The following is a true story.
Once upon a time, I worked with someone named, well, let’s call her Pat. She was difficult to get along with. She found fault with everything and everyone. There wasn’t one good thing that happened that she could not wring the bad out of it. If anyone shared good news, she worked feverishly to find the cloud in the silver lining.
But I had to work with her, so I tried as hard as I could to deal with it.
One morning, in an attempt to try to get some kind of human response, or at least to show I was not an enemy, I complimented her. She had come in with new clothes and a new hairstyle. “You look nice today,” I said.
She glared at me at said nothing.
Next thing I knew, I was being called in for a meeting with HR. She had lodged a complaint against me. The complaint? I had, according to her, publicly insulted, humiliated and verbally abused her.
“When the hell did I do that?” I asked.
“This morning when you called me ugly!” she said.
I shook my head in disbelief. “I said no such thing. What I said was, ‘You look nice today,’ that’s all I said, and I can bring in witnesses.”
That’s when she jumped out of the chair and screamed at me, spit flying into my face, “YOU WERE INSINUATING THAT I LOOK UGLY EVERY OTHER DAY!! HOW DARE YOU!! HOW DARE YOU!!”
The HR director dismissed the complaint.
No matter how hard you try, there are some people you just cannot communicate with. The expend vast amounts of energy to find offense, to be insulted, to have cause for personal warfare. You become the enemy, and whatever you say will be twisted and turned into some kind of horrible attack upon them. They will take offense that you breathe the very air that they’re in. How dare you.
I keep running into Pats. It’s awfully exhausting.