I have a really obnoxious coworker. We are theoretically equal but he has long tenure, and management has a high opinion of at least some aspects of his performance.
He behaves normally the majority of the time, and is friendly sometimes, but has a bad temper and loses it when small things don’t go his way. He never tells me what he’s doing, or tells me what he wants me to do, and I’m afraid to ask a lot of the time. It’s not so much that he gets angry, but that he is contemptuously angry, like I was some kind of idiot, which I humbly say I’m not.
I addressed this obliquely with my boss, who told me yes he was a little strange but did a great job. I addressed this more directly with my boss, who told me I already to you he was a little strange, and I took the hint to drop the matter.
My brother has better understanding of people than I do, and he told me the guy probably had some protector, maybe some client of the company who wanted him to work there, and that’s why his bad behavior was tolerated. This made sense to me.
Then I do something the coworker asked me, but not exactly as he wanted it, although he didn’t tell me exactly how he wanted it. He told me he couldn’t believe I screwed this one simple thing up, and I told him him he needed to calm down. A few more heated words were exchanged but for a while he did calm down.
But he keeps doing it. And I don’t want to deal with him, but I have to so I talk to him a little later and he acts like everything is normal.
Is he embarrassed by his behavior? Or he considers it normal so that’s why it isn’t an issue later? I can’t say. I suspect his dad was a dick, and he gets the behavior by modeling or genetics. I think this is true of a lot of men.
Anyway I decided I can’t do anything about it, I have been told all but explicitly to put up with it, and I don’t want to look for another job right now so I’m going to just ignore it. And heap burning coals on his head, if he is in fact embarrassed by his behavior.
At this point, I had an intuition. His protector is not some client, or the owner, but my boss himself. He started about the time our immediate supervisor took on his position, which involves hiring. I don’t know what exactly the deal is but for some reason our boss wants him to work there, and I know he has at least one skeleton in his closet that limits his employment opportunities, and maybe he has more. The owner has made effusive praise of him to me- in front of him- so the owner likes him, but I still think the supervisor is his sponsor.
I think accepting the reality of the situation and the need and value of taking Paul’s recommendation got me the insight I needed. The guy is a pain in the ass, but he can’t hurt me, as long as I ignore his childish outbursts. Is this a God-given insight? I think so, but maybe that’s just my mischievous pneumatology.