In this story, we witness a workplace conflict where Anne, a skilled worker, faces off against Kate, a rude coworker favored by the boss.
A Small Metalworking Firm
It was about 15 years ago when Anne found herself working in a small metalworking firm owned by two brothers. The place employed around 30 workers and specialized in metal casting and further processing.
She Was One of Five Women Working In Production
Anne was one of the five women working in production, including her mother and three others. Among them was Kate, the unofficial sweetheart of one of the bosses.
Avoiding Responsibility and Blaming Others
Kate seemed to have a knack for avoiding any responsibility or blame. No matter what went wrong, it was never her fault.
They Weren’t the Most Pleasant Experiences
Anne had already had a few encounters with Kate, and let’s just say they weren’t the most pleasant experiences. Anne, being more of a silent observer, preferred to let others do as they pleased while she focused on her own tasks.
Preparing Products for Shipment
As one of the women on the team, Anne’s main responsibility involved preparing the products for shipment. This included washing metal bits, grinding back seams, and sorting various components.
She Had Learned the Ropes of the Job
Anne had spent summers working in the firm during the ’90s, with her grandmother unofficially supervising her. During that time, she had learned the ropes of the job, as well as a few tricks her grandmother had picked up along the way.
The Specialized Washing Machine
One aspect of their work involved using washing machines to clean the metal products. Picture a large bowl filled with specially formed stones, water, and cleaning agents. When the machines vibrated, the stones would rub against the products, cleaning them of residual oil and other debris.
It Required a More Delicate Touch
One machine, in particular, required a more delicate touch and specialized setup. It not only cleaned the metal, but also polished it using tiny spherical metal bits.
A Time-Sensitive Task
One day, Anne received a call from the boss, inquiring about her current task and what she was working on. She informed him that she had finished washing and was drilling the last holes, preparing the product for shipment.
He then mentioned that he would send Kate down with something time-sensitive – and that was the end of the conversation.
Kate’s Big Arrival
About an hour later, Kate arrived with a crate containing the time-sensitive products. However, the crate was covered in oil, soot, and other unsightly substances. Clearly, it needed cleaning and polishing in the special machine that Anne was quite familiar with.
She Offered Assistance and Some Pointers
Anne, being the helpful person she was, offered assistance and some pointers to Kate, knowing that the machine required specific setup knowledge.
She Said What?!
Kate, however, glanced at Anne, her pristine appearance in sharp contrast to Anne’s dirty and sweaty state, and rudely declined the offer. She claimed to know how to wash the products and promptly disappeared into the washroom.
Curiosity Among Colleagues
A curious colleague approached Anne and asked if Kate had any experience using that particular machine. Anne shrugged and replied that she wasn’t aware of any such experience. Kate’s popularity among her coworkers wasn’t exactly soaring.
Anne returned to her work, time passing by as she had lunch and continued with her tasks. And then, to her surprise, the boss suddenly showed up, insisting that the product Kate was cleaning needed to be sent out that day.
She Had No Idea How to Operate the Machine
Before long, a shout came from the washroom, summoning Anne to the scene. It turned out that Kate had no idea how to operate the machine. The entire setup was now oily, black, and worse off than before! The products looked even more tarnished!
The boss was understandably frustrated and demanded to know why Anne hadn’t intervened, helped Kate, or said something. Anne calmly explained that Kate had confidently claimed she knew what to do and refused any help.
With the washroom door closed and other pressing matters to attend to, Anne saw no reason to interfere.
Fixing the Mess
Did Anne know how to fix the mess? Absolutely. The machine and stones needed cleaning, and the products required thorough washing. It would take some time to sort it all out. In the end, the boss decided to let Kate finish Anne’s (now dirty) work while Anne had to clean up Kate’s disastrous attempt.
The Boss’s Decision
To add insult to Kate’s injury, Anne was prohibited from leaving the washroom, following the boss’s orders. So Anne started a washing cycle using the correct cleaning agent, but without any products.
She sat down and did nothing while the machine and stones underwent a thorough cleaning.
A Lazy Day
Only after the oily gunk got removed did Anne add the products, along with the appropriate cleaning agent and powder. For the rest of the day, Anne continued her charade of doing close to nothing while Kate toiled away, completing the work that Anne would have typically done.
Sure, Anne could have lent Kate a helping hand, but she couldn’t ignore the disrespectful attitude Kate had shown toward her and her fellow “unwashed peasants.”
Sometimes, malicious compliance can be a satisfying way to put entitled individuals in their place. And for Anne, it was a small victory in a workplace where recognition and fairness were often in short supply.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / nelen. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.