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 8 (Tuesday) - The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

I wasn’t going to blog about the events last Sunday. It makes me more identifiable and I don’t want to be fired, but something I read on a charity on-line brochure is worthy of an extra blog. Worth the risk – I hope.

Our solicitors do a lot for charity; cycling across different parts of the world; trips to Africa to help villagers. Because they all drive in, more have now walked up Mount Kilimanjaro than walked to work.

This year we’re raising money for HOWARD’S charity, Cancer Research. Months ago, he threw himself into training for the half marathon, which took place last Sunday. Six of them entered as a corporate team (minimum of four per entry). Finishing times are combined and ranked against other teams. Last Thursday, when three dropped out, HOWARD needed a last minute volunteer to avert disaster.

It wasn’t going to be me. I might have considered it, but the last two weeks HOWARD’S been running round the office like a gorilla saying, ”This is how Eva would run it – if she wasn’t so fat.”

He doesn’t know it, but I do run. Under HOWARD’S initial bullying campaign I couldn’t eat or sleep, but found running relaxed me. I got faster. The weight fell off and I slept better. I’ve only ever told the PM and OLLIE’S secretary how I enjoy running, which is how OLLIE’S secretary innocently told the office I might be able save the day.

While HOWARD was in the gym over lunch, I was talked into bailing out the corporate team. Fair enough, I agreed, I’d do it. It felt good. I’d put my stress running to good use - for HOWARD’S charity. He’d have to appreciate it.

“You what?” He shouted at reception, throwing down his gym kit. “Has she gone mad? She can’t bloody keep up with us. She’s massive.” He ran up to my desk.

“So, you’re running? The brain damage charity was last year. Can your run at your size?”
“I’m smaller than the three of you.” I said.
“Only in the chest area.”

Overnight, it became some sort of David and Goliath deal. Feeling the pressure, I spent £91.50 I didn’t have on a pair of Saucony trainers and Nike running socks. Secretaries wrote supportive comments on my corporate T-shirt. By Friday I was odds on favourite in a sweepstake to beat the guys. HOWARD and his colleagues were offended. They’d put in serious training. Had the office gone crazy? I considered not showing up for the race but the PM told me not to bother showing up for work if I lost.

On Sunday, HOWARD did a double take. He hadn’t realised how much weight I’d lost. I ignored the laughter as they took our team photo. When the race began, their tactic was clear. They ran so close behind me it was a miracle we didn’t trip. HOWARD kept up a stream of insults. Fortunately, I’d brought my MP3 player. I could only hear the occasional comment above the music:-

“Boys, it looks like we’re chasing King Kong down a New York Street.”

At about the 10k marker HOWARD’S insults were increasingly breathless and childish. I just tore on. I had a million of HOWARD’S insults in my head anyway. Remembering them whilst running made me run faster. The angrier I got the faster I ran. On finishing ahead of them, I narrowly avoided throwing up over this guy’s fancy dress costume. I had a respectable time of 1:46 and the others weren’t far behind.

HOWARD’S colleagues shook my hand. “You wanted it more,” they said. “Good run”.

“Where’s HOWARD?” I asked. But he’d gone, disappeared into the crowd. I didn’t make a big thing of it. It had all got out of hand in the first place. On Monday HOWARD explained he’d had a bottle of wine the night before; hadn’t had time for as much training as he would have liked.

“It’s alright for you, you’ve got no life. I have to fit training around commitments,” he said.       

They posted our corporate time on the internet and we’d done well. We were respectably halfway up the leader-board, but something else on the site caught my attention. That morning our team mate had been asked to write a few paragraphs about our team for the charity’s on-line brochure. Writing with candour, he admitted they’d been horrible to me in the days before and during the race. They'd forced me to lead throughout. They’d run on my heels. Even with their behaviour, I’d gracefully beaten them. He wanted to take the opportunity to say well done and thank me for saving the day at the last minute.

There it all was, detailed on the charity website.

I understood he was trying to say sorry, but it felt the wrong place to say it. It didn’t reflect well on our firm. That I come out of it well is neither here nor there - it's the long run that concerns me most.


 See you tomorrow – for my Wednesday blog.

Eva x

1 comment:

abigail said...

As an assignment for my business class this week we were to find a website that talks about a "bully manager" or an "aggressive boss". By sheer coincidence I stumbled across your blog and couldn't have gotten more swept away. Obviously, I'm only just starting to read your many posts because I wanted to start at the beginning, but you have a wonderful way with wit and words!! I can't stop reading, I only hope that in continuing I see you stand up to HOWARD!!! Congratulations on the race! You deserved it more than anyone!

-Anonymous Reader

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