In my part of the country, good jobs are scarce, and it’s very difficult to find decent work, especially in the field of writing or publishing. So, to make ends meet (barely) I clean houses. Yes, I’m definitely underemployed (who isn’t these days?), but I’m really not ashamed of what I do — it’s actually not as bad a job as you might think. In fact, most of the time I rather enjoy it (though it’s certainly not what I had in mind as a career for myself and never will be). It’s physical, keeps my weight down, and most of the time I don’t have to interact with people much, which I like. I also get to see some beautiful homes and some customers tip.
When I work alone (which I prefer), I can zone out and let my mind wander as I clean. I barely have to talk to anyone at all. I hate office politics and having to socialize as part of my job. With this job I just let myself into a house, do what I need to do, and leave. I don’t have to sit in a stuffy office all day dealing with people I would never spend time with if I didn’t have to.
But I don’t always get to work by myself, and from one day to the next, I don’t know if I’ll be working alone, or with a partner, or if I have to work with a partner, who I’ll be working with. Aspies like me hate that sort of unpredictability. Sometimes I get to work with someone I get along with, but things don’t always work out that way.
Today I got stuck working with the company narcissist. Everyone hates working with this young woman, but they won’t put her by herself because she sucks and can’t be trusted. She also can’t drive. No one will ride in a car with her, because she can’t focus on the road at all. She texts while she drives, gets distracted, and almost wrecked several times. She also wastes time, and snoops through people’s drawers, closets and personal belongings (she hasn’t been caught stealing though). I heard an incredible story that in one customer’s house, she found a gun in a drawer and started waving it around in the air, saying “Hey, look at this.” She was reported for that by her partner that day but incredibly, she wasn’t fired. She also talks to customers about inappropriate things, but for some stupid reason, the company will not fire her. I have no idea why. She’s a ticking time bomb, a liability, and everyone hates working with her.
Here’s how my day went today. Initially I was to clean two houses by myself, and was packed up and ready to go. Then at the last minute, I was told I’d be working with a partner. My heart sank when I heard it would be this woman, who I’ll call Karen.
I told Karen straight out I would drive. She doesn’t like my driving so she took her own car (she doesn’t like anyone’s driving). That was fine with me because I didn’t want to have to spend time riding with her.
We got to the first house, one I’m very familiar with. She had never been in it before. She told me she would do the “dry” work (vacuuming and dusting) because she couldn’t bend over. I said that would be fine; I didn’t really care. I just wanted the day to be over with. I listened to Karen brag about how much all the customers loved her and how she never gets complaints.
I cleaned the bathrooms and kitchen. As I was cleaning the master bathroom, Karen loudly asked me who normally does the dusting and then complained that the person who was doing it wasn’t doing it right. I came over to look. There was a thin coating of baby powder on top of a dresser. I told her it was that way every week; the customers use a lot of baby powder. Karen argued with me, saying no, that couldn’t be it, the person who had been cleaning it wasn’t doing their job right. I informed Karen the person who was doing it was a supervisor and knew what she was doing. Karen still kept arguing with me, saying that supervisor needed to learn how to do her job right. I ignored her after that, and Karen started talking to the customer, who was working in his garage. As Karen always does, she started yammering to the customer about personal issues with her husband; I wanted to sink through the floor in embarrassment, but I said nothing.
We had no further altercations until after I finished cleaning the kitchen. Karen hadn’t even started vacuuming the downstairs yet. As always she was wasting time on bullshit, like spending 20 minutes arranging the tote of cleaning chemicals (she is very OCD too) and yapping to the customer who was obviously busy and just being polite. Instead of doing her job, she came into the kitchen and started cleaning it again.
I told Karen I had already cleaned it, and she said, “well if, you did your job right, blah blah blah…you missed, this, this and this.”
Whenever I had to clean this house (which I knew well) with anyone else, no one in a supervisory position over me ever had a problem with my work. I told her I resented her telling me how to do my job, especially because she hadn’t finished doing her own work yet and we had already been in the house far longer than we should have been. Karen’s response was, “Well, when you work with me, I’m your team captain and I’m supposed to check your work for quality.”
I found it hard to believe this incompetent, time wasting, snooping, yapping troublemaker would have been put in charge of anything. Besides, a team captain isn’t supposed to do their partner’s work over, just check it. But Karen was cleaning the entire kitchen which I had just finished a second time. I was livid. We had been in this house almost 2 1/2 hours; we should have been done an hour earlier. It never takes that long to clean.
Of course I started feeling victimized, wondering why the office would think Karen was a better worker than I was and putting her in charge, when no one else had ever complained about my work and no customers ever complained either. And although I’m not very fast (due to being older), I’m efficient and could have cleaned this entire house by myself in the amount of time we’d already been there.
I told her I didn’t believe her and was going to ask management if she was really put in charge of me that day. She shut up after that, and didn’t say another word to me, other than to tell me her back hurt and asked me to do her vacuuming for her. I conceded, while she sat in the car texting people and smoking cigarettes. I wound up doing about 75% of the work in that house, and we were there three hours when it should have taken less than two. To make matters worse, I would have to be sharing my commission with her instead of getting to keep it myself.
We finally made it to our second house but she was late, so I let myself in and started to clean it. I hoped she wouldn’t show up but she finally did. The customer wasn’t home, so Karen started looking at the designer shoes in the huge walk-in closet. I said nothing but made a mental note to tell management about that. Karen didn’t boss me around this time, but once again I wound up doing most of the work because she was complaining she didn’t feel well and had to keep sitting down. She left before the house was finished, leaving me to finish it by myself. I was actually glad to be rid of her. She was worse then useless.
I was still upset when I got back to the office and spoke to the manager. When I told her Karen had re-cleaned my kitchen and then justified that by saying she was my team captain, the manager cracked up laughing. She said, “Karen’s a troublemaker. I would never put her in charge of anyone.” I knew she had been lying, which was why she shut up after I told her I didn’t believe her and pretended to be sick after that.
I don’t know why they won’t fire Karen, but at least I know I won’t have to work with her again. My boss even said, “I knew I should have just let you work by yourself, so I’ll go ahead and pay you as if you did since it sounds like you did all the work anyway.” That was a big win, and I left work feeling much better.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted though, and when I got home fell asleep and didn’t wake up for hours.
That’s how narcissists can suck the life out of you.
Note: There seems to be a glitch in this post, with the large ad appearing at the top of the article. I don’t know how to fix that. I apologize if it looks tacky. It’s supposed to be at the bottom.