It’s with great pride I warn you to brace yourselves: this is the best/worst episode we’ve ever recorded. Listen with fascination and/or horror as Kitty and I enter the absolute peak of our quarantine cabin fever, and dwell incessantly on the following topics:
- Kitty won’t shut up about fried chicken sandwiches.
- She experimentally combines the chicken sandwich theme with an absolutely disgusting sexual metaphor, for absolutely no reason.
- Piggy blows a year’s worth of bottled self-confidence to boldly insist that Hugh Laurie was in Home Alone.
- Shrek memes? Shrek memes.
It’s all in the service of answering a thorny listener question about coworkers. Specifically, the kind of coworkers that make messes and leave others to clean up.
Shitty coworkers: may you never know them, may you never be them.
Yet sometimes they can’t be avoided. This week on the podcast, we’re delving deep into the seedy underworld of shitty coworkers and what to do about them.
Do you try to manage their behavior, adding more work to your schedule by babysitting their incompetent asses? Do you confront them directly? Do you suffer in silence, hoping the misery they cause will guilt them into shaping up? Or do you bide your time, waiting for the right moment to sabotage their entire livelihood in the eyes of your supervisor?
We discuss all these tactics and more in a particularly bitchy episode of Bitches Get Riches!
This week’s question
Today’s question comes to us from Tumblr follower Shrikeseams, or as Kitty kept saying, “ShrekMemes!” They ask:
Hey Bitches & Community! Any tips on throwing incompetent coworkers under the bus with grace and poise? Some friends in my former workplace (event planning) who do most of the “client facing” work are tired of getting screwed by incompetent coworkers fouling things up behind the scenes and leaving the front end to take the blame. How do you place blame where it’s due when the client can’t see it and your management team is too defensive/lazy to act?– Tumblr follower shrikeseams
For more on navigating the workplace:
- Accepted a Coworker’s Social Media Friend Request? Yeah, You’re Gonna Regret That.
- How to Quit a Job: Giving Notice with Dignity, Poise, and Tastefully Subtle Shade
- How to Successfully Work from Home Without Losing Your Goddamn Mind (Or Your Job)
- Are You Working on the Next Fyre Festival?: Identifying a Toxic Workplace
- Ask the Bitches: My Boss Won’t Give Me a Contract and I’m Freaking Out
- Woke at Work: How to Inject Your Values into Your Boring, Lame-Ass Job
- My Secret Weapon for Preparing for Awkward Boss Confrontations
- I Hate My Job and I Don’t Know How To Leave It: A Confession
- Looking Weird at Work
- How I Chessmastered Myself Into a Promotion at Work
- You Need to Ask for a Fucking Raise
- Santa Isn’t Coming and Neither Is Your Promotion
Today’s episode was brought to you by fried chicken sandwiches. Specifically Beth’s Homemade Baked Spicy Chicken Sandwiches over at Budget Bytes, made with love by a life partner who labors over a hot stove while you scream-laugh inside the guest bedroom closet.
But there would be no fried chicken sandwiches without our Patreon community! While we don’t use their donations to buy our dinner ingredients, we do rely on them to pay for the recording equipment, editing software, file sharing, and podcast hosting that makes these episodes possible.
So if you enjoyed this HIGHLY UH INTERESTING episode, join our community! You’ll get to take part in group discussions about potential topics, pitch ideas to us directly, and pat yourself on the back for paying artists and educators for their work.
Episode transcript (click to reveal)
We would like to thank our Patreon donors, as always. So this time, thanks go out to Katie, Julia, Suzanne, Jody, and Amanda. And I want to give an extra special thanks to Stacy and Jackie.
Stacy and Jackie are like those fruits that are up on a top shelf. You don’t know what they are. It’s very spiny, it’s beautiful, it’s probably pink. You bite into one, and it’s life changing. This is so good. What is it? I don’t know. I love them. And I love you, Stacy and Jackie.
So one of my big goals for this season of the podcast was that we’re gonna have better audio quality. But, I’ll tell you what. Not only can I hear your computer’s fan running like it’s attached to a 747, trying to fly to save the President. I’m trying to do an Air Force One joke. Not only that, but like occasionally, there’s these little drops in the audio, and I have tried so many things to smooth that out.
