Well, Shut My Mouth! My New Experiment.

March 23, 2012

have recently learned a valuable lesson for the workplace that I would love to share. I have been working since I was 15 years old. Anyone would think that I would have learned this lesson sooner but I am hard-headed. Usually at work, I find one person who I get along well with and that person becomes my confidant. I usually tell the individual anything. Well, not any longer. I’ve had an individual at work who I share things I find out with. This person has betrayed my trust. I will never speak to this person again…Well, outside of work related speaking. I confided in this person and the individual went, told my boss what I had said which resulted in me getting a write-up. Her name is Ms. “Theater”

This person also told me the other day that my boss had said that I was a trouble maker. I can be a trouble maker and that is a terrible flaw but I choose not to be. We all have flaws. No one is perfect. Being a trouble maker is a flaw of mine but I make a conscious choice not to repeat EVERYTHING everyone says to me because they are telling me in confidence.

The recent situation at work brought the fact that I need to shut my mouth even more than I already do. I will find someone to confide in outside of work. Someone who is not family. Actually, I have someone on the other side of the world to confide in. Next, I won’t talk to anyone at work unless it is work related. I will pick two additional topics to discuss at work that will lighten the mood and improve the work environment. I will discuss gardening and perhaps my pets. Nothing else.

For the next year, I’m going to document the days events, what I talk about and what people say to me. I want to see if my actions can improve my work environment. I want to insure that any problems I have in the workplace are not because of me. I believe that if you have a problem, you should look at yourself first. Address any issues you are bringing to the table, then look outward. Work should be enjoyable. We spend one-third of our lives at work.

It is always best to never discuss anything in the work place that doesn’t concern you. This is especially true if it concerns a supervisor or boss. People love to talk and gossip. Find a confidant who isn’t related to the work place. A therapist is a wonderful confidant. He or She will not call your place of employment and tell them everything you have discussed. Co-workers are NOT your therapists. They are not bound by the Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association.

Todays date is March 21, 2012. Day 1 of my experiment. I had a pretty good day today. I had a few complaints about some work related things that weren’t done correctly but I kept my mouth shut and fixed any problems. They were minor anyway and the mood at work was light. Everyone was in a good mood and everyone had a good attitude. Everything ran on time as well. I have a partner I work with most days. She is great to work with.

I thought about the other person telling me that my boss had said that I was a trouble maker. I didn’t say anything even though I want to. I would love to go in and say “Oh by the way, Ms. “Theater” told me that you said that I was a trouble maker.” unfortunately, that action would make me one so I have to let it go. I want my boss to know that I am not the one who is causing all the hostility. I suppose it could be that we all in phases create some hostility. I don’t believe it is possible to work in any setting for any extended amount of time and there not be conflict.

I have created a new rule for myself. I won’t participate in certain conversations. I overheard a conversation between two people today. I was proud of myself. I excused myself from the area. There you go. Problem solved. People can talk about any topic. If it will get me or someone in any kind of trouble, I move on as fast as I can!

Since today was such a good day, there isn’t much to post. I’ll stop now and continue on tomorrow.

Todays date is March 25th, 2012. I am returning to work today after two days off. I know that I will be working with the employee who “got me into trouble”, although it was my mouth that really got me into my “wreck”. I plan on being all about work today. I’m just going to get my work completed and stay busy. I don’t plan on saying much today. I’m going to keep my lips pressed together. I had an opportunity to pry and talk yesterday to another co-worker but I don’t like to discuss work at home. I’m very proud of myself.

The employee who tends to repeat everything I say to the boss also says things herself. She calls employees who are subordinate to her names in the presence of other employees and subordinates. I have heard Ms. “Theater” call my other co-worker a “bitch” many times. I have witnessed Ms. “Theater” call my co-worker names in front of offender workers. I have never reported that but as many times as this individual has “thrown me under the bus” I want to report her to our boss and let her know what it feels like to be treated that way. It is no wonder that the recidivism rate is so high. Look at the examples offenders have in front of them. I’ll keep my mouth shut and share everything with my cousin who lives on the other side of the world.

When I arrived at work, I noticed that my boss was there. I was glad because I knew that he would keep things smooth around our department. I did what I set out to do. I was strictly about work and got the job done. I had to show my boss some things that weren’t done on the days that I was off. There were log books that weren’t filled in. This was in two different places. There were also other items that weren’t placed correctly. These things can get us in “trouble” on an audit. My boss told me to tell Ms. “Theater”. I told the individual and went on.

