At least according to my boss
A few years ago I packed my bags and moved to a new city without a place to live or a job. It was easy to find a place to live but it took about a month or so to secure a new gig.
Because I needed money, I took the first offer I got, which was at a start-up in the technology space.
Within just a few hours of starting, I knew that my boss was going to be the bane of my existence.
On my first day, he pulled me into a room to inform me that he liked to hire fast and fire fast. He said he hoped I wasn’t going to be a complete failure at my job because he wouldn’t hesitate to kick me to the curb.
I hadn’t even finished filling out my W-9.
After that encounter, I was absolutely terrified to go to work. I could tell that he didn’t like me from the second he laid eyes on me. Every morning he would come into our office and say hello to every single employee except for me. He made fun of anything I said. He would ignore me most of the time except to criticize something I had done.
For months I cried myself to sleep because I dreaded going to work so much. I dreaded seeing his face and I felt like an idiot whenever I was around him.
I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t live without the money from this job. The company didn’t have an HR department so I developed a game plan.
I knew that my boss disliked me and I wasn’t going to get on his good side.
Instead, I developed relationships with everyone else. I made myself an invaluable asset to the company. My clients loved me, I thrived with the co-founders and my coworkers, and whether my boss liked it or not, I wasn’t going anywhere.
His behavior continued to be inappropriate and rude.
One day I was eating strawberries and took a bite out of one. I set it down for a moment and my boss appeared by my side.
“You’re so wasteful, aren’t you going to eat that? You can’t just waste your food there are people starving.”
Another time I went into work early to put together a client presentation and he spent 30 minutes telling me that I wasn’t saying “data” correctly. It wasn’t “dah-tah” it was “day-tah.”
By the way, you can say “data” either way. He wanted to just make me feel stupid.
The next fun experience was when we were on a company trip. He had a couple of drinks and suddenly told everyone I was the absolute definition of a “woo-girl” and an air-head.
What is a woo-girl? If you’ve never watched How I Met Your Mother I’ll provide you with the Urban Dictionary definition.
“Woo-girls: A girl who goes out in the company of several other Woo girls. Behavior is usually spotted by shouting “WOO” whenever a. drinking shots, b. ordering another round of drinks, c. shouting at pedestrians while traveling, d. Entering or leaving a club or bar."
Needless to say, neither part of what he said was a compliment. No one wants to be a “woo girl” in the professional world.
I was completely taken aback and hurt by him saying it. I had exceeded at my job and had never been inappropriate, drunk, or sexual on any level.
Along with that he would constantly hire new employees and tell me why they were going to get promoted before me. He would come up to me constantly saying “Don’t you think (insert name) is going to make a great leader since you can’t figure out your shit?”
Eventually, I began to report his behavior because I had co-workers coming up to me saying that it wasn’t okay how he treated me. By that time I had another supervisor and she asked if I would confront him. I finally felt like my feelings were validated and I wasn’t created all of this in my head.
I ended up confronting him.
My boss listened to me and denied that he had ever treated me differently. He said that he had no idea why I would ever think such a thing and that he didn’t play favorites.
After that, he stopped harassing me.
A few months later he got fired. He had a full-on nervous breakdown and in the midst of it told my co-worker that she was only getting promoted because she was an attractive woman.
What’s sad is that he was allowed to stay so long. It’s also sad that people observed his behavior for months and decided to turn a blind eye until he messed with the wrong people.
Still, I was proud of myself.
I had finally spoken up and defended myself. I showed him that I wasn’t going to allow his behavior anymore. He realized he couldn’t bully me anymore and eventually, karma finally caught up to him.
Which is why we cannot remain silent.