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August 09, 2007

Boss Hating 101

I've always been really lucky with bosses. It's true that I haven't worked at that many jobs, and most of them have been rather…different. My resume starts off a little bumpy before settling into one job for the last ten years, something that most Gen Xers aren’t supposed to do. No one ever had to tell me to get a job, I begged my parents to allow me to get my first job, created my second, and searched out my third.

1993 – 1994 Tutor
· Assist middle school students with English assignments
1993 – 1996 Horse Clipper Extraordinaire
· Shave horses as needed in winter and late spring
· Sounds like a crazy job but I made $25/horse plus tips or $15 an hour and I was good at it
1994 – 1994 Stable Hand
· Feed and look after 20+ horses on small farm
· I shocked myself by asking for $17 dollars an hour when I was negotiating for the job, and getting it! I only worked a couple of hours a day.
1994 – 1997 Unit CounselorCamp Winacka Girl Scout Camp
· Look after kids, lifeguard, crafts, riding instructor, hike, etc.
· Became a lesbian in spare time
· This job was pivotal in changing my thinking about everything in life. If there is one period in my life I could relive just to experience it, this is it.
· Unit Leader in 1997, left early due to mononucleosis
1995 – 1996 Super Pets (bought out by Pet Co shortly after I left) Sales Associate
· Care, feed, clean, sell, and train domestic and exotic birds (we even had toucans!) at large pet store
1997 – current Bob’s Hogs and Weiner Pigs
· Many different jobs including the one I do now

Anywhoo – throughout this time, I’ve either been my own boss, or I’ve had really great bosses. I could go on and on about Osa, the Camp Director at Winacka, who taught me so much by saying so little. I was at one of the most confusing times of my life (lesbian? good Christian girl?) and she dealt with it so well. She had to deal with half of the counselors pretty much having that issue. In retrospect, taking us all down to Tijuana and getting us drunk probably wasn’t the best way to deal with it, but it certainly allowed us to let our true feelings show.

Or Ginny, my manager at one Bob’s Hogs location who helped woo me to another location with her and then when I left again for other reasons was smart enough to see that I wasn’t happy and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse (not that way you dirty birds). She pushed me gently in the direction I needed to go to move forward on my career path, forcing me to advance without my even knowing it. Growing my skills and abilities and allowing me to challenge myself when I became bored with what I was doing. And I loved her kindness and friendliness and the fact that she let me do my own job while she did hers.

And then for a time I was terrified when I was offered a new position with all new territory and answered to the High Powered Boss of All Things I Do and I fell apart a bit. One has an outline of a position and a goal, and it’s my place to make up the points in between. Once I nailed that part down, the High Powered Boss of All Things I Do became more of a partner and I really got to like her.

And now there is Beet. To the best of my reckoning, all Beet does is sit around all day sending out crappy memos every so often telling us what great ideas other people are having. Sometimes he’ll ride a plane somewhere and then send us emails from that location. He’ll even title the e-mails “Thoughts from Phoenix” or some other such crap. You can see why the bullshit detecting antennae are immediately waving about.

Every Monday there is a conference call with Beet where we must start by unveiling some layer of ourselves that is personal and painful, such as what our childhood nickname was. I’ll be damned if I’m going to tell my work colleagues my true childhood nickname. Junior high school was a traumatic time for the best of us and I will not be known as space cow (internets, I am trusting you!) for the rest of my working life. So I throw out the name a roommate used for me in my early twenties, but I can feel the old nickname there, heavy on me for the rest of the call. When I met with another rep at work that had been on the call he confided that he had a terrible childhood and does not want to discuss that time at all, ever again. I can see tears in his eyes. This is bad, I think. Bad.

Next Monday I am asked to share what celebrity I most resemble. I panic. There is no celebrity that I most resemble. I am round. I am not angular and hollow like those women. No one has ever said to me that I look like a thin, starving woman that appears on stage, screen, and in tabloids. What do I say? I am quiet as others answer reluctantly or eagerly. I nod silently as the people I have met give their answers. One says, “The creature from the black lagoon” and everyone laughs. Beet says my name.

“No one.” I say. “I don’t look like anyone famous. I look like me.”

“Oh, you don’t want to play along that’s fine! That’s fine, Ensie!” yells Beet into the phone in front of 12 other people. “You’re just spoiling the game! It’s just an icebreaker!”

I’ve always had a hard time letting things go, especially criticism. I am unusually silent on this conference call and Beet calls me on it, stating that there are points given for participation, and inflecting a smarmy voice, “points taken for being silent!” The stew inside continues to boil and I say nothing except to argue with him occasionally.

I have tried and tried to find the good points of this man’s personality, but am having a difficult time. I thought maybe I was just jealous, he having gotten the job that might have been mine, had I a little more confidence or experience in management. But every day that he send another idiotic e-mail, or calls to ask for yet another update on a big sale that is confirmed but will not happen until late next month (“Still confirmed, still not happening until late next month, Beet.”), I wonder what this man is doing within the outline of his job description to make his goal.

And the haranguing just continues, “Justify your expenses!” Beet shrieks, “What is this $12.99 charge at Red Robin? Weren’t you in your OWN territory? Were you entertaining a client?” I explain that I was in a series of meeting hours from home and that I had taken a break for lunch, something I do once or twice month, something his boss had no problem with when she was my boss for several years. Beet pauses for a nanosecond, “Well, I spoke with the DIRECTOR and he specifically stated that you can no longer lunch ALONE on the company’s dime. Also, please look into you postage expenses and make sure that you are using your funds most EFFECTIVELY.”

The man speaks in capital letters.

I’ve spent hours on the phone with my Dad detailing the daily idiocy of Beet and how to deal with it. My Dad’s guidance has been great, except that he seems a little too anxious to guide me to quit my job (Well, if you don’t like it, you can always leave), which I know is always an option, but it’s not an option, if you know what I mean. He told me today that I could just start sending Beet a daily e-mail correcting his screw-ups. Because a) Beet requires a daily e-mail to correct his fuck ups (like “Hey Beet, today you stated that the book Loving Frank is an exclusive to Bob’s Hogs, but it’s so totally not, also, it is not an architecture book, it’s a novel”) and b) Beet would totally love it if I started correcting all his errors. Bosses love that kind of shit.

The problem really is, I love my job and I hate my boss.

I keep hoping that Beet secretly hates his job and all of us who work for him too. He certainly acts like it. Maybe he’s looking for another job. I hope so.

Posted by Ensie at August 9, 2007 05:04 PM

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