The Boss, and I don’t mean Springsteen.

Over the course of my, nearly, 40 years on this planet, I’ve had many bosses. Even my parents, who, despite my telling them “YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!!!” were, in fact, “my boss” at one time.

The term “boss” implies some type of power or control over another. I’ve had some bosses who liked to feel that power, others who did not. Honestly, I’ve had a mixed bag of bosses, some were good, some were terrible. Fortunately, a few have provided me with some blogging material.

Going back to high school, my first job at a local grocery store, where I worked as cashier, for, what seemed like years but was, probably only a matter of months. I was a cashier- and these were the days before price scanners. It, for the most part, wasn’t awful. Except on weekends where we had to arrive at 6am to collate newspapers, which was a tedious job. The New York Times would come un-collated- some of the sections that went in the Sunday paper, actually arrived at the store on Saturday, so they had to be put together. So by 6:30am, our hands BLACK with newspaper ink, we would be permitted to wash our hands and have a donut- on the house. That donut was, pretty much, the only friggin’ perk to working at this place. There was the occasional game of “Super Market Olympics,” which involved shopping carts, teenagers and orange traffic cones, but really, there was no joy. The bosses sort of stood behind the cashiers to make sure there was no horsing around.

The worst times was when the owner’s son was in charge. He was, probably 5 or 6 years older than me, but had risen to a level of asshole-ishness well beyond his years. My friend, Robin dated him for while, so I have to believe he had some good points, and was probably a good guy. I’ll never forget the day I came in an hour early-by accident-and he decided to give me a little cleaning detail, as a reward: scraping the edges of the register… with a razor blade. He said- and I quote “You gotta get all of this schmegma out of here.” I had no idea what schmegma was, and for the record, I’ve never had another boss use that word to me- thank goodness, but hey, then again, I didn’t go into PORN as a career, so why WOULD any boss use that word??? What he was describing was- just crap. Crumbs, adhesive residue, skin- basically it’s any crap that can collect in a crevice.

It was a disgusting job that I was rewarded with, and I didn’t even get a stinkin’ doughnut.

I worked at various other places – all of them had little quirks, but this would be way too long for me to talk about all of the drama..

Once I could drive, I landed a job at the local mall working in a clothing store. It was ok, and the clothes and discount were cool enough, but there was an assistant manager that worked there who was horribly lazy. She was pregnant (and maybe even a teenager herself- maybe she was 20), so I understood that she was tired, But “the rules” were that mere salesclerks were not supposed to be left in the store alone. This chick, Pauline, would leave me alone CONSTANTLY, and for HOURS at a time. She would be out walking around the mall with her “baby daddy” or eating one of the numerous buckets of French Fries she consumed a day. Or the best was when she would go in the back room to SLEEP- again, for hours. Finally, I got sick of it, because it was uncomfortable for me. I was probably 16 years old- left alone in the store, with no authorization or knowledge- people would come in all the time to return stuff and I couldn’t help them because I didn’t know how to do a return or didn’t have the right key or code, or whatever. So I ratted her out to the manager. And boy, did I pay. I got every shitty job in the store from there on out whenever Pauline was working. She would make up crappy jobs for me as a way to make me pay. She was evil. But she left to have her illegitimate baby and never came back.

In college, I worked at a jewelry store in New Canaan. I’ve mentioned it before in a previous blog, but I really feel that the experiences there are worthy of a separate blog all of it’s own. And truthfully, I’ve had many good bosses as well. Here is the perfect example:

My first job out of college was working for a Promotion Agency. I started as a temp- and I think they kept me because I was- like- the only one who could figure out how to work a mouse (it was the early 90’s) Pathetic as it was, apparently it was a skill that was desired. I turned into the temp that would never go away- so they eventually hired me.

I was working for a woman named Beth. I had never met anyone like her. And I mean that in a good way. She was super strong and forceful- but I didn’t fear her- I just respected and admired her, and I still do. She was “a bulldog” and I learned a tremendous amount from her and I love her dearly. We all worked really hard, but we had a lot of fun too!. There were four of us that shared a loft. Beth, Anne, Christine and myself. Our desks had various configurations over the course of the years, but at one point, our desks were set up facing one another with a screen dividers between them.

