Is it me or them? It's them isn't it? (My beef with co-workers)

So… here’s a mild pitting or IMHO, but since I’m mainly curious as to whether I’m overreacting I’ll put it here.

Okay, I’m really not saying this to pat myself on the back, but I’m a good co-worker. If I know somebody’s having a family problem I always ask how the relative is, I always volunteer my services, I’ve driven care packages (tabloids, cosmetics, snacks, etc.) 100 miles out of my way to co-workers who were having to stay in ICU waiting rooms or the like due to sick relatives or loved ones (that was at a former job) and at my current job I’ve loaned small amounts of cash to relatives having crises and donated many hours of chauffeur service to a co-worker who had surgery on her leg. I’m not asking for a medal or anything like, it’s just strictly a banking of karma and "we’re humans, we’re in this together and to quote The Don “someday and that day may never come I may ask you for a service but until then see this as a favor on my” regular workday.

So, my mother is in the hospital. I’ve been spending most of the last 3 weeks 100 miles from work, going in about 2 days per week to catch up on paperwork, and my mother is probably terminal and half the time I’ve been here I’ve been alone (i.e. nobody to relieve me). NOT ONE PERSON at my work, including the ones I’ve helped, has even so much as SENT ME A #*(##*ING e-mail to say “sorry about your mom, let me know if I can do anything for you”. (As a matter of fact they COULD do something for me- my plants are certainly dead by now at my apartment, there’s some simple reports it would be great if somebody could do for me, stuff like that, but I ain’t gonna ask.) It pisses me off and so offends my feminine side that I think I may not be able to bear children.

So your opinion (unless you’re affiliated with a site that rhymes with stark shit dot dead gernal dot com in which case I DO NOT GIVE A DAMN WHAT YOU THINK): I’m being almost neurotic in the irritation I have with these people and I realize that to some degree it’s displacement, but do you think I have a legitimate right to be pissed? A few have asked “How’s your mom?” when they see me in person (and without going into details and a Power Point I tell them concisely “she ain’t doin’ so well”, so it’s not like they think she has a cold) but that’s it, and again, these are people I’ve helped many different ways and asked nothing in return and expected nothing other than simple human “let me know if I can do anything” stuff that I probably wouldn’t have taken them up on anyway (I’m not concerned about my plants, they’re only there because they were gifts, and the paperwork’s the only thing I may have asked assistance with).

Anyway, your opinion (unless you’re with “the other site” in which case please fellate a rabid dingo and suffer major health consequences).

I don’t think you’re out of line to be disappointed in or even angry with your coworkers. They sound like self absorbed twits, to be honest. The thing is, they may not even have realized that there WAS something that could be done, especially as you’re so far away right now. In my world, that doesn’t excuse their actions, but it may help to explain them.

OTOH, I absolutely think you should ask someone to run those reports for you. My bet is that they’ll be rather embarrassed they didn’t think to ask. Don’t let your pride get you into making more work for yourself when you get back to the library.

And, I mean this in all seriousness, if there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know. I know I don’t know you IRL, but it doesn’t matter to me. I know I’m thousands of miles away from you here in Chicago, but it doesn’t matter. I’m sorry I can’t water your plants, but seriously, if a Chicago snow-globe or CTA schedule would help you in any way… Ok, I didn’t manage to stay completely serious there. I don’t know what on earth help I could be. But if you do, please let me know.

I tend to keep a bit more professional distance, so my inclination is to think that it’s not all that terrible for co-workers not to volunteer to for example plant-sit in your absence. I rely on friends for that sort of thing. I have no idea what your normal relationship is with these people. Is there something that they have done in the past that would lead you to believe they’re treating you in some way that’s out of the ordinary for them?

You’re not wrong. They sound like self-absorbed dicks. In which case, you should feel no guilt about coming out and asking for help with anything you really need help with. You should also not be afraid to use the guilt-hammer about things you’ve done for them in the past. It may not be fair. You shouldn’t have to ask, but you now know that nothing’s going to happen unless you do ask. Now you know who they are. It’s not you’re fault they’re assholes and there isn’t any point in waiting around expecting them to change.

They are probably wondering why that guy (what’s his name again?) who always does nice things for co-workers hasn’t organized something yet. Why isn’t he taking the lead?

By the way, the easiest way not get input from some other site is not to mention some other site… dontcha think? That, and don’t head over there to mock flame yourself and coax others into joining in.

That’s a fair description of what happened to me once. I sort of became the default organizer of do-gooding, buying greeting cards for births and deaths and taking them around to be signed and taking up collections, organizing holiday pot-lucks, etc. Nearly everyone wanted to participate once something was on, but no one ever got the ball rolling since they knew I’d eventually do it.

I had a house fire in '97, a pretty serious one. We got out with the clothes on our backs and I was at work the next morning in borrowed shoes explaining to my boss why I needed the day off. Quite a few people who saw me asked if we were all right, I explained the situation (grateful to be healthy and alive, homeless and living in insurance limbo) and they all clucked sympathetically.

