Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Rant #348: (I'm Not An) Office Politician
I really hate it when people are thrown into a turmoil that is not their own making while at work. It just makes the workplace stink even more than it normally does.
I have been thrust into a situation which is beyond my repair, because other people put it into such a poor state that there is nothing at all that I can do about it ...
Except be used as a scapegoat.
About two weeks ago, I was told to write a story involving a major company and an organization that helps out soldiers in need.
The problem was that it was tied into an ad in the publication I write for, and had been sitting on someone's desk for six weeks before any action was taken on it.
I contacted several parties having related this story, and initially, I received no response.
The salesperson attached to this story called me to give me what amounted to a pep talk about getting the story into a particular issue, our biggest issue of the year. Having been a professional writer for decades, I didn't need the pep talk, but I let him give it his best shot.
I mean, this is my job, and this is what I do ... do I really need a pep talk?
Finally, I was able to contact one of the parties I was trying to speak with.
This party was as nasty as any I have ever dealt with in my career. Talk about ranting and raving; this party was bordering on being a lunatic, because he felt that this story should have been covered when it was sent out weeks before, not in a time frame--a few days left before our deadline--that he felt was unacceptable.
I contacted the people he wanted me to, got some information from them and him, and wrote the story. It went back and forth to him for his OK, which we eventually received.
In the interim, the salesperson I was dealing with bad-mouthed me to my managing editor, stating that one of my emails to this person I was dealing with--which we are required to send out to all the parties within the company who are involved with the story--was actually condescending, because the salesperson objected to my use of "Dear Sir" instead of "Dear (the person's name). My managing editor stuck up for me, saying this was ridiculous, but I never received an apology from the salesperson.
It gets better. The last time that I spoke to the person I was dealing with, he was as nasty as anybody could be on the phone, blaming everybody involved, from some higher ups here to the salesman, and eventually to me. When he moved on down the blame ladder to me, I tried to get him back on track by saying something to the tune of, "Listen to me. Let's get back to the task at hand," or something akin to that.
And it worked. It got him back on track--I really believe he was going to pull his advertising because of his anger--and I was able to complete my "mission," for lack of a better word.
Well, little did I know that my request would be handled in such an unprofessional manner by my own company. The big boss was in the room when I made this request. He didn't like it, didn't like it at all.
After the issue was done and over with, evidently he called my managing editor into his office, and let him have it! Without speaking to me at all, he took out whatever agita he had about this story--it is widely acknowledged throughout my company that the person I dealt with is "difficult"--and now I am not allowed to do certain stories for our publication.
In the interim, not only did we get praise for the story, but the salesperson who gave me that idiotic "pep talk" congratulated my managing editor for doing such a fine job with the story. Even my managing editor was perplexed by this.
I have been with this publication for nearly 15 years. I don't think I did anything wrong, especially since this guy was getting so off track, blaming everybody here for everything short of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
But I am being used as a scapegoat, which, of course, masks what the real problem with this article was: why did it sit on someone's desk for six weeks without any movement done on it?
And, of course, that question will never be answered, because the higher ups at my place would rather cast blame than get to some real answers about a real problem with this article. It is just so much easier to point a finger at somebody who did what he was told and had nothing to do with the question that needs to be answered.
I am not the first person to have this happen to him here, and I certainly won't be the last. It is their "Modus Operandi" here, and they live and die with it.
Look, I have to take it because this is my job, and I don't want to lose it. There aren't many jobs out there for 53 year old males right now.
But to be belittled ... well, if there was somewhere else that I could go, I would in a hurry.
Going back to my childhood in Queens, I had a teacher in sixth or seventh grade (I don't remember which) whose name, I believe was Mrs. Brandon. She was a proud black woman who had a mix of a southern and New York accent. I remember her as being an excellent teacher.
We were a smart class, and teaching social studies to us must have been a nightmare. We talked, didn't listen, and were pretty unruly at times.
I remember that on more than one occasion, when we were acting up, she would say to us, "You know, I don't need this job, this job needs me."
We kept on acting up, and I never realized what Mrs. Brandon meant until I got older.
As an adult, I know now exactly what she means, and yes, it applies to my job now.
And again, if there was another place to go, I would leave without hesitation.
But, like many of us, I am stuck. Stuck so tight that if I move, I might severely injure myself.
And in this economy, where some are saying the recession is over, I certainly don't want to do that.
Posted by Larry at 3:53 AM