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. Bullied by my boss in 2008, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I started this blog. 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." I was unaware back then that it would catalogue one of the most extreme cases of workplace bullying in the UK. I've found another job, but am subject to a gagging order. I'm still blogging, of course. Just don't tell the lawyers!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Thomas the Tank

Since working opposite Howard, he’s changed. He’s happier in the job. I wonder whether it’s having me at hand to bully. He’s getting on better with his wife. He’s calmer and there’s an air of confidence about him that wasn’t there before. More of his colleagues are dropping by to get his advice on their files, which is how yesterday’s row erupted right in front of my desk.

A junior solicitor from another floor was panicking and needed his help. She explained the problem. She needed to send an urgent letter, but it would take too long for her to find the necessary clauses. Would he mind writing it for her? Howard leaned back in his chair. He told her she’d learn a bigger lesson by digging herself out of the mess. When she reminded him she didn’t have time he reminded her neither did he. Angry, she stormed off.

Howard told the Office Manager, when she asked what happened, that he was good at training in a ‘non obvious’ kind of way. He used me as an example.

“Think back a year ago. If I’d have told her she’d be promoted to signing up clients and taking statements she’d have run a mile. She’s totally changed since working with me.”

The Office Manager nodded in agreement.

“It’s true,” she said. “You have changed.”

“Its knowing what they need on an individual basis,” he continued. “Her sort respond best to insults and threats rather than praise. Eva, you need to be manhandled to get the best out of you. Of course, I mean ‘man’ in the literal sense. When it comes to training I’m Thomas the Tank Engine”.

I asked what he meant.

“Thomas is doing the hard work up front – dragging the moaning, whinging carriages along behind him.”

They did have a point, but not about Thomas the Tank Engine. I had changed. Two months ago I’d been considering suicide. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I’d been suffering with hives and depression. Nothing had changed on paper, so how was I coping better now?

I’m still having panic attacks, bouts of crying and still stuttering when nervous, but I feel a bit better. I haven’t felt physically sick about going to work for a couple of weeks. I’m reading again at lunchtimes. I bought some new clothes on the weekend for the first time in ages. The last couple of mornings I’ve woken up with this feeling that everything’s going to be fine, as though I’d had a nice dream I couldn’t quite remember.

It was then the penny dropped. They’re right. Howard has changed me. I’m not the secretary I was a year ago.

I’m a blogger too.

See you soon

Eva x

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