If they do it with you, they’ll do it to you

The trauma of being betrayed by a co-worker

Source: popcrush.com

Over a year ago, I lost my job in a re-org.

Now, one of the Evil People from Old Job has turned up at New Job.

And she wants to talk to me.

Until the re-org, I was happy at Old Job. I had a great boss and fun work.

Then my company was bought by a German company and the new owners brought in all these GE people (if you know anything about GE, this is where your blood starts to run cold) to run things.

Instead of getting European-style vacation, we got GE madness and meanness.

I was moved away from my great boss into a different group with a new VP, who henceforth shall be known as Regina (although at least Regina George was smart – VP Regina is just mean).

VP Regina, who came from GE, had all kinds of new rules that she did not articulate until after they were broken, like, we couldn’t expense the in-flight wireless on a work trip (even though my Great Boss had always approved that expense) or work from home (even though with Great Boss, I worked from home whenever he traveled, which was about 30% of the time, because he was the only person in my office I worked with – everyone else was in another state or Europe).

VP Regina inherited her admin, Gretchen, from the previous VP, Molly, who is nice.

Molly learned on Christmas Eve that the new CEO (from GE) was hiring a new VP.

Yes, the CEO called Molly on Christmas Eve to tell her that he was hiring someone to replace her.

Regina, new VP from GE Regina, would start at the end of January and that Molly would be demoted and be reporting to Regina.

So you see why CEO had to deliver this news to Molly on Christmas Eve.

This is who these people are.

They call people on Christmas Eve to tell them they are being demoted.

Gretchen became Regina’s admin.

When Gretchen worked for Molly, she was fine. I would talk to her and had a pleasant relationship with her.

But when she became Regina’s admin, she also became Regina’s spy, reporting on what my co-workers and I said and did.

I know our environment was nothing like East Germany or the Soviet Union, but there were a lot of very hushed conversations and wild wavings of hands to warn of the Presence of Gretchen the Spy.

After a year, Regina eliminated my position.

Let me re-phrase that: After a year,

  • Where Regina never gave objectives to anyone on the team
  • Where she visited our office only two times (she was in another city)
  • Where she called meetings for 7 a.m. the day before
  • Where she canceled 7 a.m. meetings at 10 p.m. the night before, which meant that unless you were checking your email that late (I was not – on principle, I refuse to work that late), you didn’t know about the cancellation until you showed up for the meeting. (And then she didn’t even explain why she had cancelled the meeting – I would have accepted a medical or family emergency, but she didn’t even apologize)
  • Where she told me the night before the team meeting that she was going to have me report to the person I had helped hire and train – a person who had no management experience. Where she told me the night before only because we happened to be walking back to the hotel together. Where if she hadn’t told me that night, I would have found out the next day when she announced her new org structure in the team meeting. That is, I would have found out in a room full of my co-workers that the VP was making the person I hired and trained – the person who had no experience managing – my boss.
  • Where she had even before making this org change considered making the person with only eight years of work experience my boss.

After a year where I was miserable and didn’t know who my boss was or what I was supposed to be working on (so I kept doing what I had been doing),

Regina eliminated my position.

(It was pretty clear to me by then that Regina did not like me, for whatever reason, and I was job hunting.)

Evil Gretchen was her henchman, collecting my computer and credit card and checking to make sure my vacation records were accurate and when she found a mistake in my favor (a mistake she had made), rather than let it slide, she made darn sure she got it corrected so I would not get an extra $1,000.

People I respected at Old Job were horrified and tried to use their power to save my job, but to no avail.

I got over it.

I got a new job.

I have PTSD from Old Job – I am still concerned every time my new boss wants to talk to me and I don’t trust compliments.

Regina used to tell me, “I talked to [whomever] and they really like the work you do!”

She always sounded puzzled when she said that, though.

And when she let me go, she was vicious, telling me everything I had done wrong in the past six months.

She had not shared that information with me at the time, when I could actually have done something about it.

But in general, new job is fine and I have moved past the Regina/Gretchen experience.

