Jul 31, 2006

Pissed Pissedofferson

Let me tell you a story about a girl who works for a man. This man has some genuinely good qualities, like he gives us computers and pencils with which to do our work, and thinks of us in some perverse way as his children. I believe that he wants to care and that he has a sense of humor about himself, which is always good. But.

But, he's a total freakazoid. The man never sleeps, and travels constantly. If you ask him how he is, he says exhausted, and he'll expound on it relentlessly each and every time. He has what can only be described as undiagnosed A.D.D. For example, he can't have a conversation with you at his desk without either playing solitaire simultaneously, or going through his email or paper mail, assessing and tearing up each piece while pretending to listen to what you're saying. He is a terrible pretender. If you're going to be a bad listener, at least be a good actor.

So, he's kind of a shitty boss but he's not a monster, so you can't hate him most of the time. (Let's give him a pseudonym right now, so I can more easily refer to him without repeating pronouns so much -- let's call him "Genghis.") For example, Genghis loves to gossip, which is always endearing. He'll say, in the most serious tone, that he's going to tell you something in confidence and that you must keep it to yourself. So then he tells you some bit of news that you already knew because you heard it through the rumor mill. You keep quiet on it for a few days until someone else tells it to you again, swearing you to secrecy because Genghis swore him to secrecy. Duh.

Lately I've been more critical of his ridiculous behavior for two reasons. The first is that for the past two months, I've been piddling away at what I think I'm supposed to be doing with no actual direction from him, and it's starting to wear on me. I feel useless, because even as I work on this project, I know it will have to be undone and redone in a particular way (which I would rather do the first time around, but can't because I have no input from him). The second reason is that he has been taking advantage of a friend and coworker of mine, let's call him "Poor John," because Poor John is relatively young and willing and able to work long hours. So Genghis is literally working him to death simply because he can't get organized enough to respect Poor John's time better. If he could respect other people's time, he could learn to use it well and not have people jump through ridiculous hoops to redo things over and over because they weren't given adequate information in the first place. This place can be so inefficient, it scares me.

Last week, Genghis asked me to come in on Sunday to speak with him about our project. (This is not unusual, as he thinks that no one does anything really important on the weekends anyway, which one could argue is true.) So, whatever, I agreed even though I knew it would be a fruitless meeting.

So I come in on Sunday after yoga, and I admit, I was in a pretty good mood because I had just ridden my bike to yoga and then bought an ice cream cone. At about 12:15 pm, I come upstairs to find Genghis and Poor John sitting in the office, which is no less than a steam bath because they don't turn the air conditioner on on the weekends. (That's because people aren't typically working on the weekends, but I digress.) The first thing that happens is that Genghis asks me sweetly to go back downstairs and also get him an ice cream cone. It was a cute enough request, and he looked so covetous of my treat, that I did it without too much squirming. It's then 12:35. I go back to my desk to wait for Genghis to be done talking to Poor John. I surf the web for puppy porn.

12:58. Poor John emerges. I assume this means I'm supposed to get up and go in for my turn. I go in to see the boss man, but he's on the phone. He gestures for me to come in and sit down, which I do. Five minutes later, he's still on the phone. I glare at him. He flashes all ten fingers, which I take to mean come back in ten minutes. I go back to my desk and wait for him to come get me when he's done.

1:25. I get sick of waiting and looking at homeless puppies (ok, one can never really get sick of looking at homeless puppies because homeless puppies are soooo niiiice) so I get up and go back in there. He's off the phone, so I start in with some questions. For some reason he decides to cut me off and says we should go in the conference room. Fine. 1:32. We sit down and discuss the project for about 6 minutes. (That's right, you almost missed it.) We then spend another 45 minutes talking about Formula One racing and other Genghis Hobbies. ("Talking" isn't exactly the right word to describe what we were doing, but at least one of us was talking.) It's sad, because this is Genghis's form of socializing, so I let him do it.

2:15. I wait for him to finish with the Hobbies, and try to discuss something important about another project. At this point, he sees fit to return to his office for the rest of the discussion, so he can play solitaire and answer emails while pretending to listen to me. I say that if he would wait three minutes I could say my piece, to which he responds, "Well, you can talk and walk, can't you? Let's go to my office." I blather, he pretends (poorly) to listen, and blah blah, et cetera. I give up on communication and try to leave, even though I'm worried about Poor John's health (at this point he's glistening like a block of cheddar left out after the family picnic).

Before I leave, Genghis says that I should come in at seven on Monday because he has something important I need to do for another one of our jobs, and he'll leave the information on my desk for me when I get in. I agree to do this, because resistance is futile.

