Drama even at a volunteer job????

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, so I've been volunteering three days a week at a place I loved. We help gather and give out items to the needy and I loved my co-workers and the clients and I am in my element when I can help out. The pay socks, but I am still afraid to get another real job and can't make too much anyway because of my benefits so I was really feeling useful.

    This woman, whom I will call Jane, is a volunteer with issues...alcoholism, bipolar, probably borderline...she is usually nice, but she is a major drama queen. Those of you who wonder if it ever quits, so do I. This woman is my age....sixty. Much like the bus driver I had when I worked at Head Start, she took a dislike to me. I'm not sure why this happens to me so often. I think it's because I seem very meek and am easy for people to pick on. I look very easy to walk all over too. At any rate, I don't care what Jane thinks of me, but the head of the organization today called me into her office and told me that she is really angry that I told Jane all about our conversation that we had had about Jane (this was last week, supposedly after hours). Jane must have hung back and heard because she told the lady everything we said. I hadn't told her about it. I try to avoid her. But the boss insisted that nobody was there but she and I and that I must have told Jane what she had told me, which I didn't. I thought I was back in Head Start!

    After insisting I never told her and not sure if she believed me, I went outside in tears and thought, "Here we go again." But since it's a volunteer position, I can blow it off and find another place with the same pay and benefits so it's not as bad. However, I am absolutely shocked, even after all these years, at how drama seems to happen in spades whenever there are a pack of women in a workplace. It is the reason why I never hung in cliques and why I would rather socialize one-on-one. However, if I want to volunteer, I can't really do one-on-one.

    Does anyone else experience this chronic drama at every gathering of women, be it work or volunteering or the Parent-Teacher meetings or just committees. The way I see it, it's not about jealousy. Since none of us are getting paid, who can be jealous of who and why???? We all do the same things.

    In my younger, more borderline days I may have told the lady in charge to take her volunteer position and stuff it, but I'm older now and I just listened then went outside to ponder. It is no surprise children bully other children. Grown ups do the same thing and it's just as nasty.

    Any thoughts? If not, this was just a puzzled vent.
  2. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I have always had issues working/volunteering with women for the reasons you describe. I don't deal well with the drama and behind the back talk at all. I was lucky to be able to work in a field that was male dominated, but even there, women managed to create drama.

    Not all women are like this and my closest friends these days are women, but yes, it goes on everywhere there isn't a strong manager to keep it under control. I think part of the problem with female managers is that so many of them want to be "friends" to their employees, and it just doesn't work.
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    It is NOT you. It is also NOT just women. My husband works at the university sporting events and he is often surprised at the level of ridiculous BS drama that happens. It is not just the employees that create the drama either, the fans and players/coaching staff/parents are often far more idiotic than the employees.

    I think a lot of people don't really grow up all the way. If abuse/trauma happens and you don't get therapy or help, your emotional development stops. It leaves you stuck at a certain level of emotional behavior that is not very functional. Exsil had some awful things happen when she was 13 and the only way any of us can cope with her is to remember that she is a 13yo in many ways. Looking at her actions this way makes them far more predictable and much easier to cope with.

    I think your 'boss' was incredibly rude and unprofessional. How does she know that this other lady was not in the room? How do you know that this isn't some mean little drama game that they go into over an over? We know that you did not tell anyone about this conversation. That leaves someone overhearing it and the 'boss' telling someone about it. My bet is the 'boss' discussed it with someone, either Jane or someone who thought it was unfair/mean and told Jane about it.

    Even though this is a volunteer job, it was still incredibly rude and unprofessional of this 'boss' to discuss Jane with you. It was even more unprofessional of the 'boss to accuse you of sharing the discussion. I would probably tell the 'boss' that you feel it was very wrong of her to accuse you of gossiping with-o any proof and that it would be best for her to not share things with you that are not work related, especially things about other volunteers because clearly she is telling you things that are best left unsaid or between supervisors.

