Workplace ‘cliques’ – Good or bad?

I know I am posting a LOT of things in this blog but my mind has been going a zillion miles a minute over things I want to write about.   I swear I’ll try to make this my last multi post in one day (keyword is ‘try’)  I don’t know why this has come to mind this weekend since it happened to me about 10-11 years ago.   Maybe it’s because I long so much to work for an emergency veterinary hospital again, and this experience was my first working in such an environment.   Overall I loved working there.    They were a team of doctors that obviously loved what they did.   The technicians had shifts that covered all of the hours that the hospital was open  (24 hours)   I started off originally as a swing tech working the mid morning to the evening where the overnight staff would take over and cover the shift from 9ish- 7am.  The morning tech would arrive at 7 and take over from the overnight crew which during busy times was a chore in itself.   Weird things can come in overnight at an emergency hospital.   One night all of the treatment cages would be empty,  then the next it’s overflowing with critical patients that needed hourly checks.   Iloved working there,  the adrenaline was addictive and I loved being able to see someone run their pet into the front door of the hospital (we had cc tv cameras that showed on a screen back in treatment so we could tell when the front desk needed someone up there STAT,   We grabbed the gurney , rolled up front.. took the animal from the often hysterical parents and instructed them to remain up here with the front desk to finish filling out paperwork while we took the pet to the back in order to triage and stabilize it as best as possible.  I became a pro at IV catheters, Xrays,  and drawing labwork.   Just about every emergency case that was brought in was given the same thing, so repetitively you can become a pro if you do it time after time.  Anyways,  to reiterate…. I LOVED what I did there.

Enter:  Workplace drama.  troublemakers,  drama queens, shitstarters,   whatever you want to call them.  They are in just about EVERY workplace and I’ve worked with my fair share of them.   Have I been one at one point?    Yes, I have.   We females thrive on drama,  that’s why there are so many stupid reality TV shows airing.    The thing is, I like to think I’ve learned from my mistakes and I do try very hard to avoid going down that road anymore.   It’s not worth it and it’s cost me dearly in the past.   The situation I’m referring to is the subject of this post..

I’m not going to name any names but this one person I worked with at the Emergency Clinic had been there a while and she had a clique.  If you were on her good side,  everything was great!    The clique would all hang out together outside of work,  had inside jokes, and of course had their work schedules made where they worked every shift together.   I flew under the radar of their drama for a long time,  but I would watch what happened to people that she didn’t like.   She made their lives miserable until they either quit or got fired.   It pretty much became that person’s main purpose in life when she set her mind to it.   What was sad was nobody did or said a thing.   I had a few friends who were there with me under the radar and they silently agreed with me when I said what was going on was wrong,  but nobody had the nerve to speak up.. myself included.   That emergency hospital lost a few great staff members because of her… damn shame.

It didn’t take much to get on her bad side.   She thrived on attention and when she didn’t get it,  then suddenly she had turmoil going on in her world that she had to involve everyone in.  I remember one day being in treatment when she walks in on her cellphone.   She’s yelling loudly at someone on the other end,  saying things like “YOU JUST TRY THAT AND I’LL GET A LAWYER!”    When she finally got off of the phone (and I’m really doubting that she was really on a call, I mean.. WHO walks into their workplace in a heated conversation like that?)  she huffed and puffed until someone asked her what was wrong.

To sum all of this up,  I eventually got on her bad side and my life working there became hell.   It stopped being all about helping the animals in need but constantly watching my back making sure I wasn’t getting set up to get fired.  I would arrive at work and walk into treatment and everyone back there would all stop talking at once.  It became me vs them.   ME versus the clique.

One morning I came into work and found that the night before had been busy.  my shift started at 7:30 but I liked to go in a bit earlier to get started on things. There were numerous patients admitted that night,  among them was a lab that had an emergency splenectomy overnight.   The troublemaker was up front in the receptionist area on a computer looking up something online,  and usually the night crew is supposed to brief the shift taking over.  She was so absorbed in whatever she was doing on the computer so I chatted with the receptionist for a few minutes, then  clocked in and walked into the back to see what needed to be done.   Immediately I noticed that the lab  had no pulse.    I shouted to the front for people to get the hell back where I was and help me.   The overnight doctor who was still there helped me get the dog out of the cage and we checked vitals.   She had been deceased long enough to have a low body temperature.   The vet estimated the dog had been dead about a half hour or so.    The troublemaker immediately started going into damage control mode and tried to blame everything on me.   Forget the fact that my shift started at 7am and she was up front online for who knows how long,  it became my fault that this dog had passed.  Those that mattered knew the truth,  but she pushed the team lead to move me out of there.    I was moved to another vet hospital about 15 miles away.   Just to keep the peace, just to appease her.    just because I wasn’t part of her clique.    I have been a veterinary technician for well over 25 years and have never… EVER done anything so irresponsible.  I’ve never put the life of an animal in danger and I never will.   That person threw me under the bus to save her own ass, and it worked.

Everywhere you go, there are cliques,  some can be great.   They can strengthen a team and help it work stronger towards the ultimate goal,   but it can also do the complete opposite…just like what I wrote about above.      someday I hope to get back into Emergency medicine and work with a team that will give me that feeling of accomplishment.   Not having to worry about being ‘accepted’ into a clique.

Cliques are too damn overrated!


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