My Secret Identity and the Employee Who Harassed Me

I’ve hesitated before to come out and say my profession, because it is a major identifier to those who do know me. But it is important to this particular turn of events in my history. I believe some of my idea behind the Empathy Project stems from this part of my life.

I am a Pet Groomer and have been so for many years. I currently own my own business.

I had the opportunity to work for one of the Corporate pet stores that provides grooming (it’s safest I not mention). They actually headhunted me from indeed, as I had posted my resume pretty much right after I discovered my husband’s affair.

We won’t discuss the logic of that emotional response at this point.

I digress.

I was hired to a location that had not had a manager in the salon for many months. It also didn’t have a current store manager, as she was out on maternity leave.

I had only 2 employees, a very sweet young lady who barely spoke English, let’s call her V, and then the devil in sheep’s clothing, J.J.

J.J. was an existing employee with the store, the longest working groomer. He had received his training through them, only 4 total years grooming, and he was young with not much other life experience.

The fellow in charge of dog training was a friendly guy who in our first conversation said, “Be careful of J.J. he wanted your position.”

Hmm. Great. But surely he’d see logic as to why they hired me in, I had over a decade more experience, I had actual salon managing experience, and I had run an entire business previously (this job was after selling my first salon 5 years prior). He won’t be bitter, right?

I honestly didn’t put 2 and 2 together until after the stress got to me and I resigned.

It started off with small things. I had brought up some things in my first (and only) employee meeting, one of which was to put the cage grates back into the kennels at night for the people who work in the morning. It was a massive inconvenience how they currently did things, so that simple step would make their lives easier.

Very first night he closed, which was the night of the meeting actually, he left them out.

Hmm ok, I will let it slide because surely it wasn’t intentional or spiteful.

I had learned a “quick drying” technique that reduces drying time for dogs pretty drastically. It involves utilizing a towel during the blow drying and I demonstrated the technique to my employees. I even ordered more towels, as they had low stock.

Several times J.J. brought soaking wet dogs up to his table to blow dry. Looking back I realize that was 100% spite, as no groomer does that. We always towel dry and then blow dry a little in the tub so the dog is not in fact dripping wet. He had done so previously, so the behavior was an obvious “screw you”.

I had asked them to organize their drawers, as honestly, the salon was a holy mess. Things were just thrown in every where randomly. After a week of nothing (during slow season), I figured maybe there’s a lack of knowing how to organize.

So, I did it. I organized the entire flippin’ salon, front area and back…it was a melange of OCD/mania. But it needed it and it felt good.

I took a picture of their drawers and sent them texts, I let them know I went ahead and organized things for them and just asked if they could try to keep them straight.

The next time I came in after J.J., no lie, every drawer looked like someone took it off its track and shook it up and put it back, then stirred it with their hand a bit for good measure. Even my own drawer.

I honestly was just confused as to how everything got messed up so quickly and so badly.

The same thing happened to the supply cabinet of shampoos and conditioners. I had completely organized it (can’t say re-organized, it was jumbled) and then…bam, nothing was where I had put it.

I had purchased a plastic drawer organizer to organize bandanas at one point. One day I walk in and the organizer is on the entire other side of the room.

I admit, it threw me. I thought it through, that maybe they thought it would go better across the room. Hindsight says the new spot was 100% illogical and inconvenient, and it was J.J. being a jerk.

I’m not completely stupid, mind you, but at the time, I was under immense stress from the emotional trauma of my husband’s infidelity and our recovery. I also did not realize until shortly before I actually did leave that J.J. had possibly discovered I had OCD.

I had made a Facebook page for the salon, but it was through my personal Facebook – not any corporate page. I think I once discovered I was still logged into Facebook the next day when I got to work and then things started kinda connecting.

I’m not sure if fleeing was the appropriate response. Actually, I know it’s not. When I contacted my District Manager with my 2 weeks notice, he sent one of the floor managers to talk to me. She wanted to know what was wrong, what they could do to keep me, etc… I had helped their salon tremendously in just a short time.

My response?

Well, I tried to be as honest as possible. I couldn’t handle the time away from my family, the weekend requirements. 3 Fridays, 3 Saturdays, and 3 Sundays a month? It was hard for me not going to church (she had no idea!). Oh, and my employees don’t listen.

I didn’t know how to say I felt like J.J. was…harassing/picking on me?

I desperately wish I had. I know that salon had a history of not keeping managers. That is very possibly why. I also worry deeply for the future salon managers, or if, God forbid, he does get promoted. His employees are likely in for interesting treatment.

At this point, I feel I can’t exactly reach back out to them and say “Hey, JJ was harassing me, be careful with your other employees please!” as its been a year and a half.

I just pray for him. I pray that God works in his life and that he learns some empathy for the pain of others. I pray that he will find his way to God and not hurt anyone else.

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