As I mentioned in the previous post, I left a’toxic’ work situation in 2011. To be fair to those who had also had experienced the same violations of rights, the same loss of security and the absolute loss of hope while being exposed to such behavior, I felt it was time that I opened a venue for them to come forward and speak. I wanted them to know that they were not alone and that much of the business atmosphere in which this occurs is not worth reflecting back upon, other than to know what to avoid in a future job search.
I also mentioned that names of people and organizations are changed to preserve anonymity. It should be enough for my blog readers to know that what they read is true to the best of my knowledge as I have no reason to believe that someone telling their story to me (via email and conversation) would lie (on one interview, a box of kleenex came in handy). Oh and by the way – when you see this, ‘*’ *Names changed to prevent identification.
Much had happened in the 4 years I was employed as a systems engineer working for an aerospace engineering hydraulic parts company in Southern California. At first, I loved my job and as long as I could haul my violin with me, kept daily contact with my hubby and famiy and was sufficiently respected on the job, I felt I was on the top of the world.
The first two years went well, I received a good review and had an excellent relationship with the man (I’ll call him Scofield* – name changed) who hired me, of whom I admired very much. I worked for one of his supervisors, Terry* who was a talented engineer and mentor.
I first noticed that things were amiss or not quite right in Scofield’s organization when one of the program managers, Ed*, began a campaign of slander and harassment against Terry. This campaign started with accusations of ‘incompetence’ and ‘stupidity’ (these words were actually used) and attempts to elicit co-conspirators to undermine and report Terry to Scofield for minor offenses, one example being one or two typos in a well written report (reviewed by Ed and when using a spellchecker, should have just corrected without comment). I stood up for Terry and asked Ed numerous times to stop the name calling and leave me alone. Terry was after all, my supervisor, a good engineer and helpful when I needed assistance. In the end, Terry resigned, brokenhearted and frustrated that his friend, ‘Scofield’ had held him for responsible for something that had been the fault of Ed’s and based on yet another on another of Ed’s lies.
Ed was relentless and what startled me was that despite a rather repugnant reputation with a number of other internal groups, customers, and inside the factory; for some reason, he had the ear and respect of upper management, the President, the VPs (except for one), the General Manager and of course, the Engineering director, Scofield. These men – these fools, were genuinely hoodwinked by Ed, and as the years passed, what added to the incredulity of the whole situation, was that his two primary subjects of ridicule weren’t necessarily his ‘marks’ or targets upon whom he and his toadies waged a daily war of lies, ridicule, insults and degrading remarks, but the engineering director himself -Scofield and the CEO, Christof*. I’m not sure if Ed was ever invited to Scofield’s home but it seems he had been to Christof’s home and he would describe it with relish, the furnishings, the daughters, what he ate. Ed could be downright trashy in what came to look like a wishful white-trashy approach to his daily interactions, yet he was adept at clamming it shut just at the right moments.
Ed also knew and mentioned the poor corporate executive compensations, how Scofield was the doormat to the higher up execs and didn’t fight for his people. Ed and his cronies including another ‘incompetent’ (Ed’s words) program manager, Stu*, were fond of miring themselves in not only day to day gossip, but throwing others ‘under the bus’ for minor infractions, slamming the customer, advertising the mistakes of others, insulting a fellow employee around a customer and scenario setup
Harassment and bullying were a way of life for Ed. One of my least fondest memories and at the time, what would come to be one of my most feared weekly encounters (occurred mostly on Wednesday mornings) was when he would approach me, usually in the morning between 9 and 10 am, informing me that he had:
- told the engineering group to not answer my questions. They didn’t have the time to do so.
- told Fhuc*, the engineering lead to not release that latest drawings on certain hydraulic parts, as he did not want me to have a completed report ahead of the group.
- held back my reports to the customer to check for ‘typos’. When I rechecked and found no errors (typos), he replied that it was not fair that my reports go ahead of the rest of the group reports which were late.
- more of number 1
- chastised me for learning ‘end use’ Catia and Solidworks so that I could edit engineering drawings within my reports, said it was “..not right to steal engineering responsibilities from the engineers”. I was to leave it to the engineers who, when asked later to make the edits, refused to do it, reporting me to Scofield and Ed (LOL – the gall of it!), saying that I was trying to get them to do my work.
- …the list goes on
Ed was also fond of reminding me that Scofield had a poor memory for those who backed him up and supported him in the most trying of situations. In other words, nothing I had done in past to work hard and do my job well, to be helpful to others, to support Scofield, the rest of the department and the company, meant anything, in the face of what he had to say and dictated.