And it’s probably just the fucking computer, and I’m so sorry.
It could be the computer, but I wonder if it’s your internet.
It’s your internet. Your internet sucks ass.
This is now a Patreon plea. Listeners, if you would like better audio quality…
Don’t put this in an episode.
Piggy needs a new computer because hers is old.
Mid 2010. This is a 10 year old Mac.
So, your computer just barely missed the George W Bush administration.
It’s a fourth grader.
And you need to upgrade your internet connectivity. How have you been surviving?
I don’t know.
With 14 megab…
I don’t understand, though, because like things happen quickly. Like maybe, I’m just so used to being this way that it just doesn’t occur to me.
Yes, you have Stockholm Syndrome for your terrible internet.
What is this? Is this an intervention?
It’s become one. Do you want it to be?
But like, are we sure that like mbps … that’s not megabytes.
It is megabytes. (Transcriptionist note — internet speeds are in megabits per second, file transfer speeds are in megabytes per second. Megabits per second is slower than megabytes per second, though.).
Oh my God.
It is megabytes per second.
(recovering from laughter) Okay, well.
I love how you … you thought you had me there with the … “Mbps, that couldn’t possibly be megabytes.”
There’s no p in megabyte.
It is megabyte in the sense of — do you remember the cartoon reboot, the villain whose name was Megabyte?
Yes, I sure do.
It is megabytes per second, as in that villain. He’s inside of your computer.
(dramatic) Oh no.
And your computer has nice computer people, blue computer people who are trying to help you win your games. But they can’t because that no good Megabyte, that wacky hexadecimal, she’s up to no good.
Wait, are you recording this?
(intro song break)
You want to zip through this one? Zip this up, so you can get your fried chicken sandwich?
Honestly, does it make me a bad person if I admit that, yes, it’s got to be a quickie so that I can get my fried chickie?
All right, all right, enough of that tomfoolery. Who are you?
That works out well because I’m Kitty.
And we’re the bitches in Bitches Get Riches.
We are your overprotective internet Big Sisters.
And we are here to explain all the shit that Mom and Dad got wrong.
Our time on this planet is limited.
So let’s get started.
Today’s letter comes to us from Tumblr follower … Shrikeseams?
That’s how it’s spelled.
You know, I don’t want to tell Shrikeseams their business, but it could have been Shrek Seams. There’s your first bit of free advice. I view that as a missed opportunity.
You have a hidden camera in my closet because you wait until I took a sip of water before you said that. And then it went in my nose. It wasn’t fun.
Shrikeseams, who is already working on a to do list to better themselves after listening to this podcast, they ask, “Hey bitches and community. Any tips on throwing incompetent coworkers under the bus with grace and poise? Some friends in my former workplace, event planning, who do most of the client-facing work are tired of getting screwed by incompetent coworkers fouling things up behind the scenes and leaving the front end to take all the blame. How do you place blame where it’s due when the client can’t see it, and your management team is too defensive or lazy to act?”
You know, it’s days like these that remind me why we named this blog Bitches Get Riches.
Oh my gosh, you are so right. We’re coming right back to the origin, where the end of the fountain … timelines are collapsing into one another. Whatshisface, Wolverine, he’s looking up. He’s floating. Everything’s glowing. There’s trees everywhere.
Trees everywhere. He’s got that look of awe on his face. Totally. And his name is Wolverine, by the way.
The famous actor Wolverine.
Famous actor Wolverine, aka Logan.
Um, so my thought on this would be like, “Oh, don’t be so quick to throw people under the bus. Don’t rush to judge. Maybe some compassion, forgiveness.” But no. The time has clearly come to throw compassion to the wind.
Yeah, let’s let’s operate under the assumption that our friend Shrikeseams has done all their due diligence. Why are you laughing?
Fine, think on them Shrek memes really how it how it do be. But, so let’s move forward with the assumption that they have tried to sit down, have reasonable, productive conversations, that they have talked to their managers. That they’ve kind of done all of those things. And they’re not getting any traction out of it.