So I could- at all times, see Beth and Anne, but not Christine. And Christine could see Beth and Anne, but not me. And Beth could see Christine and me, but not Anne. You get the idea. So, of course, whenever Anne would ramble on with one of her stories, Beth would make all kinds of faces at her from behind the screen, so Christine and I would laugh and Anne would be like “Why are you guys laughing!?!?!” Or one of us would be on the phone with a client and somehow we would get laughing and Beth’s solution was to just hang up the phone- burst out laughing and then call the client back and say- as calmly as can be: “I’m sorry, we must have gotten disconnected.”

Beth read management books like “Management Stylings of Atilla the Hun.” That was my favorite one- she would call us her “Huns.” She also would swallow live goldfish as a party trick at our Christmas Party. She did this until her brother read an article about goldfish getting “hole in the head disease” and Beth was afraid she was going to get it, so she stopped swallowing goldfish. It is too bad, because it was a good party trick.

At one point, one of the guys we worked with brought his, very pregnant, wife into the office. And Beth said “God, I hope when I get pregnant I am nowhere near as big as she was!” Ha ha. When Beth got pregnant, she was BIGGER. Oh my god, we felt so bad for her- she couldn’t even tie her shoes her feet were so swollen. She would take her socks off an you could see the indentation from where her socks were strangling her poor, little ankles. Also, Beth wasn’t sure if she wanted to know the sex of her baby or not- so she asked the Doctor to put the results in a sealed envelope. But we were POSITIVE that Beth would not be able to wait until the baby was born. And Beth said “You guys can open the envelope, but don’t tell me.” So Christine and I opened the envelope, figuring Beth would want to know within HOURS, and found out Beth was having a boy. Yeah…and Beth never opened the envelope. We had to withhold the info for MONTHS and never refer to the baby by gender. It was pretty difficult. (By the way, that baby is a teenager now!)

My strong work ethic was instilled in me by Beth. She would do anything to get the job done and that is what she taught me. I would not want to be any other way. I love her, I adore her and thank her for those lessons every day.

By far, the craziest boss (aside from the one at the jewelry store who is in a whole category by himself) was at a health and beauty aids company I worked for. Obviously I need to change her name to protect the guilty. Let’s call her: Mona and say that she was from Finland. Let me give you a visual on Mona. Mona was about 50 years old. And she looked it- which is ok. Now, we worked for a beauty aids company, so we had access, not only to product, but techniques, info, etc. Yet, Mona’s hair, not only looked like STRAW, but it looked like it belonged on top of a scarecrow. It was overly bleached blonde. No highlights, no lowlights… just straw. Yellow. Dry. Unkept. Sticking out in every direction. Ok, so that’s covers the hair. Mona didn’t have a lot of clothes- but the ones she had were nice. Or I should say, they WOULD have been nice if she took care of them. All of her clothes were always wrinkled and stained. Oh, she also had really big boobs and was constantly spilling food down her front, so her shirts were always stained. I don’t want to say Mona was fat, but she was a little chunky. And she did nothing to make herself LOOK good. She never wore any make-up so here she was- ruddy, shiny, hair sticking out in all directions, stained. It was a freakshow.

Mona always talked about how she had to lose weight. So she joined a gym, but never went. She bought rollerblades, but never used them. One day she decided she was going to do “Slim Fast.” So she had her “Shake for Breakfast. By 11am, she was starving. So she had her “Shake for Lunch.” And 30 minutes later she went to the deli and got a chicken parmesan sandwich. She never even made it to her sensible dinner.

Mona was insane. Literally. I would bet my life that she was schizophrenic, because one minute you’d be dealing with Nice Mona and 5 minutes later Crazy Mona. I knew on the first day of work that I had made a horrible mistake in accepting this position!

As I said, Mona was crazy. You could speak to her at 10am and she would be nice as pie, and at 10:10 am she would be SCREAMING at me for something she invented in her mind. I am not the kind of worker that needs to be watched- trust me, a boss will get more out of me when they are not checking on me every 5 seconds. And the things she would yell at me about- were completely ridiculous. I’ve blocked out most of the stuff to preserve my sanity. She would make meetings with suppliers and then not “feel” like meeting with them when they arrived so she would send me in to meet with them. Of course, I would have no idea why they were there or what she wanted to meet with them about. It was super-professional.

