Obnoxious and Unwelcome Surprises at the Office

Unwelcome Surprises at the Office

I definitely do NOT miss any of the pranks or hijinks that would often occur at work. One of my most famous unwelcome surprises at the office is captured in my featured image. Check it out.

Unwelcome Surprises at the Office – Pranks

I was minding my own business and the next thing I know, I found this creepy murdered stuff bear in my desk drawer. I was not very happy about it. And it’s definitely a shock when you’re not expecting it.

I eventually tracked down the person who did it. And it was a prank only – no other ulterior motives. They actually spent alot of time and effort on it as they had to create all the murdered bits of the bear themselves. Imagine if they spent all that time and effort on a work-related endeavor instead.

I’m very paranoid and uptight, so antics and pranks like that aren’t my favorite. I start obsessing over WHO did it and WHY did they do it? Do they not like me? Am I being targeted?! Why are people in my desk drawers? What else could they be doing to me that I haven’t discovered yet?! What’s next?! Etc etc.

That’s definitely what goes on in my mind when something like that happens.

But basically, I don’t like being messed with. Joke or not. It just annoys me. And there’s something about the office environment that makes some adults feel like they can run around like unsupervised children. It’s ridiculous.

Do I sound uptight enough? I did a fun post earlier (link here) about which character from the TV series “The Office” I relate to most, and my answer was Angela. Lol, I probably sound alot like her right now.

Unwelcome Surprises at the Office – Cleaning Out Desks

Definitely one more thing that I do not miss about being at the office, is that when a coworker leaves us, we clean-out their desks. This leads to even more chances to find some unwelcome surprises at the office.

Usually we’re looking for a treasure that we’d like to keep for ourselves, like maybe a new pair of scissors or a stapler that isn’t jammed. But for the most part, everything left behind is trash.

One time a coworker left behind a nice framed photo of their family and kids. We actually called and asked if they’d like it returned to them somehow and they said “absolutely not”. Lol, ok. That same photo and frame later made an appearance at the company’s “Dirty Santa” gift-exchange that year. It was a very popular gift too. As I said, the frame was really nice.

The one thing I’ll never forget in my whole life… is when we discovered that a coworker had been hoarding the office coffee cups! And we are still stumped to this day – WHY did he DO this to us?!

I have photos of our discovery, but I need to warn you – do NOT scroll down to see these pics if you have a weak stomach or if you are about to have breakfast…

Don’t.

Do.

It.

I’ll actually wish you all a great day here, in case you do heed my advice and exit now. Catch you later!!! Bye! 🙂

Stop.

Scrolling.

Please.

Listen.

You.

Have.

Been.

Warned.

….

Unwelcome Surprises at the Office / Image Source: Pepper Valentine
Unwelcome Surprises at the Office / Image Source: Pepper Valentine
Unwelcome Surprises at the Office / Image Source: Pepper Valentine
Unwelcome Surprises at the Office / Image Source: Pepper Valentine

Victim Blaming at the Toxic Office

Victim Blaming at the Toxic Office

When Corporate doesn’t want to deal with a problem, there are many subtle ways for them to turn to victim blaming instead.

Now, I wouldn’t describe myself as a victim. I think “target” is a bit more suitable for my situation. But victim blaming is terminology that most people are already familiar with, so I’m not going to re-create the wheel over it here.

But if you’d like extra insight into victim blaming overall, I found a good article from Very Well Mind which gave this effective definition: Blaming the victim is a phenomenon in which victims of crimes or tragedies are held accountable for what happened to them.

But one thing that happened to me when I started to escalate my issues with my stalker at work… is that I was told to change MY behavior, in order to not provoke any more situations that needs to be escalated. THAT is absolutely victim blaming.

One example that immediately comes to my mind, is that I was actually told to no longer walk by his office anymore.

Nobody ever told him to stop walking by MY office instead. Nobody ever told him to LEAVE.ME.ALONE. You’d think the best solution would be to address the root cause. But no, they didn’t do that.

And if you check out the floorplan I drew up (lol, no it’s not to scale), that’s a big change that I had to accommodate in order to prevent any inconvenience for him. It’s kinda disgusting. And, he actually enjoyed that I had to suffer the consequences of trying to escalate issues with him. It definitely served to be a deterrent for me to try to escalate anything. He experienced no deterrents at all. He was practically giddy over this turn of events, and it only emboldened him to behave even more outrageously towards me because he believed that he was protected.

