I generally enjoy these visits. All expenses are of course covered and I like occasionally spending a day or two out of the office, just for a change. I don’t even mind starting my day much earlier than normal or the time spent in the train going back and forth to the client’s office. When the frequency of these visits is no more than once per month I like spending some quiet time (in most occasions) reading my book and enjoying a nice cup of coffee. I also like meeting new people. My contact in that small village of Yorkshire proved to be quite cute, which is always a plus.
Anyway, while I was installing the software on one user’s machine, I couldn’t help but notice that in the same open-plan office were two other employees. One of them I’ll call junior was quite thin, in his very early twenties with a thin voice and a fringe covering one of his eyes. The second was his superior, in his late thirties, shaved head and a bit hefty. He looked a bit like Al Murray.
It was very obvious by his body language and the way that junior spoke to his superior that he was intimidated and afraid of him. The way he was answered and talked to was rude to say the least and disrespectful. I didn’t want to eavesdrop or to appear that I was watching, but I started feeling uneasy and stressed. I can’t say that the whole scene was a proper case of bullying but I felt bad for the poor guy.
After junior was sent to a job out of the office, a third employer tried to confront the supervisor. I don’t know if he did it because me, a foreigner, was there or because he felt a bit bad too. The supervisor simply answered that junior was a graduate and should know better than asking stupid questions and behaving like that. His reply was proof that the supervisor was an asshole and I felt even sorrier for junior. He would probably serve under the supervisor for a couple of years as his bitch with his confidence levels reaching rock bottom.
It wasn’t my place to talk but I felt guilty about seeing the scene and not doing anything. When I visit a client like that, I do represent my company and I always try to be at my best behaviour. It’s also my job to please the client (always in a professional way) and make sure that everything’s OK and we stay on the best of terms. I can’t simply go and pick on fights but I believe that not being part of the solution of the problem, makes you part of it. Bullying in any form should not accepted…