toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

October 09, 2007

the dreaded company merger

Heidi is 38, divorced and bringing up two children without any help from her ex-husband. She worked quite happily for a small accountancy firm until it merged with a larger organization, bringing her into contact with the co-workers from hell.

"Many of my former co-workers lost their jobs in the company merger," explains Heidi, "but two other women and myself were taken on by the new company."

Heidi's relief at keeping her job and having an income coming in was soon overshadowed when she starting working for the new company.

"We were assigned to positions within different departments," says Heidi, "meaning that the three of us had to fit in with entirely new co-workers."

Because lunch breaks were staggered, Heidi never even got a chance to speak to her old co-workers during the day. She believes that the new company deliberately separated the three women in order to force them to assimilate.

"We got around this forced separation by talking to each other after work," says Heidi, "but because the other two women were lucky enough to be assigned to really friendly departments these after-work talks didn't last long."

"I guess they felt the need to stick together had passed," sighs Heidi, "and even though they knew I was having trouble settling in to my new department they didn't want to get involved."

Heidi had the stressful experience of being assigned to a department where none of her new co-workers made an effort to befriend her.

"On the contrary," explains Heidi, "they treated me very badly from the first day and made it abundantly clear that they did not want an 'outsider' working with them."

"I suppose I don't 'fit in' with them because I'm divorced and they're married, and I have children and they don't," explains Heidi.

"I'm also a bit older than they are, too," adds Heidi. "But I guess it's more than that. They just don't want someone new breaking up their little group. Honestly, their behavior towards me is really evil."

"I was the first child in a family of four kids and had to put up with my younger sisters ganging up on me at times," explains Heidi, "but nothing my sisters did compares with what I have to put up with from the girls at work."

Heidi says that her evil co-workers smear her computer monitor with grease, cut her off from the network, delete her files, hide her chair when she's out of the room and whisper and giggle together about her.

"I brought in a photo of my kids to place on my desk," says Heidi, "and the next day I came in and found it was smeared with grease, too."

Heidi's main problem is that she doesn't have anyone at home to talk to about what's happening at work, and she refuses to speak to the management at her new place because if she does complain they will probably call her a trouble-maker and dismiss her.

"Whichever way I turn," sighs Heidi, "I'm in trouble. I can't quit this job because I need an income and it won't be easy finding another job. I guess I just have to put up with these evil women, keep my inner strength in tune and hope and pray that in time they'll leave me alone."

Company mergers often lead to staff destabilization and Heidi may find that her evil co-workers will accept her in time, but the odds are not good that they will. They're ganging up against her and seem determined to make her life miserable and force her to quit.

"What really upsets me," explains Heidi, "is that these women have secure jobs, they have husbands bringing home money and they don't have children to feed and clothe like I do. I need this job. Why can't they understand that single working mothers like me have tremendous responsibilities?"

"When they hurt me, they hurt my kids," sighs Heidi. "If they're not willing to make my life easier then they should have the decency to leave me alone to do my work in peace so that I can go home to my children with a good frame of mind."

Heidi's point about whoever hurts a single mother also hurts her children is worth repeating. Her anger and frustration about being treated badly at work is definitely going to spill over at home and adversely affect her children.

"You know," sighs Heidi, "the world talks about how evil the terrorists are but the really evil people to me are those within our community who terrorize others on a daily basis. It all boils down to hating change and hating people who are different, doesn't it?"

"I've thought about whether my childhood experiences as a first child have much bearing on what I'm experiencing now," adds Heidi. "I admit that I'm probably more tolerant of misbehavior in younger people than, say, an only child would be, but putting up with abuse from co-workers is not the same thing as putting up with bad behavior from your little sisters."

"These women are grown up and should behave accordingly," says Heidi. "I have enough trouble sorting out my private life and taking care of the kids without having to make excuses for the bad behavior of grown up women."

"Yes, it's extremely stressful, and no, I'm not going to give them the satisfaction of the hysterical reaction they want," says Heidi.

"I'll give them a couple more weeks to settle down and then reassess the situation," explains Heidi. "If it continues then I suppose I will just have to ask for a transfer. There's only so much anyone can put up with without breaking and I'm not going to allow them to do that to me and my kids."

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