• taylorhardingjenki

On Harassment and Bullying - Part 2: The Scorched-earth Policy

Updated: Apr 21

  • Before reading this, please carefully read the first part here. A third part is to come by mid-august, to conclude that series.

When I was young, as you probably read in “He Fell from Venus”, I learned psychology and I specialised myself in manipulating people. Even for Charlotte, I mean, Charlotte Kominsky is a master manipulator. So, for writing the story of a master manipulator, you need at least to share a few of these skills with your sidekick. I specialised myself in mental illnesses as well as those alternatives sciences bollocks such as body language, sophrology and NLP. I practised hypnosis too. All this to say, having those tools in my hands, and given the fact that I am not someone that usually take a bow in general, at least when I am dealing with jackasses, it was time to use those skills. I mean, I’m a duchess, come on, I can’t let a moron take it over.

And even, Lucy asked me once, “What’s your book about?” – well, a master manipulator. I still don’t understand why she didn’t worry at this point. But, you know, she was certainly naïve.

Anyway, long story short, as I came back home from my forced holidays, even though it were not holidays at all, I came back with two feelings. The first one was, “I’m drained” – I mean, you cannot lose that weight without being exhausted, and I didn’t even work on Free Expensive Lies: Prologue during that week obviously – and the second, “I’ll fuck that bitch, one way or another”. Because, yes, in the meantime, I got a lot of information regarding what was going on in the shop when I was away, and I decided to take a completely new approach. She showed herself as my enemy, that investigation confirmed her intentions, so it was time to come back, and this time, to fight back. And… Napoleon, the famous French glorious emperor, inspired me. I mean, not him, but the Russian Tsar Alexander I. Back in 1812, Napoleon decided to invade Russia. And, history will remember this time as a great disaster for him.

In the meantime, as I was feeling revengeful towards Lucy, I started doing what was required to do to win a war, because this meant war. The current economic situation of the United Kingdom and the thousands of companies making people redundant and the fact that I was potentially about to find myself unemployed for a long period forced me to fight back. I started speaking to many people that were friendly to me and likely to help me, as I gathered secretly many supports in the staff because they saw what was going on behind the scene and most of them found this unacceptable, and, in the meantime, I called the HR department. Because the rota for my next week, the week when I was to return to work was already done, and I was already in charge of the first shifts. And since she triggered that investigation because of the mysteriously forgotten stuff popping out in the fridge, I knew that this was a test, I could see it, she wanted me to make mistakes again. She wanted to fuck me, it was now more than obvious. So, the action was needed. I called HR requesting my demotion with immediate effect. Explaining the situation, complaining for the first time about her, and explaining that she turned the shop into a modern gulag. My demotion was immediately accepted. Yet, even though I had words against her, nothing was done in this way.

But since Lucy was still on holiday and was to come back a week after I restarted, Marco was my prime target as I came back. And since Marco is someone that talks a lot, he’s young, and when he talks it’s for most of the things stating bollocks, he would make a very easy target. He’s easy to push to make mistakes. As he played to foul me in the first place, I was feeling like, I’m gonna cut him the grass right under his feet.

But in the meantime, what makes the difference in winning a war is intelligence. And it turns out that my supporters were informing me that Marco, following many conversations with random members of staff, made possible the hypothesis to have me fired. I knew that he was gathering shreds of evidence against me and was expecting me to return as a supervisor so he could prove that I make the same mistakes again (the forgotten food in the fridge) and then push me to disciplinary action. Therefore, my demotion would be a major blow for him, because he would have to restart from zero to piss me off, he couldn’t say anything on any possible supervision job, where he tried to fuck me. And even for Lucy. Back to Napoleon, I played like the Russian Tzar. In a master manipulator style: you want to invade Russia, go on! Bring it on! What I did was pretty much, letting him do what he wanted to do. Go to Moscow, invade it, it’s an open city, make yourself at home, bro. What he ignored was that, in every move he played, I was always right behind him to cut his resources. But, in the meantime, I decided to let him go to Moscow. Just like the Tzar, I was like, it’s autumn, weather is still nice… but wait for Winter. Winters in Russia are awesome.

