A Question of Loyalty.

A Question of Loyalty.

He wasn’t technically my boss, but he had power within the organization and he lorded it over me as if he were. I will admit that in the beginning I enjoyed the perks his position afforded me.

One day I was invited into his office to chat and told to shut the door. He told me he needed to know if I was happy with my job. I said that I guessed I was, sure. That wasn’t good enough. He wanted a yes or no answer. While I didn’t feel like I was going after my calling by spreadsheeting insurance rates and finding out why claims weren’t paid, it was better than unemployment.

“Yes,” I said. “Why are you asking?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said.

But it most certainly did matter. It turns out that someone overheard me say I hated my job the day before. He didn’t have to tell me who. I already knew. I had been very frustrated with a client and I told a colleague that I hated my job. Another colleague, someone with a vested interest in making sure I never rose above her in the ranks, was in earshot. I wouldn’t have let her hear had I known she was there, but I have a big mouth and at that moment I did hate my job. But moments pass.

The issue of my loyalty became a problem for both of us. He constantly felt the need to question it and I felt pressed to defend it. In my experience, one of the quickest ways to crush the spirit of a committed employee is to constantly question that employee’s commitment. I did my best to let the exchanges go, if for no other reason than to get through each day.

A few months later, after a few happy hour drinks with a client, I was accused of “only sticking around until I got pregnant and could be a mommy.” And while part of my life plan included children, the insinuation that I would bolt as soon as my biological needs kicked in was beyond insulting.

I didn’t want to work around the clock. I didn’t want to spend evenings at the office when I wasn’t paid to do so. I put in my time, extra when needed, but only when needed. My job wasn’t my life and this left him dissatisfied.

There were many other instances of his condescension. His my-way-or-the-highway approach never went unnoticed and, in fact, was starting to make the highway look pretty damn appealing. One particular day we had a disagreement and he eventually raised his voice telling me I needed to do as I was told. I reminded him I wasn’t one of his children and spent the rest of the day making an exit strategy.

Once I was pregnant and deliberately edged out of everything possible, I think he thought he had been right all along. But it was more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than anything else because here I am, nearly eight years later, still working full time. Still a dedicated employee, still doing what needs to be done.

The difference is I don’t do it for him.

28 Responses to “A Question of Loyalty.”

  1. April C. says:

    This made me angry as I’ve constantly had an issue with the fact that employee treatment is so often severely overlooked by the same people who wonder why the turnover rate of employment in their companies is so damned high.

    Do you think it would have ended at all if that conversation never would have taken place? If your co-worker had not heard a thing?

    • michellelongo says:

      It made me pretty angry too.

      I would have left there eventually. It wasn’t a good fit and I think he would have thought I was a flight risk no matter what.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. stupid boss. he lost a good smarter person.

  3. Tina says:

    It is never good when they tell you to shut the door. I wonder if your loyalty would have been questioned if you had been a man.

  4. Sam Merel says:

    I think this definitely happened because you are a woman. I see it in my job every single day. It’s always the loyalty of the women that is questioned because they stupidly assume that having a baby automatically means less commitment. It makes me want to tear my hair out every day.

    • michellelongo says:

      Right. It is never assumed that a man will drop out of the workforce when he has a child. With women it’s expected. Or, if we remain in the workforce, it is assumed we won’t give 100% to our jobs. For many of us who don’t give 100% after having a child, it’s because the support systems for working mothers are so lacking. But that’s a whole different rant.

  5. Malina says:

    I could practically have written this myself. For some reason, when women vent about their jobs, it is interpretted as disdain, lack of loyalty and insubordination. When, really, that venting is what is needed to let go of the crap and remember why you love your job. Eventually, such question of my commitment to my job (coupled with passive-aggressive insinuation that I wasn’t a dedicated enough mother at the same time) drove me away from my last company. Which was a shame, because I really did love my job (if not the politics and management), and was damn good at it.

    • michellelongo says:

      Oh yes. Let’s not forget the judging or shaming or whatever we’re calling it these days when a mom is very committed or the primary breadwinner or whatever she happens to be that people decide makes her a bad mother. Again, this is a whole other rant, but it’s very real. I can only hope that things will change for our children in the future.

  6. Natalie DeYoung says:

    That always ticks me off. The idea that we should be thrilled with our shitty office jobs…”yes, I LOVE working in Excel all day!” said no one who wasn’t brown-nosing. What, do you want me to do a cartwheel for you, too?

    • michellelongo says:

      :) Yes! I’m not saying we’re not happy, but for the love of olive, we’re allowed to have a day where we admit that it just sucks sometimes. Anyone who says they love their job all of the time is lying. No one is happy all the time. That doesn’t make them less committed, it makes them human.

  7. oh man. that’s infuriating. especially to hear those comments about you working until you become pregnant. that is messed up!

    and props to you for remaining steadfast and perseverant amidst such discouragement and scrutiny.

    • michellelongo says:

      It was SO blatant. I just did what I had to do. I had a mortgage and a lot of time invested with the company. To move on at the time this happened would have been foolish on my part, but the next 4 years were difficult. My goal has always been to take care of my family. The moment I could move on, the moment quitting became the best option for my family, I was writing my resignation letter.

  8. soumyaa says:

    Your boss behaved ridiculously. For an institution to work smoothly the meagre requirement is trust and understanding between the boss and his employees. Im glad you did what you did and that now you’re in a position where you can be proud.

    • michellelongo says:

      I agree. I was in it for the long haul, but I wasn’t going to stay there after it became clear I wasn’t trusted. Live and learn, I suppose!

  9. A classic line from my old control-freak boss was, “Sometimes, I think you forget who’s in charge.” Not bloody likely.
    Glad you got away from that jerk.

  10. Jenn Berney says:

    I doubt I know anyone who hasn’t said “I hate my job” offhandedly on a bad day. A perceptive human being would recognize that. I loved the last line of your post.

    • michellelongo says:

      Thanks, Jenn. I agree, I think we all say we hate stuff that we don’t actually hate but we hate that moment. Why must it be blown out of proportion?

  11. innatejames says:

    One offhanded comment does not a bad employee make. I hope you went all Johnny Paycheck on him when you left! “Take this Job and Shove It. I ain’t working here no more!”

    • michellelongo says:

      I was super respectful my last two weeks. Did my job, was pleasant, and all that stuff so that no one could say that I didn’t give 100%. And then when I was in my car, I flipped them all the bird and got on with my life.

  12. I could feel the job closing in around you. He sucks.

  13. Stacie says:

    Glad you got the ef outta there. I had a very different yet equally bad-boss experience. It sucks so much!

    • michellelongo says:

      A good boss can make or break a job. I’m so much happier where I am now. Glad you’re not with your bad boss anymore either.

  14. What an ass. Glad you eventually could get out of there. I am surrounded by SAHMs and I want to read your other rant. Write it soon won’t you?

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