General Question

GloPro's avatar

Should I address the past or let it go?

Asked by GloPro (8248 points ) February 28th, 2014 from iPhone

So I had a job interview today. If I get the job I will be working with my ex-boyfriend, the only man I ever lived with. It did not end well, was definitely hostile, and we haven’t so much as spoken in 3 years. If I saw him out we would not acknowledge one another. In this job he would be required to interact with me as upper management, I as middle management.

The woman he cheated on me with, unprotected, with it later coming out she had a cureable STD, also would work with me. Her position is lateral to the one I applied to. I have not seen her in 3 years as well.

My question is this: AWKWARD! I know I have moved on, and he is married (to a woman we used to hang out with), so I assume he has also. He is vindictive in nature and an all-around asshole, but he does hide that part of himself at work (we met through working together). Should any of the past be addressed, or ignored all together and we just smile our fake smiles and suck it up?
I don’t know if acknowledging we had a past and we’re both different people now would be beneficial or not.

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28 Answers

janbb's avatar

I would look for another job – this one has trouble written all over it.

Cruiser's avatar

I see nothing but trouble for you in that position. You must have skin as thick as an elephants if you think you could take on what awaits you between those two who would be your superiors. Yikes is all I can say!

GloPro's avatar

@Cruiser No superiors. I should have been more clear. I would manage one location, the girl manages a second location, and the guy is in marketing for the whole company.
Our interactions would consist of emails (no problem), and once a week manager meetings that last an hour, with 25–30 other people in the meetings. Occasionally the guy has to go location to location to explain some marketing things.

syz's avatar

Unless you’re desperate for the job, move in. This has disaster written all over it.

hearkat's avatar

I am am curious why you did decide to interview here, as it would seem that most people would avoid that scenario unless they really needed the job. Three years isn’t all that long to have put it completely behind you. Is this job in your area of expertise, and are there no other jobs like it that you could go for?

GloPro's avatar

@syz I’m not desperate, I’m qualified. And it’s a great job, and I’m currently on unemployment.
See my answer to @Cruiser. I couldn’t go edit the question to be more clear as to the level of interaction.

GloPro's avatar

@hearkat I am qualified, and no, these jobs don’t come around often. For a single woman to make $60k plus a year is tough to beat in this town. I worked for the company in the past and enjoy the ethics and benefits it provides.

hearkat's avatar

OK – you need the job and it’s a great opportunity; then what do you mean by “addressing the past”? Are you suggesting a confrontation of sorts? Don’t most of the people who work there already know the history?

GloPro's avatar

No, definitely no confrontation. Just laying it out immediately that I heard he got married, congrats. We had a past, we’ve moved on, and I’m not trying to be weird. Then letting it go and doing the fake smile thing.
The girl, well, she knew what she was doing at the time and I just plan to do the fake smile thing and let it go. I hope she has the same sense. Nobody wants to bring trash and rumors into their work. She is drama all the way, but given that it involved her itchy-scratchy skanky behavior I hope she lets sleeping dogs lie. If not, I don’t think I would address things. I believe I would respond with “That was a long time ago.” And walk away.

There has been about a 50% turnover in management, an about 100% turnover in hourly, so despite feeling like the world revolves around me, no, I do lot think “everybody knows the past.”

janbb's avatar

You clearly would like to take the job if offered it. If it makes it more comfortable for you to say, “Congrats on your marriage” when you see him the first time, I would do so. But I wouldn’t go any further than that.

Buttonstc's avatar

Are you a masochist?

Anyhow, my advice would be that when at the job, be courteous and professional as you would with anyone else there.

This is work. Its not group therapy. Act appropriately to the environment.

Your employers are paying you to work for them, not to have daily angst-fests based upon the past. So what if the smiles are fake? You’re being paid to work.

Since you insist upon putting yourself in this situation, act like a professional. Do you really need people to spell out the obvious?

Well, the obvious thing to do is to act in a professional manner at the job regardless of what else is or isn’t going on. That’s what they’re paying you for.

gailcalled's avatar

You can be professionally courteous and pleasant without a fake smile and sucking it up, whatever that means.

Cruiser's avatar

@GloPro I would like to say you should take the job since you are qualified and you all would be at different places…but why then do you feel the need for the “fake smile” routine? And you also are throwing down “She is drama all the way, but given that it involved her itchy-scratchy skanky behavior I hope she lets sleeping dogs lie.”