    This sort o thing is annoying and upsetting and I am sorry you have to cope with it. For some reason I have found more of this koi at volunteer things than at paid work .
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    About 14 years ago a little girl -age 9- from the area vanished. XH knew her aunt so we volunteered. It was February so I worked inside, trying to set up a system where they could keep track of the donations, volunteers, and so on. Some lady -not even related- started telling me off, that I didn't know anything and on and on and on. After a few weeks it got so bad I quit helping.

    More recently, at Relay For Life, I had to quit volunteering because they had someone incompetent and the main people refused to consider asking her to change things. Many people had left because of her. They told us, "you can't fire a volunteer"... Then the next year they fired my parents as volunteers because they did not fit the Relay image. Interestingly, most of the committee that supposedly said they were being horrible people kept asking where they were the next year... We still support Relay, just not the town my parents live in.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone. And, yes a volunteer can be fired...lol. Jane was almost tossed for exactly what she is doing now yet this boss still gives her chances. If I go volunteer elsewhere, Jane will not change. AnnieO, I so relate to your experience.

    I love to help people in the community, especially those who have less than even me...lol. I'm not going to stop volunteering because I find pleasure in helping. But if it gets stressful at a place after a while, since there is no pay involved, I will simply quit and move onto another place with another cause I support.

    If you have any suggestions on how to handle Jane, let me know. I'm going to give this organization a few more days. My biggest problem is if I ignore Jane, she'll make comments like, "You don't have to have an attitude!" Then she runs to Boss with lies. Yes, she is a piece of work, and not one I want to have to deal with. The sad thing is, everyone else, boss included, are really nice people and lots of fun. Oh, well. Open to suggestion. What would you do? Leave? Ask for a raise...lol? :)
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    There is drama on ANY job..........volunteer or paid, doesn't matter if it is men or women. (just a slightly different type of drama with guys is all)

    I feel like I have been transported back to high school. Seriously. The same drama, kid you not. I treat it the same way I did back then, I ignore what I can ignore and flat out refuse to get involved in what I can't ignore.

    We even have grown women having temper tantrums. holy moly I expected her to flop down on the floor and start kicking her feet and pounding her fists. Why? Well, because she was told she had to do the same work as everyone else. Imagine that. lol
  7. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Don't go back there. It's not worth it, there will just be more of the same. The people aren't going to change and be reasonable all of a sudden. Thankfully, I have never personally experienced this exact type of lunacy at work. I guess they're too dumb to understand that if you aren't there, it's more work for them.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    UpAllNight, I am going a few more times because I care about the clients immensely and they do need the help. But if I have even a hint of trouble from Jane, even while ignoring her, I'll just leave. There is another place similar to this one where I can volunteer, but I need to talk to the head volunteer and he's out of town until Thursday. I look forward to talking to him.

    Trust me, I don't plan on putting up with much. I know Jane won't change. I just want to see if by ignoring her she will focus on something else. If not, well, bu-bye. Thanks for the blunt advice. I know it's good, solid advice.
  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MWM, I'm sorry you have to experience this once again. It's unfortunate but, as you have witnessed, there are many people who play out their internal dramas externally on the world stage. All scenarios differ in so many ways and really, only you can determine where you stand in the middle of all the varying personalities. If it felt right to me, I think I might calmly and without judgement, simply talk to the head honcho and express my truth about Jane in that her personality disrupts the actual point you are all there. That you so enjoy helping in this org. however, you won't allow yourself to be harmed and perhaps ask if there is something that he/she is willing to do to alleviate the problem since there have been other issues with other people.

    We can't always change the scenario, however, in our expression of honesty, I believe we can free ourselves of the drama and no matter what happens after that conversation, you have told your truth, you have expressed your boundary and if need be, everyone knows you will move on if it continues.

    I've done a lot of volunteering in many capacities as well and not everyone gets involved for the reasons of altruism. Egos are often at play all around us........ what's helped me the most is to express my truth and let go of the outcome, always taking care of myself.