Sunday, September 9, 2012

Better Red Than Psycho Killer

Today we have an item from a woman that works with what can only be described as a complete freak.  He sounds to me like the kind of guy who has a shed in the back yard just for drying the skins of his prey.  I'm pretty sure he's uttered the words "It puts the lotion on it's skin.  It does this every time it's told." at least once.  Read on...

Dear Boss Lady,
I work for a financial services company as a software developer.  I have worked in this career for a very long time and have worked with all types of people and I have to say, I pretty much get along with everyone, or I did until a weird little man moved into the cubicle next to mine.  In a way, I feel like the word "weird" isn't quite strong enough as I am starting to wonder if he's the type of guy that eventually goes postal.

I don't know a lot about him, but what I do know is that he HATED me from the moment he saw me.  As strange as this may sound, I think that he hates me because I have red hair.  As soon as he moved in, he began to greet me in the morning with nothing more than the stink-eye.  He seems to be angry and seething for the entire day as he is always slamming his drawers, grumbling under his breath and if I speak to someone above a whisper, he screams at me as if I just kicked his dog.

In interesting contrast to his behavior toward me is how he behaves when his wife calls him at the office. All of a sudden, his aggression changes to what I can only describe as subservience.  He gets all mealy mouthed and says a lot of "yes dear" type of phrases. It's like I watch him morph from a ball of fury into Mr. Peepers.

Now, here's the reason that I think that he has an issue with redheads -  When I walk down the hall toward him, he pushes his body up against the wall to give me a wide berth to pass, as if I had a highly communicable disease.  I have taken pains to observe if he does this with anyone else and the only other time I've seen him do this is when a redheaded woman from Finance was in the aisle near his cubicle and he got visibly agitated because he couldn't get to his desk without getting within three feet of her.  Also and more significantly,  we had to take a training class last spring and the class instructor was a very friendly woman with flame red hair who greeted everyone who entered the room by shaking our hands and introducing herself.  When she grabbed his hand to shake it, he completely freaked out and screamed "Get your cold clammy hands off of me!".   Everyone in the room just froze.  I don't know if she went to HR about it, but she definitely should have.

While it certainly seems strange to call this discrimination based on hair color (what?), it does seem to pretty clearly factor into it.  I have seen him have very civil conversations with other people (mostly nerdy, older male developers), but he has never been even remotely civil to me.  I have never said or done anything to this man in any way.  He seemed angry with me from the moment he moved in.   I'm at a loss.  Any ideas?

Monday, September 3, 2012

She's Got a Secret

We have our first post from a young lady who was put in a very uncomfortable position by her boss.  What do you think she should do?

I am a Jr Marketing Account Manager with a large Chicago bank. For the past 18 months I have worked for a very dynamic Marketing VP.  She has been very willing to let me do pretty much everything for her, which I don't mind because as I am only 2 years out of college, I will take any experience that I can get. 

Things went very well for the first year of my carreer and I began to feel a closeness with my boss.  Out of respect for her, I even invited her to my wedding with her husband and they came and had a very nice time. They sat at a table of mostly work friends and everyone really enjoyed both of their company, with people commenting to me after the wedding, how nice her husband was and what a nice time they had with both of them.    Everything was rolling along beautifully until about six months ago.

In February of this year we entered into a co-branding partnership with an external company.  We were rushing a product into the market place and working against a May deadline. The account manager from the outside company pretty much moved into a hotel in Chicago and spent almost every day in our office working with our launch team.   About two months in, I started to notice a flirtation between the two of them.   By the time we got to launch, they were bickering like a married couple as the stress of the project deadline began to wear on them.

In June we took the product out to other companies in order to attempt to sell the product to other partners under a privately branded offering.  This meant road trips, lots of them, to major cities where potential partners were located.  My boss (Sally Smith) and the account manager (Jeff Landes) myself and an assistant from his team hit the road on a four city tour.  Being on the road with them, exposed an even deeper familiarity between them and both myself and the other assistant began to feel an ever-growing discomfort being in their presence.   Between the long stares, silly squabbles and inside jokes, we started to feel like third and fourth wheels at the first city stop.

When I checked into the hotel in the third city, the desk clerk read out the wrong reservation and said "You have the adjoining room with Landes, correct?" I told her that she was mistaken and looked back to see if my boss was in earshot.  Judging ny the look on her face, she was well aware of what had been said.  Her admin had booked all the rooms under my boss' credit card, so I am surprised it hadn't happened sooner.

From that time forward, my boss pretty much stopped talking to me.  Things became extremely impersonal, even cold between us.  I am not sure what to do as I have done nothing wrong.  I love the work that I do, but my boss is making it unpleasant for me.  My greatest fear is that I will be exposed to her husband at the office Christmas party and I will be a stuttering idiot.  I feel terrible knowing this secret and am not sure what to do next.

OK guys, what advice can we offer our friend? She's got a ho-tastic boss who won't speak to her and a job she loves.  Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.  Let's hear your suggestions.