Monday, 7 am. I come in. There is nothing on my desk except my own usual crap. I call Genghis, who says that he'll call me back in ten minutes.

8:31 am. Genghis calls and says that I'll need to call him back at 10 am so he and I can have a conference call with another colleague.

10:00 am. I call. Genghis says he'll call me back in twenty minutes.

10:15 am. I begin a process that is known as "levying the asshole tax." This is a term that Anna coined to refer to the times that you almost purposely waste time at work because you're steamed.

10:44 am. I am finishing up this blog entry. Before I leave you lovely reader(s), I present you with this image of the cover of A Star is Born, the remake starring Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand. I am including this here for no other reason than that I'm sort of fascinated by this cover in the way that I'd be fascinated by a closeup of roadkill. This image has skeeved me out since the first time I saw it. It's got something for everyone - it's very seventies, moist and yet frizzy, libidinous and yet ridiculous. Enjoy.


Blogger Bill opined...

Bad bosses are the worst, especially those without any apparent social skills to even try and hide their bad management skills (being an engineer at a computer company I meet this type in droves.) Of course now that I have that picture seared into my retinas for the rest of the day, I may have lost a little bit of sympathy for you:p

10:55 AM  
Anonymous TJ opined...

I think the problem is that most bosses come into the job totally unprepared. They get to be bosses because they were good at doing task X, but managing other people doing task X requires a whole different set of skills.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Dubin opined...

TJ! Droppin' wisdom! Usually you'd be right, but in this case he got where he is through sheer force of dictatorship. Benevolent dictatorship, that is.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous AEW opined...

I just started working under a woman who has been a university president for eleven years. Eleven years! As a result, I assumed she'd have a hyper-efficient work style and excellent decision-making skills. I mean, she had 600+ employees working under her. For eleven years! Turns out, she's the kind of boss who turns one-hour meetings into three-hour gabfests, gossiping about the campus VPs and asking me all sorts of questions about my fertility problems. She can't do a damn thing for herself -- operate her own phone, figure out her "technology equipment," or file papers housed within her OWN OFFICE (seriously, she puts them in a basket at the edge of her desk so that the AA can turn around a put them in the file cabinet). Yesterday, she called me from her car in the middle of campus because she couldn't find the finance building. Eleven years! I get less work done in a nine hour day (lunch at my desk!) than I did loafing around at my old job, reading blogs from 9 to 3. It doesn't matter how good a boss is at bossing; only how good they are at attaining bosshood. I'd like to think this doesn't happen outside of academia, but clearly Ghenghis proves me wrong.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous christine opined...

three things i liked best: "puppy porn," "levying the asshole tax," and the album cover. awesome

1:59 PM  
Blogger Dubin opined...

I admit that I keep checking my own blog to look at the Kristofferson/Streisand image. I am such a pervert.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Droo's Person opined...

Did I ever tell you about the "interview" I had with Ghengis a few years ago? He had me come in at 7:30 or 8am on a Saturday for what I thought was a real interview. I show up in a suit and he's there in sweatpants. It turns out he was mostly curious about my experience with race cars and wanted to talk about Michael Schumacher's dominance of Formula One racing while he was cleaning his office. Charming. I have never been jealous of your work environment.
and yes, you are a pervert for posting that Kristofferson/Streisand image. I feel dirty just from seeing it.

10:14 PM  
Blogger amanda bee opined...

You have to buy me a beer if you want to know about my boss. I only work for her 2 days a week and still I have good stories about her total lack of time management skills.

lady! this is a bike shop. You are the Director of an educational program. Your job? Get some money in here. If someone calls to find out what bikes we have, do not get up from your desk and talk them through the stock. Put a mechanic on and go back to plumbing your phone book for potential donors. Finish the grant application. Seriously. You have to look up three things, fill them in and send it. I did the rest.

Then we have Director's meetings at a bar (I'm the Communications Director. Whee) so she can tell me about how stressed out she is all the time. Because she can't get anything done. Because she answers every phone call instead of giving the damn phone to a mechanic when it is a question for a mechanic.

okay, I guess I just talked myself out of a beer. You can still buy me one though. Even she is better than the boss from hell who would seize up and start shaking everytime I proposed something she didn't quite understand.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants a kitten, one adolescent cat has adopted us and Noah says we can't keep it. I'm getting her a flea collar anyhow. She is really sweet and lovey and sleeps on our stoop.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Lazlo Hollyfeld opined...

i actually had to scroll BACK UP to finish reading this entry so that I could cover up the Streissand/Kristofferson travesty. I am deeply disturbed by the way he is squeezing her head.

As for my boss, he is in Hawaii.
Two days ago he was in Japan.
I am here. Nuff said.

2:59 PM  

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