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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re already well aware that I do not care much for the people I work with. It’s not their fault, really. They’re just bad human beings. Like uncouth moths to the flame, they somehow flock to the same tiny department and each has set up their own stagnant cocoon woven of annoying daily habits, obnoxiously predictable, yet unavoidable chit chat and just barely average work.

I don’t belong here. I’ve come to this unfortunate conclusion about five years too late. However, I’m stuck too, partly due to appeal and stability of a corporate job, the pay and benefits are quite good, and the work is relatively manageable. I vacillate between the fear that I’m becoming “like them” and the possibility that I already was. Neither idea is very appealing.

Still, I know that I’m not able to live up to my full potential here. Each time I’ve attempted to step out of the box of my ascribed role and do more or take another direction, the retaliation from my colleagues has been palpable and swift. As far as I can tell, my direct supervisor does appreciate it when I undertake a new project or do something to improve our current processes, because he’s told me so. I’ve also been given recognition in my annual performance reviews and in a spot bonus for a particularly good job I did in a completely pain in the ass project that would have taken another of my colleagues a month to do in three days. So, I feel like I must be doing something right.

But, my successes are not well received by the people I work directly with. As much as I’ve tried to give them credit for being mature adults, their behavior simply does not reflect that. It’s probably due to the fear that I’m making them look bad, or perhaps it’s a twinge of jealousy, they react poorly to change, ambition, making things right, and the idea of going above and beyond. I wouldn’t even call it over-achieving, because it’s really what our corporate mission statement directly calls for most of the time. I’m sure that the others simply feel like they’re happy in their current little rut and don’t appreciate someone making them seem lazy.

One person in particular has come at me hard a few times. I’ve blogged about that a few times as well, and I do my best not to let it bother me. However, it’s quite difficult when they act all sweet and nice to your face, then a few hours later are gutting you to the boss or your colleagues behind your back. Once it got so bad that the boss finally decided to intervene, which was probably something he strongly regrets. While she was mostly complaining that I didn’t say “good morning” to her anymore, I took the opportunity to tear her a new one for her shady behavior towards me, which in retrospect was also a mistake. I can never tell when the appropriate moment is to stand up for myself. Although I felt better for calling out all her nonsense, in the end, I tilted my hand on the exact behaviors that she does to annoy me. Now she does them all the time.

It’s been about a year since the blow out, and there’s been no dynamic shift in her behavior. For about two weeks, she was on her best behavior, then she went right back to the same shady nonsense. As a result, I’ve simply disengaged. I don’t say anything to her unless it’s work related, and although it seems juvenile at times, it’s the best I can do to protect myself from giving any further ammunition in the future. I focus solely on getting my work done and being focused on production.

In fact, I’ve pretty much disengaged from the entire group, and they have noticed. The passive-aggressive commentary has not ceased, unfortunately. In face, at least once a day there’s some kind of comment made within earshot. I do not engage. I roll my eyes, continue working and remain silent. I’m sure it drives them crazy, because they cannot force me to engage and I could really care less at this point what any of them thinks of me.

Still, the ring leader has one thing she does from time to time which I’m not sure I quite grasp the reasoning behind. Most of the time she works quietly in her office, but every once in a while she puts on her music. I can never tell if it’s done in retaliation to my music, which I listen to at a reasonable volume in my own office, or if it’s because she needs to calm herself down after something irritating happens to her.

I don’t engage, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but it always seems that whenever I hear the same (I assume it’s a CD) pan-flute type instrumental music playing in between songs from my iPod, that something’s up. I don’t really care if something’s bothering her. When someone goes to great lengths to have you fired on two occasions and fails, you tend to leave them to their own devices since they’re likely to be plotting a third attempt. Still, the pan flute is going today, and I can’t help but feel it’s directed at me somehow. Then I realize I don’t care. I smile, turn up my music another click and go about my day. I actually have work to do.