The Unpleasant Co-Worker
Ever worked with someone who made you ask, “How the heck did you get this job?”
Of course, not everyone is going to have a rock-solid work ethic, but one incompetent worker can drag the whole team down with their repeated dilly-dallying.
Poor “Paula” had to put up with her nightmare supervisor, “Karen.” Karen was clueless, self-centered, and expected handouts at every turn. Working in a hospital as a data monitor should have been easygoing work, but her toxic attitude could silence an entire room and drag out the simplest of tasks because of her incompetence.
When company changes prompted even more monstrous behavior from the arrogant supervisor, Paula took a stand and devised the most inventive plan to get rid of her once and for all.
How It All Began
Paula wasn’t employed at the hospital center for very long before the company was purchased by another hospital, resulting in the collaboration between the two data centers. The tasks were straightforward: workers were responsible for preventing fires in the server room, responding quickly to any alerts, and performing regular backups and other checks to ensure everything was running smoothly behind the scenes.
It was a technical position staffed entirely by veterans of the company, many of whom had been there for decades. Certain long-serving workers were tasked with doing things like replacing printer paper and executing commands from an IBM mainframe. After some time had passed, it became pointless to have a skill set that relied on outdated knowledge of specialized hardware and software, and the jobs that required it became undesirable.
As a result, there were people who weren’t all that up to speed with how things were done beyond manual operations. There were people who still hadn’t quite learned how to do something as simple as logging into a server. Those were the people who became “bottom feeders” essentially. Paula’s group was part of a network operations center that did not permit anyone to interact with any equipment.
Enter, Karen. The recent changes along with her history with the company aided her in becoming Paula’s new and dreadful supervisor. Paula grimaced each time she saw the evil-spirited woman. After the transition, Karen, however, was demoted to shift lead but was still in charge of Paula’s division. With her new position, Karen worked a twenty-four-hour shift rotation with Paula and the rest of the staff.
Karen’s performance was poor. Due to her lack of leadership skills, the office was often disorganized. Paula’s share of the workload along with her coworkers was disproportionate. There was no agency to fix any problems that arose because it had to be an issue that Karen was capable of doing. Unfortunately, Karen was woefully underqualified for the position to begin with. On her “fictitious quest for greatness,” Karen was too lazy to keep up with the pace of wisdom.
A few years after the change in management, Paula was promoted. Just one day after the announcement, Karen came to her, looked Paula dead in the face, and mouthed, “You won’t last long.”
Paula was taken aback, but only time would tell how low Karen would go to exploit the business.
One Serious Blunder After Another
Paula wanted to report Karen’s rude behavior more than ever, but there was just one problem:
Karen had the support of the hospital’s bureaucracy. The company was unionized, meaning the hospital had a “just cause” firing policy instead of an “at-will policy.” This applied even to non-unionized employees.
On the surface, this may have seemed like a good source of protection for workers in the field. However, it left room for outrageous situations and repeat offenders to be almost untouchable. For Paula, it was a hopeless situation, to say the least.
Paula witnessed employees stealing company equipment yet returning to work completely unscathed the next day. If the offense wasn’t repeated several times, second chances were thrown out like candy on Halloween.
Deep down, Paula knew the chances of getting Karen dismissed were next to impossible. However, she did know one thing for certain; Karen sucked at everything she did. It was only a matter of time.
One of the job’s most important aspects was to look for important alerts and notifications. There was a specific procedure for data to be properly updated by Paula’s team. If the slightest error or alert was looked over, it prevented a nurse or other medical professional from getting important lab results back.
One time, an alert came in, Karen saw it, but then decided to keep browsing the web.
The consequences of her actions were disgraceful.
A patient from the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit was going into surgery. The doctors operating on the patient did not receive imperative information about the patient which led to a grave error. The doctors made a perfectly preventable mistake while operating on the patient.
All because of Karen.
I wish I could tell you the mistake was irreversible. But of course, that would be wrong.
Unfortunately, the patient did not survive the operation.
The mistake was devastating for the hospital. To make matters worse, Paula was at a complete loss for words when she found out Karen got to keep her job.
Enough Was Enough
Paula wasn’t sure which was worse:
The death of the patient was on the company’s hands.
Or Karen wasn’t fired.
Human Resources turned a blind eye to Karen’s carelessness because they felt that her actions were not the “direct cause of death.”
Karen continued to nonchalantly parade around the company as if she didn’t even feel remorse for what she did. As far as Paula was concerned, she was a heartless sociopath. She could no longer subdue the rage she felt against Karen.
Paula did not want to see any more patients fall victim to Karen’s negligence.
If no one from upper management was going to have a backbone, then Paula knew she would have to step up and figure out a way to see through the brick wall that the hospital bureaucracy offered as protection for Karen.
Paula started keeping a paper trail of everything Karen messed up in one way or another. She decided to keep out small things and focused primarily on other instances of life-threatening occurrences or mistakes all on the hospital’s dime. Paula documented verbal warnings, written warnings, and ultimately her official threat of termination.
