19 January 2010


As a stay at home mum I look back at my working career and realise that, by comparison, I didn't have to work that hard at all.

When I was a Financial Controller or a Financial Director I sometimes worked 90 hour weeks. I sometimes worked twenty hour days, but mostly I had my evenings and weekends to myself.

I could go walking or shopping in my lunch hour. I was made cups of coffee and there was a lot of cake. Okay, there's still a lot of cake. Work was a laugh, I had many friends, I was mentally stimulated and I was 'important' and respected.

Whenever I become wistful for my old life at work, one face pops up to remind me that it wasn't always quite so wonderful - Tina*. Tina the grinning assassin. Tina the invincible. Tina the untouchable. Tina the terminator.

I was working at ABC Ltd, I loved working there. I managed the accounts department and all the women in the office (but that's another story)! I had been warned that my predecessors had all tried, and failed, to get rid of Tina. I was giving her the benefit of the doubt and treated her with same amount of respect as I treated everyone else.


It still makes me shudder when I think about it. I has gone down as an OMG did that really happen? moment in the history of ABC Ltd.

It was my secretary Jo's birthday. She had bought frozen cheesecakes into work and by elevenses time they were defrosted. She carefully divided the cheesecakes into equal portions and dished them out to the hungry masses.

So far, so good.

After lunch Tina asked if she could speak to me in private. I shut the door and we sat down.

'Jo gave me the smallest piece of cake', she said.

'Oh', I said, satisfied with the size of my slice, not sure what the fuss was about.

'She gave me the smallest piece and all the rubbish from the edge of the tin. She doesn't like me'.

Tina started to cry. I'm always sympathetic when people cry and usually join in. I handed her my the box of tissues and listened to her sob story. This took quite a while. She had a lot to tell me. Jo giving her the smallest piece of cake was the last straw. She didn't like telling tales, but they had driven her to it. She couldn't go back into the office. They would know she had been talking about them and it would all get worse.

Oh crikey.

After a good hour of this I left Tina with the tissues and went to see Jo. I had to ask her about the cake. She told me she had saved a large piece of cake for Tina and given her the extra bits from around the foil tray 'because I know what she's like', she said.

I went back in to Tina, who was still crying. I told her what Jo had said (well, some of it anyway). Tina called Jo a liar. There was a lot more crying from Tina. I was scratching my head.

Next, Jo rang me in tears so I went to see her. 'Tina always does this', she said. 'She's a nightmare. I can't work in the same office as her anymore'.

We were going round in circles.

I told Jo I'd deal with Tina - having heard both sides I was beginning to realise that Tina was playing me for a fool.

I said Tina could spend as long as she needed composing herself in my office. It was Friday afternoon, perhaps we should all calm down over the weekend. Things would look different on Monday morning.

It took Tina until 4:50pm to compose herself. This gave her enough time to turn her computer off and put her coat on ready to go home at 5pm. As soon as she was safely in the car park the whole office surrounded me. Some laughed, in fact one guy laughed until he cried, and the rest commiserated with me.

Apparently I'd had my first Tina 'episode'.

I couldn't believe I'd spent the afternoon listening to someone squeeze out crocodile tears to accompany a list of alleged slights as long as both my arms and legs. I needed a drink.

Cakegate, as it became known, was the first of a few Tina 'episodes' I had to endure. After cakegate came windowgate and ambulancegate. Don't ask.

Whenever I find it hard work managing two needy toddlers I remember Tina and I remember cakegate and I decide that paid work wasn't always a bed of roses!

*Names have been changed to protect the annoying.

This post was written for the Sleep is for the weak writing workshop. I chose prompt 3 - What are you guilty of viewing through rose-coloured spectacles?


For more reading material, the fabulous Emily O is hosting the Best of the British Mummy Bloggers Carnival on the theme of grandparents over at Babyrambles.



  1. Oh I so recognise this, doesnt every office have a Tina. When I worked in an all male environement, it was so much easier

  2. What a brilliant post! Poor you having to deal with her lol...there always seems to be a 'Tina' in every office doesn't there! Cakegate had me in stitches, perhaps you could tell us about windowgate and abulancegate another time? I am very intrigued :D x

  3. That's incredible! She wouldn't get away with that behaviour where I work - no one would have time to listen to her! I hope you whipped her into shape in the end!

  4. That is so one of the reasons why an all male office is good

    Sooooooo I really now need to hear about windowgate and ambulance gate - please !

  5. I know EXACTLY what you mean! While I love (most) of the women I currently work with.....there have been some......

  6. Oh my, and I though the offices I had worked in had been bad!

  7. Oh haven't we all been there! I can just imagine you sat listening with ever-widening eyes! How do all the 'Tinas' live with themselves? Their sense of justice must be so completely skewed beyond belief...

    Great post!


  8. Hahah Cakegate. I have worked with a few of these types of people - i must write about teaspoongate when i get the time!

  9. Holy Moly - and I thought I had problems with people I worked with!!!

    And I know you said not to ask, but "ambulancegate" sounds very interesting - please tell!

  10. When I think back, I worked with a few of them. And I don't miss it.. Men all the way (when it comes to office work), although.. I have also met a few male Tina equivalents too lol. X

  11. How funny....I expect every office must have one of those. ;0)

  12. Tina sounds like a nightmare but good for a bit of office gossip. You'll have to tell us about the other incidents with her!

  13. It's certainly a story to treasure when you start thinking the grass might br greener if you "worked"!

  14. This sounds like excellent preparation for looking after small people. In fact, they're probably a little bit more mature!

  15. Brilliant post, this has really made me laugh.

    Beki x

  16. The Mad House, hmm, some men I've worked with have been Tinas too!!

    WADs, I can just about laugh about it now! I'll have to write about windowgate and ambulancegate another time! x

    Working Mum, she didn't get away with it again!

    Muddling Along, I've never had the pleasure of an all male office! Okay windowgate and ambulancegate will follow soon :-)

    Gigi, there's always one!!

  17. Pippa, this was actually my favourite ever job - amazingly enough!

    Peabee72, thank you. You're spot on about the sense of injustice. Trouble is it's self-fulfilling! x

    Kelly, I can't wait to hear about teaspoongate :-)

    Bronagh, holy moly indeed! I will have to write about ambulancegate, it's unbelievable!

    FoodieMummy, I've dealt with a few male Tinas, but Tinas of every gender are disrupting offices all over the world! Loving your blog by the way! :-)

  18. Nova, there's been a Tina in every office I've ever worked in - some worse than others!

    Make Do Mum, Ooh I've just thought of another incident to add to the 'gate' list - the dinner party, er, gate!

    Turtle Turtle Turtle, I'm glad I have Tina to remind me that the grass isn't always greener! Another new blog to read too :-)

    Hearth Mother, brilliant observation. Children are so much easier to manage (so far)!

    Beki, thank you :-)

  19. I'm sooo late to commenting, I'm so sorry. But here I am! And oh my goodness Sandy, two toddlers sounds loads easier than that fruit loop!

    Saying that, I worked with someone very similar. She once burst in to tears (in front of a library full of children!) because I hadn't remembered to ask her how her course had gone. She drove me absolutely up the wall. Nightmare!


  20. Josie, don't worry about being late, I usually am! Yes, having two children to 'manage' is a lot easier than one Tina! Fancy getting upset over that? Some people are sooo sensitive. x


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