After all the ‘Jim’s kid got in an accident’ and ‘Susan’s having a baby’ and ‘Bob’s gallbladder blew out’ and ‘Miguel’s getting married’ collections I’d cheerfully gathered along with the appropriate hallmark, nothing. A few people noticed the lack and commented on it in a “Gee, I can’t believe no one’s got you a card” which was incredibly awkward and uncomfortable, what in the world could I say to that?

One former boss, however, heard about my plight and took time to personally seek me out and ask what he could do. When I said we’d be fine he called bullshit and grilled me about actual details of our loss and showed up with a set of dishes and a microwave and some old clothes his (grown) kids had left behind from their college years, I was so touched I cried.

So yeah, considering you’ve went out of your way to be helpful, considering it’s common in your particular work culture to help out in times of need, they’re being thoughtless. Good luck on not letting it change you, I stopped being the organizing do-gooder immediately after my experience.

No I don’t. I wasn’t even aware of the existence of the God-Hates-Dopers site until recently, but they’ve hijacked my threads in the recent past.

I’ve been over there once and posted exactly once and that was to tell them to carnalk-ly enjoy themselves.

OK, I’m going to make some assumptions here, so feel free to take or leave this advice/opinion (I don’t have a high post count here so my words probably won’t hold much weight), but your post rings a bit of a bell with me.

I wonder if you have got into the ‘people pleasing’ habit, particularly the part where you say “As a matter of fact they COULD do something for me- my plants are certainly dead by now at my apartment, there’s some simple reports it would be great if somebody could do for me, stuff like that, but I ain’t gonna ask.”

Why aren’t you going to ask? What is so intolerable about asking for help? What would it say about you if you were to openly admit to your co-workers that you aren’t coping so well right now?

I think you do your colleagues a disservice by not letting them know that you need help. You are getting more and more irritated as you perceive them as being uninterested and uncaring, but unless you take some action (i.e. let them know you need help), nothing is going to change and you are going to continue getting angrier at them (and probably start reacting to this anger in passive ways that confuses your co-workers even more).

People aren’t mind readers, and if you are given out the impression that everything is fine, people are going to assume that everything is fine. Yes, you wouldn’t assume everything is fine, but that’s part of your personality.

There are quite a few internet resources on ‘people pleasing’, I understand the phrase was coined by the late Harriet Braiker but I can’t seem to access her website at the moment so I’m not sure if it still exists. But if you do a search on the phrase, you may find some resources that have some tips.

All the best,

I guess I’m in the “self-absorbed dick” category, because I agree with Otto. If you’d done something specifically for me in the past, I would probably return the favor in this your hour of need. But if you’d built up heroic levels karma at your last job or by helping some other co-worker of ours, unless some mystic force informed me of it, it probably wouldn’t occur to me to offer any non-work related help. Like Otto says, that’s the sort of thing I’d rely on friends or family for. I don’t expect help from co-workers in my personal life, and don’t usually offer it, either.

That said, I’d certainly ask if there was anything I could help you with at work both for selfish reasons (so that things would keep running smoothly) but also just so you wouldn’t have such a bad backlog when you got back.

Some work people are touchy-feely, and some are strictly business (I tend to be the former more often than not). Your direct supervisor is the anal pore in this situation. He should be off-loading the reports that can be off-loaded. You shouldn’t have to ask anyone to help you out. But I agree, it would be nice if people would reciprocate a good turn. Fuckers.

I’m sorry to hear things aren’t looking so hot for your mom. Best wishes to you and the clan.

Sounds to me like they’ve dropped the ball, big time. You’ve every right to feel ill done by, I think.

I wasn’t accusing you, and you don’t owe me an explanation. I was just stating what should be obvious. Giving this particular problem public attention does not make it better.

Sorry about your mom.

I’m sorry, Sampiro, but doing all the things you do doesn’t make you a good co-worker; it just makes you a good person. It would be nice if all those extras were appreciated and reciprocated, but you can’t count on it, especially from work people.

Now, if your mom dies and they still can’t be bothered to get a card or anything, then we have a serious case of jerks on our hands.

Sometimes you just gotta mention it. I mean, a lot of times people just don’t know what to do, and honestly, if I was in a position like that and somebody from work asked me what they could do, I’d say “Oh, nothing, but thanks”, even if there was, because that’s the way my family is. I’m pretty sure they’d really be expecting me to say that, too - not that they wouldn’t be happy to help out, just that they might not really expect me to ask. Now, if I were to say something like “I just don’t know where I can put the dog up over the holiday weekend”, I bet I’d get four or five offers to keep my dog, ill tempered as he is, because then people would know there was something they could do to help out. Sometimes people want to help but just need a little direction, is all.

I tell you, though, some people don’t even send cards or say anything about it. Maybe it’s because they don’t know what to say, but I tell you what - when my grandfather died, I found out who my friends were at work, and I haven’t forgotten. And you can tell a sincere card from the other kind, I assure you.

