The week began with HOWARD voicing concern that my laziness eats into his profit costs. He ruins my reputation deliberately - saying it’s for my own good. HOWARD believes secretaries are like battery hens. Keep us on our toes or we’ll get bored and destructive.
I’m fortunate that I sit near enough the Practice Manager for her to see everything HOWARD does. She knows how hard I work and I can’t blame her for not confronting him about his bullying. I don't confront him either. She'd had a series of meetings with him about it when he first started, and soon admitted defeat. However, she did tell him to stay out of my top drawer when he rooted round again to see if I had any food.
“Green tea with lemon?” he said, holding the packet up. “Glad to see you’ve not forgotten your prostate just because of the sex change.”
That afternoon, when I volunteered to help a solicitor by doing some extra typing, HOWARD warned her not to expect much. This’ll teach you, I thought, as I set about clearing my name whilst clearing the backlog.
My efforts had the opposite effect. Job done, she and HOWARD called a meeting for the following morning. I was asked to account for how I’d worked so fast. What usually held me back? Was I on the phone? Was I doing too much admin? Hurt and defensive, I asked if the PM could join us. I needed backup, especially when HOWARD had his brain wave.
“There’s a spare desk opposite me,” he said. “Eva should move there. Then I could keep a proper eye on her.”
There is a tiny, single desk less than four feet away from HOWARD. Hmm, Mr Fox wants to take Miss Chicken away to look after her. Good old Mr Fox. Nice, kind, thoughtful Mr Fox.
“Unless…and I can’t imagine why - Eva wouldn’t want to sit there?” The three of them stared at me across the table.
“Um…um…” I blinked at the PM, willing her to keep me in her little flock.
“I don’t know about moving her away from the others,” said the PM. “I’ll think about it.”
When word spread to the other secretaries that I was to have my own desk there was uproar. For some reason they thought I was being promoted. Only fee earners get a whole desk to themselves. How was I the one being promoted? The PM told HOWARD that, unfortunately, there was no way she could move me given the misunderstanding and the upset caused.
“I’m bored,” HOWARD said later, scrabbling about again in my top drawer. “What have we got today?” He opened my packet of homemade sandwiches and stuffed half a sandwich in his mouth. I sighed.
“You know what this is called, don’t you?” he said, chewing.
“What?” I said.
HOWARD smiled, “It’s called bullying.”
I may be a chicken when it comes to standing up to HOWARD, but his theory about battery hens is misplaced. No-one is more bored and destructive than HOWARD. I guessed correctly that the PM was behind the promotion misunderstanding. I may not have privacy where I sit, but I do know I’ve got safety in numbers. Us birds of a feather, we flock together.
See you mid-week. I'm posting on Wednesday evenings too.