Conversations with Customers

My week as described by conversations I had with customers.


Monday… Customer 1: “I’m no longer the contact for this account. Please reach out to my coworker moving forward”

Me: “Ok, I have updated our list. Thank you!”

Customer 1: “DO NOT call me. I don’t have time to deal with your questions. So make sure your team knows to not reach out to me moving forward.”

Me: “Of course. I will make sure they know.”

Wednesday… employee reaches out to new contact. No response.

Thursday… employee reaches out to new contact. No response. Reaches out to backup contact who recommends another person. Reaches out to that person who says “yeah I’ll take care of it.” Person, unbeknownst to us, goes to customer 1 to ask for help.

Friday… Customer 1: “Why did your employee reach out to him?! He is NOT the right contact! I told you who to contact!”

Me: “I apologize. We had tried unsuccessfully to get a hold of the contact and were recommended that person. We will remove that additional person as a backup contact.”

Customer 1 “SHE IS HERE! She would have answered, clearly you didn’t try! Why would it take you 3 days to try?! And if you can’t get a hold of her then why didn’t you call me?!”

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Tuesday… documents given to me to process. Need to be completed by end of day Thursday.

Wednesday afternoon… haven’t had time to handle documents. Stay 2 hours late at the office to do them so they are not last minute.

Thursday morning… Customer 2: “Why am I just getting these now?! I should have had these on Monday!!!”

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Customer 3: “why did you mail this to me? It goes to one of my employees, not me. Why does it have my name on it? Now I have to walk over and put it on my employee’s desk!”

Me: “I apologize. I will work with our team to ensure your letters have the correct name moving forward.”

Customer 3: “Well how are you going to address this? This has never happened before, so clearly someone is not doing their job.”

Me: “I will speak with the whole team to ensure we are verifying the correct attention to. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention.”

Customer 3: “This seems like a basic task, honestly. I don’t know why you wouldn’t be able to just put the right name on it. It’s the same address, same suite number. Just change the name. How hard is that?!”

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Stop yelling teamwork at me!

There’s a thing in my office where if you email a thank you to a manager they respond with “Teamwork”. Because apparently that is the same as you’re welcome. I guess. 🤷‍♀️

I understand that it’s meant to be read like “hey, we’re in this together. We’re a team. I’m happy to help.” But the whole trend started from a micro-managing self-absorbed bitch. She’s not being a part of the team, she’s patting herself on the back. And it caught on. And I want to email back a punch in the face to everyone who does it. Thank god we can’t email punches in the face, I’d have been fired ages ago.

Personally I’m a “my pleasure” fan. Saying “you’re welcome” often seems fake since we all know that’s our mother whispering in our brain how to be polite. I used to always go the “no problem” route, but then I had to sit in a training about positivity in the work place and it was pointed out that it’s a double negative, so not an appropriate response. I still use it, just not at work now lol. So I go with “my pleasure”. And honestly, it usually is.

I actually like to be helpful, though still in a self centered way. My disorder often tells me I’m useless, worthless, or detrimental. I often believe people are better without me. I take genuine pleasure from helping others because it proves my mentally ill mind is lying to me. I don’t mind being selfish sometimes, but I don’t need to outwardly congratulate myself on being helpful.

So no, I will not follow the trend of “teamwork”-ing to thank you emails. And I will also not learn to punch people through email, cause that is a dangerous power to have.

Am I really though?

Something’s been bothering me for quite a while, and I can’t answer it for me. Maybe you can, and feel free to be honest. I’m on good terms with my meds at the moment so I can take it.

I shared my Misconceptions about BPD post with my therapist a while back and as we discussed she called me a mental health advocate, or something to that effect. But I’m not certain that is accurate.

I Googled “define advocate” and the definition that came up was “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.” My blog is public, but I am not. And that bothers me. I stay fairly anonymous, I can’t imagine what my office would think of me if they found this blog and knew it was me. But doesn’t that get in the way of my message? I speak to the stigma of mental illness in the office yet don’t speak to my office about my mental illness.

I often feel that I am part of the problem. I fall into the trap of keep it quiet so I’m not judged. I fear the repercussions of going public. I’m not ready to go public, but I hope some day I am. I want to think I’m a mental health advocate but I don’t know that I can at this time.

The big wigs are coming! The big wigs are coming!

So I step into the office Friday and a coworker at a nearby desk had just finished cleaning his whole cubicle. He mentioned that he heard “some big wigs” were coming into the office, so he made sure all was clean. Monday I saw facilities going above and beyond (and they do a great job daily, so this was like holy crap status), and the other people around me were all cleaning their desks too. Ya know, for the executives that would be briefly walking by, exhausted from a plane flight, concentrating on the upcoming conference, multitasking their work remotely. Because those executives are going to stare at your desk and critique it I guess?

The way I look at it, you don’t get to that level of management by spending more time putting away paperwork than doing paperwork. An office desk might look good, but how often does the executive work at that desk? Probably not often, which is probably why it’s clean. Everything is scattered in their home office where they’re hectically getting shit done 24/7. So yesterday, sure enough, big wigs were in the office for some conference. Ya know what? They didn’t stare at people’s desks, they didn’t judge, they didn’t really do much in the office at all. It was politely chat with people between meetings, that’s it.

