I’m the newest most experienced hire in my department and there’s a nasty bit of friction among two of my coworkers, who I’ll call Ann and Betty.
Ann and I started off on the wrong foot. We had quite a lot of difficulty working together and getting along —we have very different energy and work styles, and there’s an age gap— but we confronted and resolved our issues and found our common ground, of which we have quite a bit. By lunch, she was treating me like a big sister and grilling me for relationship advice. At the end of the day, I’d stayed after I’d already been dismissed to help Ann wrap up a project task because it felt good that she and I had finally learned to get along. My staying late introduced Betty into the picture.
Betty and I never scheduled together, and I see her only in passing once a week. Usually, when she clocks in, I clock out. Some days I’m dismissed earlier and don’t catch her at all. Betty is someone I don’t know.
Which is why Ann and I were both stunned when Betty tossed a sneering clapback my way in response to my harmless, friendly comment about votive candles. And so I asked Betty about her disproportionate reaction. I couldn’t imagine it was personal, I added, since we’d never had the opportunity to exchange more than two sentences until now.
But I had been pretty certain that Ann had begun complaining about our issues to Betty on the days that they were scheduled together. They’d worked together for a while before I was ever hired, and Ann and I had, after all, only just made it over that hurdle that day. But we were both relieved to have talked things out, her so much so, that she’d informed Betty of our new understanding almost as soon as she’d arrived that day. Before, that is, Betty chose to become overtly hostile with me. The last time I’d seen Betty, she’d snapped, “You can go now,” at me the moment she stepped in. Now she was escalating.
“I don’t need to know you, I know my friends. Ann hates you, Fran hates you, Stan hates you,” she spat. “Everyone hates you. Everyone thinks you’re a bitch.”
Which is right about when Ann jumped in with, Dude. Stop. Not Cool. Betty stormed off, and Ann apologized for the scene, with no apologisms for Betty’s bad behavior. She immediately made her views clear to Betty as well.
Ann theorized to me that Betty is motivated by jealousy and mean girl pack mentality. She’s clearly unprofessional and unhinged enough to aggressively insert herself in friend/co-worker’s beef with a fellow co-worker after a truce has been met. She is one of three other people in my department with whom I share a job title. She and I are never scheduled together, but that could change any time someone needs to trade shifts. I dread the day that happens. I don’t imagine it’s farfetched that she might become physical.
I don’t even know what to do in this situation. I feel like bringing the situation to management’s attention will ultimately reflect poorly on me. That even if she is accountable, I’ll be thought as someone who catalyzes drama and also apparently everyone hates?
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