Ok, so, when I was in Home Group and things with the person who was bullying me got really bad, she said a couple of times out of nowhere that she ‘knows a lot of people’. I did realise she was trying to warn me (how nice of her) but didn’t think much of it. Like, what she can do, I was thinking? That was a lack of social imagination on my side again. Of course, she could still do things, even though I left.
At the time I saw a couple of articles that were stating IT and accounting are the best jobs for people with Asperger’s and I thought, I had bachelor in IT and was aware that wasn’t a job for me so it made sense to try accounting. I was planning to sign up to one of the online courses to get qualifications but, as I couldn’t quite decide which one would be best, I started with updating my profile on job search websites, where I explained I want to get into accounting.
Shortly after that I had a recruitment consultant contacting me and she was really eager to see me in person. She said she had a client who’s looking for someone like me. ‘I didn’t know it’s going to be that easy’ – I thought. Obviously I was aware I may not get that particular job, but it was clear to me that people who want to work in accounting are in demand. So I went to see that lady. She was very young. 22 maybe?
It turned out the job she had in mind is not really available as the person who took the post last time is still there. ‘But he said he may want to leave’ – she said. He may, or he may not, I thought. It was rather clear he didn’t even hand in his notice. ‘Why am I here?’ I thought. It didn’t make much sense to me. Moreover, the job was in Chippenham, and not even in the centre of it, so I’d have to take a bus, then a train, and then a taxi to get there. No way I’m going to get accepted if I tell them I do not drive. The recruitment consultant said that she doesn’t have any other jobs that I could do, just this one. Again, I wondered why she wanted to see me.
Towards the end of the meeting she had a look at my CV and said, in a very strange type of voice ‘So you worked for Home Group? I know somebody there’.
And then it became clear to me: the person who organised bullying campaign against me was still giving me troubles. She knew I’d be looking for a job so she got a recruitment consultant to harass me. And to get recruitment consultant on board, my ex colleague must have hinted that she will organise her a contract with the company. That’s how she worked – obviously people who were a bit older wouldn’t go for it, but the youngsters really seemed to believe they get what they need by doing what she wanted – and I’m telling here about Home Group tenants who were making made up accusations against those who The Lady didn’t like.
This technique is called ‘flying monkeys’ by Rebecca Zung and, from what I saw, can be very effective.
After that strange meeting the recruitment consultant didn’t want to leave me alone. She’d be emailing me a few times a week about jobs that may become available but are not available yet. Finally I said something sarcastic to her and she never contacted me again.
But the thing didn’t finish here. Shortly after I saw a job ad about a job in a warehouse where knowledge of computers were necessary for imputing invoices to the system. And the warehouse was pretty close to me, I could even walk! But then, I realised, that is a residential area, there are no warehouses there! So I never applied as I got scared.
But the best happened a bit later: I got bullied by my job centre coach. I remember how I tried to explain to her that I lost loads of my confidence due to being bullied at work and she suggested, while pulling faces at me, that before going for an interview I should explain that I have autism, ask to get interview questions beforehand, write down my responses on a piece of paper at home and just hand it in. ‘I can’t do that’ I said. ‘Why not?’ – she replied – ‘They can’t discriminate’.
I felt so bad when I’ve heard that. Not only the job coach demonstrated she didn’t understand autism, she demonstrated that she wasn’t listening. I didn’t loose my confidence because I found out I’m autistic, I lost it because I was bullied at work. And I was pretty sure that if I listened to her advice I’d never get a job anywhere.
On one of my meetings, that turned out to be the last one, she said that we need to update my commitments. She didn’t say what for, it wasn’t like I wasn’t meeting them, and I was also working part time. She typed some things up and she told me what but I wasn’t able to see the screen. Then she told me to accept it straight away, without reading as we didn’t have enough time. I did it, and then read them at home and what I saw was different to what I was told. That was exactly what my manager did to me while I was working in Home Group.
And, BTW, before my manager started the job for Home Group, she worked in the job centre. (It wasn’t the manager who organised the bullying campaign against me, it was her subordinate, but as things were progressing she jumped on board).
So even though I left, I was still being bullied.