One thing that has been keeping me away from writing is the fact that I have been going through a lot of shit at work. Yes, I said a ‘bad’ word. Deal with it, because that’s the best way to accurately describe what has been going on. It’s a long story, and too many things have taken place to mention them all in detail here, but basically, it can all be credited to two people – my supervisor – whom I will call DH and a colleague in another section whom I will call BFB. Those initials do not stand for their names, but rather what I call them in my mind…
Now DH is a male, about 29 years old, from an Arabic-speaking (not Gulf) country. BFB is an Asian female who is in her early to mid 40s. They are part of a gang of expats – the wolf pack – here who consider themselves better than everyone else. One of their favourite pastimes, as far as I could tell from the few times I have been in the presence of two or more of them is talking shit about everyone else. According to them, everyone else is incompetent and useless. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is that, for the large part, they are insecure and/or under-qualified and clinging to whatever little shreds of power they have been granted because they know that anywhere else – in a more professional environment – they would not be up to muster.
DH – for example – has been in charge of the section since 2007 – so basically that means he was about 25 when he became section manager. Where else on earth would a 25-year-old non-Emirati informatics engineer be made ‘Creative Section’ manager in a fairly large government organisation in the UAE? He has somehow managed – by hook or by crook (or both) – managed to hit pay dirt and he is scared as hell to lose his cruise down easy street. As neither a trained graphic artist/designer nor a particularly creative person, he basically does not have what is required to manage or guide the work of those placed under him. All of his employees have qualifications and skills he neither possesses nor understands – and this makes him insecure and MEAN.
To combat his insecurity, he has formed a close ‘friendship’ with the so-called senior graphic designer, a 29-year-old male from northern Europe, who is his best friend, roommate and illegal business partner. The fact that this guy is the senior graphic designer is really quite laughable – everything he ‘designs’ is lifted from somewhere else – nothing is original or attractive – his ‘designs’ remind me of a prison or a hospital room. Rigid lines, washed out colours, overuse of the corporate ‘palate’ – for crying out loud just because the logo is blue doesn’t mean every god damned thing we put out has to be drowning in the colour blue!
They have enslaved in their section a very nice, quiet Lebanese guy ‘NG’ who has more qualifications, skills and natural talent than both of them combined and multiplied by 100. Poor guy has been with them more than 3 years now. I hate the way they treat him. Like me, he’s an artistic quiet sort, who would prefer to just do his job and stay out of the petty-politics and crap that this place seems to revolve around. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible when one or more of the wolf pack is out to get you.
I guess they had it in for me from almost the first day I joined the “creative” section, when the Marketing Director scrapped DH’s design for the corporate diaries and told him to come up with a new theme that made sense and wasn’t boring. DH came up with nothing, but I did have an idea – which the Marketing Director liked. So we implemented mine… and I did most of the work. In the end, everyone was happy and impressed with the diaries – said it was the best they’d had yet – of course DH was happy to take the credit. But I guess that whole ordeal put me – and the Marketing Director – on his hit list
At the same time, BFB had it out for me, because as PR & Media officer, she should be able to write well in at least one of the two languages we issue our PR material in – English and Arabic – but she her Arabic skills are zero (0), nil, nada, niente, and her English writing is shabby. Until she came here she’d been getting by with bad grammar and by plagiarizing. Part of my job here as ‘Editor’ is to check and fix everything written by her in English, and this make her feel so terribly insecure.
You might wonder why they would hire a non-native speaker to write and then hire a second person – a native speaker to check what she writes – good question. I remember the CEO complaining about her writing shortly after she started, when I used to work in his office. And I – defending her – said “but she has other abilities, and you knew she wasn’t a native English speaker when you hired her.” To which he replied “yeah but ‘R’ (a Czech national) evaluated her and said her English was quite good.”
“So you had one non-native speaker evaluate another one?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean anything – the person with the highest score on TOEFL isn’t a native speaker”
“Native speakers don’t take TOEFL in the first place...”
So basically, since that time both DH and BFB having been working – mostly behind my back to undermine me in every way possible – lying about me, spreading gossip, complaining about me to HR and, generally, making my life a living hell… to the point where I started crying myself to sleep at night – or suffering from insomnia from worry and frustration.