And basically what what they’re saying is that they’re tired of cringing back to their clients and saying like, “Oh hey, that thing that we promised we’re going to do, we didn’t do it. I’m so terribly, terribly sorry for the incovenience.” And let’s assume that we’ve already tried the conventional wisdom.
We’ve exhausted all other options. It’s time for the nuclear option.
I have worked for a lot of very large companies that have a lot of moving pieces. So this is pretty familiar territory to me, where you want to be able to say, “This team fucked it up is really what the story is.” And I do think that it’s very important to defend your personal brand, especially if you’re talking to a client who may be someone that you want to work with going forward. You are the person who is really shaping their opinion of you, and by proxy, the company. So it’s an important relationship.
I think it’s important to defend your personal brand. I think there are very subtle, but clear ways that you can communicate that. You know, for example, let’s say somebody puts in an order for a chicken sandwich with me because I’m going to eat a chicken sandwich…
You are so focused on that fried chicken sandwich.
15 minutes, and we got to wrap this up, chop chop.
Can you hear my stomach growling? I will point the microphone at it. So let’s say you ordered chicken sandwich for me. And I say, “Great, I’m gonna come bring you this chicken sandwich in two minutes. And then I go back, and the chef is weeping sadly because he just got word that his wife died in a tragic chicken sandwich accident. I’m gonna come rushing back to the client, and I’m going to say, “I’m so sorry. I will get your chicken sandwich as soon as I possibly can. I appreciate your patience. Thank you so much.”
I’m going to spend all of my client-facing superhero power points trying to make sure that I’m going to protect that poor chicken sandwich maker who is recently widowed as much as I can.
Now, let’s say same scenario where we go back. I’ve just promised our customer. I’m bringing their chicken sandwich in two minutes, and it’s going to be steaming fresh. And I come back. And the chef is jacking off into the bucket of chicken batter. You know that stuff where they bread it up in.
That fucking scoundrel.
I think he’s a bad person. I think he’s done bad things. And I think that the fact that the client now has to wait while we scrub down this kitchen. First of all, set it on fire…
Well, we call the health inspector.
We call the police.
Close the restaurant. Testify in court against this maniac.
(in an arrogant, official-sounding voice) Your Honor, I saw him let one nut fly, and then the other into the batter!
But was it only one nut?
(continuing in an arrogant, official-sounding voice) Your Honor, he lost one in Vietnam. Therefore it was only one nut.
(mimicking Kitty’s court official voice) Let the record show it was but one nut that got nutted into the batter.
Bitches Get Riches one star review, they make fun of people with one nut. Listen. This is a one nut inclusive podcast. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re beautiful.
This is a body positive podcast.
You’re beautiful. If you have one ball, and I loved you … I would cup it tenderly? With light tugging, depending on how much you liked that.
But in this situation, you’re a bad person who jizzed in a bucket of chicken batter.
Yeah, you don’t that.
I think we really answered this one.
Case closed! Bitches out!
You are in a position where you aren’t going out of your way to cover for someone who tried their best, but fell short. But instead you are habitually covering for someone who seems to just not care about the shitty situation that that puts you in. Then what do you do?
Yes, you’re right to draw a distinction between those two scenarios. In this case, if you can’t run and tattle and you’ve exhausted all other options, I think it’s cool to go straight up Home Alone on their ass.
You need to be devious. You need to set up a scenario in which you lay a perfectly executed trap. And they walk right into it. True fact, Hugh Laurie, aka Dr. House, is one of the robbers in Home Alone.
Yes, yes. Hand to God, Your Honor, it was Hugh Laurie.
I don’t believe you. I’m Googling this.
You may. You may, and you may call me a liar on the air. Cut it out if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it was Hugh Laurie.
He was in Sense and Sensibility…
You’re gonna go through the entire Hugh Laurie filmography…
Hugh Laurie was not in Home Alone.
Okay, who am I thinking of? Who the fuck was in Home Alone?
This whole episode is cursed. It’s cursed.
It’s really cursed.
