Copyright © 2023 by Jeth Randolph
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I worked for a couple of projects at different times over the years as a site manager in places like south London amongst others. These jobs and other times, were was a great educator in the realities of working with people at a street level in contexts of low income and in the case of the following, homelessness.
In all this time, the single greatest problem factor was not the clients or the public but consistently other employees, especially upper management.
A fish does truly rot from the head.
I'm convinced now from numerous experiences that I've had, that many places that are set up to provide services for vulnerable people attract sociopathic personality types that are drawn by the ability to have power over others while enjoying the social accolades of doing “good work”.
It's a perfectly disguised feeding ground for them and they seem to flock there.
Another type you meet is the damaged person that wants to heal others without ever having worked out there own shit first.
So at this juncture, I'll introduce you to a woman I used to work for. She was an American who'd married and moved to the UK and had a background in corporate business. Middle aged, childless and a workaholic, she'd had to leave this after a rumoured mental breakdown due to being bullied at work.
She had then looked for a “rewarding” new career to make a difference in and found it in the setting of a homeless project.
But rather than a new direction, it seems she had immediately transferred the corporate mindset to this context and started, you guessed it, a culture of bullying but this time with her at the top.
Rules, sales targets, and street homelessness don't mix.
I was told that she had thrown paperwork and things at another woman that worked there when she was displeased and caused several people to leave with stress related illness, including during the years I was there.
Her job description was general manager of a handful of sites, which she managed to successfully rename to the much more impressive title of “CEO”, thus appearing to resume climbing that career ladder through smoke and mirrors.
A street level job was then, reimagined with diverted project funds into a new company iPhone, power suit and paperwork in a wheeled luggage bag as though transatlantic commuting.
An incongruous sight, arriving at work in an expensive car and walking past the assembled men and few women – some were street homeless mere days before this and all were dressed in the new mandatory cheap uniforms that she wanted.
Sometimes there would be painful attempts to be just one of the guys, and she would try and join in banter with a coffee and a foot up on a chair, laughing in an almost deranged way, slapping her thigh and saying “Well, gosh darn it!” in an affected country drawl and then, that laugh.
Several of us believed her to be nuts.
Actual productive physical work would grind to a halt at my site as I was constantly called away for meetings at “head office”, some would last a whole day.
Power talk and power point.
The sound of only one person talking.
In contrast to this, due to the nature and location of my work, I was receiving regular threats of violence at my site, which were reported but then downplayed by her and her management team.
You get the picture and I need to tell you this stuff, for what comes next to make fuller sense.
At the head office location, a local woman who was banned from the premises for shitting on the floor of the business and then throwing it around reception turns up and starts loudly doing... well, what she did best.
The illustrious CEO orders staff aside and then stepped into the breach.
This was going to make a great anecdote at some future TED talk, or perhaps, still her beating heart, a business leadership bestseller!
“Taking charge” it seems is about ignoring indicators of potential violence, assuming a power stance - hands on hips while using firm hand gestures and loudly telling the offender in a very direct manner about boundaries and property.
This was met with a odorous haymaker that dropped her quicker than Black Monday share prices and left her nearly unconscious in the middle of reception, much to the well hidden amusement of some staff members as the pungent pugilist continued with ranting and then left.
She was picked up in the street outside by cops a short while later and our budget CEO was fine.
No bestseller, no TED talk, maybe a red face in more ways than one but still, telling other workers that their workplace threats weren't that bad.
Not just two worlds literally colliding but an interesting collision also, of female aggression types:
Psychological, low physicality bully versus high physicality and mentally ill.
It's ironic and ultimately, self balancing that someone purporting to work for vulnerable people should choose to handle an aggressive but vulnerable person in a location designated for both the public and vulnerable people with... aggression.
And low and behold the result was...
Someone that assumed they could issue directives to the world from their job position and that the world responds on their terms?
That's not how it works, not everyone shares or even recognises your perceived ideas of status.
Everyone has a different script and handling things otherwise is a recipe for the number two to fly – in this case – no fan needed.
I don't know who our faecal flinging anti- heroine is or what happened to her but I guess sometimes it takes the least likely person to put the world to rights.
“Communication breakdown”, this longer article which includes multiple examples is found in the book, Self defence volume 2
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This is so funny, I nearly choked on my tea at “pungent pugilist”. It’s a very interesting point about peoples’ narratives about how the world works, and whether they distort the information they are receiving to fit their narrative, or change their narrative to fit the reality in front of them. We have to have some kind of working model about the world we live in, but what do we do when our model doesn’t seem to work anymore?
I recognise this type of person in quite a number of people I have met, and also the “let me rescue you so I don’t have to think about my own life” type.
Control freaks really struggle with not being in control, and although this woman amusingly failed in her direct and confrontational approach, unfortunately people like her often have other ways of implementing their agenda that can make life really miserable for all around them.
Reminds me of a New York Lawyer we once had on a course, who found that horses didn’t much enjoy her company. “But I can reduce men to tears with a single sentence!” Not a skill that endears you to horses, or just about anything/anyone else for that matter.