View Full Version : Stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. Help! (ultra long)

01-02-2008, 07:19 PM
i have a slight problem. one of my good friends at work, "matt", is a cool guy. we have lunch at school once in a while. but hes very very very anal. everything has to be done just so. his way or the highway type of deal. hes one of our two headcashiers and has been in that position for 2 years. that is longer than ive seen anyone last in that position. i myself only lasted 5 months before the sheer amount customer suckery got to me.

the other problem is "katie", who is...special. she has learning disabilities (normal, but has problems reading, and is a little slow on the uptake), but overall, she works hard and does her best.

her best is never ever good enough for matt. for example, katie moved away from her register while there was a lull in the action, and started to shelve special orders. matt immediately snapped at her to not go anywhere and to get back to her register. katie puts her head down and complies. katie is otherwise very independent and outspoken, but lets matt boss her around like this because she knows she can never win with him. matt pretty much beats her into the ground every chance he gets.

both of these people i consider my friends and hang out with them outside of work, so im really reluctant to choose sides. i was forced to at one point because matt comes to me and bitches, and katie comes to me and cries. i went to management and told them that they needed to have a talk with the both of them to get this shit straightened out because i was tired of being in the middle. management told me that they were aware of the issue and were working on it.

katie and matt get called into the office a few days later for what was supposed to be a thirty minute "you leave him alone, and you leave her alone" meeting. matt dragged it out for three hours.

three hours.

he is insistent that shes useless and should be fired. he doesnt know why we keep her. he makes comments that shes worse than our severely autistic morning shelver. calls her retarded, etc etc.

when i said that she wasnt doing anything (in reference to the "get back to your register" thing) he said that was exactly the point, that never does anything and is lazy.

i dont argue with him for 2 reasons: one is that i probably cant win against his superiority complex, and two is that id probably kill him.

it got pretty bad in the lead up to xmas. i was helping out up front when a guy came to my register and said that he was charged the wrong price for something. as i was fixing it, i pushed the "shrink" key, the button that, in essence, shorts the company money. the difference was a dollar. matt comes over and flips out that i pushed the evil button and tells me that im supposed to use the "discount-$ amount" key instead. i ask him why would i do that when the item is not discounted? the price is wrong. im changing it because its wrong. thats what its for. if we're not supposed to use it in these types of cases, why is there even a button?

he continues to throw a fit, so i just do it his way so the poor customer can be off. after the customer leaves, i argue with him a little more and he breaks out the "you should be headcashier then" card. "youre forgetting that i was a headcashier. i was smart enough to get out when it got too stressful."

"yeah, but you never had to work with katie when you were headcashier."

"umm, yeah i did. shes been here longer than both of us."

"Well, you're not supposed to use that button."

"whatever. i work the way ive been trained and the way it makes sense, not the way you think i should work with your arbitrary rules. im not katie. you cant push me around."

there was one other instance that i need to mention. matt thought he was getting an "exceeds standards" on his review. he did not. and proceeded to tell everyone that he was going to fight it. then he got mad when people starting talking. :confused: eventually, that lead to him leaving me a nasty message on my phone saying that hes "not hanging out with people from work anymore because all they do is talk shit." so that was the end of our lunches at school for a while.

i dont think he realizes that he's alienated a lot of people. and i dont think anyone can tell him, because theyd be wrong, and hed be right.

so, the purpose of this ginormous post was to get some input. what do you all think? i'll continue to support katie any way i can, but id like to do it without butting heads with matt. im afraid of what would happen if we got into a fight.


01-02-2008, 07:51 PM
Okay, now I'm going to start sounding like a broken record, and need to post this link over in Check It Out.

It is impossible to change the character of another.

Matt has made his choices about how he will treat others. The only thing for you to do is to decide how you will react.

Personally, my choice would to be to say "This really sucks. But Matt will not accept the offers of friendship or help right now. Hopefully, someday, he will come to his senses and do so. Until then, I will go on with my life."

It might not be what you wanted to hear, but I hope it is of some use.

01-02-2008, 08:53 PM
What Pedersen said.

Also, your friend, Katie- because she is the only one in this situation who is BEING a friend to you- deserves not only support, but she deserves to know her rights. She has a learning disability, and he calls her 'retarded' in front of management and demands she be fired?

That is what we call harrassment. She should inform him- with you there for backup- that if he uses her learning disability against her through name calling, telling management to fire her, or discriminating against her at work while he is in charge, she will file a complaint of harrassment with the proper authorities. She should also begin keeping a log of every single incident in which he harrasses her relating to her learning disability or makes rude comments about either her disability or the person with Autism. This should be a written log with date and time.

If he does persist, after being informed that what he is doing is harrassment and that it will be reported, DO. The mandatory posters that tell you what discrimination is prohibited have the relevant information on where to report it.

01-02-2008, 08:59 PM
I think the problem here is in your second sentence:

"one of my good friends at work, "matt", is a cool guy."

How so?

