It's always strange to run into someone you work with while out in the "real world." It doesn't matter if that person's just a coworker, the custodian, or the CEO, it's always off-putting to run into a person outside of where you'd normally expect them. It's a lot like running into a teacher at the movie theater - a bit unnerving. Now imagine that your coworker is causing a scene in a very public place and, once they see you, they don't recognize you from work. Instead, they mistake you for a worker and try to drag you into drama you had no intention of getting involved in. This is pretty much exactly what happened to a fella we'll call "Harry."
In this story, Harry decided to take a quick trip to a local store after work. While just minding his business and doing his shopping, Harry is faced with a confrontation that he never expected. This event deals with an insanely confrontational woman (we’ll call her Janice) and a series of ridiculous accusations. Once Harry realizes he knows Janice from somewhere, he decides that her bad behavior in public can not go unpunished, especially once he witnesses the unbelievable tantrum she threw and the lies and false accusations she tried to tell in order to get her way.
Harry is an employee at a large company that offers “online services” to anyone willing to pay. Harry has been employed at the company for over a year and moved up in positions along the way. He started out in the customer service department where he took calls from non-military/ non-business customers. Although the customer service department didn’t deal with any sensitive information, it was located in the company’s secure facility in a remote area.
Harry lives in a small town, and the commute to work was a hassle. Soon, Harry moved over to the Information Security department where he was able to work at home most days, but twice a week he was required to go into the office. Harry enjoyed working from home. His old tee shirt and shorts were much better than the uniform he had to wear in the office, which resembled the company’s physical security staff's uniform. However, there were a few major key differences in the outfits. Unlike the true security staff, Harry’s name was carefully stitched into the front of the uniform and in a bold white print with “Information Security” plastered on the back.
One day after driving home from a long day at work, Harry decided to stop by the store to get something for dinner. While perusing the various aisles filled with dinner options, Harry heard a deafening screech and discordant yelling. Curious, Harry decided to check out the commotion. As soon as he turned the corner, he knew he made a mistake. He locked eyes with the worst woman, Janice. Her haircut and ignorant demeanor radiated through the store. It was the haircut nobody wants to see. The short two-colored bob that screams a woman of complaints. Harry could feel the entitlement from her brown beady eyes. Things started to go downhill from the moment he met those kooky eyes and Harry is mindless as to what was about to go down.
Janice beelined toward Harry, with anger in her eyes and smoke billowing from her ears. Harry was forced to quickly assess the situation. He realized Janice was not the only one in the aisle. The aisle was occupied by a store employee (we’ll call her Sophia) as well. Things got interesting when Harry noticed something shocking. As Janice was approaching him, he noticed something hanging from her neck, it was an ID. An ID that looked all too familiar to Harry since he had a very similar one in his pocket. With a photo, a unique number that was used to identify just her and a holographic security animal that looked all too familiar. Janice's ID meant that this deranged woman worked at the same place as Harry.
Janice with dilated pupils, nervous hands and the vocabulary of an R-rated toddler, she began to rant at Harry, who leaned back to avoid droplets of spittle. The screaming claimed that Sophia had been extremely rude to her, which somehow justified her atrocious behavior. She went on to claim that Sophia threatened to harm her and was refusing to get her smokes. With a voice that sounded as loud as a Boeing 737 engine, Janice continued screaming at Harry and demanded that Sophia be fired and also arrested immediately for assault. Confused and also annoyed, Harry lets all of Janice’s words slip over his head carelessly as he looked around the store.
Without hesitation, Janice pressed that Harry look at her and pays attention to her. Harry is still glancing around the store attempting to locate the security cameras and any possible witnesses while also tracking Sophia’s movements. Harry soon realizes, he must acknowledge this erratic woman.
Harry stood with his hands in his pockets, his breathing slow and controlled, extremely stoic. He stares Janice with as much anger as he can deal with which causes a moment of cessation from the flood of fabrications, obscenities, accusations, and demands that Janice had filled his ears with. Knowing that he doesn’t have much time to spare before the next blow up, Harry thought of something that would later come back and have its sweet revenge on Janice.
Harry grabbed his Android inside his pocket and did a series of button taps and swiping in a calculated manner. This started a video on Harry’s phone. After the subtle beep from his phone, so soft that only he could hear it over the din of the store, Harry takes his hands out of his pockets, leaving his phone to do the rest of the work.
With his palms facing each other, Harry pleaded and begged for Janice’s forgiveness. He asked if Janice could calmly repeat what she had just said. Janice’s face said it all. With an eye roll and sighs as if she were swimming in a sea of stupidity, she amuses Harry with her horrendous tales of misery. This time Janice’s claims include minor differences in detail. She stated that Sophia had actually assaulted her instead of just threatening to and at this point Harry noticed Sophia has left the aisle and Harry has lost track of her.
In the meantime, Janice continues to berate Harry with questions.
“Well? What are you going to do about it?” she questioned.
To which Harry responded, “I apologize however I am not going to do anything about this. I highly recommend you go talk to the store manager.” Harry is aware that this would cause Janice’s downward spiral.
“What?!!?! I demand you arrest that Sophia now! I want to press charges!” Janice screamed.
“Unfortunately I am not law enforcement, and cannot arrest anyone. I still recommend you speak to this store manager, or if you are so inclined to speak to the security out front,” Harry responded confidently. Harry was not about to let some “too-good” floozy demand him around. However, the demands continued.
“Fine, go get your manager and bring him to me,” Janice huffed. At this point, Harry knew he must try to dumb down his explanation to Janice about the situation.
