Am I a Horrible Person? The Debate Continues.

One of my (six) bosses wants to be my Facebook friend.

And it’s even oodgier than that. We kind of hate each other.

Maggie started her job as one of my (six) bosses exactly one week after I started my job as her eventual subordinate. This essentially means that neither of us knew anything about where we were working. You would think that would have made us allies.

Not so much.

I wanted to like her; she seemed fun, but also take-charge. She wore great shoes, but man, did she make bad fashion choices for her build (if you have rolls, do not wear spandex and tank tops. Ditto if you’re management. Hello?) And within two weeks of her starting the job, she had me in her office, talking to me about being a strong woman, and something about “we wish sometimes we were stronger in our personal lives, with men,” and then some sort of warning about not being “too” strong at work.

I had no idea what she was talking about. And this was just the beginning of the fun I was going to have with Maggie. That was one of about, oh, ten meetings I’d unwillingly have in her office, all of them unpleasant and one of them featuring her calling me “bitter, angry, closed-minded and closed-off.” None of which are true. (Well, wait: none of which had been true, up until that moment, when you’d better believe I shut down and got pissed but still stayed professional and calm). None of which are professional critiques. All of which made  one of my other (five) bosses tell me later that the meeting left him wanting his mommy.

Let me point something out, here: as you might imagine if you’ve read most of my posts (the ones that aren’t Music Mondays or articulations of my surprise at realizing who Osama bin Laden was before he became Osama bin Laden), you know that I have a pretty strong personality. When I started this job, in September of 2008, I pulled back on that a lot. It wasn’t that I wasn’t being myself; it was that I knew it was time to be a higher version of myself, a better listener, someone willing to learn from people who were better at what I did than I am. My new job was essentially a promotion in my business, and I knew that, despite a lot of experience, I had plenty to learn from this place and these people.

Maggie wanted me to be firm in what I wanted for my projects, but when I was, she got mad. It seemed to me, over the course of a year, that she was never happy with anything I did. If I said black, the answer was white. If I said yes, the answer was no. If I took charge, I should have backed down; if I backed down, I should have taken charge. She walked out of meetings that were created for her when I started talking. I would hear her across a room asking someone who did something she liked, finding out it was me, and falling silent. I couldn’t figure out which end was up. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I changed approaches; she changed approaches, and then called me inconsistent. Before long, she hated me, and I had no idea why she tensed up when I so much as opened my mouth.


Then I found out she had been keeping a list of real and perceived offenses and mistakes. She wouldn’t let me see it. She wrote up a two-page memo for my personnel file and nearly got me fired. She told me that I should consider taking a “reassignment” (read: huge demotion) “so that at least you’ll still have a job.”

I hated Maggie.

But then something happened. Maggie got cancer. She’s in her mid-40s and she wound up with Hodgkins Disease. I hated Maggie, but nobody deserves cancer, and I lost a young uncle to leukemia ten years ago, so my heart went out to her. Her first round of treatment worked. Then the cancer came back. More aggressive this time. So now, she’s having a bone marrow stem cell transplant. My uncle had one of those. It worked; he was producing his own healthy stem cells. But his body tried to reject the transplant, and anti-rejection medication is very hard on the organs. He died of multiple organ failure. I was there.

I didn’t tell Maggie this, of course. Seems mean.

She goes into the hospital, in my town (I live 45 miles away from work) Thursday. I told her she and her family should feel free to contact me any time they might need something in the coming weeks, since none of them are familiar with the city.

Then it happened. She requested to be my Facebook friend.

Aw, hell.

I have a policy against being Facebook friends with my (six) bosses. It’s just not a good idea, to my way of thinking. I also have a very strict No Bitching About Work On Facebook Policy, because it’s annoying when people complain about their jobs on Facebook, and because I don’t want to derail any future plan I may have. So I’m not worried about that. But still.

But… she has cancer.

My uncle had cancer.

She’s having a bone marrow stem cell transplant.

My uncle had a bone marrow stem cell transplant.

I’m being guilted into being Facebook friends with one of my (six) bosses. I feel like my uncle will haunt me if I don’t accept the request.

Ugh. Cancer sucks.

I haven’t hit the “confirm” button yet. I’m trying to figure it out. I’m sure she requested the friendship because it would be an easy way to contact me when she’s in the hospital and in the weeks afterward when she’s still in town recuperating. But I gave her my personal email address, too, and she told me that she or her family would call me at work if they needed something. Do I have to be her Facebook friend, too?

With Maggie, the answer is yes.

Unless it’s no.



8 thoughts on “Am I a Horrible Person? The Debate Continues.

  1. Great post, wish I had some great advice to go along with it! My last boss of 14 years was forever making me deliver bad news to people, and upon finding out they didn’t like it, would promptly do an about-face and deny it was her idea originally. God, we can be confusing bitches can’t we?!?

    • Ha! You get right to the heart of it. Yes, we can! And I have long had a theory, recently and without provocation backed by others, that this is a matter of Maggie not liking women. Thanks for reading and responding!

  2. I vote for a “NO”! I don’t think it makes you horrible at all.
    Confirming her as a friend at this stage in the game would be more like treating her as a “pity-friend”, just because she’s got cancer and you are feeling sorry for her.. ‘cos Cancer is crap and all that. Sure she needs support, but if you have offered her other forms of communication – it’s not like she needs this too..
    I don’t even “friend” colleagues, let alone any bosses (and especially not people who I don’t get on with) on Facebook. Good luck with your dilemma!

  3. Yikes. Voting No, you are not a horrible person. I too had a boss like this once, who almost got me fired. Nothing was ever good enough. And I’m glad I never found myself in your current no-doubt-fashionable shoes. And honestly, I would just leave the friend request in queue for a while (because that’s the wimpy, undecided way I deal with this issue in my own life) to see how things evolve as she is going through her treatment. You may decide it’s necessary and appropriate at some point, but right now, you’ve offered her excellent access to you, and given both the nature of and the animosity you have felt in your relationship, I think this is a boundary that should remain in place. Just my two cents worth.

    • OMG, I was totally going to do that. Just let it languish there. And hope she doesn’t, in the next 29 hours, ask me if I got it.
      And yes. My shoes are awesome. Today, they’re black silk slingback pumps with little bows at the outside of the base of the pinky toe.

  4. Don’t let her cancer dictate what you do, or make you think it excuses her behavior towards you. You can feel bad for her health situation, but it doesn’t mean you have to forgive her meanness towards you. You aren’t the one who has done anything wrong! As for Facebook, I would leave her request languishing, and when (of if) she asks you about it, just tell her Facebook is a personal thing for you and it is your policy not to mix business with your personal life. Then say, “Nothing personal.”

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