How can a day that started off so well turn south so quickly? Granted, I didn’t get much sleep – I’ve been plagued by insomnia ever since I quit the sleeping pills, but I woke up cheerful and really ready to kiss HOTTT again. I skipped into work early (amazing, since I’ve been late to work recently…again, due to the insomnia), hunkered down at my desk and started working. Then I saw an email from my boss, Ching. She’d released her comments on my review.

I scanned it and gasped. I rated myself pretty conservatively since we implemented a new system with a different rating scale, so I had no previous reviews to compare to. I gave myself “proficient” instead of “advanced” in a lot of areas. She had disagreed, giving me more “advanced” ratings than I think I deserve. Her comments were concise but very appreciative and I walked into our formal meeting really happy, convinced today was going to keep kicking ass.

At first everything she said was glowing, then Ching got quiet. Ching doesn’t usually get quiet.

“Zoogie2, we’ve known each other for a long time.” Yes, indeed. The five year anniversary of my employment was earlier this month. But I only answered a quick affirmative. “You know I don’t like games and I am straightforward. I have something to tell you and I don’t want you to get upset.” Oh fuck monkeys. What did I do? I strained my memory in the hopes that I could pacify her before she started ranting. Was it my continued conflicts with Jim? Probably not. How about my lateness this week? No, I’ve stayed late every day to make up for it and I’ve completed all of my work. “Someone has made a comment about you, and they are very influential.” Oh fuck berries. It must be Yelena, my boss’ arch nemesis. She smiles to my face and then I hear about the things she says behind my back. But her cattiness isn’t new, so why would Ching make such a big deal out of this?

“I won’t get upset, but if things are being said I really need to know.”

“It’s all about perception, sometimes we build our perception of someone based on very little. A brief moment can taint what we think of a person.” Seriously? I was freaking out a little at this point. “Thaddeus made a comment to me and my boss about you.” Thaddeus? Shit, shit, shit. He’s an executive and he’s the in highest position in my department. His title begins with “Chief”, so he’s C-Level. Yelena is his favorite employee. And…he and I have history (sort of) outside of Anonymous Software Company.

“What did he say?” I asked, worry tinging my tone.

“He asked if you were really necessary, if you had enough work to keep you occupied because he saw you reading a book during work hours. Chang (Ching’s boss) said that if you were reading, he was sure that it was during an approved break and that if it was a problem we could ask you to go to the cafeteria during breaks to make it more obvious when you are working or when you are on break. I am pissed. Sorry for the language, but I know you. I know you wouldn’t do that. I want you to know that Chang and I both told Thaddeus that we believe in you 100%.”

“The only books I have at work are guides about how to do my job, my mandatory training manual – which HR said I could read at work – and my Web Design book.” I had approval from Ching to teach myself Web Design – I know some coding, but this book goes more in depth. It’s gigantic, easily 7 pounds, and it’s taken me a year to get to chapter 4 because I simply never have time to read it. If I found a few spare moments, I would definitely have used my time to keep reading.

“I said that. But now we must work on perception. I know I said you could study for mandatory training at work, but maybe you should take a break from that for a while.” Well that’s not fair. Everyone else in the department studies during work. But I value my job more than when or where I study.

“OK, and maybe we could increase my visibility to Thaddeus. If he knew what work I was doing, or some of my reports were sent to him from Chang, maybe he would see how I contribute.” We agreed to this plan.

So how do I know Thaddeus? Years ago, when I was in high school I had a job as a nanny. Thaddeus was dating this girl’s mom (her parents were divorced), and they eventually married. A month into my nanny gig, I crashed my car making it impossible for me pick the girl up, so I resigned. In an effort to keep me, we made a deal between the girl’s parents, my mom & me. My mom took my brother’s car (since I can’t drive stick shift), I took my mom’s van and my charge’s parents agreed to pay additional money toward the mileage and wear & tear on the van per federal guidelines of compensation. After nanny-ing for a while, I found a new job and resigned (well that and the kid’s mom was a bitch). I had faithfully and carefully tracked the van’s mileage for months, but they refused to pay. Since we had nothing in writing, we let it go. My mom is still bitter about it and when I first started at Anonymous Software Company and recognized Thaddeus, I was nervous. But until now he’s been distant and usually doesn’t acknowledge me.

Now I’m concerned for my job, but also for the training. When am I going to find time to study? I finally managed to break up with Saran Wrap, but I’m dating two guys and I’m still on the dating website talking to more. Plus I hang out with my friends all of the time. I shouldn’t have to become a hermit for 6 months studying mandatory work-training on my own time just because one guy thinks I’m not busy enough!

UPDATE: My department got together this morning to do some reading and Thaddeus stopped by to give them a thumb’s up. I was the only person present in the office who didn’t attend, because of my conversation with Ching. How the hell is this fair!?