Friday, March 13, 2009

Apathy meets Accountability, or Lack Thereof

I work with a psycho. I mean, I generally work with people of questionable intelligence and morals, but this one person in particular, whom I shall refer to as Big Red, is really certifiable. She is mean as a wet cat, if the wet cat in question was a real bitch, which I'm not sure could happen species-wise, but I digress. She has no love in her shriveled little soul. She is ruthless. And, until recently, she was competent, which was particularly frustrating. She has been here forever, and knows everything (ha!), and can remember every system that we had before the system we have now, and you can bet they were so much better, etc. If you made half a misstep, misspoke to the tune of splitting an infinitive, she was all over your ass like white on rice. My colleagues and I all adopted the habit of saving nearly all email correspondence with her, ever, and tried to avoid saying anything to her about procedure if we did not have written back up. She is beastly, and likes to throw emails around, often not the most recent exchange, so one must be On One's Toes, and have one's own documentation ready at hand at all times.

Or, at least, one did. This year something odd started happening with Big Red: she started to lose her mind. We thought at first that maybe we were imagining things, when we would get repeat emails, questions about policies that had been in place for decades. But over the past nine months it has become increasingly clear that this woman is losing her mind, slowly, but surely. It is a measure of what a beast she is that no one really gives a shit, beyond hoping this will speed her retirement. She rarely has a nice word for anyone, so it is not surprising that no one has a nice word for her. Besides, this is not the type of person you sit down and have a heart to heart with, expressing your concern. She would smell blood and go for the jugular within seconds, dementia or no; it'd simply be muscle memory. So best to let her rot away in her own little brain. Not a day goes by that she does not go out of her way to say something nasty to me or one of my close colleagues, even now that she is often confronted with her limitations, so it is difficult to feel much sympathy.

Which brings me back to the email log I've been keeping. It just occurred to me this morning that I really do not need to keep it anymore. Everyone knows she is slipping. Everyone, from her bosses down, has commented upon it, and shared examples. So there really is no reason at all for me to keep a log: no one would believe her now. And while I am grateful to free up the gigs of space she has been sucking off my hard drive, the thought does give me pause. How very sad, that you can't even scare people anymore, when that is the only way you know to relate to them. And how sad that it is getting to a point where not only are folks not scared of you anymore, they relish the thought that you have absolutely no power left in this realm you used to lord over. One does hope HR gives her a nice package.

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