Team Lead from Hell – Part I

In my first attempt back at work – independent international consulting this time – it was an epic disaster…hell, not even describable how bad it’s been. Since believing that I had triumphantly recovered from the abuse of my past sojourn into the impactful world of international development, I failed. Not even by a little bit, but by a monumental overcompensating disaster level failure.

My symptoms were under reasonable control, even though being in an office environment was extremely triggering for me, I was able to see hints with bits of my brilliant self again.

Then this – Another racist asshole. A meltdown. Another mental breakdown.

Should I go back from the start?

It all began with winning a bid with a three member team through a Belgian consortium under a framework contract with the European Union, to start a new consultancy assignment (confusing – “Yes”; obvious – “No”; optimistic: “Ofcourse”).

One quick flight to start our first mission in a beautiful small island. It turned from paradise to nightmare with early signs of project mis-management disaster before I even got on the plane…

The team meeting with the client and beneficiary started late and with little clear direction, since my main counterpart was not in the room. My spidey senses went off and I shared my concerns with the team…I was dismissed. As we were ourselves just meeting for the first time, I didn’t press the point and accepted the usual signs of needing to prove myself before my expertise would be accepted. Epic doom and gloom took over when it was clear that this white man posing as a Team Lead knew nothing of what he spoke and was indeed no expert! (a gasp)…which ofcourse was no surprise to the majority of people of colour who have to deal with this day to day, week to month, decades to lifetimes of careers.

You’ve asked: “What happened?”

In front of the client and without discussion, with no experience in the common law Caribbean, this mansplaining European Team Lead “rubbished” the entire agreed and submitted plan to delve into a made up world of unrealistic expectations. When I refused to join in his scam, he told me that if “you don’t like your shitty contract, you can resign”. I reported him, the contractors tried. Nothing changed. Cue the onset of a solid long lasting migraine, and one quick trip to a doctor and voila —I was on heavy pain medication to keep my chronic pain at bay. Unsuccessfully! My brain still needed to work to get paid…things escalated with public insults, racist name calling and sexist treatment of me and others.

What happens when colonizers are cornered by their own incompetence?

As per known patterns , one month later said TL was shouting at us in public, throwing a tantrum…so what if he got all the credit and I wasn’t paid for my work. I objected, he said “no”, then turned his attack on me. This very large over 6 feet tall overweight man towered over my 5ft 3″ frame making unethical demands. I froze in mortal fear, it felt like a lifetime…I stepped back on stairs to gain height and protection, someone intervened and rescued me.

You’ve thought: “Can this get any worse?”

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