Last week, I saw in a presentation that included photos of new employees.

I thought I saw Evil Gretchen on one of the slides.

But maybe I saw it wrong? Please let it be wrong.

I texted a friend at Old Job immediately.

Turns out Evil Regina had fired Evil Gretchen last summer.

And now Evil Gretchen is an admin in my group.


My heart started racing and I started to sweat.

And then I thought, Texan, you are working from home. You haven’t even met your boss in person. And your team is 100% supporting a group that group VP really has nothing to do with.

The chances of running into Gretchen were almost nothing.

How would she even know I work at New Job? I don’t do anything with VP.

I calmed down and carried on.

And then on Monday, a Skype message popped up on my screen.

It was from Evil Gretchen.

I hit “ignore” immediately.


Turns out if you hit “ignore,” the sender knows you are ignoring her.

Just leave the message up until it goes away by itself. Then the sender doesn’t know if you aw it or what.

That was a mistake.

She messaged my again.

I hit ignore again.

Even if you ignore a Skype message, it will appear in your email under the “conversations” section.

I tried to ignore the messages from Evil Gretchen.

I tried.

Narrator: She failed. She did not ignore the messages.

But like Eve and the apple, I HAD TO KNOW.

I opened the messages. The second one said, “You don’t want to talk to me!”


The first one said something like, “Can you believe it?”

You mean, can I believe that drama from my past has come into my present?

Can I believe that karma is nasty enough that I cannot put that old job behind me?


Yeah, I can believe it.

Because it’s the time of covid and everything stinks.

I answered her.

“I’m sorry,” I wrote. “I am super busy. I can’t talk. And honestly, I want to leave all that behind me. I still have PTSD.”

I hit send and thought, Well, at least THAT’S over.

She wrote back.

“Let me know when you have time to talk!!!”

And I thought, “Did I not make myself clear?”

4 thoughts on “If they do it with you, they’ll do it to you

  1. i hope you will do EXACTLY what she said. That is, let her know when you are ready. And that will be … six weeks after NEVER. Just ignore her. If you even get back in an office and see her in person, you’ll need to be polite (so that you are not perceived as the bad girl) so prepare for that, but unless there is a BUSINESS reason that you must talk, email or otherwise communicate with her, stay away.

    I guess if you just cannot totally avoid her, then be prepared to say something like, ” You stabbed me in the back at XYZ Company, so I am not really comfortable being close to you here.” and keep it simple.

    Good luck.

    ps: You also need to be prepared to say some version of the above to your new supervisor (and perhaps other co-workers at New Co.) should Gretchen start to create problems for you again. Tough situation, tho.


    1. Yeah, I want to give her the Cut Direct, but that could have repercussions. I just never want to even think about her or her evil boss again. 😦 Fortunately, it looks like it will be months before we are back in the office. And my boss lives an hour away, so I think he is going to be very open to continuing to work a lot from home!


  2. You can effectively administer the Cut Direct by responding to her last passive-aggressive email with “I will!” (Of course, you will never actually have time to talk with her.) I am wishing you well with this yukky situation.


  3. As a veteran of many political corporate fights, I encorage you to build your alliances. With remote work this is more difficult to do, but answer all your co-workers’ requests with chirpiness and team player enthusiasm. Whatever else you feel. Even though you may not be working with Evil Gretchen, the world turns. You need to build your “brand” for being professional, upbeat and a person who is dependable and can deliver whatever deliverables you are supposed to deliver in your job. You must make your reputable unassailable. GE is typical of a mindset that is unfortunately fostered, nurtured, generated by companies that “increase shareholder value”. In the 21st century no job is secure, and most companies are looking at the contractor employment model as a norm. You worked hard to get your new job, defend it against the Evil Gretchens of this world. Have a elevator story about Evil Gretchen ready – she has shown herself to be mean & duplicitous – have your version in your back pocket. BTW the most damaging description to use is “unprofessional” and “not a team player”. Keep it short & keep it to that, or you will be deemed to be unprofessional. Just some well meaning words from an old dog here that will be working way past “regular retirement age”.


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