CLEANING THE OFFICE

Dear Mrs. Crabby,

I work in a cubicle space in an office. There are quite a few of these.  They are fairly close together. No one really has any privacy at work. But it’s weird because you learn to tune out the people beside you.

We have a new employee who just started a couple months ago. Her name is Shelda. Shelda is a tiny little woman in her forties who it turns out is the most productive employee the company has seen in years. Shelda is not a nice person. She smiles and is polite enough, but the minute someone walks away she makes a snide comment about them. Really rude comments. Just this side of hostile environment. We complained to our supervisor and that’s when we found out how valued she is “upstairs.”

Shelda started to make rude and nasty comments about the supervisor recently. She calls him “DumbleDick,” “Fat A**bert,” and “Urine Pants.” Probably because he does smell of urine when he comes from the bathroom and he is on the tubby side. The first one, I don’t know. She must have personal knowledge.

Anyway, she does not hide these names. I am wondering if we should record her on our cell phones doing this and send it to the supervisor anonymously so he will know what she’s really like.

Do you think this would get her fired?

Signed,

Tired of Cruel Comments

 

Dear TOCC,

For heavens’ sake do NOT film or record the woman! You would be giving her grounds for more trouble against you than anything else. And don’t kid yourself that you can be anonymous. It’s not hard to find an IP address and know who has done what where and how. It could be that this is what she is goading you to do.

The best thing you can do with someone like this is to go Amish on them. As in everyone agrees to shun Shelda. When she speaks to anyone, you just pretend she is not there, unless you have to interact for work purposes. Go bottom line professional. If she stops you to talk and you can’t escape, just stand there, do not look into her eyes, wait till she’s done, then move on. I don’t know of any company policy handbook that requires you to speak socially with a co-worker.

When your supervisor calls you in and asks about this, simply look puzzled and say that you have no idea what he’s talking about.

You’re not treating her in a mean way. You’re not harassing her at all. You’re just not acknowledging her existence if you don’t have to.

Without the needed fuel for her vitriol, she will leave. And in the process, you all, in your joined effort, will have bonded more closely and managed to get through the unpleasantness with some semblance of control. Just remember to keep it simple and classy. You don’t want to stoop to her level in any way.

This is an excellent technique. Though it doesn’t seem to work as well in families. I tried it with Mother Crabby, but she won’t go away. She comes back with prank food to get our attention. Ex-lax brownies and alum cookies, or some such. Once she showed up with a fellow dressed as a Zulu warrior and told Fenwick it was his new daddy, as the fellow speared all of Seymour’s taxidermy projects. It was ugly. So I don’t recommend this for families. Though now that I think of this, having you all dress tribal for work on this woman might be a very interesting deterrent to her low-class shenanigans. Just a thought.

Good luck to you. I’m sure you can have her out by Christmas.

IB Crabby

 

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