Once upon a long ago I had a bit of a schizophrenic personality. At home and with people I was comfortable with I was fierce and fiery, never too scared to say what I thought and a little volcano of emotion, but around new people; at school, with strangers, I was a little more shy. As I have got older, I still wear my heart on my sleeve but certain experiences have made it necessary for me to amalgamate the two. And I think you get that with age as well.
One particular experience was when I was twenty. I was offered a job as an account manager for Clarins managing my own teeny micro shop within a store, and I was over the moon! My pretending to be the lady on Estee Lauder when met with difficult situations had paid off, and it was noticed! I was so happy.
When I got to the store on my first day I realised the problem. Her name was Pam (name changed to protect the identity of individuals, whether real or fictitious) and she was my part-time lady. Nice at first, but it soon turned out to be a little bit like a scene out of sleeping beauty. I was the prince going to rescue the princess (read: failing cosmetic counter) from the dragon (Pam). Are we all up to speed? The ten (yes TEN) account managers that she had defeated before me were cast like dead suitors along the way, and I soon felt a little bit concerned about the safety of my life (career with cosmetics).
It started off fairly innocently. She had clearly manipulated the people before her so she could do whatever she wanted, and I wasn’t going to be defeated by a lady who only worked three days a week while I had to slog hard for five to pay my rent. First I tried to change the working days, as the weekends are the busiest and had the most staff. “I don’t work Saturdays” was the response. I tried my hardest “I know but your days are flexible and if we want to bring this business out of the pyre we need to put the work in.” It soon descended. Her “I’m not working Saturdays.” Me “Ohyesyouare!” If I could have added ‘madam’ on the end and got away with it, have no doubt, I would have, but she was fifty-six and hated me already.
Anyway, in the twelve months that I stuck it out, we had some interesting conversations, faux nice exchanges, and downright fiery confrontations. At one point I just turned around and walked out of the double doors, intent on never seeing her bulldog chewing wasp-esque face again. My lovely friend Miss Lancome chased me out, gave me a verbal smack down and told me that if I walked out now she would be that problem toddler that the next person couldn’t deal with either. So I walked back in and styled it out.
And how I cried. A week didn’t go by (except when she was on holiday) where I didn’t cry, but never in front of her. My friends within the department would sneak up to the loo on my tea break with a mascara so I could touch up the mask, and I would return with all the joy de vivre that you would think I was working my last shift before a holiday.
And then came Australia-gate. She wanted three weeks off to visit her son in Australia. I thought personally that it was only fair (in my head I was looking forward to three weeks on my own!) but the decision was out of my hands and down to our Area Manager, who said no. This became my fault, and she handed in her notice.
Prince Belle 1 – Dragon 0!!
I found a new job a mere two months later, but still to this day feel like I did the woman who succeeded me a great justice. And she has a well performing beauty counter to run. I thank you.
Have you ever had to deal with someone really problematic?