Ok, so you have the mental picture, I’ve given you the insanity portion- here’s another great side of Mona’s personalities- Mona thought that every man wanted to sleep with her. (Yeah, I just threw up a little in my mouth writing that whilst harking back to such a foul and disgusting memory.) And she would slip her number to EVERY MAN that crossed her path. Business men, cops, guys at the deli, waiters, busboys. It was gross. And inappropriate. And gross. Did I mention it was gross?

She spent countless hours telling me about what plastic surgery she would have when she had enough money. She wanted to have a hand lift. A HAND LIFT!?!?! I was like- “THAT’S what you’d do first??? A hand lift???” I mean, ok, maybe Heidi Klum’s first thought might be “hand lift” because there simply is nothing else to select on her. But on Mona? She was a plastic surgeon’s dream…or nightmare. At any rate, it would certainly test the surgeon’s mettle. Mona would, with scotch tape, tape the excess skin back on her hands to show me what she would look like with a Hand Lift.” I would be like “Oh yeah, that takes 20 years off.”

At one point we got a new digital camera and a co-worker took a photo of Mona and printed it out. I kid you not, Mona took that photo and drew make-up on it until it looked better to her. She wouldn’t actually put make-up on HERSELF, just on the picture. And she fiddled with this picture for a week and then showed it to EVERYBODY…you know, so everyone could see how much better Mona COULD look. It made no sense- it was crazy.

The company itself was pretty nuts, and filled with nuts. So they did crazy things. By far, the craziest thing, where I was concerned, was that, as the company grew, I was forced to share an office with Mona. Ok, she wasn’t too happy about it either, but I *LITERALLY* went into the VP’s office and said “Are you trying to kill me? Will you not be happy until you come in to find my dead, bloated body on the driveway?!?!” To no avail- there really was no choice. We simply didn’t have enough space. Mona was pretty upset about the situation, but of course, she wouldn’t attempt to make it work or anything. Here was how it went down: Mona said “Well if we have to share an office, we must set it up correctly. I don’t want to have to look at you.” Trust me, the feeling was mutual. “And I don’t want to have anyone look at me from the side.” WTF?? She didn’t want to have anyone look at her from the side?
So we couldn’t sit facing one another and we couldn’t sit with our desks in opposite corners because she didn’t want anyone to look at her from the SIDE.

So, we found a set up that worked in her mentally troubled mind. So this is how we sat: Mona staring at my back. Comfortable. Super comfortable. The only thing that saved me in all of this is that Mona was severely hard of hearing, so the mumurs under my breathe, thankfully went unnoticed.

From the point we sat in the same office, things, business-wise were strange. We were re-launching one of the main brands, so we weren’t buying any new packaging, just selling through the inventory. So she bought packaging for that brand, so it left her with very little to do. The way things worked, Mona would take one product launch and I would take the next one. For some reason, every launch that Mona worked on got cancelled. As a result, I had a LOT more work than Mona. In fact, Mona had VERY little to do. So, instead of being a team player, pitching in and helping out, Mona did… nothing. She simply enjoyed all of her free time. And she had plenty of it. Mona had a lot of time to tape the skin on her hands back, plenty of time to download virus’ off the internet, draw makeup on her pictures, and plenty of time to slip her telephone number to unsuspecting bus boys in the area. Then Mona took up a new hobby. She decided that she would get a little additional rest while in the office and would take a nap behind her desk. That’s right, Mona pulled a George Costanza, while I sat there. With my back to her. Buried in work.

Finally, I just couldn’t take it any longer and another career opportunity came up and I ran for my life.

I have been with my current company ever since. Obviously, everyone I work for currently, is perfect and terrific and I could not be any happier. : )

Despite the fact that I have worked for and with some crazies, I have also worked with many AMAZING people. Good or Bad, I’ve learned a great deal from all of them, even Mona, the cuckoo-bird. Frankly, the days would be pretty boring without some of these maniacs. Stay tuned, I’m sure there will be additional chapters to this involving CO-WORKERS. These were just Bosses!!!

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