On Friday afternoon, I got an e-mail from my manager, who works in our Chicago office, saying that “someone” in my office complained to HR that I’m late to work “all of the time”.
This shouldn’t have affected me. The peon-y nature of my job shields me from a lot of the corporate bullcrap that other people have to deal with. On the other hand, because my job is so peon-y, if someone makes a complaint about me, you know he or she had to dig reeeeeeally deep to find something to complain about. This is obviously the sort of person who sues McDonald’s for not printing “Caution: contents hot” on their coffee cups. Or takes his next-door neighbors to court because their dog bit him in the butt after he shot it repeatedly with a pellet gun.
I don’t want to be the waitress who accuses her table of being cheapskates when their poor tip is based entirely on her terrible service, so I’ll admit that I’m often not in the office right at 9 a.m. Because I take public transportation, I can arrive anywhere between 9 and 9:15. But everyone in my office takes the same public transportation, so everyone‘s arriving between 9 and 9:15, and in fact, many people are arriving between 9:15 and 9:30.
What really bothers me is that I have a personal relationship with every single person in my office. We’re a huge software company with thousands of employees worldwide, but my office only has 20 employees, and every single one of them knows the details of my life outside of work, and I know theirs, too. So the idea of someone not only complaining about me but going behind my back to complain to HR seems pretty unbelievable.
And really, I don’t so much mind being complained about. If the worst thing someone can think to say about me is that I’m not always at work at 9 a.m., then I figure I’m doing pretty well. The problem for me is that because I don’t know who did it, I’m going to be deprived of the joy I’d get out of ruining this person’s life in small ways. “Accidentally” forgetting to order his lunch on Fridays when the company buys for all of us, making sure we always happen to be out of whatever coffee he enjoys drinking, not ordering cakes when I know it’s his birthday. Fun, right?
I had two people pegged as possible suspects on Friday, but every time I asked one of my co-workers if they thought it could be one of those guys, they all said no way. And unfortunately, they all offered up the alternative of this group of visiting employees from another of our offices. In particular, they were blaming this guy who had come to my desk shortly after I arrived, and I had tried to make nice with him by asking him polite questions I didn’t at all care about the answers to, but he couldn’t have acted less interested in talking to me. Likely because he felt guilty about having just reported me to HR in our Canadian office.
Since those guys only come to our office once every couple of months, I’m going to have a really hard time properly punishing him for his transgression. About the most I can do is “forget” to add his name to the security list so he has to wait in the lobby until I decide to call down to tell the guards to let him up. I know you have to discipline a dog within moments of its wrongdoing for it to properly learn its lesson, but at least I’ll feel better about myself.