I leaned against my car in the parking lot of my apartment and took the first drag of my cigarette, Tony’s voice behind me nearly made me jump out of my skin. “I thought you quit.”
“Son of a biscuit eater, Tony!” I yelled at my husband as I tried to calm my racing heart. “You’re going to give me a heart attack one of these days.”
Tony was always sneaking up on me. I had considered putting a bell around his neck like a cat. The thought made me laugh now, despite my annoyance. I passed the cigarette to my husband, who had quit smoking long ago, and watched him blow smoke rings. I sighed.
“Yeah well, just another thing that vile woman has done to me. She has me so stressed every day. Six months smoke free, down the tubes. Thanks, Mitzy.” I spat her name from my mouth like sour milk. Tony passed the rest of the cigarette back to me.
I used to like my job; or, I should say it used to be tolerable. Five months ago, my manager Mr. Murray had retired. He had been with the company for twenty-five years and I had been with him for twelve of those years. Mr. Murray was a kind man, he treated his staff like people, not just numbers on a spreadsheet. When he left, our company, rather than promoting from within, hired Mitzy Davis. Mitzy was in her mid-thirties; she had a major chip on her shoulder, big blonde hair that looked straight out of the eighties and clearly, something to prove.
Within her fist three months, Mitzy Davis had turned our once friendly and collaborative office into a battleground. She picked her chosen few pet employees and made life a living hell for the rest. I was not, one of her pets because I, am not a brown-noser. Mitzy took extreme pleasure in pitting staff members against each other; she manipulated us like puppets.
So far, my personal tortures had included being given incorrect instructions for three major projects and then being thrown under the bus for my “mistakes”, not being included in several trainings I needed and berated for my appearance. The worst part of it all was that she was smart. The crafty witch was very careful to leave me with no proof. Yesterday I had asked her to give me the instructions for the current project via email rather than just verbally; if I had her instructions in writing, she wouldn't be able to claim it wasn’t what she told me to do. Mitzy had snorted with laughter. “If you can’t remember my instructions without me writing them down for you, maybe it’s time for you to retire, Hannah.”
Retire? I wish! But I’m only forty-three.
Then there was today’s whopper. Today Mitzy had summoned me to her office, my timecard was laying on her desk.
“Didn’t you leave early on Monday Hannah? Your timecard says you clocked out at five. Did you have someone else punch it for you?” Mitzy glared at me, but I could see a glint of enjoyment in her eyes.
“Nope, I was here ‘til five o’clock just like every day.”
“I don’t think so.” Mitzy tapped the timecard with her perfectly manicured, blood red fingernail. “I believe you left at one o’clock. I’m going to make this adjustment to your timecard and you’re going to initial it.”
Now she was trying to mess with my paycheck? This is where I draw the line. I stood and placed my hands on the edge of her desk in the process.
“Didn’t I tell you to get a manicure during our last meeting? Why are your cuticles still a mess?”
“Mitzy, having perfect cuticles is not in my job description, nor is it in yours to critique them. I was here until five o’clock on Monday and every other day. I will NOT sign anything that says I wasn’t. I’m going to HR now.”
As I left her office, Mitzy called out. “Good luck with that. I’ve already spoken to Carl about you. He knows you are a troublemaker.” Her cackle of a laugh followed me down the hall to the elevator.
I saw red all the way down to the first floor and down the hall to Carl Benson’s office in the Human Resources department. I knocked on the door. “Come in.” Carl yelled from across the room. I entered and closed the door behind me. “What can I do for you Hannah?”
“I need to file a complaint; multiple complaints actually.”
Carl raised an eyebrow. “Oh? About what?”
“Mitzy Davis.” I said flatly. Carl leaned back in his chair and sighed heavily.
“Hannah, Mitzy has confided in me that you and some of the other ladies are having a difficult time adjusting to accepting her authority. I know you all liked George Murray but, things change. You must give Mitzy a chance. Just because she’s younger and attractive, doesn’t mean she can’t be a good manager.”
“Younger and attractive?” I couldn’t believe it. Carl had a crush on the enemy. “Her age and looks are irrelevant Carl. The woman is evil.”
“Evil? That’s a bit extreme, don’t you think?”
“Nope. Can I fill out the complaint form, now?” I looked at him expectantly. Twelve years here and I’d never had an issue with any other employee, management or otherwise. I didn’t know how this worked but I had foolishly expected Carl to be professional and unbiased. If he WAS biased, shouldn’t it be towards me? But I am not “younger and attractive” so perhaps not.
“Hannah, go home. Take tonight to cool off. If you still want to file a complaint in the morning, come back and we’ll do it.”
“Fine Carl. I’ll see you in the morning.” On the way home, I had stopped at the jiffy mart and bought a pack of cigarettes. I was smoking the first one when Tony had scared several years of my life out of me in the parking lot.
