I have a coworker, call her “Leona”, who is very bossy, though she is not my boss, nor anyone else’s. What happened earlier today is typical with her. That’s not the problem: what is the problem is that Mr. Rilch says I’m wimping out and making the situation, such as it is, worse. I don’t think it’s much of a situation, actually, but I thought I’d ask for some Humble Opinions.
“Sally” and I were the only people in our department from 9:45 to 6:15. When Leona showed up at 6:10, we were as glad to see her as anyone can reasonably be. (She doesn’t rub anyone the right way; it’s not just me.) This was a misguided reaction, though, since she promptly stuck her nose into something that was none of her business.
Just before Leona showed up, I had been embroiled in a particularly difficult transaction. The customer gave me a gift certificate, the like of which I’d never seen before (or maybe once, early on, but I no longer remembered how to use it). Finally, I figured out that I had to scan it like a coupon. Simple enough, right? Except that the register kept telling me “Insert Document, Press Clear”. So I put the giftcert in the printer…and the register proceeded to print the receipt on it!
Well, no harm done, I figured. I printed a duplicate receipt and sent the customer on her way. I was in the process of clocking out (we do that on the register) when all of a sudden, Leona’s asking, “What’s this? What is this?” I look, and she’s holding up the coupon.
Now, first of all, I don’t know how she got ahold of that thing. I would have put it into the slot in the register, so it would go under the cash drawer, but perhaps I left a corner of it poking out. Either way, Leona must have had to fish for it somehow. Which is uncalled for. As I’ve said, she is not my supervisor.
Leona continues to demand to know what “this” is. I start telling her that the register refused to do anything until I’d let it print on something (true), but she won’t listen. I think Leona must have gone to parochial school, or taught at one, because her manner is eerily like that of a nun headmistress. Finally, I cut across her hectoring and, looking her straight in the eyes, said, “I made a mistake. I’m not perfect.”
For one brief, shining moment, I thought I’d gotten my own message across, that being that I’m not intimidated by her. Ha. She was silent for all of ten seconds, then wheeled on Sally and began grilling her about coupons. “I don’t know,” says Sally.
Leona delivered another lecture, which I don’t remember word for word, except that it began with “Let me tell you something…”. And I don’t listen to that, unless the person saying that has supervisory capacity over me. Which Leona does not. Also, I was trying not to laugh at the face Sally was making, in imitation of Leona and for my benefit. I said nothing, Sally said nothing, Leona left to wait on a customer, and we left for the parking lot.
Now, contrary to what Mr. Rilch thinks, this is not eating at me. The only reason I mentioned it when I got home is because Friend was here, and when he asked me how my day was, I automatically started telling about the last thing that happened. Actually, I started out telling about the giftcert transaction, which is a story unto itself, but not relevant here. But when I finished telling about Leona, Mr. Rilch started in on a lecture of his own, about how I have to “stand up for myself” and so forth.
Quite honestly, I don’t know what I can do that I haven’t already done. I don’t want to throw down with this person, for fear that I’ll be seen as the instigator. As far as Leona’s concerned, she’s always right, and if I challenge her, she might feel she’s within her rights to complain against me. And she’s been there longer than I have.
But Mr. Rilch thinks I should challenge her, by asking “Why do you talk to me that way?” I don’t think that’s a good idea at all. That’ll just be her cue to tell me everything that’s “wrong” with me, and then she’ll really think she’s “won”. Why bring more of the same on myself? Also, Mr. Rilch has a mightly short memory. Just before 9/11, I “stood up” to another coworker who also had no authority over me but bossed me around anyway. And I was fired. In this case, I really think the best thing I can do is just keep my cool and do my job.
So what do y’all think?