The day went smooth. I got out a little late but that happens. I’m ready to tackle the rest of the week and if I need to talk about anything, I have my cousin who lives in another country, Until next time…

Today is March 26th, 2012. It is amazing what you see and hear when you don’t participate. I made a conscious effort to keep my lips pressed together today. I was irritable. The irritability was most likely in part because I wouldn’t allow myself to participate in any conversations that weren’t related to work. I didn’t even talk about my dog. When I came into work I noticed that everyone working was adhering to our policy about keeping their head covered. Everyone except Ms.”Theater”. That should indicate that we work in a food service environment. I would have been correct in saying something but that would have irritated Ms. “Theater” to the point that I probably would have been making another trip to under the bus soon. Since I don’t enjoy the view from under the bus, I just kept quiet. Now, during the first part of our morning, Ms. “Theater” was looking for one of our offenders who works with us and she always forjgets his name. She openly asked where “mini-mexican” was. I don’t think it is appropriate to refer to indivieduals by their race or other things. I just kept my lips pressed together like they were supposed to be. Later, our safety manager entered the area just to take a look around. Ms. “Theater” stated “Mr. Osher, It would be best that you keep on going..” This was stated in the presence of offenders but not loud enough that “Mr. Osher” could hear it. Now you know I work in Correctional Food Service. If I had said such a thing in the presence of offenders, and if Ms. “Theater” would have heard it, I would have been written up. Offenders need a good example. I plan on providing that good example for them. They will need it when they get out if they hope to succeed in the workplace.

Later that day, I overheard Ms. “Theater” talking to Officer “Griffin” who works with us. This is why I stated in the beginning of todays post how amazing it is what one can see and hear when they don’t participate. They were getting along so well. They are very nice to one another most of the time but both come to me with complaints about the other. I won’t let them do that anymore. I will place my hands over my ears and say “LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA….” Until they get the message that I don’t want to hear it. You see, both of these individuals have sent me under the bus. Officer “Griffin” is a good officer and the offenders respect him, but he is lazy. He sits in our office all day long and gets mad if he has to actually get up and do his job.

There are some people in this world that you can not confide in. They will open their mouths every single time. It is a character flaw. We all have flaws but confiding in people who repeat what you say will always put you in a difficult and uncomfortable situation. Everyone needs someone they can vent to about work. We spend at least one-third of our daily lives there. It is best to find someone who is not there every day. Perhaps someone who lives over a thousand miles away.

It is also a good idea to avoid participating in certain conversations at work. If you overhear an employee talking about another employee, keep it to yourself. Excuse yourself from those types of discussions. Go to the bathroom or say you forgot to do something that is urgent. If you are strong enough, tell them. “I refuse to participate in this conversation.” Remember, if an employee is talking to you about another, that same employee is probably talking to someone else about you. Keep your distance from those types of people. Do not become one of those people either or you will be labeled a “trouble maker”.

Now, here is where you will be proud of me. Yesterday, our Unit went on lockdown. When the unit is locked down, we feed the population lunch sacks for their meals. I was overseeing our dinner meal. Ms.”Theatre” was overseeing the breakfast meal that was going to be prepared then put up so the next morning, they could come in, pass out breakfast, then start lunch early. Since Ms. “Theatre” is over me, she came in and started hounding me about why it was taking me too long to get dinner completed. I had to wait on things that were beyond my control. Ms. “Theatre” went on to say that they were almost done. Naturally, they complain to me but my part was taking too long due to the fact that we had more to prepare and the employee who was overseeing the preparation of getting bread and chips bagged was in no hurry. We have a mutual respect so I will have that problem corrected today between me and him. When I finished dinner, I went into another area and had to finish Ms. “Theatres” part. She had all of the breakfast sandwiches made. Or so I thought. I was led to believe that all the breakfast sandwiches were made. I mean, she did come in and “get onto me” in front of all the offenders about why I was taking so long since she was about finished. Hummm… I ended up having to get an additional 300 servings made for breakfast before I could leave. Imagine that. I did good though. I just got the job done and kept my lips pressed together.

Last but not least. We had a correctional supervisor come in for a while. While he was in there, he started talking about another correctional supervisor and making fun of him to the inmates. It was pathetic. By this time, he was making fun of the other supervisor (because of his weight) to my boss. I believe I shocked my boss when I looked at the supervisor and said “You need to behave yourself. If I can behave myself, you can behave yourself.” He never said another word.