“Ma'am, I feel there has been some miscommunication here. I'm starting to get the feeling that you think I work here in some capacity. I'd like to take this moment to inform you that I do not. I work at the same company you do. Now please…” Just as he was finishing his sentence, Janice rudely interrupted him.
“Bull!! I recognize your uniform! You're security, it says so right there. Just get me the manager and I'll have your job, too,” she stated while pointing at the word Security, just above his name on the front of his shirt. Janice has now threatened Harry’s “job.”
Harry then proceeded to ask Janice for her name and ID number. He has already memorized the ID number, and her first name but her last name appeared to be obscenely long.
Janice, finally, was a little taken aback. Her next actions proved that she knew she was in the wrong, no matter what excuses she had to explain away her behavior later.
Shutterstock / Alberto Zornetta
Janice reacts like a child trying to be sneaky. She stuffs her ID into her blouse, not that it really mattered anyway, since Harry had already memorized the personalized 6-digit ID code printed at the bottom. Just as Janice tried to work herself back up to a lather, Harry felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to see a grey-haired older gentleman with Sophia standing anxiously behind him. Harry came quick to the realization that this man was indeed the store manager (we’ll call him Bob).
Bob approached the situation with little knowledge. He was curious and wanted the issue resolved as quickly as possible. After inquiring what was going on, Janice boldly stated, “I want both of them fired and arrested! They assaulted me!”
This is when Janice’s rage really set in as she began to explain the situation. She started making accusations that Harry and Sophia had teamed up on her and did something nefarious, though she didn't provide many details as to just what it was. In the midst of all the yelling, Harry could tell that Bob wanted to speak up. Harry then, still recording on this via his phone motioned to Bob to let Janice finish with her absurd accusations. When there was a small moment of calm in this crazy storm of assaults and claims, Harry asked Bob if he could speak with him and Sophia alone. Bob agreed but first had to defuse the situation with Janice.
“I am very sorry that you had such a horrible experience! I assure you we will sort this all out immediately. Everyone, please follow me to my office,” Bob said.
Janice gets right back to screaming. “About time! I demand compensation! I want them arrested!”
Everyone follows Bob into his office. Along the way, Janice keeps making snarly comments about how she’s going to enjoy this, something about court, and how she’s going to retire very comfortably. It's not exactly like she was being reasonable before, but this was way too far to take this whole confrontation. Upon reaching Bob’s office, Janice is told to wait outside while he interviews Harry and Sophia. They are ushered into Bob’s office and the door is closed blocking all of Janice’s objections.
Harry begins by apologizing to Bob and informing him that Janice works in his office, and he will be reporting her to HR as soon as possible. Although Harry knows that what she does off the clock is her business, he feels that he can make something out of this horrible situation. Nobody should be able to verbally abuse strangers. Harry then proceeded to ask Sophia all about the event, so he can have the necessary details to give to HR. According to Sophia, she was stocking shelves when Janice aggressively approached her demanding a certain brand of smokes. However, the specific brand was no longer being sold there and the store had already received various complaints about it. Apparently, when Sophia explained that to Janice, she blew up and started her outburst, and that was the piercing screech Harry had heard.
Next, Harry is questioned about the incident. Harry simply began playing the recorded audio and then asked Bob for the video surveillance. The two exchange contact information and Harry decided to go on with his day. But first, another harassing incident from Janice was coming.
While heading out, Janice insisted the police had been called, and he was going to be arrested. Harry ignored her and continued his walkout.
The next day at work, Harry looked Janice up in the work database. He found out she was a call center employee that worked strictly on military contracts only. She would typically speak to an average of 50 customers a day. This worried Harry, if she was able to harass someone in a local store, what was she saying to our customers? Harry then types up his encounter with Janice and sends it over to her manager (we’ll call her Sarah) along with the audio recording.
While waiting for a response, Harry received an email from Bob with the copy of surveillance footage. Bob filled Harry in with the remaining incidents with Janice and Harry continued to wait for a response from Sarah.
Sarah responds to Harry explaining that the incident is no surprise. She informed Harry that Janice has been a “trouble” employee for some time now. She had multiple write-ups, documented recordings where she would yell at customers and so many more incidents. Harry then sends over any additional information about the situation he can think of and expressed his concerns about Sarah and the company. Harry is then invited to a meeting with the HR team.
While working from home, he joined the meeting remotely. After going over all the information he had on Janice, it is decided that her position must be terminated. Janice then joins the meeting and is quiet and meek. Janice immediately begins to play the victim with loads of crying and explaining a situation that was completely unrelated to the actual issue. Janice was digging her own grave. Janice goes into detail about a bad phone call she had where she lost it on a customer and is soon informed by Sarah that although she appreciates the honesty, that is not the point of the meeting. Sarah explains to Janice that due to her anger issues and history of not improving, she must let her go.
Suddenly, Janice notices Harry. At first, she appears confused but that quickly turned into a smirk. Sh demanded that Harry be arrested for assaulting her at the store. Janice begins overreacting and screaming with tears running down her face, “Keep him away from me!”
Harry is told to call security about the issue and asked to leave the meeting. The next day, Harry saw Janice’s termination paperwork and although he isn’t sure what happened in the remainder of the meeting, he is sure Janice got what she deserved.
This story is eye-opening. Kindness goes a long way in the real world and all actions outside of work should be taken seriously. You never know who you could be offending and as a result, you could lose your job over it like Janice did. Be kind and choose your words carefully.