In middle school it might have been the kid with the absentee parents. He took his aggression and feelings of inadequacy out on smaller, younger, or less popular kids. With boys it was a simple mindless taunt (fag, retard, fatty) often accompanied by some minor physical abuse. Girls were even meaner. They found real, or created imaginary, flaws in their victims to inflict psychological damage that dwarfed the physical bullying of boys. Almost everyone partook in a little taunting, teasing, and unfair treatment of others from time to time. To deny this is to deny that your farts stink. Humans are fallible and oftentimes horrible. Virtually all of us have been major pricks at least a few instances in our lives. I have been one on more than a few instances. But there were, and still are, people who took teasing and meanness to different levels.
As they grew older, the intelligent bully became much more subtle in their nastiness. Bullies either became smart or, more likely, a larger percentage of smart people became bullies. Instead of openly attacking another person, they connive, plot, and twist other people’s opinions of their victim into something that isn’t true. They put on a play of smiles to your face, then smear your name with shit when your back is turned. If their goal isn’t monetary it’s to gain a position of power or to boost their low self-confidence, which quite possibly was heavily trod upon all those years ago as a teenager.
Up until recently, I worked at Amante Coffee, Uptown. One of the employees had become renown for doing sloppy, lazy work; being rude to the customers; and for talking mad shit behind all of the other employees’ backs to the manager, who this employee smartly became better and better friends with. This two-faced facade was blatantly obvious to everyone but the manager and store owner. As a boss, you’ve got to realize that people treat you differently than they do everyone else, and that no matter how long you’ve been working with someone, they’re always walking on a bit of glass around you. In some cases, an employee becomes an entirely different person around their higher-up. Our manager, as well as the owner of Amante, didn’t seem to get this. They didn’t get that they’d been used. That, or they’d just been turning a set of blind eyes throughout all the years. Call it laziness or dishonesty, both were part of the problem.
With enough whispering in the manager’s ear, the employee not only kept their job, which to me is quite simply baffling given the quality of their work and attitude, but they were also given a raise and moved up to assistant manager. This all happened about a month ago by the way. Things did not look good for the future of Amante or the quality of life for its staff. The employee wasn’t just bad at their job, they had been out for vengeance over every slight to their person, real or imagined. Giving someone like this power, someone with ill-intent and downright hatred for half of their co-workers, was an incredibly poor and dishonest decision by the management, and something had to be done.
Complaints had been made for the past two years about the employee, but the manager had simply ignored them. As a last ditch effort, my brother’s girlfriend Joslynn took one last stand against the decision and attempted to rally the rest of us together in opposition of the employee being given the managing position. Joslynn was fired. My brother Galen was essentially fired as well, though he’d been given the “opportunity” to stay on. Joslynn was crushed from losing her job in that manner and you’d have to be a fool to think Galen wouldn’t stand in solidarity with her. Galen quit. Then I quit. Just like that, Amante lost its two best employees (Galen and Jos, not me).
To stand up against a bully, especially when they’ve conspired their way into a position of power, took a lot of courage on Jos’ behalf. It was only fair that I recognize that with my own resignation. I don’t want to work for an employer or company that’s dishonest, that doesn’t treat their employees equally. Life is too short to be around caustic people, and if you can’t change them, can’t bring their actions to justice, the best thing to do is remove yourself from the situation. That might be seen as losing. But the real loss is to remain silent and oppressed. Sometimes you just have to say fuck it and quit. If you can’t beat ’em, leave. Don’t join ’em. Jesus, the last thing you want to do is join ’em.
P.S. Spruce Confections, just a block north of Amante, makes a fine cup of coffee. Just so you know.