It’s really talking about jizz, chicken sandwiches. And you are going out there telling the people that Hugh Laurie was in Home Alone.
(sighs) Listen, I’m just trying to dredge up a little controversy. You know, this is like the National Enquirer, where they just say flat out lies so people will buy them. So that’s my plan here. Hugh Laurie was in Home Alone. Bite me.
Are you thinking of Merv? That’s Daniel Stern?
You know what, I probably am.
Shrek, I believe we’ve answered your question at this point.
(laughing) Bitches out.
No, what I’m saying is, in this case, it’s okay to lay a trap for your coworkers. And by trap, I mean position yourself so that they are the ones who look bad in front of clients. And so that you are the one who comes in and rescues the clients.
Hell yeah, there’s a certain kind of polite shadiness that I love. When someone says, “Yeah, you’re not getting that chicken sandwich in two minutes. I was busy jerking off, watching Home Alone starring Hugh Laurie.”
If that’s what they say, make sure that when you respond to them, you do a little aggressive cc’ing of either your boss or their boss. Just so that they get visibility into that. Again, Shrek mentioned that for their particular workplace, it sounds like the managers are defensive.
All that does … it’s not you saying, “Your Honor, how dare you?” You’re not contextualizing it. You’re just letting them see when you’re actually talking to clients. I think this calls for a two-prong. One of them…
Well, hold on I’m gonna stop you right there before you explain the prongs because I think there’s an important bit of information that needs to be shared before then.
Hugh Laurie was in the live action 101 Dalmations, basically playing the same character as the home invaders in Home Alone, and that’s what I was thinking of.
Have you just been furiously Googling?
(laughing) Yes, the whole time you were talking. Tell the two-pronged approach that you want to take…
(laughing) Okay, I wanted to describe a two-pronged approach. The first is: I think the kindest thing you can do, both for your client, yourself, and for the fuck-ups in your office, is to try to set them up for success by always underpromising.
Sometimes, I have had relationships with people who are client-facing, who think it’s totally cool to promise the moon to the clients without ever coming back and consulting me. “Hey, is three days a reasonable turnaround time?” And I’m like, “Hell no, that’s gonna take two weeks.” And they’re like, “I did already promise the client that you would hurry up and get it done in two … two days, so…”
That’s on you, motherfucker.
Like there are some people who work in client-facing things who I could imagine writing this kind of question. Who really … the culprit there is you are setting the whole workflow up for failure by never correcting or learning from what’s gone wrong in the past.
So if they always say, “Yeah, I’ll get that to you tomorrow.” And they only ever get it to you three days from then, just start telling the client, “You’ll see that in about three days.”
Or, if they’re really erratic, then say like, “You’re at the top of the queue.” You don’t have to make a promise on the timeframe, just be artful. Like, (in a customer service voice) “It’s a high priority to us.”
Underpromise, overdeliver, definitely. And that’s a that’s a good strategy for work in general.
And the other prong is get fuckin’ shady. When they tell you, “We can’t make our commitments,” or, “I haven’t even started that yet.” Make sure that, in your response to them, you’re cc’ing either their boss or your boss or both. Just so they have visibility into that. It’s a very passive aggressive dick move. It’s you low-key trying to get them in trouble, but in a way that nobody can really get mad about because what’s wrong with cc’ing your boss?
Like, it’s just transparency. We’re just trying to be transparent. When you go back and you communicate to the clients, there are things that you can say, or ways that you can phrase it, where you are making it clear that like, “I am so sorry. We’re really strapped right now, and I heard back from the team that they won’t be able to get this done until the end of the week.”
“I really want to help you, but (side voice) I’m not the person who’s fucking up, it’s someone else.”
(side voice) “I’m not the asshole.”
I think that is perfectly put. My most dangerous weapon is killing with kindness. So, for example, this person says they work in event planning, and the issue is behind-the-scenes people leaving early. So the front end, which I assume they work on, has to take the blame.
So in this case, I would just, after an event where this happens, just send a group email out with the boss and those early ditching coworkers copied on it, and be like, “Guys, I noticed that for some reason the behind-the-scenes staff members don’t have enough time to stick around and help clean things up. What can I do to help make it so that you can meet your obligations easier?”
