Cafe Hitch-hike


The prayer of mercy, again

I worked Tweedle Dum, a colleague I formerly coined 'Little Mishie' because she was slight in stature and her posture made her smaller than she appeared. She was also the meekest person in the department. For some reason, she never really warmed up to me and I never pressed the issue.

I then left my current employer for a while and returned 2 years later. I got a different position than when I left, and it seemed like we were at odds from the beginning. I coordinated and supervised some of her projects, and they were always late or poor quality. I tried tactfully to give her feedback which was never followed. Then, her work was always late. I was actually nice about it and didn't say anything to anyone else until she missed a deadline for a campus grand pubah and it made our building look very bad.

TDum was good friends with another colleague in the department. I discovered in the first year I returned that both women were interested in my position but were discouraged from applying for it; apparently, the supervisors had their minds made up on me and interviewed one other person. As the working relationship between me and TDum degraded, so did the relationship between me and the other colleague. Before I knew it, the 2 were doing bad work, showing up late for meetings, and missing deadlines on the things we worked on. It was like the 2 were tag teaming who would get their licks with me. I tried to be accommodating, but after one of them yelled at me in front of everyone in a meeting, it was war. There were days I'd swear they'd say the sky was purple if I described it was blue just to be contrary. I gave them the nicknames Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

I had no idea what the hell happened but I gradually pieced it together. Once I saw their attempts to sabotage me, I stopped working with them on things. When I assigned things separately, I got the usual poor work quality from them. I complained about them twice to my supervisors but they never did anything about them. I also noticed that TDum had a pattern of purposefully playing herself small. She always hid behind the skirts of more powerful or influential people in the building and got them to fight her battles, that is, if she didn't passively aggressively fight her own. I walked by a room where she was meeting with others, and I overheard another one of her lame pleas for leniency on a deadline she missed with them. At least I saw it was her general work quality, and not because of how she felt about me.

The game she played with others was clear to me. She used the story of her difficult early life as an excuse for her bad performance, and used it to get sympathy (and lower expectations) from others. And, she used her 'littleness' to be seen as everyone's favorite little sister. She even suckered my former friend/ colleague Lily into thinking that.

The Tweedles made my worklife so difficult! I actually joined the union because I was afraid TDum was going to file a grievance on me (and God knows I had zero backup from our supervisors). I didn't talk to her to steer clear of any accusations she had of me.

I had a task for the whole department to do that had poor participation, and I called them out on it during a meeting. TDum cried on the table in front of everyone about her lack of participation and ran out of the room. Later that week, she walked out of the building and quit her job. When she came back to clear out her office, she stopped by mine and said goodbye. I waved, gave a terse 'goodbye,' and went back to work. I did not want to engage the woman who played the passive aggressive game like an absolute pro; with my luck, she'd probably accuse me of one more thing before leaving for good.

The building Grand Pubah then met individually for an hour with everyone in the department and wanted to know what the hell happened. TDum claimed she was bullied and harassed at work. Afterward, the GP concluded that TDum's claims were baseless and that she left on her own volition. TDum was actually a favorite of the GP (for reasons I didn't understand at all), but the GP said they would never rehire her after finding out how she really was and for walking off the job.

I always felt angry whenever I thought of Tweedle Dum and what she was able to pull over me. She turned a co-worker against me, and the supervisors were content to let her mew and cry her way in and out of her excuses. I was also angry that my work quality was expected to be outstanding while hers was mediocre. I loathed being treated so unfairly, and that TDum seemed to weasel her way out of everything.

Sadly, TDum was having quite the strife in her marriage and had moved out about 2 months before she quit. Then, about 6 months after she quit, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. No one knew how she was carrying on without a job, and she had a 5-year old daughter to support. A co-worker who was her good friend sent the department a list of health supplies that TDum wanted because she was trying to holistically treat her cancer. The list wasn't exorbitant and just had things like filtered water and epsom salts; I was actually willing to buy a couple of things. However, someone in the department said they didn't want to do it because they didn't trust TDum or her motives; if we bought a $5.00 bag of epsom salts this week, what would she request later? A majority of people in the department agreed, and no one ended up contributing.

I felt bad that she was having a hard time and would never had wished that on anyone. However, I still felt animosity for the way she interacted with me at work, and sometimes I'd remember her followed by a huff when I recalled a work situation. Sometimes I could feel the tightness in my chest or anger bubble up. I also felt immense relief that she was no longer working with us; the weird thing I noticed was our department was cleaner after she left, and people actually turned their work in on time (including her tag team partner Tweedle Dee who was no longer as aggressive without her 'girl). I felt sympathy for the daughter, the marriage difficulties, and the breast cancer, but I had no idea how to reconcile that with the bitterness I felt for her as a colleague.

Now let's go into the present. We got a message that TDum has entered hospice and is in a lot of pain. Not good, not good at all. Once a person enters hospice, they stop receiving standard care and are kept as comfortable as they can until they pass away.

I don't know what to say, especially with the string of deaths I've had in my life these past 3+ years, and after losing Sam the neighbor to suicide last week. I almost feel like it's too soon (too soon? Yeah, as if we can decide on that). Tweedle Dum is younger than me by 5 years and was born the same month and year as one of my younger sisters.

Although TDum is still alive, I get to think about what is expressed in the Hebrew prayer of mercy called Kel Maleh Rachamim; Sam the neighbor was Jewish, and so is TDum.

It reminds me of how I felt when I discovered my stepfather's boss died soon after him (and around the same time as Remy). I just wanted to bang my head on my desk and scream, "enough! How much is enough?" I know we can't decide and we have no control over that, but something inside still hurts.

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