So for now, when I returned, I realised that he was poorly informed of me, whereas I got a lot of information on him from several people, and sometimes not even from the company, so I was adopting a new tactic: let’s befriend with him. He’s an idiot, and I fully assessed the situation, so my risk was considered. And in the meantime, Lucy came back from her extended holidays. Now that we are all here, let’s get this party started. We were now in September 2020. Another month in this madness.

We started with a meeting with Lucy. A kind of important meeting. As, given the fact that I was sick, I’ve been consulting my three advisors who are my grandmother, my wife and Charlotte. My wife told me, “Resign, it’s fine, we have savings, we can cope with all the food and everything, so you can have time to bounce back and find a new job.”. My grandmother told me, “assess everything before making a decision, as the pandemic is hitting and it may be hard to find another job.”. And Charlotte told me, “listen to my advice, you can grab the nuclear weapon if you play your cards right”. So I started with now a shift, back at the beginning of September, threatening to resign. I fell on Marco, who said, I’ll speak to Lucy, and then, Lucy came to me and we had a conversation. I defended my point of view, she defended her, and in the end, speaking with her… I would have the same result if I was speaking to the wall behind her, pretty much. An appalling manager cannot change.

So instead, I had an interesting conversation with a member of staff a few days earlier, following an incident that happened. The incident was this one: now that I was a team member, not a supervisor anymore, I took the liberty to clean a display, where pastries used to be, to make it nicer for customers. Also, to make my closing much faster, because, I may like to be at work, but when it’s time to close, I like to make it efficient and, more importantly, fast (you may understand this when you’re doing a 12 to 9 pm shift), but my supervisor (a person that I trained) came to me and said, “no, please don’t clean this display, this is not the correct time for this”. Flies were flying around the pastries. A detail that I made her notice, but she refused to hear anything, she said, “I’ll call Lucy”. I said, do it, I mean, I think that what I did was right, making sure that those flies would not pose any health threat for a customer. After she went to the office to call Lucy, and then came back to me, to tell me that Lucy told her not to do it as I was preparing myself to clean another display where the flies moved to, and I had to comply with this order. So I was like, after all, if a customer falls sick, it’s on you, not on me. So, I complied. Unfortunately for her, I had a witness on this day on this story. One of my colleagues with whom I was closing was right next to me when everything unfolded.

And it turns out that, an important detail that I forgot to mention in the part 1, is this: we used to have a website, that served to communicate with Management and HQ about our rotas, our holidays’ request, meetings and everything. I used to log in to this website every day, since, during the pandemic, sometimes my shifts were changing. But on the rota section, it was composed of a big table, where there used to be our working hours written, and underneath those hours were written sometimes some comments in case of an event during the shift, such as, “arrived late”, “didn’t clock in”, “didn’t clock out”, “sent back home early because sick”, or anything shift-related. I was never late, however, it happened that I didn’t clock in. Or I forgot to clock out.

And, on the day following that incident, after I woke up rather happy, and logged in on this website awaiting for the next week’s rota, I saw, right under my previous shift, the following note: “Not listening to supervisors orders. Started cleaning sweet display at 6 pm”. In the meantime, I received a call from a friend working there, who told me, “mate, listen, this morning, I surprised a conversation, be careful with Lucy, she will try to gather proofs against you to have you fired.” There was just a big problem with her comment: when she said that I did not listen to my supervisors’ orders, this is completely untrue. I did comply with my supervisors' orders right after she told me not to pursue the cleaning. Therefore, this was a total allegation. Backed by no proofs. Whereas, by my side, my colleague was the witness that I complied with the order.