It’s tough when they ask you how she’s doing, though, isn’t it? They’re trying to be nice, but somehow don’t you feel like you have some responsibility not to be a huge downer and all? When my aunt was dying of lung cancer people would ask me how she’s doing, and who wants to hear “Well, hopefully it won’t be long now. She’s in a lot of pain and she’s terrified of dying alone.”? But you can’t say “Oh, she’s great! Actually she’s taking up mountain climbing.” I always feel like I’m breaking the social compact by not delivering good news, not to mention I’m ooged out by people’s sympathy.

Really, if there’s anything, anything that any of us can do, please let us know. Do you have an Amazon wish list or anything? Because I only read The Da Vinci Code because it was the only thing in the hospital bookstore that wasn’t about Jesus, and I’ve regretted it ever since.

I just realized that it is, in fact, kind of about Jesus. Man, insult to injury.

I agree.

Everything in your second paragraph after “I’m a good co-worker” struck me as a the kinds of things a good friend does, not the kinds of things a good co-worker does. Often one’s co-workers are one’s friends, but not necessarily. If you had asked me to describe the actions of a good co-worker, my description wouldn’t have had much in common with what you wrote; it would have been a lot more work-related.
It may be worth keeping in mind that there are a lot of people in this world (I may be one of them) who would be more than willing to help out a friend, neighbor, or co-worker in need, if they were asked, but who are hesitant to bring it up themselves, whether because they just don’t know how, or out of mistaken concern for your privacy, or because they’re really bad at intuiting when such things are needed, or whatever. Or they might just not care, or be too lazy or self-centered to go out of their way for you. Without knowing these people, I wouldn’t venture to guess which it is.

But I will try to keep this thread in mind the next time one of my co-workers seems to be going through a rough patch.

Sampiro - your favours make you a nice person. Unfortunately, as I have learned, doing things for others is not necessarily returned. Yes, it would be nice if they offered but they don’t seem to be doing so.

I would take it as a decision to be made on your part: continue doing favours when you know they will unlikely be returned, or be like them.

I think I know which one you’ll choose. And that doesn’t make you a sucker, it just makes you a nice person. Don’t let it get to you. :wink:

By the way, I did have an unexpected and very nice favour done by my neighbours, who we have helped out on occasion, certainly not expecting anything in return. My mom died shortly after Christmas (Dec. 27th) a few years ago. My neighbours, knowing I had spent christmas at the hosptial and didn’t have any christmas dinner or such, after new years, invited me for dinner. When I walked into the dining room, there was a complete turkey dinner awaiting.

Perhaps it doesn’t sound like much, but that, and the fact that my girlfriend brought my party snack leftovers to the hosptial on christmas day, are two things that I would count as the best two things anyone has ever done for me.

So, keep doing helpful and nice things. Some day, someone will do something nice for you. And even if they don’t, you’ll have satisfaction knowing you’ve done the best you could. And that’s not a bad thing.


I don’t know. I’m a little torn here. I think they should have helped you…offered to. But there have been times I felt I should help…and didn’t. Because I didn’t feel it was my place. Sometimes it’s not being an asshole, it’s being uncertain how to help or if help is wanted…or what help is required. I don’t always know…and I hope I’m not an asshole.

Sometimes you have to ask. And godammit, you should. Ask me and I’ll be in Alabama tommorow :slight_smile:

Sometimes people are

  • afraid to “butt in”,
  • convinced that everything’s ok,
  • or that “she’s not doing so well” means she’s got “the usual string of old-people ailments”.

So, while I do think that those people need to wake up and stop being so afraid of “dying from being run over by a mosquito”, I also think that you should go and ask.

When I was in Philly, my INTJ, undiplomatic, Hispanic self apparently was a sort of mother hen/party girl compared to most people in my work group (in Spain I’m usually the last to be organizing anything). Funny thing was, every time I said “to hell with diplomacy, I’ll do it”, and the “it” was something like tell someone who’d been there for 14 hours to Go Home… instead of being angry at me for stepping on her shoes, the boss thanked me and helped me push the guy out of the door.

Love Thyself, take care of yourself - and when you need others to help you, yell for help!

I’ve got nothing else to add to the good advice other than hang in there. I’ve struggled through stuff like this, trying to juggle a life catastrophe and work with no help at all, it ain’t pretty.

But I must point out there is no rabies in Australia… :wink:

Take care,

Just the bit I know of you, you are a nurturer. I’m sure, whenever anyone needs help, or when the roof leaks, or bats get in and try to eat their hair, you take care of it. They see you as strong, never needing help, or a shoulder.
Have you ever broken down in front of them? I didn’t think so.
The martyr role doesn’t become you. Tell them you need their support. You know they care about you, and I’ll bet they want to do something, but don’t want to offend you.
Sit down with someone you feel closest to, and spill you guts. It will give them a direction and it will give you some relief. I know you write to ease your stress, but talking is another release valve.
Good luck to you, my dear,{{{{Sampiro}}}}.