My boyfriend owns a small landscaping business, and I have helped him run it for eight years. I am currently attending school as my B.S. was exactly that when it came to finding a job-B.S. I often accompany him on jobs, and am trained on most, though not all, of the equipment. I can handle the majority of the physical labor, and have no problem getting my hands dirty. Working in the great outdoors used to be enjoyable.
This past spring we hired a man I'll call "Larry." He was recently let go from a medical sales position in which he was making six figures a year, and basically running the show. In a period of six months, this man lost not only his job, but his vehicle, his beach condo, his savings, not to mention his sense of security, well-being, and self-worth. Despite our personality differences, and his sometimes deplorable behavior, I still feel for this guy, and want to help him out.
The first few days he seemed reasonably normal and professional. As time passed, the layers of the onion were peeled away, and he emitted the tear-producing chemicals wherever he could.
Within the first week of working, he glared over at me as I was mowing, and made a motion with the trimmer as if he was going to decapitate me, and muttered to my boyfriend, "Here, let me solve your problem."
He once put the wrong type of gas in a piece of machinery, and proceeded to blame me for the mistake. (I have definitely made mistakes at work, owned up to them, and learned from them.) He has a knack for impersonations, and he took on the persona of a gameshow host, and said, "Bob, I think we have a winner. Ding! Ding! Ding! Could it be Heather that put the wrong gas in the blower? All signs point to yes!" I have been doing this job for eight years. The gas cans are clearly marked. I think I know which type of gas goes in the machinery by now.
One day we were driving to another job site, and, out of the blue, he says, "My friend told me I was going to be working with hot women this summer. Do you have anyone else working with you?" Then, a few minutes later, he blurted out, "I'm going to hell for staring at that fourteen-year-old girl. I need to get laid." (He is forty-one.) Guys will be guys, right?
Another day, he pointed to a bus for handicapped children and sneered, "Hey, you should know those, didn't you ride the short bus to school?" Comments like these became more frequent as time went on. He once told me, "Aw, you're just one of the guys" and playfully punched me in the arm. Then he asked me if people thought I was post-op (meaning a sex change from a female to a male) and chuckled.
His mood swings became more readily apparent, and he informed us that he is bipolar and unable to afford his medication. I understand that there are people who have mental health issues, and tried to keep that in the back of my mind when he would spout off or throw a temper tantrum.
He constantly rolls his eyes and shakes his head when I am performing tasks at work. He makes fun of me behind my back, and thinks I can't see his one-man sideshows.
Fall eventually came, and we were putting fertilizer down on our clients' lawns. We use a manual fertilizer, and I was pushing it along, as I usually do, and I look over, and he is watching me and laughing. He tells me, "I feel like I am watching the handicapped at the Special Olympics." He kept laughing and walked away.
I was backing the mower off the trailer, which I have done countless times before without causing any injuries or accidents. He shook his head, and asked, "Did your mother have any children that survived?"
The latest situation involved a trimming job. Again, a schoolbus for the handicapped passed by, and his comment was such: "Hey, you know that bus, where we're all winners, even when we're losers."
You might think I am pathetic for tallying all of these comments, but I needed to vent. I used to complain to my boyfriend about his behavior and comments, some of which he made in front of him! I do know my boyfriend keeps this guy on because, as of now, he has nowhere else to go, and reliable, hard-working people are hard to come by in this field. Both of us have soft spots for the downtrodden also. How I deal with this guy? I simply don't react to any of his comments or tantrums. I have found the best reaction is no reaction. He might have run a large multi-million dollar company, but the ball is still in my court.