Friday, April 3, 2009

Variety is the Spice of Life?

I've suddenly grown an affection for watching The Office on Thursday nights. I get it now! I guess there's a Dwight in every office. There's one in front of me at work, only she's a female Whack Job. And I mean we are talking n-u-t-s NUTS!

She was fairly benign at first. Asking stupid questions like what's the minimum you have to do a day in order to keep your job? She also spent a lot of time railing against the system with the guy who sat beside me. (He left the first week because he had philosophical differences. He was also a nut job). She also spent a lot of time bending, stretching, and preening to try and flirt with the younger guy who sat on the other side of me. He was fairly amused -- but wouldn't have touched IT with a ten-foot pole.

But now she's no longer benign. Whacko started erupting this last week. Her goal in life is to work the system. She's always on her way to H.R. to file a complaint about this, that, or the other. She's on her third supervisor because she files a complaint and they switch her. Unfortunately, they don't MOVE her. Her latest obsession is a grievance she filed against two men who smoke outdoors on their breaks. They sit at least 15 feet away from her (slightly closer to me) and she claims she's allergic and can't stand their 'body odor'. There's just a faint whiff of cigarette smoke in the air that lasts for a few minutes after they come back indoors from a break. I'm fairly sensitive to cigarette smoke and it doesn't bother me at all. And they're both really nice respectful older guys.

Before I go on, I need to mention that the Nut Case doesn't bother to comb her hair down, bathe, put on makeup, etc.... She told me last week (believe me -- it was unsolicited) that she wouldn't bother getting all dolled up to come in HERE because it would be a total waste of time. She sits at her desk in a down jacket (remember -- this is PHOENIX!) and a large trucker style hat. The cigarette guys (they're really funny!) have nicknamed her the Unibomber. When she removes her hat, she spends hours running her fingers through her short red matted hair trying to make it stand on end (which isn't a real feat since she never bothers to comb the bedhead down). When she rolls in late (anywhere from 10 minutes to 4 hours), she's usually dressed like she just rolled out of someone else's bed and didn't bother to go home and change. Ugh.

Anyway, her goal in life is to do as little work as possible and still get paid. And she's doing a GREAT job of it. When she's in residence, she spends a lot of time wandering the building. The main problem is that she's extremely disruptive to anyone around her. And you may have guessed -- I'm the lucky winner at the desk right behind her. Craig's always said I'm a 'weirdo magnet.' She sits in her chair with her feet up on the desk -- logged OUT -- for a good portion of the day. When the spreadsheet comes around 3 times a day to let all of us know exactly how we're doing (rate, accuracy, validity, etc...), she laughs and proclaims -- I guess I just blew my bonus! And she spends a lot of her time turned around making comments to me. But the comments fall on deaf ears because I started wearing ear plugs to tune her out.

Thursday was D-Day. Thursday afternoon, her new 'passive' supervisor had left early. Nut Case was spending her afternoon dancing in front of her computer rocking out with headphones on (no devices like that allowed in the building). Need I mention she hadn't even bothered to log on. My supervisor happened to come by and was fed up with her disruptive behavior. She asked Whacko if she was listening to music on those headphones. That's all it took to light her fuse. "You wish lady. If it bothers you, I WILL listen to music." On and on and on. It ended with Nutzoid yelling, "I take that as a personal threat lady!" And off she stomped to H.R. again to file another grievance.

On Friday, she intensified her efforts to disrupt and draw attention. She sat in defiant mode with feet up on the desk leaning back in the chair (when she was actually IN her chair). After lunch, she took a face mask out of her bag and put in on. She also sprayed a mass amount of perfume aimed at the guys who smoke on their breaks. And you guessed it -- I got the brunt of that. She talked and laughed to herself into her face mask most of the afternoon. When she wasn't standing up, gyrating to the music in her head, she spent a lot of time staring at me trying to make sure I'd noticed her new headgear. Actually, everyone in the large room on our project has now noticed how truly insane she is -- in the down jacket, hair sticking up straight, mask covering her nose and mouth, dancing around, talking and laughing to herself.

I think I would have loved the amusement if the distraction hadn't probably blown my weekly performance bonus. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Variety might be the spice of life, but it certainly doesn't do much for productivity.

And now 'variety' has gotten downright SCAREY!


jeanie said...

Poor Beck!!!! I have had employees like that but I was usually the boss so they were sort lived. Since you're kind of stuck behind her the best thing may be to wear your sunglasses indoors and avoid direct eye contact with the offending mess. If your supervisor asks about the glasses say you're trying to avoid distractions to get your work done in a meticulous manner.

Life's a Beach! said...

Jeanie, I thought about the sunglasses, but mine are prescription and don't include the reading part. Damn. My husband suggested a visor. Believe me, my supervisor is well aware of her. I heard it through the grapevine that any supervisor that tangled with her has been reprimanded. And now ALL the supervisors are afraid of her. The company is taking the path of least resistance. This contract ends in another month, so they just don't want any legal hassles. Personally, I think there would be no problem whatsoever with firing her for cause, but I'm not an H.R. specialist. What I'm most worried about now is the mental health issue. I don't make eye contact with her and only respond if she pointedly speaks to me. She's SCAREY!

Isla Deb said...

Oh, my God, Beck, she really DOES sound like a nut case!! I would avoid her at all costs. It always amazes me how people like this can get away with their actions, but I think HR departments are so afraid of lawsuits or people going "postal" that they ignore it. Meanwhile, the poor co-workers have to put up with the craziness. Welcome back to the working world, huh? Tread lightly with that whacko.

Islagringo said...

I agree with what everybody has said. If HR won't take any action you are kind of sunk. You could file a complaint of your own, claiming that your supervisor(s) are voluntarily promoting a hostile work environment. When the contract is over at the end of the month, does that mean that she is gone?

Life's a Beach! said...

Wayne, I'm guessing she will be gone when the contract is up. The company lost a lot of bids for the summer, so the chances of any of us getting on another project are limited -- especially a derelict! I'm going to wait and see what happens Monday. A co-worker told me on the way out that Nuttzoid said she was going to move a couple of desks down. Once she's out of my sight line, I don't care. Keep your fingers crossed!

Bennie said...

Wow. What a co-worker to have to deal with. You have some great advice from the comments on this. I have ear plugs I can mail you, but it sounds like you need much more than that.

Good Luck. I find it sad that HR will not handle the situation. But it's not a huge shock either, I've seen many HR departments ignore issues like this.

Life's a Beach! said...

Bennie, I have some great earplugs I've been using to block her out. (I bought them for my Isla trips.) When she got called on the MP3 player on Thursday, she tried to use my 'headphones' as an example that she wasn't the only one. I quickly pulled one out of my ear to demonstrate that they weren't headphones. She's the Bad Seed. But Unibomber kind of fits!