“You could always quit.” Tony looked at my sympathetically. “No job is worth this. I’m sure you could find another job quick.”
“Maybe but, not one that pays this well. It’s like --- it’s like being stuck in golden handcuffs. I’ve invested so much time with this company; I hate the thought of letting Mitzy Davis run me off.”
“What I hate, is the thought of you being miserable every day. Just quit Hannah. We’ll figure out the bills. Your mental health is more important.” Tony gave me a hug. “Now, give me the pack of cigarettes. Hand ‘em over." Reluctantly, I handed him the pack and watched him crush it in his fist before throwing it in a nearby garbage can. “I want you to be happy and healthy; that’s all that matters.” He kissed me on the forehead.
God, I love this man.
I had just finished typing up my resignation letter when my phone rang. It was Laurie, my best office buddy. She was crying so hard I could barely understand her at first. Eventually she was able to convey that Mitzy had called her into her office at the end of the day and informed her she was being written up for doctoring my timecard. According to Mitzy, I had thrown Laurie under the bus when confronted about the discrepancy in my clock out time. Hearing this filled me with homicidal rage. It was probably a good thing I didn’t know where Mitzy lived.
“Laurie, I hope you know I would never say that.”
“Oh, I know that.” She sniffled. “You would never fib on your timecard either. I HATE that woman! I don’t know if I can keep working there.”
“Speaking of that, I am quitting tomorrow morning. I have my resignation letter ready to go.” My revelation was followed by stunned silence. “Laurie? Did you hear me?”
“What are the rest of us going to do without you? You can’t just leave us there with Mitzy!”
“I’m sorry, I really am. Tony and I have talked about it and it’s just not worth losing my sanity.”
The following morning, I arrived at the office early. I quickly packed up the personal belongings from my desk and took them out to my car. I wanted to be able to walk right out the door after turning in my resignation. I was waiting for Carl outside his office when he arrived. He sighed when he saw me.
“Haven’t changed your mind about filing a complaint?”
Carl let me into his office and handed me the complaint form. I spent twenty minutes furiously writing out each and every offense Mitzy Davis had committed that I knew of, even ones that didn’t involve me directly. If any of the other gals ever got brave enough to complain, my account would back them up. There was nothing else I could do for them. I pushed the form across the desk to Carl who quickly skimmed through it.
“Hannah, you should probably just take some of this as constructive criticism.” I raised an eyebrow in question. “Like this part.” He pointed at a paragraph about Mitzy critiquing my clothing and nails during a meeting.
“It’s inappropriate Carl and you know it. If that were all she had done, I wouldn’t even bring it up but as it stands, it’s part of a pattern. She’s a bully, an adult bully.”
“Alright Hannah.” He took the form and scanned it in. With a few keystrokes, my complaint was officially filed. “Anything else I can help with?”
“Just this.” I pulled my resignation letter from my purse and handed it to him. “I know it’s proper procedure to give this to my manager but, given the circumstances, I think you’ll agree it’s best I give it directly to you.”
Carl took the letter, his jaw dropped as he read it. He recovered himself quickly. “Well, we hate to lose you Hannah. Can you at least work out a two weeks' notice?”
“No. I’m sorry but, I really can’t. “ There was no way I was going to subject myself to two more weeks of retaliatory harassment from Mitzy.
I opened the door of Carl’s office prepared for my triumphant march out of the building. Lined up in the hallway were Laurie and four other gals from our department. “Here to send me off?” I asked.
“Not exactly.” Laurie grinned as all five of them held up their resignation letters. “We’re here to ambush Carl. We are quitting too.”
“Umm, just to be clear, this isn’t a Jerry McGuire moment. I am not asking anyone to come with me and I don’t have jobs for you all to go to. I don’t even have one for myself.” I didn’t want the unemployment of five other women on my conscience. They all laughed at my reference.
“We know that silly. We’re just done with Mitzy’s tortures. Wanna watch?”
“Do I ever!” This was about to be delicious. All five ladies crammed into Carl’s office unannounced. I stood in the doorway, a silent grinning observer.
“What’s going on here?” Carl demanded. The ladies each tossed their resignation letter onto his desk.
“We quit.” Laurie said cheerfully. “Let’s go ladies.”
The six of us sashayed our way out of the office together. It was liberating, even if we were all headed for potential financial ruin.
Three more victims of Mitzy’s resigned within three weeks of our mass exodus. That left Mitzy and the few employees that had been her pets. According to the grapevine, with no one else to bully, Mitzy had now unleashed her wrath on even those chosen few.
As it turns out, Tony was right, I was able to find a new job quickly, one that was willing to match the salary I had been making at the last job. Laurie took a job there too and I was glad we would still be work besties.
I haven’t smoked a single cigarette since.