Kind of a tough few days, pt. 2

I’m glad I waited a day to begin writing this. I have new information that confirms some things that before would’ve been called speculation.

Unfortunately this also means that my worst suspicions were confirmed.

This story involves my coworker, Donald. I had the pleasure of working with him at my previous museum job. His sister was working there before he did, and helped get him a job with us. We were all gallery attendants at the time. His sister and I became friends–in my mind, she should be running the whole place right now. She’s a good person and a hard worker; her kindness knows no bounds, but she’s also tough enough to stand up for what is right. I admire that about her.

We all loved her there and were excited to meet and work with her brother.

Donald is awesome. He’s extremely conscientious. He takes his job seriously–giving anything less than 100% seems like a foreign concept to him. He used to be in the military. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard him talk about it though. He would rather talk about his other interests, if he’s inclined to talk. He also has a sense of humor that catches you off-guard because he’s not the type who constantly cracks jokes. Donald also has an amazing speaking voice, and the fact that he doesn’t have a radio show or something to showcase it is a real bummer (to me).

When people first meet Donald, they tend to speculate about possible “neuroatypical” diagnoses he might have. Donald is just Donald though. I’ve never been given any concrete information about that part of him, if it’s even part of him. It doesn’t matter in the long run. Pretty much everyone at work who meets Donald ends up loving him because he’s the ideal coworker. He doesn’t talk as much as everyone else, but if you can respect that about him and get to know him, you’ll only discover things to appreciate.

A while back, after I had left that old job where I first met him and his sister, I got a message from Donald’s sister asking if I could put a word in for him at my current job. He was hoping to find full-time employment, which his job at the time (still at that museum) didn’t offer. Gallery was the only department with any open spots. He had already put in an application, but hadn’t heard back yet despite having worked as a gallery attendant for a few years already. This was just because our workplace tends to perform very poorly when it comes to the timeliness of our hiring practices. My boyfriend is one of the Gallery supervisors, so I asked him to look for Donald’s application. They immediately set up an interview with him and he got the job.

I was really thrilled. Donald did very well in that department, but I knew his goal was to eventually find an opportunity to transfer to the Security department. Full-time spots in Security can be hard to come by. The first one that opened up was on the Midnight shift. It’s a terrible shift, but I thought he would excel regardless of the hours.

My only concern was that certain people in our department might not treat him with the basic respect and dignity that should be afforded to every person. I have had issues in the past with the Midnight crew. They aren’t exactly nice people. But I know Donald and I knew the last thing he would ever do was bother anyone, so I hoped for the best.

Instead it was like throwing him to the wolves.

I truly don’t know what’s wrong with people sometimes. I don’t understand what makes them so mean, so hateful, and so vindictive. Donald was an easy target for them. It didn’t matter that he has a military background–something they usually respect. He doesn’t flaunt it like most guys in our department do (if they’ve served). He’s just not the type of person who would think that he’s owed something “extra” because of it. I typically don’t get along with folks who act that way anyway.

For months and months now, he’s been the target of some of the most unnecessary vitriol I’ve ever heard in my life. I took whatever opportunity I could to defend him, but I didn’t want it to seem like that’s what I was trying to do. I didn’t want Donald to feel embarrassed. Donald usually arrives for his shift very early–he relies on public transportation or rides from family to get to work since he doesn’t have a car. He’s not the only one who is in that situation and it’s normally not a big deal.

When he first began showing up early, I started hearing the most insane complaints directed his way, and from some of the idiots on my own shift. It’s the first time and hopefully the last time I will ever hear people complain about someone showing up early for THEIR JOB.

I’m only sharing this to give you a sense of what Donald would eventually be criticized for, and that was anything and everything.

The Midnight crew decided they didn’t like him before they’d ever even met him or talked to him. They thought he was weird, which was reason enough for them to continue tormenting him. My shift only overlaps theirs by a half an hour, and I still had plenty of opportunities to hear them say things to him that made me queasy.

I can’t imagine how Donald felt. Donald is always so calm and cool. He rarely lets on that something is bothering him. There were times when I just figured he had a thicker skin than I did if he was still able to tolerate that kind of treatment.

It starts from the moment the rest of the Midnight crew arrives, meaning late or on the verge of it. Already Donald has demonstrated that he’s far more reliable than the rest of the crew (though he would never think that or say it). They come in and immediately settle down in the break room. Donald has already been there for at least 30 minutes if not longer, waiting for his shift to start so he can clock in.

When you don’t have a vehicle of your own, you do what is necessary to get to work on time if you’re at all concerned with being a responsible adult. Donald arrives early because our public transportation system in this city is complete crap. If he didn’t make a conscious effort to take the earlier bus or train, he would be putting himself into a situation where he could probably get to work on time most nights if everything’s running on time, but that isn’t a risk Donald feels comfortable taking–especially if it means there’s a remote possibility he’d be a few minutes late.

