Things That Happened in January

I hadn’t been able to find the time to post about what happened in January this year. I would say though that it’s not something I’d like to think or talk about candidly because it’s one of my darkest days, and I am glad I’m over the entire episode.

So I had a crappy job last year. It only started getting crappy sometime in August 2019 because I switched bosses, and I started the job in March 2019. The crappiness came to a head sometime in January 2020. For my friends who were there for me or knew the story, I was probably a huge mess, but thanks for always being there.

My former boss (well, reporting officer would be a more appropriate term) yelled at me 7 times in a month, probably from December 2019 to January 2020. Each time she yelled I didn’t retaliate, and I mostly stayed quiet. It was not really out of fear that I did that, but I’ve never been too keen on being very dramatic in public, didn’t wanna start then, and I actually had never encountered such a situation at work so I didn’t really know how to manage.

After yelling at me for the 6th or 7th time (I would have to check my notes but frankly I’ve put most of these things to dust), I think she was summoned to the Deputy Director’s room to explain the situation. This happened the first week of January. The Deputy Director of the department I worked in is male, and after she left his room, he shot me a rather rude email about wanting to speak to me. Of course I asked what it was about. He said it’s just a follow up to some meeting we had in November 2019 (an appraisal of my work done between August and November). I’m not sure if it’s practised in the regular world, but to pit someone who’s been at a portfolio for three months against someone who’s been at the job between 1 to 5 years, I thought it was just the stupidest thing!

Promptly at 2pm the same afternoon I brought my computer and knocked on his door. He laughed nervously when he saw me with my computer, and I said in a no-nonsense tone, how else would I show evidence?

To cut a stupid story short, I explained what was wrong with my reporting officer, then things blew out of proportion after that, and the story became “Bonneka was being mean to her reporting officer”.

The head of department spoke to my reporting officer in the third week of January, and the latter exited the office after the conversation, and cried at the unfairness of it all, while I just sat there thinking “first you yelled at someone seven goddamned times, then now you cry foul??”

Contrary to what my face looks like most of the time (i.e. resting bitch face), I am not an angry person all the time. But this made me so angry! It made me so angry that I wanted to kill myself.

I wasn’t entirely honest with people. If I hadn’t off-ed myself that evening (Wednesday) I was sure I’d have come to work and murdered my reporting officer. Maybe if not murder, just beat her to a pulp? Those weren’t healthy thoughts, so I did the next best thing I could: I checked myself into the psych ward. I stayed for two days in the hospital and was given a 10-day hospitalisation leave.

The minute I stepped into the office in February 2020 after my hospitalisation leave, I sent in my resignation and was out by the following week because of all the vacation days I had.

Sometimes when I quit jobs I still feel a bit of sadness, but at this particular job I smiled from ear to ear the minute IT took away my computer. While I didn’t block anyone, I was and still am not really keen on contacting anyone from that awful workplace.

A week before I left, I made a comment to the Deputy Director regarding my successor (I did not willingly make the comment, but he forced my hand and I already could not give half a shit to be nice or professional anymore).

I told him if my reporting officer was not able to articulate properly in English (I could always see that she translated everything from Chinese to English in her head; in the first place she isn’t very bright), then they should really hire someone who could speak Chinese. Apparently my comment could qualify as a “racist” remark, so after all that crap about being methodical in my complaints, and remaining professional despite being abused at my workplace, the story concluded with “Bonneka being very controversial and confrontational”. I just smiled when someone told me that, and I told him he didn’t need to teach me how to behave in a workplace.

I have mental illness, and it so far has not impaired my judgment when it comes to work and being professional, although I must say I am still naïve and believe that everyone has good and bad.

I now understand we can’t throw caution to the wind about certain things, and if a person is a rotten apple and they have absolutely no redeeming qualities then so be it. No point debating or trying to reason!

This was frankly the only job I was overjoyed and too eager to leave, and I am glad I no longer work there. I’m not even interested in drama that comes after my departure, I don’t want to know anything, and I keep my interactions with my former colleagues to the minimum (of course I’d like to choose going NO CONTACT, but the industry is small, and so-and-so would always know some other so-and-sos).

Never in my life had I been so affected by work that I’d voluntarily check myself into the hospital, but there’s always a first for everything. Kind of like fisting and anal in sex.

