I liken it to the corpse of a rat, rotting between the office walls where your desk sits. Since that stench can’t be masked, you’re forced to tolerate an uncomfortable environment until it fully decomposes. Pending that occurrence, you avoid deep inhalations of the contaminated atmosphere.
Haven’t we all been there, at least metaphorically? As my grandma used to say, “Honey child, let me tell you…”
Here are a few scoops of dirt from back-in-the-day. My first corporate job was in the mortgage division of a bank. The mortgage industry was just as volatile as some of the people in the office. Depending on the day, you never knew w-h-a-t to expect.
I could only put my confidence in one person, my supervisor. She had a razor-sharp mind and a supersize personality. She wore a moderate aroma of arrogance with an extra wit for humor. We became friends fast, she had my back. The women were few around the place. She looked after those of us who felt vulnerable to “boys behaving badly.” It was a rowdy atmosphere of profanity-laced conversations, tight deadlines and unpaid overtime.
Not my cup of tea. I sent several S.O.S prayers up to God. “Get me out of this place,” I pleaded. Just pulling into the parking lot sent me into an anxiety attack. I felt like I needed to breathe into a brown paper bag a couple times to calm my nerves. To my delight, God intervened. On my voicemail one afternoon was a male voice asking if I’d like to work for his organization. “If you’re interested in an interview, call me at…” said the caller. A promotion. Sweet!
There had been rumors of a reorganization of our department so my supervisor, whom I confided in about the message, was eager to help. “I say go for it,” she urged. “I’ll even write you a letter of recommendation.”
The rumors turned out to be true. Within a couple of weeks, we all received our walking papers. I was the only one optimistic because I had already interviewed for a new job. Come to find out, my supervisor, the one person I thought I could trust, tried to snatch the opportunity. The letter of recommendation (LOR) she said she was writing on my behalf turned out to be her cover letter and resume. I suppose I was naïve. I didn’t question her insistent request to send the LOR to them directly. “Give me their contact info, I’ll send it for you, it’s the least I could do,” she said.
She had my back all right, with a sharp-edged knife to it!
I felt like trail blazing over to her with a few choice words but I refrained. Betrayal can only occur where trust is established. She hurt me, but I didn’t give her the satisfaction of knowing I knew what she’d done. It took a few weeks for the perspective employer to decide, but I was the candidate they selected.
So what became of the “other” candidate and my relationship? Well, she made attempts to connect with me in the weeks that followed. My response was always polite, yet fleeting. Eventually, she recognized I wasn’t interested in entertaining a friendship that was a facade.
That experience forged a self-control I’ve honed over the years. A wise man once said, “It is impossible for offenses not to come but woe unto him through whom they come.” Allowing myself to become bitter, angry and vindictive toward people who wrong me doesn’t align with the way I desire to live. And it certainly doesn’t provide the example I wish to set for my children.
Light illuminates darkness. When given the choice, chose to be light. Not every betrayal needs to be dignified with a response. True strength is proven with restraint.
Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.