“Oh, she wasn’t that bad.” – Them
“Oh yes she was!” – Me
RECORD STORE TALES #1005: Bully Graffiti
The office Bully and I had to work together frequently. I’ve worked for a lot of managers over the years, but she was the worst, even worse than the guy who stressed me into a nervous breakdown. He didn’t mean to do it; he was just a shitty manager. Office Bully on the other hand was malicious, as I have described in the past. She was not capable of separating her personal life from her job, and because I was friends with her ex-fiance, I got the shitty end of the stick every time. I felt like there was a constant tug of war over me. I had a target on my back, as others noticed. “She doesn’t treat anyone else like she treats you,” said one colleague.
I will never forget one morning working together in the store in the late 1990s. She decided to test me. Test my knowledge. Of her. Of her taste in music.
Usually the staff picked the tunes for the day. I asked her what she wanted to listen to while I went to collect music for the day’s store play.
“Pick something I like,” she said. Jesus Christ. Pick something she would like? What the hell did she like? I knew she was testing me. Testing me on how much I knew about what she liked to listen to. How much I’d been paying attention. She liked to play these games. We weren’t supposed to be friends; I just wanted to do whatever I had to do to be treated like a human being in the workplace.
I knew she liked Bjork, the Band, soul music, and…I drew a blank. Frankly it was none of my business what the hell she liked. Not part of my job.
I decided to hedge my bet. We had a five CD changer, and instead of picking two CDs for me and three for her, I picked five for her and hoped I got some right. Based on the fact that she liked old soul music, I thought I’d try more oldies. American Graffiti soundtrack? Maybe there was something on there that she liked? It looked pretty good. I put the five discs that I picked into the changer and hit “play”, crossing my fingers and toes that I got it right.
A few songs went by without comment. So far so good. Then came an American Graffiti track into the shuffle. That’s when she spoke up.
“You picked this, for ME?” she interrogated.
“No, I picked it for me,” I lied. Dodged a bullet. Barely. I lived to work another day.
The Bully’s friends will say something predictable, like “That doesn’t sound like she was testing you, that sounds like she just wanted you to pick the music for the day.” I would respond, “You weren’t there.” I heard the tone of voice. I knew the game being played. It would have been obvious had anyone else been there. “You picked this, for ME?” That was the tell.
But I got away with it and to this day I really could not give a shit what kind of music she liked. She certainly didn’t respect my tastes — once she told me only one person at my store (the one she was friends with) had good taste in music.
Why would you ask someone with poor taste in music to pick your CDs for you? She was playing games as usual, as always.