What’s mine isn’t hers

Thursday last week I got a message through LinkedIn from an HR guy interested in talking to me about a job. It was a good job, and the organisation top notch. We organised to catch up by phone at 10 the next day.

At about 9.55 Friday I went downstairs, bought a coffee, sat down at a table and dialled his number. It went to voicemail, and I left him a message. I sipped my coffee. Ten minutes later, I called again. This time the phone rang out. I went back upstairs, left him a message via LinkedIn inviting him to call me, and waited. To this moment I haven’t heard back from him by phone or message. It’s pretty poor, but it’s the sort of behaviour I’ve become accustomed to.

On Monday at work, my manager takes me aside and says she has a proper job for me. It’s 3.30 when we catch up. She explains she wants me to put together a proposal to connect our corporate Facebook account to the operational area via some sort of chat functionality. Besides the technical aspects of it, I also had to consider resources, protocols and processes to manage it. That I had to present by Thursday morning.

I smiled at that. Fat chance, I thought, especially given there was a public holiday in between. As it turned out the people I needed to speak to had taken time off too, and so I went back to her and told her no way it was going to happen, and realistically not much chance of getting it a week beyond that. There’s a lot to it – a lot more than she was able to comprehend – not the least the technical components that have to be scoped and customised.

The curious thing about all this is that the job had been sitting on my manager’s desk for three weeks before this. I know that because I cocked an eye when I heard about it. I was sceptical then of her ability to put this together – she hasn’t the experience in this area, and tends to take a shallow perspective of things.

What’s happened, of course, is that she’s got this far before realising she can’t do it. What she had prepared was a motherhood statement and nothing more. I was her get-out option. Give it to me, and it became my problem. I do the work, and she becomes the hero.

Yeah, I felt pretty cynical about it. This is a long way from the first time this has happened. That’s one of the reasons she covets me and keeps me from getting publicly involved in these initiatives. If she keeps me safe, she can call on me, use my words as her words, take my advice and parlay it as hers, and ultimately use my work and palm it off as her own. I’m sick of this, and though this time it was a ridiculous request I was quite happy to have it slip.

Let’s not forget, she gets all this for my bargain-basement salary.

When I left work Monday, I felt pretty jaded by it all. Though I’m looking for other work, the behaviour of recruiters like I described above makes it feel like a bad joke. I felt trapped and over a glass or two of wine I wanted to reflect on that. What options did I have?

So, back to work today and before 9 o’clock a lie told to me has been exposed inadvertently by another. The lie was by my manager. It seemed a small lie, an unnecessary lie, and I wondered why she had bothered. It couldn’t be justified as a white lie. I stood there, shaking my head. Curious, I said aloud. But it just added to the sense of infamy: not only does she want me to do her work, but she also lies to me as well.

It demonstrates a fundamental gap between who she is and who I am. I may be a lot of things, but I’m pretty straight and take pride in that. (I might even suggest that I’m notorious for it).

This episode epitomises my disillusion with this place. I’ll do my job, and do it well, but I’m taking care now that the big boss – her boss – is aware of what I’m doing too so that she can’t claim what isn’t hers.

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