Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Ironically, no sooner did I return from the afternoon break during which I wrote the above post, than one of the other temp workers... someone whom I've seen lampooned mercilessly by the abovementioned gossips... and also someone whom I've seen deliberately "stir the soup" and try to get a rise out of people... was helpfully talking to people she'd heard gossiped about behind their backs. So I found out just which of my foibles are the ones that the office backbiters use for fodder. All she did was confirm my suspicions, as it happens... I figured that the day I had digestive-system rebellion, which happened during my first week on this assignment, would be as good of a target as anything else for them to choose, and I was right. (God forbid any of them should give me credit for working like a dog that day when I darned well ought to have gone home sick, oh, no, let's make fun of the person for being sick instead.)

Here's the thing: I don't know if her motive was an actual attempt to be helpful or, considering how I've seen her behave towards others, if it was an attempt to set me off on a rampage and get me hollering at the coworkers who were the guilty parties. I have already watched her say some outrageous things to people which could have had no other motive but to get under their skin, so why should I be exempted from the same treatment?

In any event, I went to grade school (which I refer to as hell-imentary school) and high school for years with bullies who make this bunch of gossips and backbiters look like canonized saints. I learned YEARS ago how NOT to respond to people who are trying to get a rise out of me. I already touched on this topic weeks ago when I wrote about grieving for Dolores, and how I have a deep-rooted psychological barrier against crying in front of people. That barrier is very rarely breached, because it was built when my age was in single digits and I was being confronted by said school bullies all day, every day. I also learned the "I don't see you, I don't hear you, did you say something? I didn't notice" straight-faced response to snide remarks.

This is why I was able to look this "helpful" person right in the eye and, with a straight face and a level voice, say "Yes, that did happen" when she approached me and repeated some of the culprits' comments right to my face. She looked floored. She looked even more astonished when I told her I was aware of what was going on. I had pretty much guessed who was most likely talking (the coworkers whom I gave a Harridan of the Day award a few posts ago), and what was probably being said. I reached my conclusion weeks ago; all she did was confirm it.

So if she actually thought she was doing the right thing, her conscience is clear. On the other hand, if her real motive was to create dissent -- and judging from how I've watched her treat some other people, it's not at all unreasonable to think that was her real goal today -- she also knows that she's going to have to target someone else if she wants to get under someone's skin. I'm not taking the gossips' bait and I'm not taking HER bait, either.

Have I mentioned enough times in the past two days that I wouldn't trust most of these people as far as I could throw them? Hello, goodbye, the weather and everyone's health. Besides work-related conversation, that's about all any of them will be hearing from me. That goes for the decent ones, too, of which there are a few. It's an open office, where everyone can see and hear everyone else, and talking about my life to the decent ones will only present the backbiters with the same information... and believe me, the backbiters in this place are NOT welcome to the details of my personal life.

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