The trouble with this week’s story is that it absolutely loses the anonymity I’ve been hiding behind this entire time, which is part of the charm of the tale. I’m going to try and be as impartial and fair as I can in the telling, as I still have strong feelings towards the people involved. As sporadically usual, all names have been changed.
That said, this is a doozy.
I used to work for a particular fashion company (we’ll call it DD) under a manager who in the beginning came across as friendly, confident and someone I wanted as part of my life. We had the usual sort of alternative things in common; we both liked heavy music, tattoos and coloured hair, so it was exactly a relief when I went in for the interview to see she was darker inclined as it meant I didn’t have to put on a work costume from day to day and could be myself.
Let’s call this boss, Ham.
Ham and I became close outside of work, we’d enjoy Friday night drinks together, costume parties; the usual fanfare. I confided in her about a lot of my life and she picked up pretty quickly that my boyfriend at the time was abusive. She’d ask me a lot about that, though I was in complete denial.
I’d get her these lavish presents for her birthday or Christmas, she’d in return splash her cash around and made sure I was never without drinks.
One time, I literally put in 142 fake entries to the business so she’d win the Employee of the Year award.
Basically, I adored her.
The problem with my adoration of people though, is that it usually always falls on people who never return it. I began to notice that my warmth was quickly snapped off by the coldness of her replies. A few small things about her began to strike me as odd.
Like how my diary would disappear from my desk for a few days and then magically return, but with pages missing.
Or when she took my second computer monitor away knowing I needed it and gave it to someone else so my work became even more difficult to perform.
Or when she’d hire new people and tell them I was “actually very mentally ill” and to just ignore anything I said about her.
Or how she’d throw random items of new clothing onto my desk and when I’d ask what they were; she’d wink, shrug and mean for me to just take them.
You know, just fun stuff like that.
She’d been in trouble before with the last one. We used to have sample sales of old stock at work where we’d get pieces for $2 each. They shut them down permanently after it was found out that Ham was buying up huge in our sample sales, then selling them with jacked up prices on her own eBay store. She had to have a big meeting with all the executive team to tell them about it, she cried and was let off with a slap on the wrist.
Ham always seemed to have the newest of our brand’s fashions, and I’d often ponder how she made her budget stretch that far. Even with our staff discount, the clothes weren’t cheap and she seemed to be splashing out $600 a week or more.
I started having a look into her orders and realised that she was putting through “test orders”. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do in e-commerce roles. You put in a $0 order so you can track how fast it arrives, and then return it back to the warehouse so that they can sell it on as normal.
Except that Ham was never sending back the clothes. She was keeping them or selling them on her eBay store again.
I questioned her in a round about way about this.
I could tell she knew I knew what she was doing.
And now I was a liability.
It was around this time my drinking problem flew into full effect. I’m not completely blameless in this story, oh no. But I can tell you exactly that a combination of a boss/friend who was rapidly turning on me for seemingly no reason, combined with an abusive boyfriend and a sick rabbit was a recipe for self destructive disaster. I began drinking a bottle of gin every night, and turning up for work hungover or still drunk. I missed some really important deadlines, got Friday Night drinks single-handedly shut down for abusing the 4 drinks max policy and bringing in my own alcohol.
I’m not proud of that. When they announced they were shutting it all down, all eyes were on me. I knew what I had done.
And yeah, I was terribly ashamed.
I knew the end was coming. I’d had multiple HR meetings, behaviour compliance papers I had to sign, I had to admit I was going to AA to get my drinking under control.
I broke down so hard when those words came out of my mouth. Ham and the HR guy held my hands and let me scream and cry.
Then Ham told anyone who would listen exactly what had happened in that confidential meeting. I was humiliated.
The day she fired me, she began to fake cry; as in she was making the sounds but no tears were coming out. “I never wanted any of it to go down like this, P”, she said to me.
I went completely stoic and grinned at her. “Don’t worry, everything will balance out just fine”.
My close colleague Tina walked me out that afternoon and put me in a cab. I looked her dead in the eye and said “Mate, take her down. Take it all down.”
Life went on after that. I hit the bottle even harder whilst I was off work, ended up getting mono, took a bunch of temp jobs, my best friend moved in then out, my rabbit got better.
After two months, I went back to work at the job I had before DD.
I bid my time. I used my contacts within DD to keep up with the gossip of what happened after I left.
It was 6 months after I was fired when the day finally came. Tina wasn’t having a great day and was messaging me saying Ham had started turning on her for precisely no logical reason. I saw red. It was enough to do it me but to start it up again on my close friend was the final straw. I didn’t want Tina going through the same horrible time I’d had there.
“Mate”, I asked her. “Just say the word and I make this all go away”, I private messaged her.
“Do it, mate”, she replied.
You see, there’s a funny little thing about sociopathic people. They seem to think everyone else around them isn’t as intelligent as they are. They don’t understand how empathy can prompt others to do things in the name of justice.
And they definitely don’t think about how I screenshot every single one of her zero dollar orders and emailed them to myself the week I was fired.
So off that proof went in an anonymous email to their HR department, along with photos of her wearing the clothes from the orders. The big boss tried desperately to protect her when all this came to light, but she denied everything, effectively lying whilst I kept sending in proof after proof.
She was fired the week of Christmas.
But the story doesn’t end right here. Oh no.
Ham is the kind of gal who keeps rising up from the ashes. Like a badly dressed phoenix. I know I said I’d remain impartial in telling this story so that’s the only dig I’ll take.
You see, Ham’s manager was also fired the same day as Ham was because he didn’t pick up on that she’d been doing this for the past five years.
And yet an “alcoholic, mentally ill person” did. Hmm…
Let’s call Ham’s manager, Terry. Because I actually can’t remember his name.
Terry ended up getting a job in a rival fashion company, we’ll call it Tori G. In a strange turn of events, one of the guys from my DD team, Bread, moved on from DD and over to Tori G. Once Terry got in there, he hired Ham who quickly pushed out Bread and sent him some truly awful text messages after she had done it.
I guess some people never learn that succeeding in business doesn’t mean you need to step on those who helped you out along the way. I still hear about her, I still wonder if she’s got the same scam going over at Tori G and is robbing them blind.
This is generally the part where most people would say “I guess I’ll never know”.
Except that I will.
Because my best friend just joined the Tori G team last week.