That to me shows you are harbor ill will towards this woman and that is not a good thing to be carrying around in a professional work environment.

Go and take the job but I stand behind my “I see nothing but trouble for you in that position” answer.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Clearly this is a job you want, need, and can do well. I would nail the issue right at the outset using the expression you said: “Hey, I heard you got married. Congrats.”
I would document, document, document and cc other people to demonstrate that you are a team player – and to discourage anyone who might even think about harpooning your efforts.

You will need to be on your toes the whole time and perform at a superior level. Keep in touch with the home office as often and as early as possible. Eventually others will be so impressed with your skills (and glowing, professional personality) you will be in the clear.
Good luck. You might need it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

One more thing. Stand tall, look people in the eyes, and practice a good handshake. Dress professionally. Always – even on casual Friday.
It makes a difference.is more ways than you can imagine.

GloPro's avatar

I guess I say fake smile because you should be polite to co-workers, always. But I don’t think we intend to be friends. I don’t have any feelings about him anymore at all, but I do see it could be weird. Her… Well, I actually have run into her twice. Once at a funeral for a 4-year old. We “fake” smiled.
And yes, knowingly subjecting me to the potential scare of a cureable STD means I will have a little disgust for her morals. I don’t think that means I need to share that with others. I wouldn’t think to address her, only him.
I think you are all right. A simple “I heard you got married, congrats!” is in order.

GloPro's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yeah, I am very good at this job. I have a closet full of professional clothes, and I consider myself a strong businesswoman.
I’m hypothesizing on how to get off on the right foot with the ex and then move on. That’s it. It’s other people’s whispers that would be the loudest, not mine.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I don’t know what the business is. Don’t say it here. But unless it is somehow required, I would dress conservatively. You want to be taken seriously so keep the girls covered and the 4 inch pumps in the closet.

When you walk in that first day, Smile and say “Hi” to everyone. You will have a much better chance of success if you start out on the right foot.

This is a perfect example of why the expression “Don’t fish off the company dock.” is so often quoted.

filmfann's avatar

If it was me, I would take the job, but I am famous for being thick skinned.
Another key factor would be that I am very happy with my current life.
I would ask you if you are happy with your life now, and if you are thick skinned. If you can say yes to both, go for it, and let the past go.

GoldieAV16's avatar

There is nothing to address. The past is over and done. Take the job. Excel at it. Steer clear of anyone that you sense might be trouble, whether you have a history with them or not, except for the extent required to excel at your job.

Congratulations! I hope you do really well, and I get the feeling that you will.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Be the best GLOwing PROfessional you can be. ;-)

hearkat's avatar

I don’t think you should bother making small talk and congratulate the scoundrel on his marriage – I’d bet he is an arrogant jerk and will assume that it means that you’re jealous and wish it was you. I think you’d be better off being as indifferent as possible; and if they bring anything up, just comment about how it seems like so long ago or something to that effect to make it clear that you’ve moved on. Somewhat unrelated, but if the company and job are so good, the turnover rate seems rather disproportionate.

GloPro's avatar

@hearkat This is a very transient town. The hourlies are hired on visas so they never stick around. I worked for them for 8 years, but that was 6 years ago. It isn’t that unusual in this industry. Also, I can think of at least 5 management level that retired.

GloPro's avatar

@LuckyGuy – 4-inch heels are for working in sales, not management. Managers wear steel tipped boots ;-)
I do have a wonderful collection of heels though, sigh.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@GloPro You wrote “4-inch heels are for working in sales, not management” That is why I suggested yo leave them in the closet at home – or have a fall back pair in your car. ;-)

Kardamom's avatar

I think this job would ultimately prove unbearable for you, and something most likely will be said by you, her, him or another employee who finds out about your past, and that will get you into some hot water. I would look for another job, where none of these people will be there in your face all the time.

If you take this job, you will always be re-living in your mind, the awfulness of what happened, and you will be walking on eggshells, and you will have to mindfully modulate what you say to both of them. It will be very un-natural conversations, and you most likely will not be able to treat either of them as neutral parties. You’ll either (consciously or unconsciously) avoid them, or (consciously or unconsciously) try to sabotage them in some way (as they will be doing to you as well). It sounds like a job in hell.

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