This obviously pissed me off, because, even demoted, the war was starting, so I decided to play her game instead: she was trying to gather proofs against me, but since my work was spotless and there was nothing to say about this, the only thing she could find against me would be pure fabrication, so I let her keep going. I had one, I needed more to raise a formal accusation of harassment and then, make a formal complaint to the HR. Because, I have already raised her abusive behaviour, but it was backed by nothing, whereas, now, I had something.
Remember… Napoleon, Moscow? Well, good news, he was just entering the Kremlin now. So I was just like, it’s fine, make yourself at home… The fridge is full… but at the same time, as they thought they were managers and hence invincible, they probably completely ignored that I flooded the cave and made the wine poisonous. But, shhh… it’s my surprise.

As days passed, the unexpected started to become reality: both Lucy and Marco started to intensify their attack strategy against me. Whilst I was just adopting the strictest defending strategy, and applying the scorched-earth policy. My plan was, giving them the illusion that they won, that they are managers and that they are invincible. Behind, in the back scenes, my grandfather was dead and due to the COVID travel restrictions, I couldn’t attend the funerals. I was pissed. I came back home most of the time psychologically exhausted because of their pathetic issues that they were raison everyday. How often did Saveria was wakened up late at night because I was crying? I was just exhausted. But, whilst they were carrying out their daily offensives, they were giving me the greatest gift that they could ever give to me: the golden proof that I was formally harassed by a General Manager and an Assistant Manager. And this was priceless.

And perhaps they didn’t have anything, not a hint of what was going on… but things were definitely working for them behind the scene, and not in a good way: between the 20th to the 24th of September, I had my daily notes on this websites because they were driving me mad and I was exploding. Arguing over every single details on me. Everything I was doing was passed under the microscope, and for everything I was doing, they yelled. At some point, I was even thinking, Marco may be found dead in his bloody kitchen because I’m gonna kill that bitch. It resumed a week later. I had a total of 10 notes to exploit. All of them were about me being unfriendly to the staff, me not following the company standards (even though I did), me not wearing the correct uniform, me having a too short trousers… and, when I was sending them texts to justify of these notes… especially to Marco, he never replied. Until one day, I had enough. Having all those proofs, and after having read for the umpteenth time that “Taylor was unfriendly to a member of staff”, I gathered all those proofs, made many screenshots, and sent everything to HR. With a 1k long mail. I had enough. And now, this time, I had proofs that were difficult to ignore.

Two days later, I received an email back from the HR, stating that a formal investigation was to be carried out, following my accusations. In the meantime, I challenged Marco over those repeated notes on my website page for my rotas, and he told me, “oh, don’t worry, it’s the same for everyone here.” Hum… okay then.

And in the meantime, as October began… something unexpected happened. I guess, I gift from God himself, I mean, as it appeared to me, it seemed like a gift from God. Right after my shift, some stations workers came to our shop to shut the power. They invoked a bill of over £75,000 that was outstanding and as a result of this, they shut the power. On the next day, before my shift, Lucy called me, to inform me that due to a power loss, the shop was closed until further notice. She added that power is due to be restored at some point, but… two days, three days, four days, five days, six days, seven days later, still nothing. Seven days without Lucifer, was just… a relief.

At the same time, the Head of People in HR started carrying out the investigation. We had the opening meeting, where I explained everything, and, this investigation was thoroughly conducted, since the accusations were just too big. Between transphobia, (because obviously I was still misgendered, not respected as my real gender), and even worse, harassment, from times to times the Head of people sent me texts regarding some questions, and, to be fair, I was expecting a negative outcome for this. Like I told Saveria, I am just a team member now, and I am attacking myself to a manager. It’s David against Goliath, she cannot be fired now. But I can. I am easier than her to replace.

October ended, starting with November, and the shop, one month on, was still shut. We had several Zoom meetings with Lucy regarding the situation up there. At first she said that this is a bill that the station has to pay because they plugged us on the wrong electric board, and… well, the fact that she changed several times of explanations appeared to all of us as dodgy. Something nasty is going there and they just didn’t wanna tell us. But deep down, I was like, just fuck it, as long as I don’t see their faces, then it’s fine by me. And, at the same time… the investigation concluded.

