“There once was a little black girl” who grew up to learn that life isn’t always fair. You don’t necessarily get what you want or expect but if you look for the lesson, you may just get what you need with the justice scales balanced. Perspective matters immensely so check out this little story for your own enlightened “unveiling.”
I once worked with a group of women led by a dynamic female manager. Upon being hired, I thoroughly enjoyed the “girl power,” laughter and fireside chats. It really made the work day pleasant as the hours seemed to pass by extremely fast. Our manager hired a new female employee, “Susan,” soon after my arrival, to join our team. She appeared to be very talented and had a powerfully charming presence that was almost captivating. I think her image (tall, modal type, striking features, intelligence, and elegance) was idealized by the other women around me. Everyone received her within the group, including me, admiring her knowledge and personal style. No one idealized her more than my manager, who fawned over “Susan,” treating her like a comrade. This “favor” gave her perks and access to confidential information which was not necessarily granted to non-managerial staff.
Over time, I started to notice a dramatic change between “Susan” and I into one where she questioned my work at meetings. I’d respond or clarify without defensiveness or hesitation but it became apparent that I was under some kind of scrutiny. Whenever confronted about the alleged minor mistakes, I initially took responsibility but intuitively felt like something unexplainable was being said. Did you ever have the feeling like you had addressed or corrected something already? Yet, there it was in my report. How could I explain this error? Even double checking my work did not end the problem. I soon started to notice items missing from desk forcing me to look for them. Was I losing my mind? Could someone be acting as a “saboteur”(gaslighting in modern day terminology)? My INNER-knowing told me to take precautions resorting to bringing files home or misfiling items so that one would have to know my system in order to find important documents. During this time, I started to notice a shift in the “energy” between me and some co-workers but it was the“icy” treatment, particularly from my manager, that was the most disturbing. She stopped making eye contact with me or even asking for my input. I was perplexed but pretended not to notice since there was no substantial performance issues as far as I knew (missed deadlines, major mistakes, lack of team work, absences/lateness, etc.).
One day, I went to the bank at lunch to get cash for a after work event. I placed the money in my wallet and put my purse inside my unlocked desk drawer. This was not unusual for me to leave it there. Towards the end of the day, I noticed money was missing from my wallet. Thinking I may have inadvertently dropped a few bills while recounting them, I asked my colleagues if anyone noticed a couple of 20’s on the floor near my area. Everyone said no and helped me search except “Susan”. She seemed disinterested and smug only briefly acknowledging my question. My INNER-knowing screamed, “This b!tch is a thief!” I knew instantly that she was also my work “saboteur” the whole time but I had no way to prove it. Since I had learned to ACT on my INNER-knowing, I changed my behavior completely resorting to leaving personal valuables in my locked car (or in the possession of a co-worker who never left her desk), making double copies of completed work, never leaving anything of importance on my desk, and steering clear of this “troubled” employee. The situation really made no sense since she was the “golden child.” I was not a threat to her position or standing within the group. I was obviously furious because no one would believe me if I told them. This led to a minor confrontation with her after I accidentally left an unimportant document on a conference table and it mysteriously disappeared. She was the only person near the board room so this time I asked her if she saw it. Her defensiveness triggered me (in addition to thinking b!tch betta return my money) and I ended up questioning her indirectly with a “hard&black” tone. I didn’t have proof but I wanted her to feel my righteous indignation towards the “guilty” party. “Susan” stormed off to the manager but no one ever questioned me about the issue directly.
My high vibe, collegial workplace now felt isolating for me. Some of my colleagues still talked to me but I could feel the disdain and maybe even a little hostility in some, particularly my manager. It was almost unbearable but I continued to do my job realizing that my time might be limited, if for no other reason than I’m protective of my mental health. One day, a general meeting was scheduled at noon. “Susan” received the morning announcement just like the rest of us, so when the meeting commenced, I was surprised by her absence. My manager, holding back tears, went on to tell us that “Susan” would no longer be working with the company. I was shocked! Wtf!
The employees who had blank expressions probably already knew the reason. A few others seemed bewildered too. Only one person, “Ronnie,” made direct eye contact with me. After the meeting, I quietly asked what happened. I knew she would know. She was also the only person who never changed her treatment towards me. When we had a few moments alone, “Ronnie” told me that money had been missing from everyone’s wallet for months – – (not just a few $20s but larger amounts). They could not determine the culprit so they set up a sting operation placing marked bills inside “Ronnie’s” purse. Before the meeting, security checked our personal items and found the marked bills with “Susan’s” possessions. I was surprised at the sting operation but not the fact that“Susan” was a thief. I told Ronnie that she had stolen from me as well which is why I stopped bringing in my personal valuables. “Ronnie” had observed my changed behavior and told me something I will never forget. She said, “I knew you were not the culprit and I told everyone the same.” She never confirmed my suspicions but it was obvious that some of my colleagues did not agree with her sentiment. I also told Ronnie that “Susan” was sabotaging my work as well. No one would have believed me without concrete proof and her “golden child” status shielded her from criticism. I felt vindicated and grateful to now have the workplace issue “unveiled” for all to see and told “Ronnie” about the mistreatment I’d experienced. I knew she would tell everyone especially those people who judged me incorrectly. Did I feel sorry for my manager who took this loss personally. No, I did not. Did I ever resume the “girl power” relationships with my fellow accusers – – hell to the naw…business relationship only. There is more to this story (Isaiah 41:10) but the main thing to remember is that you should never judge people by outer appearances alone. Shockingly, I’ve encountered many competitive “Saboteur Susans” (both male and female, of every ethnicity, in both business and my personal life) who resort to lying, sabotage and unfair tactics while playing this game called life.