According to you, he's abusive to handicapped people, pig headed, abusive when something goes different than what he wants, bossy, sulky, and arrogant.

Why in the world do you think he's cool, value his friendship, or want to keep being friends with such a person?

I think it's less a question of "how can I keep my friendship with this cool guy" and more of " I enjoy eating lunch with this guy, but he's so arrogant and nasty I'm having a hard time staying in his good graces."

Why are you trying to? I would offer here that you have less of a friendship and more of a bad habit.

Sometimes you have to access the worth of relationships and if you decide they are taking more from you than they are giving, terminate them. I wouldn't consider the loss of this guy's regard as any real loss, he sounds like an awful person.

01-02-2008, 09:47 PM
Does the young lady have any family that is involved in her life? Maybe you could let them know what is happening and let them handle the issue? If not the only thing I can suggest is to document the details when things happen and keep taking it to management. One thing for sure... he isn't a cool guy. A cool guy would never treat another person this way.

Steve B.

01-03-2008, 03:13 AM
i think i need to clarify: this behavior only started within the past few months. i have been friends with him for almost 7 years before this. he wasnt always such an asshole. there is other shit that i know about in his life and while that doesnt excuse anything, it certainly explains some of it.

i do appreciate the suggestions, though. thanks for the advice so far.

Secret Shopper
01-03-2008, 07:27 AM
i think i need to clarify: this behavior only started within the past few months. i have been friends with him for almost 7 years before this. he wasnt always such an asshole. there is other shit that i know about in his life and while that doesnt excuse anything, it certainly explains some of it.

i do appreciate the suggestions, though. thanks for the advice so far.

Maybe he has started using illicit substances, specifically methamphetimine? We are seeing a lot of patients come in meth positive.

01-03-2008, 08:25 AM
I won't hazard a guess as to what's going on with Matt. but he sure is creating a hostile workplace for Katie, AND you, and I would presume everybody else that has to work with him.

He needs an attitude adjustment, and soon!

01-03-2008, 04:31 PM
Wait a sec...he called a coworker "retarded" to management and they did NOTHING????

01-03-2008, 04:41 PM
I know! He's creating a hostile work enviroment for a handicapped person, and they're just letting him do it. He's not the only asshole here. :(

01-03-2008, 08:33 PM
I won't hazard a guess as to what's going on with Matt.

I will. Sounds like narcissistic personality disorder to me (yes, there is such a thing).


"Matt" sounds like a textbook case if you ask me.

01-03-2008, 09:31 PM
My guess would be that if this is a recent issue (just the last few months), then outside life problems are intruding. Probably there are things in his personal life that he feels he can't control, so he tries to control everything at work. Additionally, there are obvious anger issues underlying his behavior.

I work with someone like that. Instead of managing her personal life, she tries to manage everything at work, except she's not a manager or supervisor, which means she just gets people angry, and she gets in trouble. But she won't face her personal problems and deal with them.

Unless Matt starts facing his personal issues, dealing with what he can, facing up to what he can't, he's going to be out of a job, which will make those personal issues a lot harder. He's got to work through what things are making him feel so helpless and angry and quit taking them out on those he thinks can't fight back. It's the child who was abused, who grows up and then abuses children. When people see in others what they view as weakness in themselves, they strike out at it. Katie appears helpless and weak to Matt. He's apparently feeling helpless and weak.

Frankly, if you can't get him to see what he's doing, then you have to step back and defend Katie. You can help Matt outside of work, but while you are all there, he needs to know exactly where you stand. You can't sit on this fence.

01-04-2008, 01:21 AM
I'd suggest one round of "You're angering a lot of people Matt, tone it down." After that it's "Call me when you get your head on straight." Seven years is a long time, but when someone's being an ass, friends or not, you can't waste all your time trying to get through to them. So give it a good effort, and then cut him loose until he gets his head on straight.

01-04-2008, 04:50 PM
Someone who used to be a very, very dear friend of mine unfortunately turned into someone I was frankly embarassed to continue to stand up for. We don't hang out anymore. I don't dislike him, but his behavior clearly wasn't going to change and it was not something I wanted in my life. It sucks, but sometimes you have to walk away if things continue to deteriorate.

I think a heads up on Matt's behavior is probably in order, but if he continues to ignore how he's affecting others, a wake up call is in order. Losing friends can be a wake up call.

Continuing in a friendship with a guy who abuses handicapped people while ignoring protests from everyone else he works with is not going to do either of you any favors. It's bad for him because he is able to find sympathy with someone. It's bad for you because now you risk being labled with being someone who hangs out with assholes.

01-04-2008, 05:03 PM
one of my good friends at work, "matt", is a cool guy.

Actually, he sounds more like a raging asshole to me.

i think i need to clarify: this behavior only started within the past few months. i have been friends with him for almost 7 years before this. he wasnt always such an asshole. there is other shit that i know about in his life and while that doesnt excuse anything, it certainly explains some of it.

You are right. It doesn't excuse it. At all.