And he was right.

His behavior later led to the point where he ended up bleeding on my desk and completely got away with it. I posted about it here if you missed it. And he never experienced any consequences for it.

He was protected. Not me.

And me changing my behavior to prevent any more issues didn’t fix anything. Because I wasn’t the problem.

Which Character from The Office Are You?

Which Character From The Office Are You

This quick fun game might help us get to know each other a bit better… So which character from The Office are you (U.S. version)?

I really found myself most like Angela. Lol, don’t hate me now! What do you think? That’s me in the top right corner of the image, striking my typical arms-crossed pose. It’s my typical pose because I never have pockets in my work pants and I don’t like my arms to dangle, so… I cross them. Alot.

[The animated part of my image is from Marisa Livingston and can be found on her Instagram.]

I know Angela on The Office comes off as really unlikeable, and I think I do as well. Especially in person. But I can attribute that mostly to just being awkward socially.

But I definitely compartmentalize my life. There’s a time for work and there’s a time for play. And when I am at the office, I am in work mode and I don’t mingle much playfulness into that. When I see my co-workers goofing-off at work instead, it does bother me. Alot. And I do judge them for it too. So that’s particularly where I relate with Angela.

So I usually skip all the extra-curricular events that get scheduled during work hours so I can complete all my work during that time. And I do NOT enjoy any office pranks either. Especially those at my expense. Check out what my co-workers hid in my desk drawer here.

On the other hand, I’m a very good sport about any after-hours events that get scheduled. Happy-hours with fun coworkers at the end of the day were always my fave.

And except for Angela’s situation where 2 men were dueling for her (lol, THAT’S never happened to me), I do relate to her most of all.

How about you? Which character from The Office are you?

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Corrupt HR Is Not On Your Side

This post is about the moment I realized that HR is unethical and will lie to employees. Blatantly. Right to your face. Just know that HR is not on your side and they are not ethical.

[In an earlier post, I gave a quick intro into my experience at this toxic office environment. If you’ve missed the intro for extra context, you can find it here.]

HR is on the side of company leadership. They serve to protect them at all costs, at the expense of every single employee if necessary. I looked-up how Wikipedia defines HR and I was able to find this definition here: A human-resources department (HR department) of an organization performs human resource management, overseeing various aspects of employment, such as compliance with labor law and employment standards, administration of employee benefits, organizing of employees files with the required documents for future reference, and some aspects of recruitment (also known as talent acquisition) and employee offboarding.

I was always so naive about HR. I mean, I’ve never been in trouble at work before, so my experience with HR was always concerning annual enrollment and a few random questions about benefits.

And until I needed to escalate a work issue to them, I believed they would be on my side. They actually advertise pretty heavily that they have an “open door” policy to hear any employee concerns or issues, etc. But that is a flat-out lie, as this is only a ploy to hear issues ahead-of-time, so they have time and can assist leadership in any cover-up work in the background.

The work issue that I escalated to HR was concerning a male employee that was stalking me, inside and outside of work. He even texted to me photos of himself OUTSIDE OF MY DAUGHTER’S DAYCARE. This is how bad it got for me with him. Unfortunately for me, this male employee was also a buddy of the guy running the company, so he acted quite outrageously towards me because he had confidence that he could get away with.

I had already gone to my stalker’s boss because I thought maybe she could intervene and help. I also thought because she was the only female executive at that company that she would be the most sensitive towards this problem. But she did not help me. She chose to protect my stalker instead and advised me to “toughen up”.

I lost all respect for her leadership at the company at that point.

Because he kept getting away with everything, his behavior kept escalating.

One day, I arrived at work early to find BLOOD. Everyone knows that I arrive early, usually before anyone else. The blood was on the floor and the wall en-route to the restrooms. Then I arrived in my office and there was BLOOD on the papers on top of my desk. When I found that it was on my desk, I KNEW it was this stalker guy doing it. And I KNEW I was the target.

I know this because I’ve had issues with him in my office after-hours before, going through my papers. He’s the last person to leave work everyday. He even stays after the cleaning crew. So the person who did this, must have done this AFTER the cleaning crew and he’s the only one that stays that late.

Here are pics of what I found that day when I arrived at work. I’m sorry the photos are crummy and poor-quality as I took them on my cell phone only. Seeing it in-person was alot more startling.

