Two nights ago I had a dream I was pregnant. It was VERY vivid. Then I had to move back home (but it was my Holbrook House) and turn my old bedroom into the nursery. Then I gave birth to a cute but white baby. The whole time I was rambling on about how this made no sense and where was Jamaal, etc. Jamaal, given his enthusiasm for dream interpretation, believes that this means I will conquer my archenemy at work. Or at least he did until I explained the dream form start to finish last night. Now he thinks that it has to do with him moving to MA. But more about this work situation..
The hospital employs 3600 people. With the exit of my coworker Anorexia nearly two years ago, I have virtually no enemies/people I dislike in the ENTIRE hospital. You could argue that this is because I don't know everyone in the hospital, but let's put it this way: I know and work with just about as many people as I need to, and right now I like all of them....except one. There is one woman, with whom, thank GOD, my interaction is limited to an hour a month.
She is the effing devil, I kid you not. She is my archenemy (AE).
Her favorite things are: belittling you in front of superiors, belittling your work and education, suggesting that she could do a better job at it, suggesting your data are weak and have nothing to stand on, suggesting she should become your boss, suggesting that the hospital wastes money on your job and project in front of others, kicking her own employees down and finding out that they're doing a smidge better than the competition and then kissing their asses like there is no tomorrow. Get it? She's a grade A b*tch.
I said to my former boss once "I went to a women's college, ok? I have dealt with every type of woman you can imagine, from the sweetest, nicest person to the meanest, rudest type of woman there is. F? She is off the bitch scale COMPLETELY." Normally I am not this candid at the office. I was worried about the long silence that followed until my former boss said this: "What I just can't get over is that she's a mother....and that she got those kids...you know...the "natural" way...who would want to?" I stopped that thought by yelling loudly that I didn't want to think about it.
I don't think of myself as an ultra-competitive person, unless we're playing Thanksgiving Pictionary or it's 7:30 on a weeknight and the family has gathered for Jeopardy. At work I tend to be pretty chill. Do I want to be the best? Of course I do. I have first-born overachiever syndrome! Do I try to pull a Blair Waldorf and take down people along the way so I emerge victorious? NO. I'd rather bust my ass to be the best and get credit for hard work. I'd rather know who my competition is and know their work and best them by working secretly in my own little corner, instead of giving them a public dressing-down in front of their superiors. This is why I hate my archenemy. She's just not my style.
That being said, I have no desire whatsoever to "bring her down." So not worth it. Unpredicted success is the only way to vanquish her, and I realized this in our last meeting when she suggested that she take over the entire project. She sees me as not totally failing at my job, but not succeeding either. A doctor I work with, who tends to be totally wishy-washy (i.e. I have seen him side with archenemy when it's been convenient/beneficial to him) had my BACK when she suggest I wasn't working hard. Actually, he kind of flipped out. There was shouting across the table and at one point he said "YOU NEED TO LISTEN" to AE. It was glorious. The doc proceeded to tell her that in the mere 8 months I had been project manager we had pushed three concepts through, all of which are likely to make it to publication, one of which is likely to be a significant paper in terms of lymphoma treatment (that's the one I'm 4th author on. BITE IT, TUFTS). He went on to say that I'm also responsible for the follow-up of over 1,000 patients. That I'm still doing my old job, as well as the project manager's job AND work for the hospital for which they are not paying me, but I'm doing it anyways because I am "nice." AE tried interjecting many times, but he was on a roll. He was like "FURTHERMORE I don't want Allison to quit because she hates her job, because we are stretching her is so many directions that she can't bear the thought of coming to work in the morning - why wouldn't she leave to find a job where her roll is clearly defined and she is receiving fair pay for what she's expected to do?!"
That shut her up. For a second.
Then AE went off on this tangent about how her staff does this, how she knows their schedules in her head and knows how to prioritize for them, how they're doing MY work (excuse me b*tch?), etc. Anything to deflect the fact that I am basically underpaid and overworked.
Finally, the doc had to use the final and most devastating weapon in his arsenal. We were both hoping it wouldn't come to this point, that we could handle AE by ourselves. It was not to be...Dr. A finally had to interrupt AE and say "in the end, this is irrelevant, because Dr. L wants Allison to be prioritizing XYZ."
The magic words "Dr. L" put AE into a frenzy of "well I don't know how YOU do things but if that's what DOCTOR L wants done, well I guess I don't have anything to say about it."
So all that screaming and yelling and fighting for what? Not much of anything in the end.
We didn't particularly resolve anything and everyone, except AE I am sure, walked away from the meeting royally pissed off or terrified (her staff). I thanked Dr. A profusely for having my back, especially considering how unexpected it was. He just shrugged and said "well. I tried."
"You did GREAT!" I insisted. "No one dares to take her on and you did, and you did it for me, and I can't tell you how fantastic that was." He shook his head as if he had failed. Then we went to my former boss to gossip about the meeting. J, my old boss, who is as much AE's nemesis as I am told me not to bend to the whims of AE. I insisted that I won't. I also told both Dr. A and J that AE does not scare me. I don't react to her (which makes her super angry) and I'm not afraid to say something controversial to her ("I am doing work I'm not paid to do." This may have been a mistake.) What this woman needs is not to be taken down; perhaps that's why no one has succeeded in quieting her yet. She needs to have no ammunition to throw at you. When she's out of ammo, she'll have nothing left to say. You can't trap or trick her or even weaken her defenses. You must outsmart her.
THE ACTION PLAN
I am 69 patients behind on my data entry. This has been de-prioritized due to other, bigger, more important, and more public projects. New priority? Make two days a week data entry days. Do not allow for distractions. Do not answer emails of staff, only superiors, then only if essential.
I am 25 patients behind on THEIR data entry. Prioritize the consults, which take about 20 minutes each to enter. Choose a call-free meeting-free day to enter these. Then attack the most complex, the previously diagnosed, treated patients coming here for a bone marrow transplant. Rate these from most to least difficult, approach in this order. Then enter the rest of their data.
Continue to rock other priorities. Get ready for huge meeting. Get Dr. L ready for ASH.
Meet with AE and staff on November 19th, completely caught up. Show certain amount of pity for amount of work other staff has. Offer to help. Make it known that catching up wasn't easy, but necessary to get AE off my back (in a nice way.) Wish everyone a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.
Walk out. High five Dr. A.
There's my plan. And if you've made it to the end of this painfully long and rambling post, I will let you know how it goes. If it continues to be a piece of crap however, I'm going to have to insist an additional staff member is hired. This is tough for a control freak like me though. I told the various docs to give me a month. I'm going to figure this out. Somehow.
Grrrr. I'm going to whip it in it's ass and emerge victorious. It's really my only option.