Velvet in Dupont 02 Dec 2006 11:42 am
Okay, so it is now September. At our monthly division meeting, the Weasel made an announcement that no one is to call Corporate HR, and that they “don’t want to hear our problems….if we have issues, handle them with Opie.” All the girls look around the room like, “What the fuck?”
One night in September, after Ms. Right is officially slated to join our department and escape the clutches of the evil Opie, the Weasel catches me on my way out of the office and tells me how “untrustworthy” Ms. Right is, and how she makes so many errors, and you have to constantly check her work, and that all her supervisors have had problems with her. Might I mention to you readers, that Ms. Right is not only a woman, but an African American woman? See where this is going? Yeah. Anyway, a week later, our Regional Accounting department come to town and mentioned to the Weasel that Ms. Right seems really happy in our department. He says, right in front of me, and I’m not kidding, “Well, we are really happy to have saved an employee from quitting. When we have someone good, we like to keep them.”
In the end of September, we are doing our fiscal year end budget meeting. I put my laptop on the conference room at the corner closest to the door and walk into the kitchen for some water. When I come back in, my laptop has been slid down the table, for no reason other than that Opie wanted to sit at the head of the table. And we’re talking about a conference table that seats 24-28 people. (It’s a control thing, see? I only put my laptop there b/c it was closest to the door, but Opie likes to be at the head of the table. It’s like when your boss’ chair is higher than the visitor chairs. It’s because (s)he is exerting a perceived sense of control.) I said, “You took my seat.” He said, “Well, you can sit on my face.” The meeting ensues, and the Weasel asks me how things are going with Selma since our email war. I reply that she’s still out of control and that someone should stop her bullying the rest of the admins. The Weasel says, “You’re a manager now, you should say something to her too.” My boss later said to Opie, “Hey, you heard it, she’s a manager now, put her raise and bonus through.”
Putting me in the same “management” class as Opie, bringing my salary oh-so-much-closer to his, and giving me a bonus set into motion an entire office war.
The end of September. I walk by the reception area to see a temp waiting to interview with Opie. I know she’s a temp, because she worked for us the prior spring, and Opie raved about her. Later:
Velvet: Hey, glad to see you got that temp back. I know you guys really liked her.
Opie: Can you believe she has 12 cats now?
Velvet: What? She said she was reconciling with her husband. Why would he move back in now with more cats there?
Opie: Why not? That’s a lot of PUSSY!
Velvet: You’re disgusting.
The next day, the Weasel walks up to me as I’m checking our mail at the reception desk.
Weasel: You know, if you’re going to say that kind of stuff, you probably shouldn’t say it to our HR person.
Weasel: You know, that comment, you shouldn’t say that stuff to the HR person.
Velvet: What are you talking about?
Weasel: The comment about the temp. Opie told me what you said.
Velvet: What did I say?
Weasel: You know…that thing…about the temp…and her cats….
Velvet, raising voice: ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THE PUSSY COMMENT?
Velvet: I didn’t say that! He did.
Weasel: He said you said it.
Velvet: Well I didn’t say it. He said it.
Weasel: And he said you did.
Velvet: I didn’t say I’m not capable of saying it, but I didn’t say it. He did.
Weasel: He says it’s you.
Velvet: He’s lying.
Weasel (with a grin like he’s calling my bluff:) You know…we can settle this right now.
Velvet: I’ll meet you in his office.
We meet in there and have the stupidest, most childish of fights. “You said it,” “No, YOU said it.” I stomped off, as Greeks are known to do, saying, “Opie, you aren’t making me take the fall for this.” The Weasel caught me in the hall and said the only non-asshole thing he said to me in my time working there: “Are you okay? Because I do realize that if you said it that you are the type of person to own up to it, and since you insist he said it, I do believe you.” I shrugged it off. But then I got this email from Opie:
If it wasn’t you who said it…it was somebody else…I couldn’t come up with that on my own… ….
My boss told me behind closed doors that I needed to get this documented, because things were going to get bad and we needed this to be down on paper. So I forwarded that email (including Opie’s XOXO kisses) to the Weasel, copied my boss and wrote this:
Dear The Weasel:
I received this email regarding our earlier conversation in Opie’s office, of which I am still seething. Opie verbally mentioned the person who he now alleges made this statement; however, I really think who said it is irrelevant. The fact that he repeated it and ultimately blamed it on me is very upsetting. We obviously do not have everyone on board with the new “teamwork” spirit. I thought you specifically addressed the “blame game” and asked the Managers to pass this information on to their staff. Wasn’t Opie at that meeting? Again, I am not offended by the comment itself as much as I am by being blamed behind my back without a chance for immediate defense. I am upset to think that for hours or perhaps overnight, you were sitting with the feeling that I was responsible for saying this.
I have a review pending and I need reassurance from you that you know my name was mistakenly involved in this situation. I don’t want any of this to negatively affect me.