If you do care about Matt, and you feel that this behavior is a change from the norm, you might want to have a frank discussion with him. As in, "Hey, Matt....you've been a major raging asshole lately."

Yes, that's blunt. But you know what? At various times in my life, I have had friends point out to me that *I* was being a raging asshole, and they pointed out how. And I took a step back, looked at my behavior, and realized something.

I was being a raging asshole.

And I went about adjusting my attitude and behavior.

Of course, if you say this to Matt and he continues to be a raging asshole, that is when you probably should just wash your hands of the whole friendship.

01-04-2008, 05:43 PM
As unfortunate as it sounds, sometimes friends do end up becoming different people and need to go their own seperate ways.

I know how it feels to have a friend change over time. I've had many friends in my years on earth, none of which have lasted very long. They have always turned out to be different people after a certain length of time. You have to ask yourself is it worth it, to be their friend? If their behavior/demeanor bothers you, irritates you, humiliates you, why suck it up and stay their friend?

To be totally honest, I am ashamed and will flat out deny ever being friends with certain people. When they turned around and showed their true colors, I had to go through a mourning period, and then just cut it off...

It's up to you. What's more important? Keeping this charade of a friendship afloat with this unsympathetic raging asstroll, or standing up for what is right for a girl who probably CAN'T stand up for herself? You decide. I hope you make the right decision.

01-05-2008, 11:20 AM
I'd suggest one round of "You're angering a lot of people Matt, tone it down." After that it's "Call me when you get your head on straight."

When my nieces or nephews (genetic and honorary) are totally out of line, we tell them 'go to your room and come back when you're ready to act like a human being'.

It's time to send Matt to his room.

As for Katie, someone needs to help her learn and understand her rights, and how to stand up for them, if she's capable of it. Search her family and friends - including yourself - for someone willing to teach her.

If she's not capable of understanding her rights and standing up for them, she needs an advocate. Disability services where you are, if they're good, might have someone who can be her advocate - it is a role social workers take on when there's funding. If there's not the funding for a paid advocate, help Katie search her family and her circle of friends for someone willing to take on the long-term task of handling discrimination and harassment situations like she's got at work now. At minimum, there should be someone in her family/friends who's willing to handle this current situation.

01-07-2008, 12:43 PM
I experienced some major attitude recently from someone I'd once considered to be a close friend. It wasnt a change of personality; it was his ugly side coming to the fore. We all have one. What we do with it, depends on us.

I don't know why Matt started showing his ugly side now rather than, say, all the time (so people could avoid him), but the truth is that he's:

Creating a hostile work environment.
Abusing a hardworking fellow employee.
Attempting to impose his own rules on the entire store.
Refusing to listen to reason.
Willing to waste a customer's time to make sure things are done his way.

There's no taking sides here. If my best friend were doing something like that (not that she ever would), I'd ask her if she had any idea what she was doing. In Matt's case, I think he's well aware of what he's doing. This may even be his way of getting himself fired, so that he can have yet another chip to add to several he flaunts so proudly on both shoulders. Just let him be an asshole, and don't have anything more to do with him.

01-07-2008, 12:57 PM
Uh, I hope you saved the phone message. Methinks it's time to start asking that MATT leave. Harrasing co-workers over the phone after a "leave each other alone" meeting? "Bye-Bye" time

Geek King
01-07-2008, 02:44 PM
Am I the only one seeing the major change in Matt's situation? The big thing that has changed, if I'm reading right, is that Matt has been given some authority over other people. Some people do not handle having power well, and Matt seems to be one of those.

You mention that he has always been anal about his work, well now he has the position to force everyone under him to conform to what he feels is the right way. I think the position has gone to his head. Jester's advice may be the only way to knock the chip off his shoulder, and even then it might not work. I wish you luck, but be prepared to write off this friendship.

01-07-2008, 03:13 PM
Sorry to hear about your situation.

I worked with a similar fellow, and I got really good at thinking to myself, "Kevin does not sign your paycheck...Kevin does not sign your paycheck."

Sadly, Kevin was mentally ill, no joke, and eventually was fired. I always wondered if he'd been fired before he was so far along in his illness, he'd have taken it as a wake-up call and gotten the help he needed.

He never called any of us retarded, though, and it seems like that would be a fireable offense. The company would be protecting itself against lawsuit, as the ADA could run with that. What is management thinking?

01-07-2008, 03:15 PM
for those saying that he should be fired- probably. hes been an ass for awhile and confrontational with management. but theres simply no way theyd fire him. hes too good at the rest of his job for one thing, and for another are you kidding? thatd mean wed have to train another head cashier. management doesnt have time for that nonsense. pfft. train someone new? unpossible.

as for katie, her family is a bunch of enablers. they dont trust her to handle her own finances, so her dad basically pays her bills for her and then gives her an "allowance", and her sisters just use her as a babysitter. her mom was the only one that encouraged her, but she died in '06. there are so many of us at work that are willing to help her, but her family holds her back. she was supposed to take some college classes, but that fell through and she hasn't done anything about it.

this is all very frustrating.