I have an office politics story for you that is so old, I had red hair.
(I am talking about the ’90s. That was a very sad time in my career.)
I was a recruiting manager for a hot minute with a shady staffing company. There was another recruiting manager on site. He did temps. I did permanent placement. His name was Tony and he was a dick. As an example of his dickness, he had a huge office with a window but stuck me in an office with two secretaries due to ‘logistics issues’.
I GUESS WE KNOW WHO’S IN CHARGE! IT’S TONY! AND HE IS A DICK!
After 90 days, I quit that job. Two weeks notice. I was very professional. And I found a new recruiting role. Then I came down with the flu. But I didn’t want to be THAT PERSON who resigns and gets sick. I thought — I’ll go to work, get some stuff done and then go home.
Remember, this is the ’90s. We didn’t have wellness programs and I had AOL dial-up.
So I went to the office at 9:52 AM and worked through lunch. My official boss, who worked in another location, called my house looking for me. Then she called my desk and was surprised that I answered the phone.
“Tony told me you didn’t show up, today.”
I was like — uhm, you just called me at my desk. And Tony is a dick.
She said, “Well, that’s weird. He said you were no call, no show.”
I said, “I don’t work in a factory and I don’t report to him. And obviously I’m here.”
My boss asked me what time I arrived at work and I had to admit that, yes, I was 52 minutes late.
She said, “You really ought to call me when you’re late.”
So I asked, “Are you joking? Okay, how late? What if I’m seven minutes late? What if I’m fourteen minutes late? How about I call you if I’m 22 minutes late but not if I’m six minutes late. Are those the rules?”
My boss was silent for a moment and then said, “You’re almost done here. Don’t ruin it.”
I hung up the phone.
Then I tore into Tony’s office like a lunatic and accused him of being a dick. I also touched my face and touched his desk. I sneezed and didn’t cover my nose. I coughed in his direction. Mouth open. It was awful but he deserved to get the flu. Then I said, “You are a dick. Confirmed.”
Tony was such a pussy and couldn’t make eye contact and said something like, “I’m sorry. I thought you didn’t show up.”
Whatever. I know for a fact that he saw me that morning. He didn’t think to correct the record because he was a dick.
So why am I telling you this? Because office politics stories are so dumb. Nobody cares. And no matter where you work, you will work with a dick. And the stakes always feel more important and consequential to you than to anyone else.
And screw Tony, by the way. He can suck it.