I think I know one of the reasons why I’ve been hating my job more than usual lately. Two people–a customer and a coworker, both malignant narcissists, have targeted me, deciding I’d make a particularly tasty meal.
Malignant narcissists have a certain look about them. They seem to all have beady, penetrating eyes. They seem to be able to see right inside your soul, but there is no warmth there. If their eyes are dark, they look black and bead-like. You can’t see their irises. If their eyes are blue, they are cold and steely, sometimes with constricted pupils. I don’t know if others are able to see this, or if it’s just my imagination. I don’t think it is though. The problem is, I’m usually not paying attention to their eyes until after they’ve already decided to turn me into their prey.
They always seem to go after me. I’m an HSP and they seem to have an uncanny way of zeroing in on me and choosing me as their target. I feel so special! 🙄
I have a lovely job cleaning houses. I’m being sarcastic of course. Sometimes it’s okay, though. It’s a good job for a writer because you see just about everything and meet the strangest people you could ever hope to meet. I’ve done whole posts telling anecdotes about the people I meet on this job and the crazy things I see.
About half the time I work by myself. I prefer it that way. As an avoidant introvert, it’s exhausting and stressful to have to adapt my personality to someone new every day, but lately I’ve been being partnered with a random array of newer people, I suppose to “train” them. They never tell you that’s what you’re doing though. We don’t even get yearly evaluations. You get no feedback at all by management. The only “feedback” you get is through the customers, who sometimes call the office to complain or give compliments. But of course customer’s opinions are going to be biased more often than not so it’s not a fair way to evaluate employees.
Last week I was sent with a new girl to go do a “first time in” at the house of a former employee, who I will call Doris. I knew this woman; I never liked her much but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I didn’t like the way she looked at me with those beady black laser-like eyes, and I found her manner vaguely condescending. I remember how much Doris had hated her job. She complained constantly about the customers, and she was one of the laziest people I ever met. She skipped doing things because she wanted to go home. She was always complaining about how sick she was (probably hungover). She thought the customers weren’t paying enough (to be fair, some of them aren’t). She also had a serious drinking problem. Sometimes you could smell the alcohol on her breath in the morning.
I was surprised when I got my sheet with Doris’ name and address on it, listing the rooms she wanted cleaned. I thought to myself, she’s either going to take sympathy on us because she used to do this and hated it so much, or she’s going to be hell on wheels. Guess which one she was.
Doris’ house was a disaster. It hadn’t been cleaned in at least six months. Dog hair and dust were everywhere. Empty wine glasses sat on tables. Doris saw me and my partner and the first thing she did was hug me. It was like being hugged by a snake. Then she offered water. But the niceties didn’t last. We looked around her house and realized there was no way we could finish it all in the three hours she was paying for. I told Doris I thought it might take closer to 4 or 5 hours and asked her if that was alright. She would have to pay more though. I told her the office could work things out with her about the price.
She whirled around and stared daggers at me. I felt like a cornered animal.
“I asked for four ladies, not two.” I looked at my partner, who was giving me that “uh oh” look. “Oh, but don’t worry,” Doris purred sweetly, dripping poison honey. “I know that’s not your fault. I’m sure you two can get this done in three hours.” Uh, right.
I called the office and was told they didn’t have enough people to send two more, so let the woman know this and apologized for the mix-up. The office is disorganized and has always been. “You remember how they are,” I said.
Apparently she didn’t. She was the customer now. It was as if she never worked there and her memory went AWOL. She showed no empathy for our plight at all.
I got busy dusting and vacuuming. My partner started on the bathrooms. For the first twenty minutes or so, Doris stayed out of our way. But soon she was back, breathing down our necks, especially mine. She glanced briefly at the bathroom my partner had cleaned and crowed on and on about how perfect it looked. Then she started dusting the bedroom, which I had just finished.