And on a Wednesday, 23rd of October, as I was impatiently waiting for Microsoft to release its Xbox Series X, bored at home but the fact to be away from work left me a bit of peace of mind, the Head of people sent me a Zoom meeting invitation. The meeting was at 10 o’clock, and, it was the final outcome of the investigation. On the days before, I was receiving some texts from her, we were in close contact, regarding some questions she was asking me, but the more the days passed, the more I was somehow pessimistic regarding the outcome. I was like, “I’m just a team member, she’s a manager, there are no chances I win against her.” Even though I was bringing proofs of my accusations. But guess what? As we started the meeting, the HR manager said, “okay, there has been harassment.” “Evidences shows that there are harassment, and we need to arrange a conciliation between all of us to discuss a way to exit this crisis”. Victory was mine. Notwithstanding, I was in return accused by Marco, the assistant manager, (I guess this was the only way he justified his action towards HR), of being sarcastic and to have made a joke that offended him. But, whatever he could say for his defence, the HR department formally recognised him being responsible of harassing a member of staff. Whatever he could say, I won. On all the accusations, over all those months of having to go to work under fear, hard pressure, crying at work, being exhausted, now, the outcome fell, and it was finally a decisive victory for me. And a tactic defeat for them.

As I ended up this meeting, I literally screamed in my room, “I’LL DISMANTLE YOUR BLOODY ARSE, YOU FUCKING SLUT!”, even my flatmate came later to check on me if I was okay, but for once, smile was on my lips. So even though I had no apologies from the company nor anyone, I still had something very important: a case of harassment, I have been victim of harassment. I immediately started looking in my contacts, and it turns out that one of my former flatmate is a lawyer, specialised in workplaces. So I called him, offered him to come the same night for dinner, and… we discussed the “Salmon” company matter. And we made a deal. He explained me that now, as I had this in my hands, this victory, it’s like, I’ve got the nuclear weapon in my hands. Let’s see where they go. Because, having won a battle didn’t mean I won the war, I still had to find out what moves the enemy would do before nuking anyone.

And whilst I was expecting to come back to work, having inflicted a major blow to Lucy and Marco, Boris Johnson, our lovely Prime Minister, declared another lockdown for England. Expected to last for at least a month. I remember this, it was announced on the day the Xbox was released, and Game had to call me following my console booking, that I needed to come in store to pay the device in full so I could come and collect it for the release day. Which I obviously did. But in the meantime, things were now different: the salmon company ordered a closure of all its stores until further notice. Even though many other businesses remained open, they decided to close. Fair enough. At the same time, by November 2020, my final version of Free Expensive Lies: Prologue was completed and now ready to bang on agents’ door. So, technically, even though I wanted to start the second opus almost right away, my initial plan was to wait for the agents’ feedback before starting the second opus. I had some ideas, but everything was still a gigantic mess and a massive draft, Charlotte didn’t have an intrigue fully formed for the second opus so I couldn’t start until I would get more things to work on. So the plan was simple, in my mind, it would just be a month. I still had that victory feeling fresh in my mind so I was like, okay, fine, let’s do it! After all, it’s just a month to wait.

It’s just a month…

In a month, I queried more than a hundred agents in London. Only 20 dared replying to me to reject my manuscript. One of them was moreover racist and mentioned that he would never publish a non-British. In a month, my mental health started declining, because, being rejected by those agents made me so upset, I was like, after so many years of hard work, they just don’t care, I was feeling worthless, I was feeling like, I couldn’t do it. On the other hand, these are literary agents in London, if you are not willing to wear skirts without panties and go under the desk to have their cocks in your mouth and wait for them to expel their precious room-temperature juice deep down your throat, you won’t have anything from them. It is what it is. And believe me, if I never blew my ex-boyfriend (I mean, erm… okay, I was high, so it doesn’t count, right?), it’s not for doing that to an agent on Charlotte’s behalf.

