I am a grumpy old man. In retirement, I'm slowly pushing all annoying and dislikable people out of my life. Not much tolerance left. And, I wasn't exactly fond of people to begin with. In fact I tend to agree that Hell is other people!
Mosaic of Hell, by Coppo di Marcovaldo (c. 1225 – c. 1276)
I never understood people who could muster the enthusiasm to play office politics in any profession. All I wanted to do was to do my work and go home.
When I was working for a publishing company in the 90s and 00s, a young gay man became my co-worker. (I'll call him "Ray.") Ray was obsessed with becoming a manager, and he imagined himself to be in a duel to the death with me over the position. There were only two of us in the multimedia department, so I was unsure of why we needed a manager. The title, however, was incredibly important to this guy and he lobbied intensely to win it.
Ray never seemed to notice that I had no interest in managing anybody. As I said, all I wanted was to do the work and go home at the closing bell.
His campaign for the position morphed into a relentless barrage of gossip, tattling and scolding directed at me. Ray cornered just about anybody he could find to relate his tales of my deficiencies on the job. He listened to my phone calls with my wife, and duly reported the content (as best as he could discern it) to the entire staff.
This amused and perplexed me, because this was entirely a one way battle. I was making a shitload of money, doing work that I mostly enjoyed, and having a hell of a lot of fun away from the job with my late wife, Myrna.
My antagonistic co-worker was (as I said) gay, and his entire working and social life was organized around his gaydom. He'd learned in college that bitching about his perceived persecution earned him points. (His father was a doctor who owned a huge estate!) HR in that era was determined to promote Diversity, and my competitor was all they had... the white son of a rich doctor became the de facto nigger of our department because of his gaydom. There were no blacks in our field, and I doubt whether there are any to this day. So, HR made do with what it had.
The one way battle raged on for a year and a half. Co-workers would often stop me to relate the latest awful gossip about me that Ray had spread around the office. My worst sins were being hetero, and being outspokenly anti-PC. During this era, everybody was obliged to bleat on endlessly about how concerned they were about gays, how delightfully wonderful gay theater and sex clubs were, etc. I showed no interest in such things, and I made it clear that I didn't regard gaydom as a form of sainthood. This was probably my greatest sin, according to my ambitious co-worker.
When he discovered that I was Catholic, Ray was aghast and he asked me during a meeting with about a dozen people present whether I attended church every Sunday.
"Well," I answered, "yes I do."
In the multimedia biz in those days, being openly religious was the kiss of death. Ray was zeroing in for the kill. He had exposed me as unfashionable.
Myrna had ambitions for me that I didn't share. She wanted me to join the great battle to be manager of one person. I declined, which infuriated her. I tried to tell her that there was always another job waiting for me, but that did not placate her. She wanted me to do battle for the sake of my honor, but I declined.
Everything changed pretty dramatically after 9/11. My antagonist and I watched the attack from our office windows. He softened a bit in recognition of our shared experience of incredible brutal tragedy.
Then the financial collapse in the aftermath of 9/11 brought the great one way battle to a conclusion. Ray's campaign to be a manager finally succeeded. But, irony of ironies, the department was dissolved in a reorganization, I was transferred to another department, and he became a manager with no personnel. But, his business card read "Manager!"
His campaign of vilification and gossip had succeeded, however. My new manager hated me from the beginning and never wanted me on her staff. The company bought me out with a bucket of money to prevent me from filing a lawsuit, and maybe because my CEO genuinely liked me, and I moved on to freelancing and contracting. Leaving seemed like a disappointment at the time, but I later was glad to have left. Being on staff at a company never agreed with me. I preferred to be on my own.
Precisely because of the hell of office politics.
The best thing about retirement is that I can just about entirely push the hell that is other people out of my life. I focus on the work that I want to do now without regard to bosses, office politics or marketability.
Life is good.