She proceeded to tell me all the spots I missed. Then she started telling me I was using the wrong equipment and should try doing it a different way. I felt myself bristle. I’ve been on this job for two years and I know how to do my job. I resented this nasty, drunk woman doing my job for me and saying I was doing it wrong.
For the next four and a half hours (which is how long it took to clean her filthy house), I had to put up with Doris breathing her alcohol-and-cigarette infused breath down my neck as she continued to get drunker and meaner. She made me do everything over at least twice. She obviously had it in for me, not my partner, who she left alone. For some reason, I had become her prey. I was to be her Cinderella for the day.
You are not allowed to be rude to a customer, even one who used to be an employee, so I bit my tongue the whole time. I put on my best fake-polite self and “yes-ma’am”ed this narcissistic bitch and smiled until I thought my face would crack. I inquired about Doris’ family, her dogs, her new job. I tried my best to be accomodating and friendly, but she was having none of it.
She had told us not to clean the kitchen, only to vacuum and mop it, because there wouldn’t be enough time. So AFTER I finished vacuuming her kitchen, this awful woman changed her mind and started scraping black crud off her stove and sweeping it onto the clean floor. Of course I had to go behind her and vacuum the kitchen again.
Our time was already up. But Doris chose that moment to stand in front of the foyer chandelier that had about 40 removable glass panels, actually tapping her foot and making tsk-ing noises. Cleaning that would take about an hour, and we had already agreed all I would do was dust it with the high duster, not actually remove the panels and wash them individually. But high-dusting them hadn’t removed the yellowish nicotine film from the panels (Doris is a chain smoker). She asked me why I had “skipped” dusting it. I explained that I had done what she asked, but that the panels would have to be washed but it would have to be on another day.
Doris’ mouth formed a thin white line and she hissed, “get the stepladder.” I did. She stood there watching me like a disapproving schoolteacher as I removed each panel one at a time and handed them to her while she rubbed them with a dirty rag and handed them back to me to re-hang. We were way past our time limit. Cleaning those panels took about another half hour and they looked no cleaner than they did when she was standing there tapping her foot and tsk-ing. I don’t know how I managed to hold onto my rage without exploding or walking out because by now I wanted to take a baseball bat to her damn chandelier and maybe Doris’ head too.
My partner had missed something in the half bathroom by the kitchen, and Doris KNEW my partner had cleaned that bathroom but she still started blaming me. “Lauren, you missed this spot on the side of the sink!” I couldn’t say, “it was my partner” without sounding petty and childish, so I just went and re-cleaned what she asked. I was shaking with rage by now.
A few minutes before we were about to leave, Doris told my partner how wonderful her cleaning was and that she hoped she’d come back. She said no such thing to me. Right in front of me, she handed my partner a $20 tip. I got nothing, of course.
As we were leaving, Doris stood in the doorway weaving, holding a wineglass with one hand and the other one clutching the side of the door for support.
“Oh, I just want to say I’m really not very picky,” she slurred. “It’s my husband. He was in the military and you know how they can be. He will be inspecting everything.” Sure, right. If her husband was so picky, why did he let her house get in that condition in the first place? The bitch was lying and projecting onto her husband.
The next day, Doris called the office to complain about how I “missed everything” but fortunately they didn’t take her complaint seriously. They know I do my job well and that I don’t normally get complaints. It still bothered me though.
I found out today that my partner went back to Doris’ house again yesterday (who, by the way, hated Doris as much as I did) with the person I worked with today. Doris was drunk again, and spent the first ten minutes complaining loudly about what a horrible job I had done and that everything I’d cleaned would have to be done over. The woman who told me this said that it looked to her like the other girl had skipped a lot of things, and what I’d done looked fine. She said, “I think Doris just had it in for you.” They always have it in for me.
I was going to talk about the narcissistic coworker too (a covert narcissist), but I’m saving that for another post due to how long this one became, and also because in writing this I’ve re-triggered my anger and need to think about something else.