I know that you want us to handle problems internally, however, there is more here and it might be bigger than handling within the division. You recommended at our last staff meeting that we could go to Opie with our issues. I am not alone in this division in my feelings that I cannot trust him. He is not a viable outlet for HR Complaints and Confidential Matters. Among the many inappropriate comments he has made to me, I personally witnessed a derogatory comment he made about one employee to another. These things may need to be on some sort of record. There are too many incidents at this time to ignore and I don’t know that we should be sweeping these issues under the rug.
The Weasel called me into his office, we had a quick chat, mostly so that he could stop me from calling Corporate about what had happened. He said he would take care of it. The next morning, the Weasel called me into his office again. He said he was extremely disturbed by what had transpired and spent a good portion of his evening thinking about it. He said he was 50/50 on whether to just fire Opie or to give him one more chance. He decided to write him up and give him his final chance. (The reason for this is that the fiscal year end AND the Hawaii Manager’s Meeting were rapidly approaching – he needed Opie to fudge all the numbers he could and be available to explain them when asked. The Weasel has no sense of finance, numbers and sadly, PROFIT.) The Weasel said he had to ask me if I felt “sexually harassed” by the comment. I so so so badly wanted to say yes. I knew that if I did, Opie would have been fired in a heartbeat. But who am I kidding? I’m offended by very little. So I said no. But I did tell him that very few of the women in the office trust him and that this is not the first time something like this has happened.
Let’s pause for a recap: If Opie didn’t grow to hate me when he was interviewing and knew if I accepted his job, he wouldn’t get it, if he didn’t grow to hate me when he saw me getting salary increases and bonuses that rivaled his own compensation, he certainly hated me now that I put his fat little neck on the chopping block.
So they write Opie up. My boss is in the room. It doesn’t go so well, Opie is obviously really pissed off and starts blaming a bunch of shit on me. My boss says, “You don’t get it. If she really had it in for you she could have had you fired for what you did. We’re a public company, do you think they want this kind of press?” The Weasel strips him of his HR duties and they pass them off to some other Accounting flunkie, NeedsMeds, who Opie and the Weasel become the puppet masters for anyway.
Opie sends an email to the CompanyGirl apologizing for his comment, and copies my boss and the Weasel. He predictably doesn’t copy me, the one whose name he attempted to drag through the mud. Why should he?
After the Opie-getting written up saga, this is when the Division President called me into his office and asked me if I wanted to “go to the company ranch.” I put this story in Part 1, but here it is again, now in the context of what was going on in the office, it will make more sense why I said no. Recopied from Part 1:
When they asked me, a long time member of PETA, a vegetarian, a woman and other labels of “all things that seemed to not belong at this ranch,” I said no. The Division President (hereinafter referred to as the Weasel) said, “You shouldn’t say no.” I said, “You want me to share a room and eek, a bathroom with someone I don’t know, in the middle of nowhere, with no cell phone, no computer, and no TV, watching guys hunt and kill things that I would be likely to leash and name Scruffie? I’m saying no.” Needless to say, it didn’t go over very well. But that was to be expected. I had already helped blow the whistle on their rampant sexual harassment. They didn’t like me very much. And I thought they were trying to get me out to that ranch so they could kill me. There was no way in fucking hell I was going to go.
The Weasel, Opie, Cocaine Carrie and my boss go out to Hawaii in the end of October for the Company-wide Manager’s meeting. All anyone is talking about in Hawaii is the “HR problem in Maryland.” My boss’ then wife gets drunk and tells Cocaine Carrie all sorts of stuff about the Weasel and how inept he is as a manager. What she doesn’t realize is that Cocaine Carrie and the Weasel are sleeping together. No one at the office, including my boss, ever knew this conversation took place for several months though. And, remember this conversation, it blindsides all of us shortly.
Meanwhile, back at the office, it was like mutiny. The inmates were running the asylum, people were fighting, screaming at each other, and the two lone managers left, Fat Bastard and some other manager who I actually thought was pretty cool, played golf all week.
So, the boys and Cocaine Carrie get back from Hawaii and suddenly there is a really weird vibe in the office. (Again, we didn’t know about the conversation between my boss’ wife and Cocaine Carrie. It takes months for everyone to find this out.) Opie and the Weasel joined forces on one side with Patty and Selma, and my boss was on the other with the rest of the people. The history here is that my boss had saved that division from shutting its doors by acquiring a lot of land and making them a lot of money. Most of the smart people knew who to side with. A few remained in the middle, but as I’ve learned with my family fights and with this, you have to stake a claim in one side, otherwise, you get shunned by both, and if both turn on you, you could end up the new enemy.
Opie built up his harem of Accounting people from 3 to now 8. There are 8 people in Accounting. What the fuck they are all doing when admittedly from his own mouth, most of the accounting was done at a corporate level is beyond the rest of us.