“How can I help you stop fucking up?”
Yeah, exactly. And you can phrase it in as nice language as you want, but really the issue is (a) you want to draw attention to this and make everyone know, including your boss, that you understand exactly what’s going on, and then (b) just give them an option for explaining their way out of it.
Because really, there’s no explanation, other than, “Oh, yeah, oh, sorry, thanks for your help. I guess we’ll start doing that.” But again, just kill them with kindness. “How can I help you stop fucking up?”
Yeah, it’s very important that you never say anything to a client or to your boss that you wouldn’t say to the fuck up coworkers’ face, or like while they were in the room. Like you shouldn’t say things that aren’t true, and you shouldn’t say things that are unkind. You shouldn’t say that person was a fuckup. Instead you can just factually state that, “Anita promised me that she would have this stuff to me by end of day on Tuesday. It’s Thursday morning, and I haven’t gotten it yet.”
“Clearly, Anita ran into some trouble. How can we help motherfucking Anita?”
Also, I think, maybe a third prong … perhaps we’re making a full fork now.
This is a full fork. It’s a dinglehopper, if you will.
It is a dinglehopper. If you would just let down your hair, and run this third prong through it.
I think an important third prong is to recognize to what extent do you want you to be the face of your company. I actually used to work for a live event planning adjacent company.
I worked there with you, briefly.
You were there too.
We were basically a three person studio. So when I spoke to clients, I was representing myself on a very intimate level. And when I promised them that we would do something, that was me giving my word, and it was very important to me.
Nowadays, I work for a company that has 100,000 global employees. I say all the time, “Yeah, I’ll get this to you by Friday.” Already knowing I’m not going to get it to you by Friday.
Oh, so you’re the asshole.
Listen, (in an old timey voice) in the dance of life, sometimes you’re being lifted up and other times you’re lifting others. Sometimes you’re the asshole. Sometimes you’re dealing with the asshole.
I think you make a really good point there, which is that you want to come out of this smelling like roses. You don’t want bystanders to say, (in an old timey voice) “She just pushed that person under the bus, Your Honor.”
You want to be able to come out with plausible deniability. Which is why, like you said, you never lie, never shit talk people. But just make it clear that you’re a team player in the company, and you want things to run well. You are committed to the success and the profit of the company or the employer or whatever.
And, you know, you just want to make things better, which is why you need to run over these goddamn lolligaggers with a bus. So keep that in mind. No one likes a tattle tale. No one likes a shit talker or a gossiper. But people respect you if your motives appear pure.
Your personal brand. This sounds like corporate nonsense, but your personal brand really matters. If you have the reputation of — the moment that someone drops the ball, you say, “Well, she doesn’t care about blah blah blah.”
Like if that’s the way that you react, people will hear that in everything you say. That you are eager to assume why people miss their deadlines.
Whatever, extenuating circumstances happen.
Yeah. Another favorite thing to do would be to tell your boss, “I am cool with telling clients positive news, neutral news, and disappointing news. If I have to tell them disappointing news for a second time, especially if it’s because another team member fails to meet their commitments, I would like you to deliver that news.”
I don’t want to always be the bad guy. I want to be the one who preserves my relationship with the client and always brings them like good progress, happy news. It is very normal to have someone higher up than you, who is paid enough, to go through the indignity of groveling to a client. That’s really it. You’re not paid enough to grovel. Make somebody with a bigger paycheck go grovel for you.
I’m hoping my snaps come through over the microphone.
I hear them.
I hear them. I feel them. I receive them.
Are you good with that, by the way?
I’m good with that.
I talked a lot. Whoops.
We sure did. That was not a quickie so you could get your chickie.
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You know what? The burglars in 101 Dalmations serve an extraordinarily similar role in the narrative as the burglars in Home Alone.
Yeah, thematically, it’s the same story, and character-wise, it’s the same.
Isn’t one of them like real tall and lanky, and the other one’s real short?
Yes, just like Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. Yeah, yeah.
Well, good to know.
Piggy & Kitty 24:38
Bitches out. (laughing)