By last Thursday, I’d had enough. My head was spinning. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was first in and for 30 minutes I was alone until a solicitor from the Employment Department arrived.
“How’s it going?” She asked, breezing past. Don’t say anything, I thought…keep a lid on it…she’s only making small talk. I burst into tears.
“Awe, bless you.” She came back over. “It’s that bloody HOWARD isn’t it…” I nodded. “Let’s have a chat,” she said. “We’ll pop downstairs.”
We took our mugs of tea into a meeting room. I didn’t want to get him into trouble, but it was bad enough that I had mountains of urgent work to do without HOWARD making it impossible. I was tired; tired of laughing off his addressing me only as, “Ugly”; tired of him clapping his thighs and whistling at me to ‘Come fetch!’ The day before he’d literally gone a step too far – he’d taken off his shoe and asked me if I wanted to play with it for half an hour.
The Employment Lawyer threw a curve ball. “We all thought he was bullying you,” she said, “but the truth is…the whole office thinks he fancies you. Why else would he give you this constant attention? He doesn’t leave you alone. I mean, it’s obvious, honey, the man’s desperate to get in your pants!”
What the…? Even the Employment Lawyer is clueless. As long as it’s not happening to them, they’re happy to be left out.
But as the morning wore on I wondered if she wasn’t right. Was it the boy-crush equivalent of him pulling my hair in the playground? Maybe…but wait a minute - this is no semi-rational human being, this is HOWARD. There’s no romance here. Surely? I figured I’d watch him and think about it.
After lunch, HOWARD came over. I was offering round a packet of Cool Breeze Wrigley’s Extra. Was it me, or was HOWARD looking at my mouth? Yes, he was. I’d heard about this…a guy staring at your mouth can mean he’s thinking what it might be like to kiss you. He continued to stare.
“In future, Eva,” he said, “please don’t look directly at me when you’re talking. It makes me uncomfortable.”
This was weird. I looked down and blushed.
I blushed again when, that afternoon, a solicitor said she’d found me the perfect blind date. Her single cousin was about the same age as me. Would I think about it? No, I said – it was too public. At least match.com was in the privacy of my own home. She put the pressure on. No way, I repeated. Polite but firm, I stood my ground. I deleted the pictures she sent of him.
HOWARD, overhearing the conversation, sent me an e-mail. He said the woman was a patronising cow who should stay the hell out of my private business. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Seeing him so annoyed and angry made me wonder though. Was it like the Employment Lawyer said? Could it be he was…jealous?
I asked him why he thought it was okay for him to jokingly put my information into match.com - listing amongst my hobbies that, “on rainy days I enjoy self-gratification.” And why he also believed it was okay to use my office e-mail to do it, when the result was I got regular pop-ups in the right hand corner of my screen; a dialogue box which read, ‘secretarybitch – looking for love?” And yet, this woman trying to fix me up was out of order?
“I was deliberately humiliating you,” he said. “She was doing it unintentionally. And what did I tell you earlier about looking at me when you’re talking? Have another Wrigley’s Extra. I might not be able to spell halitosis, but I can smell halitosis.”
He laughed his head off. The Employment Lawyer laughed too, and I closed my case.
See you soon, Eva x PS: Am minty fresh – honest.
- Bullied By The Boss
- 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."