I only learned years later, that this pattern of behavior, is set into motion by management and management alone. It is often the case that there is a clear reason why the management of an organization promotes or allows workplace harassment to occur. Within our group, it looked like this; Scofield like many other beleaguered junior level executives, lacked the effective communication skills necessary to compel executive management to lend him the proper resources and monies needed to effectively run his organization. If he had been able to obtain these resources and help, we could have met engineering development deadlines with all design and safety/reliability requirements completed.
He often carried himself as if his personal life mean’t nothing and as Ed put it- his daughters were his biggest problems, with an ‘illegitimate’ grandchild that shamed him to no end and the inability of either of his girls to hold decent jobs and finish school confounding him to no end. He had been a smart man – much to be proud of with an engineering degree and a state Professional liscence as well. However, Scofield like the rest of his counterparts was nothing exceptional – he had not attended a rigourous engineering school or nor did he come from an exceptionally talented family – he was an engineer among other engineers. His ideas of success were at one time bragging about bringing in a million in sales during his tenure at a small company in Yakima , Wa. What he didn’t seem to know was how pathetic he looked bragging about this rather lean accomplishment to a physicist from a talented and accomplished background and family who’s husband, a rising excutive in a fortune 500 company , happened to bring in 7 figure sales on a regular basis, while positively affecting global markets in the Americas. But then, he likely knew there was much more going on as his two most talented and most devoted engineers pulled away from him while the engineering group came under the control of two very experienced sociopaths; Ed and Stu.
I imagine the frustration of it made him feel ineffective and helpless as a manager. He, himself was often bullied by the customer and the executives and as a result he was perfectly willing to assuage his own feelings of inferiority and helplessness by aligning himself with the well-known sociopath, Ed, one who had for years operated unchecked within the company and was virtually unemployable elsewhere.
Having to relay this is tiring – I have moved on, but I do want to say that the whole situation was the most horrific I had experienced. Continued ‘subtle’, if you could call them that, harassments included appropriation of my desktop materials such as 3 monitors, mouse pointers, pens and the small engineering books from the library I was accumulating for Scofield that stayed resident at my desk by his request. I would always come back from my resident state into my part of a cubicle, and find that my office chair had been replaced and set askew, with a broken handled office chair. If I tried to appropriate much needed equipment via proper channels after an engineer resigned, I was given hateful looks.
One can’t conclude without a proper warning of a millennial ‘entitled’ little sleaze bag that apparently now permeates the Apple offices up in Cupertino , California. T-Rex was his nickname,, his pretentious parents having given him the formal name of Rex Tyford’ or maybe it was Tyford Rex. When I say ‘little’ I actually speak more of his absolutely vomitus and stupid character, he was quite tall – well over 6 feet and not even close to average looking, downright homely looking in a weird sort of way. T-Rex was much like scofield, in that he was fond of making stupid comments based on something he had incomplete knowledge of often, and often in front of the customer. He had been receiving much help from me as well as others on a single assignment, a valve manifold , that he was given during his entire time there. Most of the time he spent playing music and wandering around the factory, so when it came time to doing deliverables, Scofield, who had not figured it out, even with this jerk, would impel some of us to assist.
I recalled receiving only one ‘thank you’ from him. He was a favorite toadie of Ed’s after Fhuc. Ed mistakenly believed T Rex to be from a wealthy family who owned a computing services company. T Rex had attended private secondary schools, impressing Ed and Scofield to no end. But there was “a lot to hide from decent folks with that family”*, who had left Wyoming in the previous decade after going bankrupt over criminal actions in business and product dealings. Rex Sr retooled his dealings near LA, as a ‘woman owned’ disadvantaged business under his wife’s name, and proceeded to raise a couple of young sociopaths, namely T Rex whom along with one of his siblings, had an underage ajudication list of juvenile defenses from driving drunk to animal torture. Now how did I know all this? Believe me – it was literally ‘dropped’ in my lap by the daughter of a retired police officer who lived near these dysfunctionals, warning me to stand clear of ‘T Rex the El Cajon repeat offender.
It is amazing what one lives and works with in society these days. Finding out about these 2 psychopaths was creepy enough to make me sick. It was bad enough to loose absolute trust and confidence in Scofield whom I had once trusted and admired, however it was impossible to accept working with a T Rex sociopath of that gruesome a character, so I ramped up my job search. A few weeks later, Scofield moved me into a layoff, which was a pleasant thing to have happen, even though I was not to receive another job until 3 weeks later. The HR people were well informed of what was going on within the engineering department with the high voluntary turnover, and I was given a very nice layoff package. I also realize that my final treatment is not normally in line with what is usually given to the victims of a work place bully who often end up struck, run out of the building, or denied any layoff assistance whatsoever.