I immediately went to HR, and told them I know my stalker did it. I gave them them the papers with blood on them. And there are also surveillance cameras all over the office and I asked them to confirm with the surveillance cameras. They said they would investigate and sent me away.

Never heard back from them so a few days later I asked them what they found in their investigation.

They seriously played-dumb with me. Like, “what investigation?” I told them they were supposed to find out if my stalker did this or not and they said nothing happened. I told them I gave them the papers with his blood on them (I watch enough Forensic Files that I know that’s legit evidence that can PROVE who it was) and they were like “No, you didn’t give us anything.” WTF! I told them I wanted the surveillance cameras checked and they said they couldn’t do that because no one was currently employed that knew how to review the surveillance cameras and they would have to hire/contract someone and they weren’t going to do that because nothing happened.

I later find out that the surveillance camera excuse was also a lie, because a few weeks later, the guy running the company turned 50. And some employees decorated his office overnight and he arrived to see his birthday decorations and freaked out about people being in his office and demanded to see the surveillance camera footage about who all was involved, and within 30min, he was watching the footage for himself. Everyone involved were his buddies so he was happy and not freaked out anymore.

I was completely disgusted with HR and leadership at this point. I lost all trust in them. I consulted with a lawyer over this event and he advised me that HR’s purpose is to protect the company from lawsuits, not to protect the employee. I never knew that until it was already too late, when I already delivered to them actual evidence when I needed help.

Please be aware of this fact yourself. You need to protect yourself at the workplace. Don’t trust HR to protect you. If you do have an issue that needs escalation, please consult with an employment / labor lawyer first. Never give HR any original copies of evidence if you want to be able to escalate the issue. From my perspective, it’s practically the same thing as wiping off all the fingerprints at your home after you’ve been robbed but before you call the police.

4 Things to Look for in Your Perfect Office Bestie

I’ve been working in the corporate world for a longgggg time. And one thing I’ve learned is that you NEED an office bestie to survive. Your mental health requires it. This bestie could become the only thing you look forward to at the office and everyone needs that one thing. Otherwise, it can become a miserable existence there and that’s a LOT of your life you are spending miserable. Life’s way too short for that.

You won’t realize how important this office bestie is to you, until you need them. I actually didn’t come to this conclusion until I myself became the target of a toxic office, and everyone except this one person turned their backs on me because they chose their career over a friend. Most people will probably make that same choice. But when you find that one person who doesn’t, they deserve so much appreciation for it.

[My intro post about my toxic office experience is here, in case you missed it…]

This bestie will be important to vent to, to ask advice from, to make you laugh, to goof off with, to keep company while eating or breaking, etc. Basically, you won’t feel alone there bc of this person.

But while your office bestie can help you survive the daily grind, they can simultaneously have a crippling effect on your career goals. So you must be very careful who you choose for this. Some things to look out for:

1) That they are trustworthy. They hear all your venting, which isn’t anyone’s best moment. If they share any of that with others at work, you are in jeopardy of being seriously misconstrued and targeted as a squeaky wheel.

2) Their “side” in the toxic office. Are they a target of the toxic office? Or are they a part of the toxic office? Bc you’ll be lumped in with them, so choose wisely. This is where you do have to choose either your friendship or your career, because I don’t believe it’s possible to maintain both.

3) That they aren’t a higher position than you. Even a well-deserved promotion will be disputed by your peers when they know you have a friendship with a higher-up. And their cooperation going forward will be much harder to come by.

4) Marital Status. Here’s the thing, if you and your office bestie are the opposite sex, regardless of whether or not there is any intimacy after-hours, the office gossips WILL loudly proclaim that you two are most definitely an item. Are you willing to accept such gossip? If the both of you are single, then the gossip might not be a big deal. But if either of you – or both – are married, then this gossip can be devastating and you would probably be better off choosing a different office bestie.

And there’s probably a few more tips for this I could share with you. But these are the top 4 for sure. Do you have any tips regarding this you’d like to share? 🙂

Surviving The Toxic Office – Intros

Surviving The Toxic Office

I’ve worked in the corporate environment for 22 years at 3 different companies. (Lol, don’t even try to calculate how old I am). Surviving the toxic office and workplace politics is definitely a skill that I have not perfected, but, I’ve experienced enough of it that I can share my trial-and-errors here… and perhaps others can benefit from my lessons learned.

Intro – What’s a Toxic Office?

