So I work in this large office that houses thousands of people. Well, definitely more than a thousand, but maybe not multiples of thousands. Anyway, that’s not important. There are a lot of people.
Some of them aren’t overly nice. This probably isn’t a surprise: it’s a large company and many large companies are notorious for hiring major ass wipes. What is surprising to me is how there can be some people who others will rave about (“Phyllis is just so nice — I love her!”), but who you never actually witness being nice or even remotely lovable in any way.
Phyllis is one of those people. There are at least four people with whom I interact on a regular basis who have told me that Phyllis is “just the best.” Phyllis knows everything, Phyllis can help with everything, Phyllis practically runs this place. Well Phyllis hasn’t helped me one damn time. Her emails are curt, and usually result in me sending a response that says, “Oh, no problem, Phyllis, I can find someone else who might be able to explain that to me. Thanks anyway, I hope you have a great day!”
Seriously. I’m a fairly new employee who has to do all these tasks that Phyllis without-a-doubt knows how to do with her hands tied behind her back. But any request I make or question I ask is met with a challenging response (“Well I don’t know why you’d even need to do that!” or “I don’t have anything to do with those! You will have to go talk to someone else!”). I should also make it clear that I’m not asking her a question every hour — probably not even once a week. I probably was asking her a question every three days when I first started — all because people told me how great she was — but I’d guess it went down to about one question every other week after that. Anyway.
I have to assume that I did something to Phyllis to make her despise me. You might be thinking, Geez, Lindsey, a little self-absorbed here, aren’t we? As if Phyllis cares enough about you to despise you. I get that — I wouldn’t typically believe it either. But there are just so many trustworthy people who tell me how unbelievably awesome she is that I had to have done something to really, really make her dislike me. Either that or everyone is confusing her for someone else [there is another woman with a very similar name who has been super nice to me…].
Phyllis, what did I do to make you hate me?
I’ve re-read all the emails I have sent to her, reading every sentence and word with different tones of voice in case something I wrote could have been misinterpreted. I’ve made sure to look for instances where I could have implied that I expected her to do the work for me. I looked for emails where I maybe misspelled her name or used an offensive slang word. I even double-checked that I was correctly using the semicolon and punctuation inside and outside quotation marks [I was spot-on, by the way].
Maybe you’re thinking, Geez, Lindsey, maybe you could pull yourself away from your computer for five minutes and try talking to the woman face to face or over the phone. Yeah, already tried that. Sometimes I will just go over to her desk and ask my question, but I try to call her first to make sure 1) she is there and 2) it’s OK for me to stop by for a few minutes to talk to her. I always state the request in a way that comes across as me looking up to her, thinking of her as all-knowing, assuming she is crazy-busy and that any second of her time that she could spare for me would be so appreciated. And what do I get? “Lindsey, well, I’m really busy and that really isn’t my job to take care of your manager’s invoices.”
“Oh, no, Phyllis, I definitely didn’t mean that you would have to do anything — I just am unaware of the process for taking care of these invoices. I was just hoping you could tell me what I am supposed to do and I will then take care of it.”
“Yeah, no, that’s really not my job.”
Maybe you’re thinking, Well, Lindsey, maybe it’s not her job — maybe she doesn’t work with invoices. That’s where you’re wrong! She totally knows how to do them! She does them on a regular basis for multiple people! If anyone knows how to do them, it’s her. Whatever.
So I asked someone else who has exactly the same job title as Phyllis and that person showed me — right after I asked the question — what to do. And how long did it take? Two minutes!
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how this woman has been deemed “one of the nicest people in this office.” I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what I did to piss this woman off. I cannot, for the life of me, let it go. I will get her to help me with something and I will get her to like me!