Early November, my boss shows up at my desk.
Boss: Something is going on, I need you to call the CompanyGirl.
(Again, CompanyGirl is the Regional CFO and right under the CEO of our company. She is highly respected by the guys at the top - President, CEO and the rest. It is shocking they “let” a woman as high as CompanyGirl was, as she was one of two who made it this high in the company.)
Velvet: What am I calling her for?
Boss: These guys are setting me up. They are trying to make our department take the fall for us not making any money this year, and really it’s the fault of Purchasing because FatBastard has no fucking idea what he’s doing. But I need you to fish around and see why they are on this witch hunt.
Velvet: What am I going to say?
Boss: Ask her what info they are looking for. Then try to tell her what’s going on here.
Velvet: What? You’re going to get me fired.
Boss: Come on. You made friends with her when she was here, you took her out. I need you to do this.
Ms. Right slides her chair over to my desk and says: Yeah, you need to call her. She’s your bud.
Velvet, to boss: Are you going to protect me if something goes wrong?
Velvet: God damned it. Okay.
So I made the call, and of course, got the point across that they were trying to blame our department for everyone else’s mistakes. She must have called Opie and the Weasel to “clarify” what she was asking for, and that took the heat off all of us. For a bit. When my boss relayed this to his then-wife, she said, “If you ever leave, you have to take Velvet with you. She’s incredibly loyal.”
Mid November, MellyMel had some surgery that ended in a bit of a complication and she took a couple extra days off. When she came back to work, the girl literally had a tube coming out of her body to drain an infection. Opie told her that she better start looking for a new job because she had taken so much time off everyone wanted her fired. I said, “Cocaine Carrie had a facelift and was gone for 2 weeks and no one said shit about that!” MellyMel came to me at the point of tears. I called my boss who was not in the office that day and he said, “Time for her to report it to HR. It’s a violation of some sort.” So she did. And then that is where MellyMel and I became good friends. She used to be on the “other side” with Opie and Patty and Selma. But, now, she realized that it was not doing her any good. Then she unloaded all sorts of stuff she knew. Hooray! I had all new goss - a lot of it about me, but typical stuff of Opie having disclosed both my salary and the Designer’s to Patty and Selma and that he called the Designer a “gold-digger” among many other names. His hatred of both the Designer and I was solely because our salaries were hovering closer and closer to his own, he had a Russian Mail order bride spending all his money, he just knocked her up with the 4th kid and was totally miserable. Oh, and Kiki, he said that he was sorry you had quit because you had the biggest titties in the office.
At this point, aside from Patty and Selma, all the women in the office banded together. It was a good feeling. But of course it doesn’t last.
November 18. I’m sitting at my desk, and LongIsland calls me. She said, “You will never believe who just walked in. HR from Corporate!” These two old bats spent two days interviewing select people, including myself, LongIsland, Selma, Ms. Right, the Doormouse and some managers including my boss and that other guy I said was pretty cool. One of the HR bats was wearing so much makeup, that Ms. Right and I had a skit routine of her getting ready in the morning. We would do the visual of her putting on powder, then more foundation, then more powder, then more foundation. She actually took calls on her cell phone as we were giving our reports. The other one, in this long flowered prairie skirt (hello rednecks) was taking notes. When you said something really offensive, she would write like a crazy person, then slow down to a more normal pace until you started saying, “then Opie said he was going to rip my dress off” and they would write at a furious pace again.
After they meet with everyone, they end up in the Weasel’s office. We are all heading out to lunch, and end up walking out with the HR bats and the Weasel. The Weasel was going to lunch with all the manager boys. But then he asked us where we were going, and ends up coming with us. LongIsland told him he had to pay! So I call my boss, who is still upstairs and say, “We’re going to the Italian restaurant and you will never believe this. The Weasel blew off the guys to come with us.” My boss asks where he is. I said, “In the other car with LongIsland.” My boss looks out the window then says, “Tell me if that car turns around for any reason. I’m going in his office.”
My boss goes in the Weasel’s office while I’m on the phone still. He finds his notes from his meeting with the HR bats. All it says is “Go on company outing” and “Buy tee shirts for staff that say ‘Old Builder.’” My boss says, “Jesus Christ. HR missed the whole point of this. They think we just need to have some bonding experiences.” This is the moment he made his decision to quit. November 19.
I went to Italy for 10 days right after this. The morning I was leaving, my boss called me and said, “Are you coming back?” I said, “Yeah, why?” He said, “I was afraid with all this shit that you wouldn’t come back. And my wife made me call you to tell you that I cut a deal for us to go to a new company, so you can’t stay in Italy because you will have a new job soon.” I flew back to Dulles on November 30. When I went back to work, it seemed like everything was getting back to normal. I was incredibly wrong.