I googled what could be a good definition for a toxic office and found this definition on Wikipedia: A toxic workplace is a workplace that is marked by significant drama and infighting, where personal battles often harm productivity. Toxic workplaces are often considered the result of toxic employers and/or toxic employees who are motivated by personal gain (power, money, fame, or special status), use unethical, mean-spirited and sometimes illegal means to manipulate and annoy those around them; and whose motives are to maintain or increase power, money or special status or divert attention away from their performance shortfalls and misdeeds.

For the most part, I do believe that the majority of employees will utilize office politics ethically. They will maintain transparency and communication with everyone involved, and will not use this influence to hurt others.

Intro – “Cloudy”

But then I spent 2 years of my life at the brunt end of the most unethical person I’ve ever known, who utilized his ability to manipulate and threaten others to gain power and attack those that didn’t conform. I did not conform because I could not bring myself to do some of the things he required of me – such as LIE to customers, such as falsify documents to make him and his buddies look good, such as take the blame for mistakes I did not make, such as allow myself to be sexually-harrassed at work because he’d rather protect his buddy, etc.

Unfortunately for me, this person was at the top of the workplace food chain too. So my career there was basically over. He definitely created a toxic office for me. But for those coworkers who rallied around him instead, they had a completely different experience working there.

I think I shall nickname this guy “Cloudy” in this series of posts about the toxic office. I’ll name him Cloudy, because for all his buddies there – for the coworkers in his circle of protection – he always proudly claimed that he was “their sunshine” and “the air they breathed”. Well, he certainly wasn’t that for me. Whatever the opposite of sunshine is, that’s what he was for me… so, Cloudy it is.

Intro – My Headspace During This Time

I did put up a good fight at first. Tried multiple escalation paths. Tried HR (HR is such a joke!). Tried building an alliance to protect me. Consulted with lawyers. But nothing worked and I eventually gave up. And giving up was absolutely the best solution for me. At first, I felt so wronged by this whole situation that I was blindly driving towards fighting for fairness. It wasn’t fair and I needed to fight for what was fair. That was my motivation.

But this fight continued for almost 2 years and my mental health had deteriorated greatly during it. I had started to drink heavily everyday as a coping mechanism and I also got prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications. I was in bad shape. That whole situation broke me.

I’m out of that situation now and feel like I am finally ready to talk about it in small chunks via regular blog posts here. I’m doing it for my own catharsis. I’m also doing it so if anyone else is going through something similar, perhaps they won’t feel so alone now. I certainly felt alone at the time…

I have a more recent post regarding another experience I had at my toxic office, specifically about when HR failed me. You can read it here.

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Online Job Applications are a Waste of Time

Online Job Applications are a Waste of Time

I’ve been trying to find a different job for a year and a half now, and I’ve finally come to the conclusion that online job applications are a waste of time.

Because I am still employed, my new job search was a part-time effort at best, and predominantly consisted of online job applications. I extensively utilized many online job search engines such as ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and CareerBuilder. And I also paid for the Premium LinkedIn package where you are visible to recruiters and you can see the salaries of the posted jobs.

I also stalked the Career pages of the companies I was interested in working for, and applied directly there whenever I saw a good fit for me.

So in about 18 months, I applied for 172 jobs online. Only received 4 interviews. From the 4 interviews, I received 2 offers but they were too low and I could not accept. And I received 2 rejections.

This is a horrible track record. And I can’t blame it on the pandemic economy because I started this effort almost a year prior to covid closing everything down.

This is also an incredible amount of time invested. Because it’s not as easy as just uploading your resume whenever you apply online. You have to create an account with the company, and re-format your resume to fit their specific formatting which isn’t standardized, and also include a customized cover letter for their specific position and company. I would estimate I spent approximately 30min to an hour on each online job application.

And it was ultimately a huge waste of time for me.

See, I have a former coworker that started his new job search in early December. We have very similar work experiences and histories. His first day at his new job is today.

I asked him about his track record. He said he received 4 job OFFERS within the first couple of weeks of his job search. He applied for ZERO jobs online.

I asked him what he did, and he said he just reached out to all his contacts, basically told them that he was looking for something else, and his contacts brought potential opportunities to him. He only networked. That was it.

Holy cow, I feel so stupid in comparison. Like, has anyone found any success with these online job applications? Or is it all a scam? I mean, alot of these job search sites ask for money for better services and visibility, and I fell for it with LinkedIn. And I got no results from it. I kinda feel like a fool and I want all my time back. 🙁