So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Week 6 - Race Day

This week, the firm’s kitchen notice boards have been covered in photos from last month’s major social event. You can’t get away from it. It’s the main subject on the firm’s internal 'intranet'. Every summer, PHILIP treats us all to a day at the races. We go insane with joy. The men enjoy it and PHILIP loves gambling, but mostly it’s about dressing up. It’s not just any old day at the races. It’s Ascot - with grandstand hospitality, a five course lunch, full afternoon tea, free drinks at the bar and a glorious summer view over the racecourse.

Our Ascot day started perfectly. I felt like royalty as I sat down to champagne and canapés, or I did until my former boss sat down next to me. We’d hardly spoken since I’d been traded to HOWARD.

We’d been kind of suited. Both of us were quiet and hardworking. We made a good team. She appreciated my enthusiasm and loyalty. However, to HOWARD these things were synonymous with one thing – Spaniels.

His ‘Springer Spaniel’ campaign was relentless. If my boss invited me to lunch, he’d ask which lamp-post I’d been tied to. He wondered how often she walked me. He’d try to get my attention with a whistle, whilst patting his thighs. His bully-spam included reference books like ‘How to Train your English Springer Spaniel’. He asked my preferences on Chappie and Pedigree Chum.

Combined with his other humiliations, having him in the background pretending to sit up and beg made me painfully self conscious. He took to panting with his tongue out. He re-enacted word for word conversations I’d had with my boss - with me portrayed as a dog. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but it bothered the hell out of me. My work rate plummeted, and the work piled up.

My boss had a meeting with me. Things had changed. She demanded to know why I wasn’t concentrating. I was put out. She knew why, like everyone else. At least be brave enough to say it, I thought. Instead, she asked for me to be transferred. The timing couldn’t have been worse for HOWARD’S secretary to walk out. From then on my former boss and I had barely spoken, until Race Day.

I’m not one to hold grudges. I smiled at the waiter as he brought out the food. My ex-boss noticed she hadn’t seen HOWARD and asked where he was.

“Yes,” said PHILIP overhearing, “Why isn’t he here?”

I explained that HOWARD had a prior family commitment. I didn’t add that my day was going to be more delightful for it.

As we tucked into Kent duck and dauphinoise potatoes, I thought about PHILIP and this big treat. Whilst HOWARD is difficult, I couldn’t work for PHILIP. He’s off the scale. His outright aggression is impossible. It’s also well known he’ll overlook misconduct from the fee earners, as long as they are billing high. Let’s put it this way - there wouldn’t be a serious problem with HOWARD if there wasn’t a serious problem with PHILIP.

On the balcony, as my chiffon dress caught the afternoon breeze, I came to a conclusion. I watched the horses thundering round the bend and I laughed, spilling some of my Pimms, as my horse came first. I’d bet small, but I was happy. I finished the last high tea macaroon to celebrate.

My conclusion was this - if Ascot proves anything it’s that there is no excuse for making people unhappy. Even the most aggressive boss can make you feel like a princess if he wants to.

See you next week,

Eva x

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