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Emotional Vampires at Work

I’m ... new to the whole “having a real job” thing. When you work retail, if you don’t like working with someone you go to another part of the store. Or you change your availability. Or you wait three months and they get fired or quit.

When you share an office wall with someone who has very intense emotional needs (and they are male and you are female and societal expectations are what they are), it’s harder. We have to post our schedules on the door, so he knows when I am in here without a student, and he shares a wall so he can hear when flute isn’t happening. Within 2-3 minutes, he invites himself in, sits down, and starts to talk about all the things he needs to do to get [this place] or [his responsibilities] on the level. WHATEVER THE HELL “ON THE LEVEL” MEANS. I have yet to successfully secure a definition.

The thing is a.) he has no follow through b.) this place is never going to be on the level and c.) most of what he says is word salad, and I think he’s just talking to make himself feel superior to most of the people around him, who have either accepted what this gig is, or who legitimately don’t care to be anything except what they presently are. I’m actually starting to wonder if both of those things aren’t better mental health strategies? Like ... maybe stressing about “on the level” makes us both smug assholes?

I am ... sensitive. When other people foment their anxiety into whatever he’s doing, I get riled up. I have mixed feelings about some aspects of my job, and I have some (mostly legitimate) concerns about the direction of the department and the university. But I am also committed to being here for a bit. (And also couldn’t leave if I tried because some of what I need support-wise doesn’t exist here, and I’m trying to figure out where that comes from. Which is part of what he’s complaining about, but he’s been here for 3x as long and has had two shots at leaving, both of which he has blown running his mouth. But I feel like he is blowing my shot running his mouth, because I’m not getting anything done and when he leaves I’m too exhausted to do anything else.)

Asking if he can leave me to work doesn’t work.
Listening to him until he runs out doesn’t work.
Nodding and mm-hmming makes me crazy.

Do you guys have coworkers like this? What do you DO?


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