This one isn’t going to be sweetness and light, people. It’s unfortunate that this, my last post from Jamaica, has to address a (frankly) disgusting issue, but address it I must. It’s not a rant but I feel the need to deal with this subject that has affected me personally in the past and that recently came to my attention again. It’s something that makes me feel sick to my stomach.
When I was twenty-seven years old, I started working on a contract basis at an investment house that was a subsidiary of a bank. This was a few months after I returned to Jamaica with my brand new masters degree from one of America’s top universities. Within one year of starting at that job, I was made a permanent member of staff and within another year I was made a supervisor; within another year after that, I was a manager. These things happened in quick succession because of the quality of my work and my work ethic – many mornings I turned on the office lights and most nights I worked well after much of the other staff members had gone home, often following that up with more work done at home.
About two years after I started working there, someone mentioned to me that there was talk that I was simultaneously sleeping with three different men in the company and that was why I was doing well. Because I knew the hard work I was putting in – not with a view to advancement but because I don’t know any other way to work – it hurt when I heard what people were saying about me, which I hadn’t suspected for even one minute. But I recognised the jealousy and bad mind in the sentiment, took the hit, put my head down and continued working hard on whatever was assigned me to do.
Just after I turned thirty years old, I was made a vice president of a different subsidiary of the same bank. This subsidiary had been recently acquired and was in terrible shape, and since my specialty was fixing broken processes and making a company’s operations better, I was seconded to this new subsidiary to do just that. My boss (a woman) decided that I needed to be in a position of unquestionable authority in order to accomplish what needed to be done so she moved me there as a vice president. I was scared out of my mind because of the new level of responsibility, but I dug in and worked hard there too. Uncountable early mornings, late nights and weekends later, I successfully completed the work I was sent there to do.
Then I moved on to my last company. They were looking to put more of a focus on their customers and since the type of work I did generally tended to result in happier customers (because of more efficient processes and operations, if done right), through a contact who used to be my old boss’ boss when I had previously worked there years before (is that confusing?), I was hired as a vice president to help the company raise its focus on customers. I turned thirty-three years old a month and a half after I started that job. Again, I was scared out of my mind because this was a much larger company and my mandate was bigger than any I had before. But again, I took up the challenge, dug in and worked hard, among other things winning local awards for the company and – based on data, not conjecture – improving customers’ experience overall.
However, as you know by now, and for reasons still not clear to me (and about which I could not care less) after five and a half years my ex-boss decided that I was no longer necessary or required and made me redundant.
Fast forward three years to a few weeks ago. Someone who has worked at that company for years (long before I got there) invited me to meet up one evening. Guys, there are exactly four people from that company with whom I keep in touch and this person is one of them; since I left there, the person checks in on me from time to time to ensure that I’m doing alright. So I said sure, I’d meet them for ice cream at a popular spot. Through the course of a meandering conversation as we devoured our ice cream, the person shared with me that much of the staff at that company have always believed that I got my job there because I was sleeping with my ex-boss, that eventually I was sleeping with six of the seven men on the executive team at the time, and that my boss decided to let me go because he got tired of sleeping with me.
I was stunned but tried to wave it off as just more corporate bad mind. The person insisted that wasn’t the case this time; apparently, it’s believed by these same people at the company that most of the men in question would fall on any young thing in a skirt so since I was working in their ranks they must have fallen on me.
Guys, I was sickened. I was sick to my stomach. I was so sickened, in fact, that I had trouble falling sleep that night, and you guys know that I don’t lose sleep just like that. To be honest, because of my experience years before with disgusting rumours of the same ilk, I wasn’t particularly surprised. But I was sick to my stomach. I never suspected that this was happening behind my back all that time. I was also unsurprised at my cluelessness because I just don’t think like that and I hopefully never will.
As I lay in bed thinking about it, I tried to pinpoint what exactly was making me feel so disgusted. It was a few things.
First, it sickened me that it never occurred to any of these people that my brain, my attitude and my willingness to work harder than many others could account for my success in life. Nope, because I was young and attractive I must have slept my way into my job and I must have been sleeping with every jackman to keep it. Apparently, both men and women (even more sickeningly) in the company thought this of me. I’d bet cash money that they don’t automatically assume that a young, attractive, upwardly mobile man has slept with anybody to get where he is, though.
Furthermore, it sickened me that although the evidence of my productivity and effectiveness should have spoken for itself, never once did that entice these people to consider that they may have been mistaken in their initial unwarranted assumptions of me.
The other thing that sickened me, perhaps even more than anything else, was the hypocrisy of it all – these people who, for five and a half years, smiled and laughed with me while thinking these gutter thoughts about who they believed I was. How do you do that? How do you hold someone in contempt like that (for what else could they have been doing except holding me in contempt to think and speak such things about me) behind her back but still treat her to her face as if you think she’s great and wonderful? People, I can stand many things but a hypocrite is not one of them.
So as I drove away from the ice cream meet-up that night thinking of what had been revealed to me, I considered the people I used to work with and the thought of them made me feel sick to my stomach with disgust. I’m even more glad than I already was that I left them behind, for why would I want to work with people who think like that and don’t hesitate for one second to malign a person’s character and reputation by spreading unfounded, untrue and disgusting rumours?
I can’t do anything about what people choose to think of me but it still makes me sick to my stomach that they’re like this. So good riddance to every one of them. For their own sakes, I genuinely and sincerely hope they never reap what they have been sowing with their poison and toxicity.
Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV)