Dear Mouthy Housewives,
A person who worked for me quit in a very disruptive way. She wasn’t happy with her review, blew it way out of proportion, and quit. Although she would have been fired anyway.
Unfortunately, we live in the same town and our children are in the same grade, albeit different classrooms. And now she is bad mouthing me, and the company I work for, to other parents. I don’t want to waste my time explaining this situation to all the people we have in common. But it is making me really uncomfortable and I don’t want my daughter to suffer because of this woman’s big mouth.
I can’t approach her since she is pretty harsh. Should I make sure people know my side or just ignore it and hope it just goes away? I don’t feel like playing the blame game.
Bullied by Bad Bad Leroy Brown’s Wife
Dear Bullied by Leroy’s Wife,
You certainly could “fight fire with fire” as they say, or rather “ridiculous immature mean girl behavior with the same”: Tomato. Tomahto. (It sounds way better in my head.) Should you choose this option, it’s obvious that you must hire a van with a megaphone to drive slowly from one end of the town to the other while playing on repeat: “Mrs. Brown is a Hobag and also probably has Syphilis.”
The last part is crucial since Syphilis, if left untreated for too long, can infect the brain and make someone go crazy, which is obviously what happened to Mrs. Brown here (implied).
The next step in this war would be to hang signs all over town that state: “Do you want to get Syphilis and go crazy like Mrs. Brown?” or “It’s possible Mrs. Brown killed her first husband and buried him in her front yard.” The beauty of this is that it doesn’t matter if this woman has an STD or was even previously married, what matters is that you have created mass doubt.
And this will lead everyone in your community to wonder, when Mrs. Brown speaks, “Is it the venereal disease talking? Or, will she kill me too and hide me under her prized rose bushes?” Thus making it unlikely that they will hear anything she has to say. Of course, this plan could also backfire and make you look like a crazy person with a vendetta. And if you saw V for Vendetta you know you do NOT want to be associated with that cinematic mess!
So onto your other option: taking the high road. This is not an easy path to take, but certainly, the one that will leave you feeling and looking your best. It’s an especially dicey situation when personal and professional lives crash into one another. Keep your mouth shut. Don’t say mean things about her behind her back and, if she really is as unapproachable as she seems, don’t engage her in an argument.
This woman has obviously never matured beyond the tactics used in high school. She’s hurt and angry about losing her job (and probably pretty upset with herself for the awful way she handled it) and she has apparently decided to take it out on you. You are an easy target since you were her boss and you both live in the same town. The majority of people will see her mean-spirited talk and bitterness for what it is and those that don’t, well, they haven’t progressed beyond high school either so let them go.
As for your daughter, explain the situation to her so that she can be prepared at school should anything happen with Mrs. Leroy’s daughter. Other than that, she too will have to take the high road. It won’t be easy but it will make her stronger in the end. However, if it becomes a real bullying problem (a la Nellie Olson from little House on the Prairie. What? It’s still on repeats!) then it’s time to talk to the school administrators and have a sit down with this woman and her daughter. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. But perhaps you should have a minivan with a megaphone on retainer just in case?