For some ungodly reason, I recently moved the Supreme Biatch of my workplace into an office that’s only two doors down from mine. About ten minutes after that decision I began to regret it. I sent my official “you are being moved” decree via e-mail and her squeaky shoes were echoing down the hall not five minutes later. She had a tape measure in hand and was there to survey her new territory, calibrating the amount of bitchiness she’d be entitled to. She recently came back to work after she had an evaluation to check she was fit to work after an accident. She was certainly fit to work!
It didn’t didn’t seem to matter that there was a psychiatrist using the office for a conference call– she just barged in and began tsk-tsking at the dust on the windowsill and the view of the parking lot. That afternoon I received a response from Wanda. Subject line: “Office Renovations.”
It was a list of demands:
“The following work needs to be completed BEFORE I am expected to move. The large whiteboard on the wall must be removed. ALL nail holes must be repaired. ALL walls must be painted– please use a CLEAN BRIGHT WHITE. ALL carpeting must be removed PRIOR to the painting and the floors are to be waxed AFTER the painting.”
As you can see, Wanda is a big fan of ALL CAPS underlining and bold print. She is also a fan of CC’ing half the hospital on her communications. Because of this, I got a peculiar sort of glee when I hit Reply All.
“Wanda– while I can certainly empathize with a dislike for the current shade of white on your walls, it is not a priority– nor will it become a priority– for the maintenance department to make cosmetic changes to staff offices. If you feel that strongly, you are more than welcome to come in over the weekend and paint your own office. Also, the carpeting cannot be removed as it is glued down to tile that was part of an asbestos abatement. I think it’s best we not disturb it.”
Anyone else would have realized the futility in continuing this fight, but not her. Wanda is matriarch of the harpy stronghold which rules the underbelly of this organization. After decades of weathering leadership turnover and layoffs, she’s amassed an entitlement that could conquer nations. She had a reply back within minutes.
“Ms. Lorens, it is more than a matter of color preference. The walls are in need of repair. If the carpets cannot be removed then housekeeping staff need to come in over the weekend and use a professional shampooer to have them cleaned. I have submitted a maintenance work order and will not move until AFTER the renovations are completed.”
Wanda seemed to think I’d given her some sort of promotion when this was really just another cut-and-dry forcible relocation. I passed instructions to the heavy-lifters and IT people to get this taken care of. But weeks passed and my hallway remained untainted by her presence. I followed up and found a tangled web of he said/she said so thick I nearly had to call an all-staff meeting just so I could raise my hands in the air and bellow “NO ONE IS RENOVATING ANY OFFICES!” She had nearly name dropped her way to victory when I received a phone call from a bewildered maintenance worker, asking me to define “clean bright white.”
“Wait, what is this for?”
“The office next to yours. I was told you were overseeing it’s renovation.”
The woman was shameless. She’d pushed me to the point of crusade– I couldn’t back down now, especially when she’d moved on to the technology aspect of it and was demanding everything from a color printer to a fax machine with retina display. This was a full blown power struggle, playing out for all the hospital to follow via CC’d e-mail.
It’d been nearly a month and everyone was too afraid to do anything while she was still crossing her arms and saying “no.” I sent yet another blunt e-mail telling her to give me a handful of available dates so I could schedule the movers and IT staff. Once again, her reply was instant:
“[My Boss] spoke to [Your Boss] who spoke to [Maintenance Director] who said it was up to [Finance Director]. [My Boss] has not yet heard from [Your Boss] so we will not move until the renovations are complete. I would also like for the wall partition to be professionally cleaned after that tacky whiteboard is removed.”
I was in a meeting when I read this and couldn’t help but make exasperated sound effects. Every single person she’d mentioned–My Boss, the Maintenance Director, and the Finance Director were all in attendance. I went around the table and asked each of them to swear fealty– “do you have any intention of giving in to Wanda?” They all shook their heads.
I hit Reply All and typed the shortest e-mail ever:
“You are moving on Tuesday.”
The Maintenance Director made the sign of the cross.
“There have been half a dozen people in that office over the years, and no one has ever complained about having a whiteboard on the wall. We even painted around it last time.”
My ears pricked up at this.
“Yeah,” he said, “I mean, I guess it wouldn’t be that hard to do… I have a drill in my truck and could pop it right off if you want, as an olive branch.”
An olive branch, yes.
He grabbed the tool and set to work. Five minutes later, we had finally complied with Wanda’s demands and given her what she’d asked for:
And that, my friends, is what it looks like when I offer a truce.
Do any of your coworkers abuse the power of CC’ing e-mails? Have you ever had anyone who refused to take “no” for an answer? What sort of “olive branches” have you pretended to extend?
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