Friday, January 23, 2009


[Reader Beware: Angry rant with toxic language right ahead. Proceed at your own peril.]

I feel like hitting somebody right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And all because of the rather useless and oversensitive girl in the office who's been trying to second guess my every motive lately.

FERCHRISSAKES I don't have the time, ability, and most most importantly, INCLINATION, to play your bloody mind games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When all I was trying to understand was if you have understood my previous, COULDN'T BE SIMPLER instruction correctly (pass my contact number to students so that they could reach me out of office), after you yourself admitted that you have failed to do that, and I wanted then to find out exactly what the story was regarding a particular student's case, HOW DOES THIS TRANSLATE TO ME ALL OF A SUDDEN BLAMING YOU UNFAIRLY???????????????????

I haven't even opened my mouth to utter any words that remotely resemble the word "Blame", and so there's not even any question of whether such purely hypothetical blame are being lain fairly or unfairly. All I said was "Oh I thought I made that quite clear in our previous conversations that you were to pass my number to the students who rang in?" And all I subsequently asked during our phone conversation was to get more information about the student's case itself and what he said and wrote.

AND you KNEW I was in a hurry - ringing me at 4pm when I was on my way to a meeting (I have told you same and you can hear traffic around me on the phone) and I needed to get back to the student by 4:45pm (he in fact rang at 4:35pm) MEANT THAT I DID NOT HAVE THE LUXURY OF TIME TO LISTEN TO YOUR OVERWROUGHT EXPLANATION OF WHY YOU DIDN'T PASS ON MY NUMBER TO THE STUDENT AS INSTRUCTED!!!!

If you want to be a fucking crybaby about it just because I moved swiftly on to the details of the student case itself during our phonecall in a hurry. FINE. Just DON'T FALSELY ACCUSE ME OF BLAMING YOU WHEN I HAVE DONE NOTHING OF THE SORT!!!!! I didn't even have the fucking time to start laying blame on anybody during our short conversation, and your pre-emptive e-mail does NOT IMPRESS. AT ALL.


What a way to head into the Chinese New Year. BUT THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY!!


The below is actually what I wrote back to her (Note: Words in italics are those I wish I have taken out of the reply e-mail I sent her. Words in [CAPS] are words I wish I have included instead.):

Regarding your concerns about the phone call, I thought I have explained quite clearly that students should be asked to ring me directly on my mobile number. Simply stating this does not mean that I was blaming you [IN ANY WAY, NOT TO MENTION WHETHER] unnecessarily or unfairly for the situation regarding XX, nor does it mean I did not appreciate the fact that you're doing your best to help from a liaison perspective. I just wanted to make sure that you understood correctly what I have asked you to do when dealing with student queries coming into the office while I am out of the office. This is especially important after it transpired that there may be a difference in what I have said and the notes you've taken regarding the written response to XX.

Moreover, as you probably realised [ARE AWARE DURING OUR PHONE CONVERSATION], I was in a hurry when you called (you left a voicemail at 4pm which I just missed and I called you back straight away after listening to your message, and [AS I STATED] I was on my way to a meeting [AND YOU COULD HEAR TRAFFIC AROUND ME DURING OUR PHONE CONVERSATION]), and I needed to get as much information as I could from you in order to be able to respond to XX when he rang later before the end of office hours at 5pm (which he did at 4:35pm, just when I managed to get out of the meeting).

I appreciate that you took the time below to explain to me the reason why you didn't pass on my number to XX at the first instance, which I agree is very reasonable [ENOUGH], but I hope you can also understand that our conversation yesterday was never about placing blame on anybody, but for me to understand that you understood our initial agreement and what happened with XX in a limited time. So forgive me therefore for saying this, but perhaps sometimes you may have a tendency to take things personally which were not meant to be taken personally? [IN ANY CASE] If there are misunderstandings or mistakes [ANY ISSUES] in the course of our dealings with students, then these need to be stated and discussed in the open. Sweeping them aside out of consideration for potentially hurt feelings may not help us to serve our students ultimately, do you agree?

I await your kind response to the above too, and please understand I'm approaching the above [PURELY] from the perspective of getting a constructive dialogue, [AND] not [TO ENGAGE IN] a blame-shifting exercise [AT ALL].

Best wishes,


Comments on how I should have handled it, and/or what I should do going forward, are very very welcome. I really can't pretend that I have had vast experience of handling admin staff - in fact, my experience of getting any secretarial person to do anything productive had generally been less than positive.

But if it's not them, then it must be me. Now that I've calmed down a wee bit (though I'm still seething over the false accusation of blame-laying!), I'm willing to learn.



At Fri Jan 23, 09:28:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger laichungleung said...

I prefer to have a face to face or a phone conversation if fact to face is not possible. Sometimes email doesn't really cut it. I don't work in academia so I don't know but usually nobody reads my email if it's longer than say 50 words.

Usually when you actually talk to the person, then everything becomes OK, you will be nicer and the other party will be nicer too. Have a cup of coffee with the person and she might turn out to be just as nice as you are.

Happy New Year.

PS: MAN I have no idea working in academia can be crazy busy.

At Fri Jan 23, 11:14:00 p.m. GMT, Anonymous exile from hk said...

Don't want to pretend I know how the Irish do things. It can be sooo very different from the Americans. Sometimes a simple "sorry" or "I will make sure it won't happen again" should be enough. No need to make a big deal, right? Hope you feel better. Yay it's Friday.

At Sat Jan 24, 12:37:00 p.m. GMT, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Thank you very much LCL and Exile for your very kind advice... I'm calmer about the whole affair now although I'm still very wary about how to deal with her... I have to sincerely apologise though for the rather foul language you had to endure when reading this post.

LCL: Yeah I agree e-mail isn't the best way. But she was actually the person who wrote me that pre-emptive e-mail as a "p.s." followed by long paragraphs about the phonecall in the first place (thus my rant about her "overwrought explanation"). Prior to this was literally just that phonecall we had. My first reaction on reading that e-mail was as per the title of this blogpost. There's no question of us having a face-to-face though because I was working away from the office yesterday as well, and I really didn't want to risk another phonecall with her then - not only because she might take things up the wrong way again (that seems to be the pattern in the last while), but also because I was soooooo angry when I read the e-mail that I probably wouldn't be as calm talking to her (whether face to face or on the phone) than if I had to put my thoughts down on paper. And to be honest, if I don't respond in writing, I don't know if she might use that against me later...

I tried the working-out-over-coffee thing the last time when she again didn't do what was agreed and I called her on it and she played the upset card (even though I had to do the work myself as there was no time for her to rectify her mistakes - and instead of thanking me, she said she felt uncomfortable that I was doing her job... But if only she's been doing her job then I wouldn't have to add to my own workload would I?). I thought she was genuine then and we were okay about it. This time though, when she was trying to pre-emptively accuse me of blaming her "unfairly" when I was actually letting it pass and just get on with the work. She has crossed a line.

Exile: Thanks for your kind comment. I didn't want to make a big deal about it at all. In fact, my expectation was so low that I didn't even need her to apologise, just to make sure she knows what to do from here on in. I didn't expect to be backstabbed like that and being accused of blaming someone unfairly in black and white when I had done nothing of the sort. I thought I was already being nice and professional by not mentioning anything and just getting on with the student case. But no, for some people they didn't realise that they have been let off scot-free...

Oh well, there's no hiding about it, I'm still quite bitter over the whole affair. I probably need to forget about it over the weekend to get a real perspective on things when work comes around again next week.

Thanks very much again for listening.


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