Did I clean my desk? Yes. It was near spotless. But I didn’t do it for some random executive who probably has far more on his desk since he also has far more to manage. No, I did it for the piece of mind of those sitting near me. They were nervous, so I did what I could to ease that. And if that means Lysol wipes and a drawer full of my loose rubber bands and paperclips thrown in? So be it.

On the plus side? My iPad (which I’m typing this on) keeps recommending the word “coffee” when I start to type “office”. It knows me so well 😜

Diagnosed Workaholic

My first session with my current therapist was just over two years ago and after explaining how I had been “coping” for years and what was happening leading up to my pending breakdown she looked at me and paused, and then she simply said “you realize you’ve been self medicating with work for the past nine years, right?” Yes. Yes I did. The fact is I didn’t know how to cope so I worked too much in order to distract myself from myself. When I was forced to slow down, I couldn’t handle it. I was a workaholic. I’m not saying that to downplay actual addictions, but addiction runs in my family so I have always been excessively carefully with the actually addictive things, so I ended up turning to work instead.

The last couple of months at work have been nuts. I’m working crazy overtime and barely keeping shit together for my department. I had to cancel my last therapy appointment cause I can’t take time off work, and I still haven’t been able to schedule a new one. I’m too exhausted for crafts or games or anything that I used to do after work. I’m barely blogging, sleeping is hard, it took me a week to finally sew buttons onto my sons sock for sock puppet eyes. I wake up already exhausted, run on coffee and soda energy all day, and lie down with an exhausted body and overactive mind as soon as I get home.

But I realized today that in the last two weeks I’ve had almost no panic attacks. I have not had the constant urge to self harm. I have not cried myself to sleep or stared at nothing in the overwhelming emptiness of my lack of self. I have not begun screaming at someone out of uncontrollable anger held too long. My emotional extremes aren’t there. Today it occurred to me that I am doing almost no self care at all, so why am I suddenly stable? My meds didn’t change, so it can’t be that. Then my therapists words echoed in my head. “Self medicating with work.” Am I doing it again? Am I so overworked that my disorders have taken a backseat? I don’t know. But two years of practicing self care has at least taught me a couple things.

First, work does not define me. I have to keep reminding myself of that, and I do. No matter how much of my day is stuck on work right now, it does not define me. Second, it is important to not judge. I don’t need to judge my overworking nature at the moment, I simply need to be aware that it is there and that it will not last forever. That I need to keep working to build in more self care while I can. Third, I can’t make this permanent. I need to allow myself to slow back down as work slows back down. I can’t allow myself to get so used to this that I don’t stop.

I choose to be aware of my situation and my past so I can move past this. I choose to be healthy, even if it means that feeling good might not be from feeling good or from healthy practices.

I will not

I will not rage quit my job today.

I will not allow a single email to determine my career.

I will not allow this bitch to get to me, even after nearly three years of her hacking away at my mental state at work.

I will not rage quit my job today.

I will not stay up all night.

I will not be up all night afraid of the dreams that will haunt my sleep.

I will not allow my stress from the day to determine whether or not I will sleep that night.

I will not stay up all night.

I will not spend the day in tears.

I will not hide and cry all day over the devastation in this world.

I will not dwell on my personal experiences of loved once trapped in past shootings and replay the fear in my head while others face this new terror in their own lives.

I will not spend the day in tears.

I will not give up.

I will not forget that this day is temporary.

I will not allow the insanity of my current life and stress levels to destroy the future I am always fighting towards.

I will not give up.

I stand for my team

I report to two managers. I have learned what goes to who and how to work with both, but something has set off one of them recently. I have some guesses as to what, but what doesn’t matter, not when you’re coming after my team. She has begun telling me off for how I manage certain things that are technically under the other managers responsibilities, who is perfectly fine with how I’m running things. She’s pissed that she can’t control this aspect and it shows. She has begun demanding I start writing up my employees for things they have not done wrong. Most of the time I can protect them from that and they have no idea how I am standing up for them when they can’t see it. But occasionally I can’t, she finds (or forces) a way around me.

Yesterday one of my employees compared us to the angel/demon on the shoulders. That technically we say the same things, but it is so drastically different in approach that it feels like those two separate entities. This breaks my heart. No one should feel torn like this at work, work is stressful enough on its own. I want to merge the gap, but how do I do that without losing some of that “angel” side I feel they deserve?

When we have differing opinions she demands that I look at it from a “business standpoint.” That it isn’t her showing a lack of empathy, it’s her watching out for the business because she has to. Well I call bullshit on that! Want to look from a “business standpoint?” Fine, let’s do that.

There are numerous studies on the cost of employee turnover, a good starting point if you’re interested is here. Not only does it have strong explanations, but also links to multiple other studies and articles. In general it is estimated that for each employee lost the company is paying 1.5 to 2 times their annual salary to replace them. So let’s throw out a random number and say your entry level employee is making $12 per hour. Annual salary is $24,960 so the cost to lose and replace that employee will cost $37,440 to $49,950.

