The Temporary Bully (A Personal Story)

Workplace bullying is as real as childhood bullying. It is a topic covered here many times and it’s still amazing the stories you can read. There is even one story  where a boss made workers wear diapers for losing a contest. Dave’s story below shares what happened to him and how the workplace has a responsibility for the safety of their workers, but yet some just don’t care. ~Alan Eisenberg

My experience is somewhat different from many people I’ve read about in that I didn’t bully anyone or get bullied when I was young. When I say bullied, I mean facing consistent and repeated behavior that goes on and on. I did face a couple of day thing, but my bully didn’t bother after those 2 days (grade school).

I’m 46, and I started to get bullied at work about 2 years ago. My company hired a temp who, over a couple of months, would play people against each other. With me, he would question my orientation out loud when I walked past him, and share this joke with others that I had gotten along with (prior to him showing up). This including doing a little dance when I walked by. Well, I saw him dancing one day and asked him if he was gay in front of everyone. I told him I didn’t think guys could dance like that, in a joking manner. I was trying to play it off, because I knew he was doing it to provoke me. It seemed to work for a while, but later he would go back to his old behavior.

I had eventually talked to the boss about his behavior when he was disrespectful to me when I had taught him a particular work procedure. By the next day I knew the boss talked to him about it, because 2 of my shipments were delivered to the wrong office. He had gone to my pallet of computer boxes (shipped for next day) and switched 2 labels.

Thankfully, for me and several others in that workplace, his actions got him fired. He had eventually used the N word against a black employee, but even that didn’t get him the axe. That came about 2 months later. About half the people in our office were angry with him, and the other half played along to keep him off their backs. I know for a fact 2 of his buddies were glad they weren’t his targets for fun.

Well, most of us breathed a sigh of relief, and the woman delivery driver we had started talking to me again. She had stopped talking to me for 8 months, and I never asked why, but she started up our friendship again. We had gotten along great, but after that temp showed up, she suddenly didn’t want anything to do with me.

My company hired a new temp, and to my surprise, he was just like the previous one (except black and taller, not asian). I would ask him to help with answering the dock door, as the last 5 people in that position had helped me in the past, due to my workload. He would say yes, but I found out later, he would run out the front door to avoid it. I started to get delivery people complaining to me why the door wasn’t answered. I asked the new guy why, and he would say he didn’t hear the buzzer. Turns out he would rather lie to my face than help out, or tell me no. He would bad mouth me to others in the office, and I would hear daily ridicule outside my door directed to me. On more than one occasion, I would hear the word “Fag” as I walked past his office. No one else was around. One time, when I was using the toilet I heard the door open, and then I heard his voice. He apparently had recognized my shoes, and then he insulted me while I was busy. I hadn’t seen this type of behavior before (even from kids).

And he told me, when no one else was around, that he had a .45 at home. That was all he said. I played it off, and talked about the weapons I’d used in the service, but I believe he was trying to intimidate me.

I had brought up his behavior to our boss, but we had a new boss who wasn’t really the manager type. The new guy had gotten in good with him, and I was told on more than one occasion that I was not to speak to him about his behavior. And, I was also told by my boss’ supervisor not to talk to him. So talking to the boss didn’t help, and talking to this guy man to man could no longer be done. Our boss was going to be demoted, but it didn’t help me at that time.

I finally had enough, and the resentment had grown to a point where I didn’t want to go to work. I had symptoms of IBS, and I couldn’t take it anymore. So one day I snapped and told him about his behavior and how I didn’t appreciate it.

I was told to go home, and 2 days later, I was fired. I had worked there 13 years, best job I’ve ever had. It taught me several things. Bullying can happen with adults, and sometimes you can’t win.


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About Alan Eisenberg

Alan Eisenberg is a Certified Life Coach, Bullying Recovery activist and author of "A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance" and "Crossing the Line". He has been writing and speaking to various audiences about the issue of C-PTSD and Bullying Recovery. Mr. Eisenberg has been featured on several print, radio shows and podcasts on this issue, including NPR and in the Boston Globe. He is currently working toward his Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling.
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  1. Please go and see an attorney. You may have grounds for a sexual discrimination case and could monetary award. It sounds like a good attorney may be able to help you. I am sorry for what you went thru, i too have a bullying boss but i resigned rather than let him fire me for questioning his decisions. Walk away with dignity but go see a lawyer.

  2. bullying is making someone feel bad and cry.

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