That’s out of my system (woo-hoo!), and I’ll tell you more about my mental health in my next post.

The Swimming Pool

Two weeks ago, five minutes before I switched off the computer on a Friday evening, my boss came up to me, hissed and yelled at me to quickly send the email out! while I sat there perplexed. Her instructions the day before were to make sure 1) I let her vet every single detail before I sent it, and 2) when I had already told her there were some iffy details that needed to be addressed, she had 3) asked me to clarify with the person. She had neither vetted the work nor approved it for circulation. I then emailed to clarify the details with our colleague, and my boss had gotten mad, and shot me an email to tell me I should just send the email already! Most of the time, similar types of miscommunication with her happen, and I chalk it up to her inability to communicate properly. She has pulled similar stunts with PowerPoint presentations; it was completely all right for her to present data in a certain manner, but God forbid if I asked if the data could be presented in a similar manner to hers (suddenly the manner is WRONG! Use your brain!). To be on the safe side, I had copied her original PowerPoint slides to my desktop and if she ever raised this, I would just show her what the original was. A lot of people in my personal life tell me not to argue, just show some respect, and follow her instructions properly. I could, but her instructions and rules are always random, and I have come to accept that if it’s not the font, it’s the colour, if it’s not the colour, it’s something else. At this point I don’t care about being efficient or right or how to improve as an employee. My boss is also not the person paying me my salary; I keep reminding myself she is merely my reporting officer who is also getting paid by the organisation. I do believe that I could learn about people and behaviour at this job (i.e. stupid behaviour to note, and avoid doing) and because jobs are scarce now, my options are limited.

During dinner and a movie that evening I realised I could not concentrate on anything. Although I have a sense of humour about a lot of things, I must say the yelling affected me a lot, no matter how much I tried to not let it.

It was also the evening I decided I needed to find an activity or an outlet for my frustrations. I have piano lessons on Sunday mornings and I enjoy them because they make me think and improve my memory. While I do it to my friends (I’m sorry!) I don’t like going on like a broken record about what happened at work or how I feel about work.

I chose swimming.

I haven’t gone swimming since I was a teenager, and to prepare myself for this activity I bought a few swimsuits.

I go swimming for thirty minutes most evenings after work. I like the feeling I get when I walk down the steps into the pool (I suspect it’s similar to happiness). I usually stand there for a bit, look up at the sky and sigh. When I do that, I always feel my anger melt. Then I do my laps. I feel tired usually after four or so laps, and I will catch a breather and keep going before my thirty minutes are up. At the end of it I usually no longer think about work1. Then I take a very cold shower for about 8 minutes, get dressed, gather my things, and walk the twenty minutes home.

A few days ago, I decided to go swimming in the morning. It is still the school vacation, so I saw a lot of children with their parents. I was amused. Despite obviously having no teaching experience, fathers were screaming at their sons to kick or stay in the lane and don’t splashhhh aroundddd! (Mother ducks who don’t go to expensive schools teach their ducklings better!), children bringing their Super Soakers (what are they called now? NERF SOAK GUN?), spraying everyone and not giving a rat’s ass about personal space (well, it is a public pool, Bonneka, lower your expectations, swim a little more, then lower your already lowered expectations), and mothers were sitting on the side (not swimming) ready to offer a snack to their pre-teen children.

Needless to say, I did not enjoy the session, stood at the side more than I swam, cut it a bit short, stood underneath the shower for a longer time, and got a hot dog to reward myself for being a good citizen (because I didn’t tsk at any kid, and I smiled graciously at grandmothers hand combing their grandsons’ hair).

I am not a snob. My mom used to take me swimming all the time because I had scoliosis (it wasn’t and isn’t severe) while she read on the bleachers. My mom was the most loving person to me, but even she didn’t mollycoddle me in public, so no snacks or juice boxes waited for me when I emerged from the pool and said “I’m done!” (J’ai fini!).

I still prefer going in the evenings when there are fewer people. I always feel relaxed, and it’s a good activity for self-care.

What are some of the things you do to relax?

1I had a German pen pal once who told me the story about exercising to force himself to get his mind off work. Over the years I have tried a lot of different activities and I do want to engage in strenuous activities to help me sleep better. Some that have worked well: trampoline classes (can choose combat, or ABT training while jumping on a trampoline, 1 minute in should get your blood pumping), hiking, and running on the mill.