Karen had long discovered that she could work the system a different way. At some point, her history with the company no longer became a consideration with her offenses. Paula took note of Karen initiating HR cases due to someone “harassing her”. It was not a coincidence that she did this each time she faced termination. For each accusation, a six-month-long investigation followed. This paused any attempts to move forward with her dismissal for the duration of the investigation. Once the investigation would come to a close, Karen would immediately point a finger at someone new that was supposedly “harassing” her, and the clock would start over again, prolonging her employment with the company.
Upper management was at a loss. Even the Chief Information Officer had no power over the situation because of the hospital bureaucracy. Paula’s entire department had to interact with the data center staff, and that meant interacting with Karen. Karen had evolved into this fiend that everyone loathe within the company.
She was like the Grinch, except her presence brought misery all year round. Despite how long Karen had been working for the company, she still had at least another twenty years until she was eligible for retirement.
Paula, however, knew the perfect way to knock Karen down a few notches.”
The Grand Plan
One day, Paula had an epiphany:
“What if, under the guise of developing skills relevant to the twenty-first century, required everyone working in the network operations center to pass a certification exam that proved each individual who passed has a solid understanding of IT infrastructure?”
Paula had an epiphany. If she were to schedule a required company exam that must be passed to keep the position, she was confident that Karen would not pass.
The exam wasn’t all that difficult but wasn’t a walk in the park either. Paula knew without question that everyone in her department would be able to pass the exam just fine, except Karen.
As part of her plan, Paula wrote in her proposal that every employee that passed should have better titles, significant pay bumps, and the authority to handle more equipment. All of the changes would help with the distribution of responsibilities since the company change that took place years ago. Everyone would have the freedom to truly express themselves and their abilities on the force.
Paula spent three years in meetings with human resources, her director, and with the chief information officer. Plenty of repeat meetings and conferences involved the intricate rewriting of roles within each position that all lasted hours at a time. After each meeting, Paula felt mentally exhausted, but she remembered the purpose of the mission and stayed persistent for her sake and the sake of her co-workers suffering the prolonged wrath of Karen.
The hardest part of all was when Paula faced the bureaucracy. It was difficult for the company to consider the extreme pay raises in Paula’s proposal. However, she stood firm in her plan and everything fell right into place
It was time for payback.
The Harder They Fall
Paula was nervous about the way the plan would play out. She knew the chances of it falling through were slim after the amount of time she had devoted to the cause as well as facing her biggest obstacle which was the bureaucracy. It took hard work, but Paula was successful in bringing everyone on board. In the end, the company would be making more money, the job itself would be more interesting, and employees would be more marketable.
Anyone unable to pass the test would no longer work for the company which opened room for more seasoned workers from outside the workforce to step in. This meant ground-breaking improvements for the company were easily achievable.
The hospital paid for offsite training. Employees still received pay during their testing sessions. Paula’s coworkers were also financially responsible for the materials to study for the exam.
Paula scheduled eight-hour study sessions for everyone in her department. Essentially, the entire building had downtime so people could study and become familiar with the layout of the exam. The employees were responsible for paying for the test once their time came to take it. If they failed, they would have to pay to take it another time. In Paula’s plan, she ensured employees had eight months’ time to pass the exam to leave no excuse for Karen to go crying to HR that the process seemed rushed or unfair.
The weeks that followed in the preparation for the exam left Paula on the edge of her seat. Would her plan work, or would the hospital continue to writhe under Karen’s evil grasp?
To her surprise, every single employee passed on their first attempt. All except one. Karen, just as Paula predicted, completely bombed the exam. She also did not pass on her second, or third attempts.
Karen immediately blamed upper management and declared that the new policy was somehow a personal attack on her. She spread hopeless rumors to get people to side with her. Paula found it outlandish. Though, it was sort of true. Still, Karen’s claims were outrageous without proof to back them up.
Her time to pass the exam dwindled down and it was time for Paula and the other leaders on the floor to have a heart-to-heart conversation with Karen.
For the last and final time.
Freedom At Last!
The day that Paula witnessed the official dismissal of Karen from her duties, she remembered seeing a look of utter shock befall her face. Karen’s face twisted up in a frown like no other. Her denial was almost laughable.
Paula’s company declared her a hero that day. She pranced into the main office for a meeting and people began cheering for her amazing feat in removing the anchor preventing the company from sailing ship. Even the Chief Information Officer gave her a pat and expressed his extreme gratitude for her actions. Paula’s elaborate plan had worked beyond measure.
Company morale was at an all-time high within days of Karen’s departure. Plenty of new challenges, open positions, and a sense of job security made every day at work much more enjoyable. Although some other workers decided to leave by their own means, everyone was grateful for the hard work that Paula put in to save the sanity of practically everyone she worked with.
Paula believes the company-wide conspiracy she orchestrated that resulted in the termination of Karen is one of the best accomplishments in her career.