I think I did pretty good today.

Today is March 27th of 2012. This is day 6 of my experiment which means there are only 346 more days. I often wonder if I will actually keep this up or if I will get sidetracked. Today was an outstanding day. It was organized and everyone got along. We all behaved and didn’t talk about much of anything. I would retire from my place of employment if everyday were like today. My boss was in a good mood and even laughed. We all need to be happy at work.

Today is March 29th of 2012. My mouth got me sent home from work. I lasted almost 4 hours. I went in at 11am and left at ten minutes until 3. I went into the area where the offenders were making lunch sacks. Our facility is still on lockdown. I started building lunch sacks for dinner. I didn’t have any workers because they had all left to take the noon meal lunch sacks to the housing units. I got everything organized and started building lunch sacks with what items I had. The bread was bagged in sandwich bags in groups of four slices.They were organized in groups of 48 on bread racks. I figured it would save me time to lay 2 slices of cheese on each stack. The meat was being sliced. They were going to get 2 slices of meat in their sack. We would have to put 2 slices of meat in each sandwich bag. I figured the inmate would place the meat in the sandwich bag…lay it on top of the 4 slices of bread (bagged up)..two slices of cheese. I would grab the stack of the bread, cheese and meat (which the offender had just put in a bag) pop open a sack with my other hand, put all those items in…grab chips to put in and roll up the bag. I was moving as fast as I could. Ms. “Theatre” came in and griped at me in front of the inmates because she wanted an assembly line. Well, I didn’t have any inmates to do an assembly line. I had one worker putting chips in a sandwich bag. I had another worker putting meat in a bag…no one putting 4 slices of bread in a bag at that time but we had about 150 done so we were ok for a little while. I finished up that set and told the inmate just to put the sliced meat that had been sliced into a pan and I would bag it. So I got my sacks…pulled bagged meat out of the pan…put in the sack…took the sliced cheese out of a box…put it in the bag…took the bread off of the bread rack (it was in groups of 48) put that in the bag then put the bag of chips in and rolled it and set it on another rack to put on the cart. I did the assembly line but I was the only one building the lunch sacks because the inmates were putting meat…bread. and chips in the baggies. Around 2:40 I went to take a break. When I came back in, I noticed that the inmate had some brown paper sacks opened. When I checked, they all had bread, cheese and chips. There were about 18 of them. They needed more sliced meat to finish a housing unit. We had just got some meat and were putting it in the sacks when “So-N-So” came in and said “I said I don’t want you popping sacks!” I went on to tell her that they were just made up waiting on meat when she interrupted me and said “You’re doing this on purpose! I told you I didn’t want you popping sacks!” Second time today yelling at me and using that disrespectful tone to me in front of offenders…Again…. I told her “I did just fine for two days! (the days she was off) I am not so stupid that I need you coming in here and micromanaging every little thing I do!” She sent me home.

Today is March 30th, 2012. We didn’t bring anything up today. We just went along like nothing happened. My boss did not even bring anything up. I had left him a note that I had been sent home because it was going to affect my pay for the pay period. He had me paid until 6pm and I had left and 2:50pm. My diabetes was rearing its ugly head. I talked more about that than anything. We just went along through the day and survived.

Today is March 31st, 2012. Today was Saturday. Another uneventful day. We did a good job at work and everyone behaved themselves. It’s amazing what happens when people keep their mouths closed. Especially me.

Today is April 2nd, 2012. I was off today and saw one of my co-workers online. She told me we had a new employee. She asked me what he was there for. I told her “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe he is helping out.” See, I can keep my mouth closed. It turned out that the individual is in training to be a food service director.

