8 February 2010

Windowgate and Ambulancegate

Last month I wrote about an ex-colleague, Tina, in Cakegate. I mentioned at the time that there were two more Tina episodes, windowgate and ambulancegate. Here they are.

We've all worked with a Tina. They seem hell-bent on doing as little work as possible whilst creating the maximum amount of disruption in the office. They have personality clashes with colleagues. In the event of a Tina episode someone usually ends up in tears. I only cried tears of frustration when I couldn't find the corkscrew the second I got home from work.

Windowgate and Ambulancegate

Tina was always cold. To her credit she wore snazzy jumpers to keep herself warm. She also has a fan heater under her desk. I don't know how she made room for it, what with the footrest, two bins, shopping bags, tupperware containers, emergency photographs of her grandchildren (in case some unsuspecting visitor hadn't seen the albums yet) and the filing she hadn't done yet.

Menopausal Angie sat opposite Tina. Angie had more hot flushes per day than Tina phoned her daughter.

Every time Tina went to the ladies, Angie opened the window next to her as wide as it would go.

Every time Angie went to the ladies, Tina closed Angie's window and locked it.

This continued most days, whatever the weather, until Angie's daughter, Jo, started work at ABC Ltd. We needed someone to help with the filing and Jo was cheap and flexible. [HOW TO BE A MANAGER - LESSON 517: never employ a family member when a random stranger is available.]

Jo liked the window open, just like her mother. It was now two against one.

One afternoon Tina asked Angie to close the window because she was cold. Angie, who was having a hot flush, refused. Tina walked round behind Angie's desk and slammed the window shut. Angie burst into tears. Jo and Tina had a stand up row. Jo shouted at Tina "you're a f*cking b*tch". This was of course unacceptable. If Jo hadn't walked out never to return, I would have had to let her go.

Tina burst into tears. Apparently she had never been spoken to like that before. Really?

All the (male) directors peeped out of their office windows, too scared to come out. It's okay I gestured, I'll deal with it.

I asked everyone to calm down, which they did. The discussion over who said what to whom went on for a short while until Jo rang Angie to see how she was. Angie passed on Jo's verbal resignation to me. Tina asked for an apology. When Angie said that Jo wouldn't apologise, Tina started shaking and clutching her heart.

The other First Aider was called, luckily I didn't have to put my First Aider hat on as the Health and Safety Manager was in the office. He decided to call 999.

I rang Tina's husband. His reaction surprised me somewhat. "What's happened this time?" he asked. I told him there had been a row and asked if he was coming to see Tina. He said he would see her at home later. I thought he'd misheard me so I repeated that an ambulance had been called. "Right", he said, "thanks for letting me know".

The ambulance arrived. Just as the paramedics walked in the door Tina said she felt a bit better. No, she didn't need to go to hospital to be checked over. No, really, she was fine. She would sit quietly until 5 o'clock, then she would go home.

The next day both Tina and Angie phoned in sick. Some kind doctors signed them both off sick with stress. I had to do home visits. I managed to get them both back to work the following week. They agreed not to be friends. That was fine by me. It meant the office was quieter.

I'm shuddering at the memory of this. Every time I get wistful for my working life I think of cakegate, windowgate and ambulancegate and remember that the grass is never greener!

Photo Credit


  1. LOL! This sounds sooooo familiar (on a daily basis!). Some of us kid around (kind of) that it's a good things our windows don't open - because a few someones might "accidently" fall out of them..... ;-)

  2. I am sure that the main cause of friction in offices is windows. Employers should group people by hot / cold sensitivity. And put them in different rooms, one with windows that won't close and one with windows that won't open lol

  3. This made me laugh out loud (thankfully I was on my own in the office!) Think it's very telling that Tina's husband was so laid back....

    And the image of "all the (male) directors peeped out of their office windows, too scared to come out." - been there, done that! I'm the only girl in an office full of blokes, and if any of them see even the glimmer of a tear in my eye, they scarper! (I have often lamented the fact I can't cry on cue, it would be a handy skill to have!)

  4. OMG! What a story. Fancy faking heart problems - sad woman! You are well out of there Sandy. Mich x

  5. Haha always good to read your blog always puts a smile on my face =)

  6. What a funny story. I feel their pain though! I am "like the window shut" person but I've always seemed to work near people who wanted it open!
    I love Foodie Mummy's suggestion that employers should group people together by their heat sensitivity! Would make for a much happier workplace!

  7. That Tina sounds like a right piece of work.
    You could group people by hot or cold sensitivity, but then you get the awkward ones like me who're always whatever temperature the room's not. I'd need a floating desk.

  8. Gigi, haha, I expect a few of them were tempted to throw Tina out of the window!

    Foodie Mummy, brilliant idea! I love it :-)

    Bronagh, oh definitely, he'd been through it all before - you could just tell. I had to manage all the (female) admin staff in the office because none of the men could handle them!!

    Mich, I know. A lot of people were genuinely concerned for her health (even if they didn't like her personally). She over-stepped the mark with that stunt. x

    Kelly, thank you, glad to be of assistance :-)

  9. Photo Puddle, I can almost laugh about it now!! Yes, I love the idea of grouping people into offices based on the windows. :-)

    Glowstars, or a 'hot' desk, hahahahaha!

  10. jeez, what a nightmare! You must be SO glad to be out of there!

  11. Heather, I miss some of my other colleagues, but not Tina! When I took 10 month old Presley in to meet everyone he was perfectly happy until Tina said hello to him. Then he wailed. The rest of us cried with laughter (after she'd left for lunch of course)!

  12. lol what a nightmare it can be at work! We've had any rows at my work between a few colleagues and it always makes me giggle about how much hot air can be blown out of people. xxxx

  13. Amy, I know. Why can't people just live and let live?! x


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