And, in addition to that, at some point in November, Lucy texted me. It took me two hours to recover from that text following a massive panic attack. In that text, she just wanted to have some news, check on me, if I was fine, if I needed anything.

And, Boris Johnson lifted the lockdown restrictions by mid-December. In the meantime, we received some news of the salmon company. The furlough wasn’t paying that much, and we expected to come back to work. The company was first like, “we’re gonna open once the restrictions are lifted.” – restrictions were lifted. “Oh now we want to wait a couple of days to see how it goes.”, two weeks later, shops were still closed. “Okay now we’re gonna reopen by January, the 10th of January”. In the meantime, the number of new COVID cases across the UK was dangerously increasing, threatening the treatment capacity of the NHS, and rumours had it that another lockdown was likely to fall of for or after Christmas. Boris Johnson went on TV by the beginning of January, announcing another lockdown, and guess what… “well, we’ll see when we can reopen!”.

In the meantime, my mental health severely declined. My depression came back, harder than ever. In December, I remained in bed almost the entire day, anxiety was just severe, and my wife started being severely concerned and manage to have someone to keep an eye on me, because she was scared to find me dead once back home, those rejections took a severe toll on me, and I was thinking, over and over again, on Lucy. Until that day… we received an email from the company. They offered us a present for Christmas, as most of us were away from their families, but we needed to go to the head office to come and collect it. Lucy texted us all, and offered us to meet on the 24th of December, so we could all go and collect our gifts. So you may say, nice, right?

Yeah, nice. I mean, what was in the bag was some food, it was nice from them. But seeing Lucy, Marco and all the staff, all hypocrite and just fake with you… literally annihilated what was left of my mental health. Even though we were no longer in contact at work, since the situation in the shop wasn’t still fixed, my brain was like, “you’re facing your bullies, Taylor”. And just seeing them…

Three days later, I was on the phone with the Samaritans, using a fake name, to tell them my story. I was leaving the tube station. Because I was so destroyed, I was feeling so awful and so dirty that, I just wanted to find enough courage to see the tube coming in the station because I wanted to throw myself against one of them. I wanted to commit suicide. But I was thinking, what about Saveria? What about Charlotte? What about Free Expensive Lies? What about my grandmother? And… somehow, I had a kind of illumination, some voice in my mind that was telling me, “THEY CANNOT WIN OVER YOU!” I had the victory, I had the nuclear weapon… if I kill myself, everything will be ruined. Lucy didn’t win over my harassment claims, she will not win over my life, not a chance that I would allow this.

And back in January… another thing happened. This time, coming from France. Whatever thing coming from France isn’t a good news. Yeah… it was the autopsy report of my father’s death. For once Lucy was not responsible of this… but this was truly a joke: instead of sending us the full report just as we requested, they just sent us six pages of conclusion. So I told Saveria, two things are to end at some point this year or in the following years, my employment at Salmon, and my French citizenship. But just as Mark Twain said, “if you want to demonstrate you’re a patriot, don’t burn the flag of your country, but wash it instead”, I focused my writings on a fierce and willing French-bashing. With my grandmother, still in France, we were this time on another front, having the final word on what happened to my father during that night. But, since the French justice system is heavily corrupt, unfortunately, as I write these lines, we gave up. Just like when I’ll send my passport back once I get my British citizenship.

This drama unfolded until March. At the same time, in the Salmon front, I had a week of holidays that was mysteriously unpaid because “we have no traces in our systems that you booked holidays during this period” even though days before I received an email confirming that I booked my holidays, but I was like, fine. In the meantime, as I gave that to my lawyer who was happy to get some more evidences to screw them badly, Lucy called me, it was by March.

“Hey Taylor! Listen, I have an opening for a barista position in a street not too far away from us. You would become a barista, and, you would have a new manager, Nirina. She is really nice, friendly, and, I’m sure you’ll get along with her. They will open for the 12th of April, you’re okay to go there?”

To be continued…
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