Today is April 3rd, 2012

We have a new employee. Well, I have another boss. I don’t know what is going to happen but I have yet another person to micromanage me. I had three people standing over me today. My co-worker went and hid in the corner. I don’t blame her. Ms.”Theater” makes everything stressful and confusing. It’s horrible. I had an opportunity to open my mouth today. I did pretty good. I only had one complaint that I vocalized. If I get turned in, we all get turned in. I didn’t do most of the talking. I caught myself. I was going to say “You know what irritates me…It irritates me when I do my job and I get micro managed by 3 people and the other shift employees who don’t do their jobs get micro managed by no one.” Instead I said “You know what irritates me?” Then I caught myself about to get into even more trouble so I recovered by saying “It irritates me when I want to eat chocolate and there isn’t any handy.” I managed to keep my mouth shut. I don’t know why I bother showing up. Oh wait, I need money. That’s what it is. Something about having a place to lay my head at night. I kinda like eating and having electricity, phone and of course internet. I don’t watch TV anymore. Now, If I can only get online with my cousin…

Today is April 7th of 2012. I have been off for a couple of days. I worked three days in a row after my last two days off. Our new manager in training is learning how to be a micromanager. My boss is doing a fantastic job teaching him. By the time my boss is finished training this individual, he will be well versed in how to micro-manage his employees to the point that they feel like crap. What helps is that our new manager in training is about to lose his mind so we are working with him. I think I can learn a lot from this individual. Hopefully he can learn a lot from me.

Now, I am learning through this experiment how to put my entire situation at work into perspective. I work with my supervisor Ms. “Theater”, three days during the week. Out of the three days, our boss is off one of those days and she is ok to work with. I always let her know what I am doing so she won’t tell me what to do. You see, every day for the last two and a half years, she has told me “Get this done by this time or start this at that time.” as if I don’t know. I think I work with people who just want to control me physically and emotionally while at work. I just want to make sure that I am not doing anything to add any fuel to the fire. This is why I am doing this experiment. I want to make sure that I am NOT doing anything wrong.

Tomorrow, I go back so we will see what happens…I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about.

Today is April 10th, 2012. Heaven help me. Sunday was Easter. When I went into work there was a lot of cleaning going on. I was told to have dinner set up by 2:30 so we could start preparing meals at that time. I did what Ms.”Theater” told me and just after 2:30, we began preparing meals. We had a security supervisor working with us and after we began preparing meals, he stopped us saying that it was too early. We were going to have to wait another 2 hours before we could prepare meals. I figured that since there were trays made, about 15 of them, that I would let the offenders eat them. Otherwise, we would have had to dump those trays. We can’t allow food to sit on the trays for 2 hours, and then send them to the housing units for people to eat. Policy guidelines state that once a tray has been prepared, it has to be in the housing unit within 30 minutes. Ms. “Theater” came out and started yelling because the workers were eating. One particular offender told her that I had told them they could eat. She told them “Well, I out rank her!” So I give up. Now, I don’t tell the offenders if they can eat or drink. I send them to her. We waited 2 hours then we began preparing meals. She started talking “crap” to the offenders and telling them if they didn’t hurry up she would write them up. She provokes them all the time. I can not say anything because she is my boss. When she provokes one to the point that he hits her, I’m going to have to step in and protect her.

Monday was horrible. We had an audit. We had carbon on some of our pans that isn’t allowed. Some of our trays still had food debris on them. Worst of all, we had food that had been placed on our line, cold, that was supposed to be hot. It was warming up but was supposed to be warmed in the oven. My boss was furious. The warden was furious. I felt like crawling into a hole. I have a way to fix that problem. Food isn’t going on the line if it isn’t hot enough or cold enough. Period. If it does, I’m not taking any responsibility. It will be on someone else.

During the time that we were preparing meals, Ms. “Theater” noticed that an inmate was serving too many beans. She told him rudely to quit over serving. He started laughing but started serving the beans correctly. She got upset that he was laughing and went over and stood close to him and telling him stuff. Basically, “talking crap”. She stood close enough to him that she was breathing on him. He asked her to move over and to give him his 3 feet but she told him that he had to give her 3 feet. The offender couldn’t give her 3 feet because he was serving beans and to give her that space would require him to move off the line. She tries to provoke the offenders. The offender told her and myself that he was going to file a grievance against her for standing too close to him and against me for condoning it. I can’t wait to see that. I’m not lying for her. She is on her own if she wants to bully the inmates. More later…

Today is April the 11th, 2012. Yesterday was better but not great. I am overwhelmed. I have 3 people to answer to. I am told by each one, several times an hour, specific things to do. The same specific job duties that I do every day. On a daily basis, I need a specific set of keys that are checked out from our security at the prison, in order to get into our coolers. Part of my job is to have our line set up with various food items so workers can prepare trays for the offender population. It is increasingly difficult to complete specific job duties in a timely manner because I don’t have access to the things that I need. It’s so frustrating. I don’t see how any employer can have such high expectations of employees and not provide them with the necessary tools to get the job done. Time is of the essence in my field of work. I have daily and hourly deadlines which must be met. I keep my mouth shut. I just say “ok” and do what I am told. People who like to micro-manage should know how horrible they make their employees feel.

