her had been until he had to deal with her himself. Luckily, she was rarely in the office 5 days a week and everyone else was fine. I don't know how they managed, though, as many had been there for quite a while.

    I think workplace bullying is probably at least as common as bullying in schools/universities. The main difference is that most adults have better coping mechanisms than kids/university students and sometimes better access to mental healthcare. Also, I think because there are people who don't think it happens with adults, it can be harder to get people to believe you when it is happening and harder to get things fixed. And, of course, when it's someone in a position of power, there may not be anything that can be done other than to leave the job. I actually left mine for other reasons, but if I'd not needed to stop working at that point, I'd have been looking for another job ASAP (possibly in a different industry even since she had a good reputation -I'd been recommended to her by a mutual friend- and I didn't really ever want to see her again). I'm really glad that you're being so supportive to those employees on the receiving end. I hope you can get a good resolution to everything!


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