Yesterday afternoon I was told I would be giving up my office today and moving back into the pit to make room for a new administrator. The “pit” is the main office. It has 4 desks and currently 3 women, one of whom is my supervisor. I call them the mean girls club. I think that they are mentally stuck in high school and they’re the girls in the clique that whisper behind everyone’s backs. I sat out there when I first took this job and at first it was okay. Then they got comfortable with me. They’re loud and obnoxious and catty. Then came a conversation on instant messenger about another coworker that escalated to my supervisor jokingly saying she wished this other coworker would die. There is also a problem with the layout. The last desk simply doesn’t fit so the chair is in a walkway. There is no privacy, no personal space, and you’re constantly bumped into. This was a particularly difficult situation for me since I am already very self conscious of my weight and felt like I was in the way. I told my supervisor and our department administrator (the decision maker) that I was very distracted and unproductive in that environment. Within days we had a plan for me to move into an office once a doctor moved. They warned me that when we ran out of space I might have to give it up.
The problem is that over the course of the months I’ve had this office, I’ve developed such a problem with these women. I’m nice to them and they are polite to me. But they were unhappy I didn’t want to be part of the club and they made it obvious. One of them doesn’t even look at me or say hello. They “forget” to include me in department lunches. I watch them have their whispered conversations and disappear for hours at a time together. When the department administrator told me I had to move back in there, I said okay. I said I could deal with it. What choice did I have? I walked back to my office and it hit me and I cried. I fought the tears for nearly two hours while emailing friends and my husband. I feared for my mental health and I simply can’t afford to leave this job. I would find another job, but the job market here is still bleak.
Finally I sent a message to the one friend I have in this department and we took a 15 minute walk and talked about it. She brainstormed ideas with me and we came up with some potential options that I may have been blinded to if I had stayed in that place of mental turmoil. I was nervous about approaching the administrator but then I happened to run into her in the bathroom. I kept it casual and just made the suggestion that I move in with another coworker. Now, the girls here really don’t like this coworker and can’t understand voluntarily being around her. I’ll take some grief for that. But, if I can’t have my own office, I feel it’s the lesser of two evils. Truthfully, she’s not that bad. And we won’t be face to face, it’s an L-shaped office and she’s in the short section and I’m at the far end of the long section. She also works 10-7 while I work 8-5 and she’s out and about quite a bit. I will have to share the long side of the L with a part-timer but he’s a friendly, quiet guy who also chose to work in there rather than in the pit so I have no hesitation about sharing space with him.
It’s not perfect. But it’s tolerable and will keep me here in my job. It will keep me from dreading coming to work every day. I’m disappointed in my initial reaction but glad I recovered in a matter of hours. I’ve mentioned this to my therapist but we haven’t had time to delve into the issue of why I react so strongly to everything. Maybe next week we should take some time to explore it.