Have you ever had a moment in your career which changed how you viewed work completely?
For me, that moment was when my closest friends in the workplace stabbed me in the back.
Emily, Carol, and I were close. We were lunch ‘kaki’s’ and we joked, laughed, and teased one another. Carol even invited me to her Hari Raya open house.
Both are 10 years older than me, so I looked up to them as seniors in the workplace. Little did I know that everything I told them would be used against me in the future.
Looking back, I’m not sure what strained our friendship. Perhaps it was the fact that Emily became our boss, so she felt that she had to be ‘tough’.
Or perhaps it was the fact that I never took part in their daily gossip sessions by the office stairwell. When Emily gossiped about her downlines to us, I was uncomfortable. After all, we were her downlines too.
So, when it happened, I would often just zone out or excuse myself during her tirade.
Carol, on the other hand, is what you would call a classic ‘batu api’. She’d chime in on how she pitied Emily for having stupid employees.
Carol wasn’t very popular in the office – she can be quite bossy. In fact, she acted more like the boss than Emily did.
What made things worse was that Carol got away with a lot of things; coming to work late, disappearing from the office, getting to pick and choose her tasks and projects at work.
She had Emily wrapped around her finger, and it didn’t take long before all of Emily’s downlines got upset over her apparent favouritism towards Carol.
As for our friendship, I’d realized that our conversations lessened as the months went by. I was deliberately distancing myself from them, and eventually they excluded me from most of their lunch/gossip sessions.
I didn’t really want to distance myself from them, but I just couldn’t deal with the petty gossip.
During that time, I remembered being so lonely in the office. I was no longer close to Carol and Emily at that point. However, everyone in the office thought that the three of us were a clique, and I was ostracized in the office because of it.
Eventually, things came to a breaking point. Boy was it messy.
In this company, everyone worked 30 hours a week. If we worked extra hours, we could apply for time off the following week. So once when I’d worked overtime, I got a verbal green light from Emily to take some time off the following week.
Which I did, or at least, tried to do.
She had ‘forgotten’ her verbal agreement. So, I tried to remind her in the group chat, and after some back and forth, she said ‘Sorry, I don’t remember giving this, you’ll have to come in.’
At this point, Carol decided to intervene,
Now this is how Carol usually speaks to everyone in the office, including me. The only person she never spoke to that way was Emily.
At this point, I was angry and hurt, but I kept my cool. Again, I tried to be firm because I felt like this whole scenario was unfair, considering that Carol gets away with not coming to work as she wishes.
However, in typical Carol fashion, she kept berating me. Was this verbal bullying? You be the judge.
Joanne was a colleague and a hot topic of their gossip because she constantly questioned company policies.
It was then that I finally reached my breaking point, and I said,
She then said that she had to step in because she felt like I was not being ‘duly responsible’. Plus, she was senior to me in terms of experience, so she has every right.
Now I hate being emotional at work. But I couldn’t help my reaction after.
I texted Emily separately, telling her that I WILL be going into the office that day, but only to submit my resignation letter. I typed my words out calmly, because it was 9am in the morning, and I didn’t want any more drama.
She told me to not be hasty, and that Carol was only looking out for me because HR was monitoring us.
Yeah, right. HR was never monitoring us, as I found out a few weeks later from the HR director herself.
I told her I understand, but I wasn’t being hasty. I have been thinking about it for a long time now (which was true). I went to her office and gave her my resignation.
After that incident, I waited out my notice period, and left. My relationship with both Carol and Emily was cordial at best, and I remember leaving on my last day at work without saying goodbye to either of them.
I’m not completely blameless in this whole thing. I admit that I shouldn’t have played into their text and nasty words. But I did not regret leaving the job, as the office and their friendship had become too toxic for me.
It’s been almost two years since then. Last I heard, Emily and Carol had a huge fight, and Emily left. Apparently, Carol had lodged a formal complaint to HR about Emily, because she was given work which was out of her job scope.
Shortly after that, Carol also left the company due to differences with most of her colleagues. Is karma a bitch? You bet.
So, what has this whole thing thought me? Don’t be too naïve in the workplace, and sadly, not everyone is your friend.
For more articles about toxic workplaces, read 5 Types of Personalities You’ll Meet in the Workplace, and How to Deal with Them, and 6 Annoying Office Habits That Drive Your Colleagues Crazy.