Howdy, friends.

I ran into someone today I haven’t seen in a long time — maybe eight or nine years. Just a former coworker I didn’t have much contact with when he worked at my company.

I happily greeted him.

And he then unleashed about five minutes of insults to and at me.

It was awful. I was surprised, embarrassed and totally taken aback. When I started at my current job, I was 26. That’s pretty young. It was my first job in management. I made many, many foolish mistakes. It was also almost 11 years ago. For the most part, I feel like I’ve grown a lot in that time — as a manager and as a person. I’m sure we all can look back a decade ago and think we might make a different choice now, in certain situations.

But in those few minutes, standing with my cup of coffee in my office break room, I felt tiny. Stupid. Foolish. I felt 26 and insecure and nervous and intimidated all over again. I tried to extricate myself from the barrage before I started to cry, and I did, barely making it back to my desk.

I’m embarrassed by how hurt my feelings were by someone I haven’t even thought about in almost a decade. How easy it was to go right back to that terrible, vulnerable feeling I had when I first moved to South Dakota.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, love my job. I feel like even if not everybody here adores me, we all tolerate one another, and in general have the kind of common courtesy that keeps us from making comments like, “Nobody even likes you” to each others’ faces. Yes, that is a comment I heard today.

It really hurt. I feel more foolish that it hurt my feelings than anything else. But man, it really, really did. I remember many afternoons crying in a work bathroom stall when I first started managing a department. It’s overwhelming and, as my boss at the time said, trial by fire. I hate that when I am angry, my first reaction is to start crying. It makes throwing a bitchy comeback out pretty tough — nobody thinks you’re a good fighter when you are cursing at them through a bunch of tears.

I hope, really hope, that I am not the same stupid manager I was 10 years ago. And I hope that I can remember, in my own life, to give people a chance to grow and change, and not judge them as being the same as they were in high school or at their first job or whatever.

I’m also glad that I generally wear waterproof mascara.

Happy running.

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8 Responses to Crybaby

  1. I hate moments like that. In fact, I had a moment like that at my HS class reunion this summer. Twenty years have passed and things still rankle.

    The only solace I take is that individual probably now feels pretty foolish for reacting like that, like a child.

    And if he doesn’t, well, doesn’t that just say a lot about his character.

  2. newparentsrepeating says:

    In this kind of situation, I always wish I could be the kind of person that quips off an appropriately snarky comment. My husband always says of these verbal assaults, “Never defend, always attack” because defensive action is seen as weak. Attacks stop people. This is something that he learned after dealing with bullies. I’ve always wanted to try it, but will never be quick witted enough.

  3. Danni says:

    I think that despite the fact that what this person did is totally inexcusable and is reprehensible, not to mention unprofessional, we should feel sorry for for this person. Just imagine what a miserable dark place this person must be in to unleash on you like that. Maybe he has always been a jerk, I don’t know. But just imagine how awful it would be to be like him.

    I find it hard to believe that no one at work likes you. You would not still be there if that were true obviously.

  4. Laurel says:

    Some people (a lot of people) do not like strong-minded, opinionated women who work hard, stand up for themselves and expect other people to do their work properly. It’s sad but true. I’m sure you have made mistakes in your job, we all have, but If you were a man, those words would have NEVER come out of his mouth. Could you imagine? What a big man he is for bullying a woman half his size, I’m sure. What an idiot and coward.

    And why was this guy in your break room? Does he work there again. Please send me an email with details of this encounter. 🙂

  5. Erica says:

    I am so sorry to hear that happened. Agreed, it would never have taken place if you were a man. Obviously someone peed in his Cheerios today (and perhaps does everyday). I know you are hurt and I feel terrible for you, but he sounds like the one we should be sorry for. That’s a lot of anger and hostility to be carrying around and hurling at other people.
    Please tell me this person is not around because he is working there again. Hoping for you it was a one time encounter.

  6. Miranda Gargasz says:

    How dare you have the audacity to expect people to do their jobs and be professional! I mean, really! All kidding aside, as a fellow teary eyed angry woman, you were the bigger person in the situation, tears and all. That, in itself, speaks volumes to the kind of manager you are now. Remember, bullies (and he was one) build themselves up by tearing you down. Be strong, friend.

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