I joined a shipping company three years ago. At the start I enjoyed the work. The pay suited me and I got along well with my colleagues. All was great, except for one thing…
I reported to a female boss, Maria*. She’s an impeccably dressed and poised lady and when I was first assigned to her department, I was happy. Maria seemed nice and she left me alone to do my work. But after a few months went by and I became more familiar with my tasks, she started piling more and more work onto me.
Luckily, I am a fast learner, so even though there was no proper training from the company – or guidance from Maria – I managed all these new tasks fairly easily. But as the work volume increased, I found myself staying later and later in the office almost every day.
Maria also seemed very busy. She was hardly in the office; she claimed to be running many projects and she was always out at lunch or at meetings with clients. This meant I had to pick up most of the in-office work, especially tedious but vital paperwork like contracts and agreements. I also handled all of Maria’s reports and correspondence, even though technically these did not fall under my job scope. All Maria did was sign off on the paperwork – I assume she claimed it all as her own work.
At first, Maria would be thankful for my help. But as time went by, whenever I helped complete her work she simply grunted a cursory word of “thanks”, without genuine gratitude. I sensed something was not right about how she was behaving, but I slogged on as I wanted to prove myself as a capable worker.
One evening after work, Maria asked me out for dinner. As we chatted over our food she revealed she endured a hard life; she had supported herself through university as her parents were divorced. Now, she had to raise two kids on her own because her husband had left her. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that her job was very important to her family. She thanked me for being a great support and promised I would be given due recognition if I continued to help her.
So I became Maria’s ‘secretary’ – even though it was not my job designation. I was unhappy to have all these tasks on top of my assigned role, but I reminded myself of Maria’s difficulties. Two more years went by like this. Even though I worked hard, I was not promoted or given a pay raise. I felt disheartened, used and taken-for-granted.
My days were made better by my colleagues. We got on well and often went for lunch together. Then, a few months ago, we went out to celebrate a colleague’s birthday. That’s when some juicy gossip in the office started spilling out… and most of the news involved my boss!
Some of my colleagues revealed that Maria often entertained the men in our company’s upper management. Several people said they had seen her getting drunk with the bosses after office hours – perhaps that’s why she turned up for work at noon on some days! Also, she told a group of my colleagues that she had graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from a certain university. Yet another group remembered she had graduated from a polytechnic.
I went home that night feeling disturbed by what I heard. I decided to do some detective work. I searched for Maria’s LinkedIn page and found that she stated a university on her profile… but it did not match the one mentioned by my colleagues. Then, I tried looking at her Facebook profile. I saw her education status ended at GCE ‘N’ Level. Had she forgotten to update Facebook? Or had she really stopped schooling after ‘N’ Levels?
The next day, I decided to try a daring stunt. I told Maria the HR department needed our educational certificates for auditing purposes. I then casually asked what university she was from? She gave me a totally different name from the one on her LinkedIn profile. She added she wasn’t too sure where she’d filed her educational certificates at home. She said she would look for the certificates and bring them in when she’s found them. She never did.
So now I am almost one hundred per cent sure that Maria has faked her credentials. Even though I do not have concrete proof, I feel tempted to report her to our HR department. But I also recall the night she told me about her family’s plight. But… I wonder, has she also made up that story?
I feel Maria did not get to where she is through hard work. She’s an expert at manipulating her way up by using other people, including me. Part of me want to expose her to get justice for myself. Yet I also do not want to be the ‘bad guy’ who brings her down. So I recently applied for a transfer to another department. I hope this will put an end to my dilemma.
*Name changed to protect privacy.
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