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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Descent into Madness

I guess it would be entertaining to recount office madness at the expense of a boss nickenamed "the beast" would be fun, I don't think it would really be a great way to advance my career in the local non-profit arena. Oh well, let's have some fun.

"The Beast" is a real life person. In the caricature of bosses she might defined best as "a screamer" or "the bully". As I mentioned in a previous blog my early days at the TV station were fun and rewarding. As a temp I had been separated from her and her staff and placed in the center hallway of the executive suite. I was told to whisper when I spoke and not look any of the Vice Presidents in the eye. I was told to have as little interaction with them as possible. So I focused on the task at hand and ignored their gestures of friendliness. I was told to be "invisible". If you know me even a little, invisibility is not really a trait that could even remotely be me. I am a big ol' muscle queen queer. So trying to be unobtrusive at 6 feet, 210lbs in the middle of an executive suite is just not going to happen. Yes I tried to be subtle, but I've got feathers, and sooner or later they're to fall out of my mouth, pocket or...well you get the picture.

I could waste thousands of words describing her: lonely, middle aged, homely, muscular. Yes she was muscular. You know she could hurt you. When she walked; no stomped, through the office, the floor actually shook. Not like the clacking of high heels on terrazzo, but a muted thump, thump, thump as she crossed the threadbare industrial carpet. You could hear her coming. She was a swimmer (like me) and had the shoulders, traps and lats of a swimmer. Yep, there was a muscular physical presence. She was crazy too. I've found in my experience in social work, crazy usually comes strong. She was strong.

So I guess the turning point came in August. My "golden boy" status had officially ended. I knew it wouldn't last but I had this fantasy about a career in TV. By that point I had ingratiated myself to the whole staff, and I got some very positive feedback. Ah, the higher we fly....

So in August came the new "Golden Boy". Chaz was a very cute, very smart summer intern. Not a college intern mind you, a high school one. Besides who the fuck isn't cute at 15? He was an eager beaver, making some extra cash and building up his resume for college. He was a big boy, 6'2" 230lbs. A nice Jewish boy who played on the football team, probably a linebacker.(I'm sounding a little butch here but I just watched Sandra Bullock's the Blind Side). I liked him. I'm a father, this is his first time in an office, so I gave him some advice like: get a profession, don't waste your time on a Liberal Arts degree(like me), go to a good school.

The Beast took this as idle talk, and had convinced herself that I did not have enough work to do. So she made me write out by hand about 75 thank you cards. Each had to be identical. Of course my face was disgusted, here I am 42 years old with 20 years experience writing grants and proposals and I am writing out thank you notes for the staff.

"And Chaz, I want you to supervise Kirk, if I find one mistake, you're in trouble young man." So imagine, a 15 year old high school summer intern is supervising a 42 year old man with 20 years experience. I was humiliated. Of course writing 75 thank you cards, by hand, there are going to some descrepancies. She checked each one and berated Chaz for "not being a better supervisor." He was almost in tears. I didn't quit that day, this was just too rich.