So there’s Donald sitting in the break room. Joe, his coworker, finally arrives with no time left to spare. Joe usually brings with him some giant fast food feast–getting to work on time isn’t as important as swinging by Hardee’s on the way, and though Joe has his own vehicle, he couldn’t possibly just start leaving five minutes earlier in order to be able to get Hardee’s and arrive to work on time.

Donald would never, ever think to “call him out” on this, or even lightly tease him. These are just things I wish I could do whenever Joe starts running his mouth, which happens the second he sees Donald.

“You’re in my spot.” Joe speaking to Donald. Some variation of this comment happens every night. It doesn’t seem to matter where Donald sits–it’s inevitably in either “Joe’s spot” or “Rick’s spot”, and they’re both only too happy to point it out. Keep in mind these are two grown adults, Joe being in his mid-thirties and Rick already being past retirement age. Grown adults acting like children in a school cafeteria.

If I’m ever present in the break room at this time, usually when I’m cleaning out my coffee cup or other food containers, I’ll interject by saying that if they wanted the spot so badly, they would have shown up earlier. I try to laugh at them and treat it as a joke (which it’s not–they are being completely serious). Anything to take the pressure off of Donald. One thing I love about Donald is that he never dignifies them with a response. He keeps quiet. People often give that advice: Ignore them and they’ll go away. Unfortunately, with these guys, it’s more of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. They crave a response. They also resent anyone who chooses not to speak to them. Joe and Rick are both loudmouths. They’re both the type of guy who thinks talking louder and more often is what validates someone’s opinion. Today we just call them Trump-types.

And basically Donald spends the rest of his night being verbally abused, criticized, and belittled. I’ve worked enough fill-in Midnight supervisor shifts to have seen it firsthand. They love to openly critique his job performance even though he’s better at his job than they’ll ever be. Donald would have a lot of material to work with if he ever wanted to call them out on their extreme laziness. Donald takes the high road though, always and in all matters.

Eventually it becomes too much to bear. Yesterday I found out that Donald had contacted his former supervisor from Gallery asking if there was still a spot open for him in his old department. This would mean taking a significant pay cut. Even in this e-mail he wrote, Donald make no reference to any reason behind wanting to make the transfer. The e-mail was one sentence long, something to the effect of “Is there still a spot available for me back in Gallery?”

Donald isn’t the type to elaborate further. My boyfriend, who like I said is also a Gallery supervisor, was the one who brought this whole matter to my attention. I immediately suspected that Donald had finally had enough of dealing with these jerks on the Midnight shift. My boyfriend agreed, but we also kept in mind it could be a simple matter of wanting better hours. Given the pay cut involved, however, my spidey sense was tingling and telling me that something worse had happened.

It was my day off yesterday, but I decided to text my own supervisor informing him of the situation in hopes that we could prevent the transfer from happening and instead offer him a spot on our Evening shift. If Donald’s transfer request was simply about getting better hours, Evening shift probably wouldn’t be much better and he would decline the offer. He would still have to struggle with finding a way home at midnight every night, and it was still a possibility that he desired the transfer in order to return to a normal daytime work schedule.

My supervisor’s immediate response was to be concerned about who would fill Donald’s Midnight position, because whatever the result was–whether he chose the Gallery position or this potential but as yet un-offered Evening shift position–we would still have to find a new person to take over his old shift.

I lost my mind reading that. I had told him that my suspicions were that Donald had finally reached his breaking point when it came to working with Joe and Rick. My supervisor wasn’t ready to accept that possibility. Thankfully, he did reach out to Donald. My suspicions were confirmed.

Donald had in fact reached out to our boss weeks earlier about the possibility of moving to a different shift. Our boss told no one about this request. He simply denied the request, stating that we didn’t have any other spots open for him. Donald would have to stay on Midnights.

I’m sure Donald then spent some time weighing his options. Stay on Midnights, or try to transfer back to Gallery even though it meant taking a pay cut.

His experience on Midnights was so awful, and the support from our boss so nonexistent, that he finally reached out to his old supervisor in Gallery. He was immediately told they’d be happy to have him back. God bless that department.

But things are working out. Donald will not have to take a pay cut, because he will not be returning to Gallery after all. My boss and my supervisor finally decided to start taking this seriously. They offered Donald a spot on Evenings, and I’m happy to say he accepted!

For all I care, Midnights can eat it. They should be forced to cover Donald’s open spot themselves until they are able to find a replacement. That would mean no days off for any of them until that happens. I’m usually very much pro-“workers’ rights”, but in this case I want to see them all suffer the consequences of their actions.

Of course that’s not going to happen, because no one in this department has any backbone when it comes to standing up to those guys.

But I’m still pleased with the results so far. And now I get to work with Donald again. I win. I am winning hard right now, and those sorry, pathetic individuals that Donald used to work with will never understand this kind of joy as long as they keep up with their same old miserable ways.

I previewed this post, thinking that it was finished, but when I got to the end I thought it fell kind of flat.

So, to Joe and Rick and everyone else out there like them:


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