Here is a great article on Nit Picking in the office.
Since my last post I have forgotten to turn off the lights after using a classroom to sort papers, forgotten a dish in the sink as I rushed to class, and accidentally hit Mrs. K with the door. And to be clear, I did not rip the door off of it's hinges and beat her with it. She was standing behind it, totally unexpected because nobody ever stands there with the trashcan for company.
For each of these infractions my reputation as a teacher has flashed before my eyes. Minor does not matter. We are the non-light-turn-offers, the non-computer-turn-offers, the scum of the office by turns. It wasn't until after I was un-lumped and then re-lumped (these are technical terms) several times, that I was finally able to put my finger on this maddening sense of "not right."
M. is our sort of manager. Her power is asserted over non-essential things like Monday cleaning and who is the worst employee of the week, but never abdicated on things that she may be held accountable for. She and S. would single staff out over these small things. And as long as we all bought their premise-- the unimportant was important--they had power to dictate the worst employee of the week while acting as they were never guilty of any of these infractions.
Understanding the issue at hand also meant facing my part in the game. I gotten upset when somebody didn't do the smallest thing. I had demeaned other staff for minor things. I had been mean to S. and ThatGuy to avoid having a target painted on my back. It sounds so ugly when I put it into words, but it was. I was. A good part of that sense of not right came from my internal sense of right and wrong. I had been acting counter to my own moral code to appease people who were never going to like/ approve of me. Yikes. So I set about changing. I became the office Switzerland and in turn, I became the third least favorite of M. and S., and with the two least favorites on their way out the door, I started to worry. ( that's what I do). Would I become the scum of the office? What was everyone saying behind my back? Did everyone hate me? What could I do to fix this... that didn't involve treating ThatGuy and A. like crap? Nothing? Oh, my God, I'm powerless!
But I wasn't powerless. We always have a choice, even when we're between a rock and a hard place. I had an article. The article refuted that logic better than I could have and also with more authority. So, I shared it with everyone. Actually, that is a summation of what I did. The point is, that words have power. And they don't have to be your own words nor does everyone have to read it. In my case, the two people who needed to read it the most didn't, but the one person with real power did. She shared it with the people above her and now, not only are the people in the office asking "is this a big picture or a minute issue" but so are people higher up.
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).