If an employer or a boss is going to hold an employee accountable for specific tasks, the employee needs to have control over the task. If you are an employer and you have to micro-manage your employees, why don’t you just get rid of them. Since you are always right and since you are the only one capable of doing anything right, do yourself and your employees (who probably don’t like working for you anyway) a favor. They can find another job working for another boss who might appreciate their hard work, deligence and creativity.

Today is April 18th, 2012. I have not posted in a few days. I’ve been written up. Again. This time due to a gig on an audit. Thankfully, I was not the only one. Quite a few others were written up for various other things. Ms.”Theater” is on vacation. It has been wonderful.

My boss felt it was necessary to come out and humiliate me again. He likes to stand over me and tell me “Get the inmates to do this…Get an inmate to do that..” That behavior from him makes it impossible for me to function. The other day he was talking to me in such a rude manner that I just told him right back. “Don’t talk to me like that. You talk to me like I’m an inmate. I’m not an inmate.”

Most of the time, he will talk to the inmates who work for him directly in a nicer way than he does me. I’ve never had such a horrible boss. Several days ago, my boss told me that my name had come up several times in the Wardens office. He has basically led me to believe that the warden doesn’t like me. His exact words were “I don’t know what you did when he first came to this unit, but…” This individual doesn’t know me so if he doesn’t like me ( work wise ) perhaps it’s due to the fact that I won’t kiss his behind. Perhaps I don’t have time to because I’m too busy trying to keep mine out of trouble.

Today was ok but my boss likes to keep us on pins and needles. He probably thinks he is keeping us on our toes but he is going to send us to an early grave if we don’t find a different place to work. He had us believing that we were going to have another audit. Every day is an audit. “The auditor will be here any minute…Get them to cleaning, NOW!” I believe he is nervous. But I am tired of his lies about auditors coming. Finally, I started telling the workers…”Look, you see the little cockroaches on the wall? They are our auditors, so get to work… And scrub that wall..”

Anyway, We got through the day but not before my boss told my co-worker that I was getting on his nerves. Of course she had to tell me. I’ve been getting on his nerves for the last 2 and a half years. He has been getting on my nerves as well. I have a hard time working for people who speak to me in a demeaning manner and who tell people things about me. I’m not stupid. I can tell by the way he talks to me… Until another day. I’m going to keep my mouth shut. I didn’t say anything to my boss about what he told my co-worker because he did so in confidence. I don’t want to put her in an uncomfortable position. More later.

Today is April 22nd of 2012. I am off today and tomorrow. I am so glad. I’m going to play with flowers and pretend that I do not have a job.

My direct supervisor Ms. “Theater” and another co-worker have not been getting along since Ms. “Theater” came back from vacation. Naturally, “So-N-So” had to tell me all about it. She had an “shit-eating” grin on her face because she believed she got the other co-worker “in trouble”. I did what I said I was going to do earlier in this blog when she began telling me about it. I placed my hands over my ears and said “LA LA LA LA LA LA…” as I walked away. I am proud of myself for getting out of that one. I don’t have any business participating in those types of conversations in the workplace. It brings on unnecessary stress. This occurred a couple of days ago.

Yesterday, I heard a rumor from Ms.”Theater” that my boss was leaving and going to another unit. I pretended that I didn’t hear that one also. This rumor came from an offender who works directly for my boss. The offender confided in Ms. “Theater” and she opened her mouth and told myself and Officer “Griffin”, the officer who works with us on a regular basis. I told both of them that I don’t know anything and that I didn’t hear anything. All unnecessary workplace “drama” that takes away from the job at hand. I’m glad that I’m keeping my mouth shut.

There are some people in this world who, for some reason, love to see other people in difficult situations. Some people in the workplace enjoy getting other people “in trouble”. These people would love to see someone get fired. If these people would spend their time working instead of trying to harm or sabatoge each other, companies might be more productive. These same individuals who cause unnecessary drama at work are the same individuals who complain about the drama. This is another reason I am conducting this experiment. I enjoy drama but only on the big screen. If you do not want any drama in the workplace, shut up!

More later…

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