My life in the workforce has been pleasant for the most part, except for two jobs that must be excluded. This is one of them.
It was a job I took after a hiatus in a field I had successfully done for many years. The expectations were high, mine and theirs. My commitment to it included a 2 ½ hour commute one way every day.
I was introduced to my trainer. A girl 10 years younger whose only job since school had been the one she was teaching me, I was her first trainee. She was good, very good. She was detailed, thorough. She kept track of every training and every question she ever answered, if she answered it. I was trained in much detail one time and then….I was tested, unrelentingly. Unmercifully.
I could not hesitate in my answers. I could not ask a question on a subject that had already been taught. Every question I dared ask was replied with a “you were taught this on this date”. I was written up with every hesitation, every pause I took in answering on time, every incorrect answer, every unnecessary question.
The tests were given to me in writing. Every day I would log into my computer and wait for the emails to load. My heart beat fast as emails from “N” showed up. Every one of them, every single one of them was negative. There was never an email that congratulated me on any accomplishment because if there were any, they were expected. So any communication was to let me know what I had done wrong. Not one ever let me know I had done something right.
I learned to dread her. I dreaded coming to work. I dreaded every email that hit my screen. I shut the email notification so I wouldn’t feel that pounding fear when hers arrived. I dreaded speaking to her. I watched my words, my moves, my reactions to her comments. I dreaded her.
On my way home, I’d sit on the train next to a former boss who had formerly trained me. I would relay my experience of the day to her. One day T said to me “I hate to say this but I think she is trying to break you”.
Why, though? Why would someone with a good job and good reputation want to break me? I was not a threat to her but she had the power and she knew how to use it.
It is not that N was not a good person. It is not that N was hurtful. But she was to me, with me. And my position in the department gave her the upper hand she never had before. She was hooked on the satisfaction she drew from the reactions she induced in me.
The more she abused her power, the more I dreaded her and the more she gained satisfaction from my fear.
I left N and the company I thought when I accepted the job would be a long time employer. I left with no job, no health insurance, no income at all in my household. But I had to survive and the only way I could was by regaining my life mentally.
In my exit interview, the Manager tried to tell me that N was a nice person. I had nothing to say to that. Who she had been to me, was different.
Some people you learn to dread. Some people thrive on making you dread them. And we can only hope they learn from what they've done.
I hope she did. I know I did.