So here is one of numerous examples over the last few weeks. An employee is running in at the last minute and clocking in a few minutes late because she had to spend her lunch break getting her mother to the doctor. I am aware, and mention to try to get in a bit earlier and call if you’re going to be late, but that I understand that things sometimes make that hard. I don’t tell little miss “business standpoint” cause it’s none of her goddamn business. Someone else in the office complains and she pulls me aside to say it’s “embarrassing” to have someone else bring it to her attention and that I need to issue a written warning. I mention that the employee technically is on time, but I understand the perception issue and will speak to her. I will not issue a written warning as this has not been an issue in the past and in fact you had just complimented this exact employee on her timeliness. “Well I was looking at a different period of time. This is not acceptable to this business!”

So the following morning I chat with said employee and explain that there are perception issues that can cause concern if coming in at the last minute, and beyond that it is also more stressful for you as well. Try to get in about 10min early as often as possible to have that extra time to settle in and not feel or look hurried. She says that makes a lot of sense, and that she was told we would be “having this chat” but that it made a lot more sense than the previous afternoons conversation. What? Yeah, bitch face had pulled the employee aside after speaking with me the day before and told her that “if you can’t remember to come on time, you can’t continue to work here.”

So let me get this straight. A temporary timeliness issue in order to get your mom to the doctor is worth costing the company tens of thousands of dollars so you can show off your “business standpoint?” And this is one of numerous instances over the course of the last few weeks. I can only imagine what she’s saying to my other manager to see if she can get him to write me up while we’re at it. I only wonder if he will stand for me as much as I do for my team.

Can’t help but laugh

I’ve recently decided that I should stop using the phrase “I can’t help but laugh” because I have become very suddenly aware that it is nearly always towards a person and their problems. It honestly frustrates me that I didn’t think about that before. I work so hard to be sensitive to others, so how did I think it was an okay phrase to use when I see someone struggling?

I was in a leadership training at work earlier this week and during a break was chatting with some coworkers. Now by “coworkers” I mean they hold similar positions to me but we’ve never actually worked together or really know each other. So we started talking about topics from the training, a big one being stress management as a leader. One of these supervisors told me that she is amazed at how people can get so stressed and so emotional. “Why can’t they just deal with it and move on instead of letting it effect their day? I can’t help but laugh!” And in that moment I felt that she was literally laughing at me.

I am someone that needs to be taught stress management. I am pre-programmed to be highly emotional. I handle it well, I am high functioning, I can get through my days with success…. usually. But every few years it hits too hard. I loose my grip on stress relief techniques and have a breakdown. Sometimes I just need a quick stay-cation and med adjustment to get back to life, on rare occasions I need a short stay in a hospital. But I take care of it and get back on track. Why is that something to laugh at?

I’m sure I’m reading far too much into it, and should just shrug it all off like a normal person hearing a common saying, but it did make me think. So now if I find myself thinking “I can’t help but laugh” I will work harder to be understanding of what I don’t know about the person and their situation.

They’re used to it


I sat in the corner of a small room at the office, meditating to bring my mind back to focus and reduce the shaking in my hands. After a long night of bad dreams I needed to spend my morning break in meditation. Then an employee walks in to grab something from the room. Sees me there in half lotus, hands in prayer mode brought up to my third eye chakra, as the voice on my phone guides me to release the intention of my day into the universe. 

She quietly grabs what she needs, sneaks out, and closes the door with as little sound as possible. I walk back to my desk 10 min later and she doesn’t have questions, she’s not weirded out. In fact she was curious only about what meditation app I used. 

My team is so used to this by now. They’ve all walked in as I meditate before. During mindful meditation it is important to refocus your mind as it gets distracted by other things, so it actually helps significantly to practice that while they come in, plus it eases my tension more as I sometimes can’t help but giggle as they try so hard not to disturb me.

I guess the point to the story is (if there is one at least) coworkers are more accepting than you think, and often understand the need for stress release as they are facing work stress as well. So never be ashamed to find a quite spot in your office like an open layout supply closet, or a small conference room with limited windows, and meditate or pray or do some yoga poses. Practicing self care should be done everywhere, even at work. 

Take care of yourself during the day, and set an example for others to do the same. Unless it’s alternating nostril breathing. No Mrs. Therapist I will not practice alternating nostril breathing at work, that’s where I draw the line. 👃😜

At least it was a crazy straw

For a few weeks I’ve been basically at my breaking point, and just powering through. I found I could push through the day and then let everything just hit when I get home. Some nights that looked like staying up all night with panic attacks. Some nights was effectively surrendering to a depression that shuts everything down where I don’t sleep, eat, or talk, just sit there lost. Some nights were filled with nightmares, and some just with the stored up tears of stress. 

Today I couldn’t wait until night. Today I faced the straw that broke the camels back. One stupid little thing that I could usually handle, but today was too much. I ran to the restroom and proceeded to hide in a stall in silent tears for 20 minutes. Then busied myself with mindless work the rest of the day. I’m done. I’m so lost, and so stressed, and so exhausted. I worry about tomorrow, and if I can cope with whatever new crap I will face. But this season is just temporary, right? I hope so.