Friday, May 2, 2008

Flashback Friday - 5 Years Ago...



Something interesting has been happening on Facebook. People from various stages of my life have found me (or I've found them) and my worlds are colliding. Not all of them just yet, but it's happening.

Lately, most of them have been from the theatre company where I worked in Rochester, NY. I was only there about a year or so, but I think all of us feel a special kinship with each other for surviving the most dysfunctional, emotionally abusive workplace atmospheres I've ever encountered.

It took a few years after I left before the nightmares stopped. That sounds dramatic, I know, but this guy we worked for was seriously disturbed.

He started off nice enough, but it was clear very early on that he was a talker. He could talk for hours. We had these staff meetings which lasted at least two hours where he yelled. A lot.

He also wasted a lot of time - like spending 20 minutes yelling at 2 of our most senior staff members about a $63 expenditure; he liked to spend dollars to save dimes. Granted, we weren't paid a lot, but it was still time away from other projects that needed our attention.

We were expanding faster than could be handled, particularly when he knew nothing about efficiency. He thought that being productive meant just spending lots of hours on a project. In fact, if you did something quickly and truly efficiently, he'd think that was wrong and look for flaws in it.

He also had issues with women, but that's another story altogether.

That's just a little background to get to my point...yes, I think I do have one. So, one day, not long after I'd made my decision to leave my husband, but had decided to stay in Rochester at least until the end of the school year (Sylvia was in kindergarten), my friend E and I had finally gotten out of the office for lunch - something we never did. We'd bonded recently over our relationship issues, were both sick of our boss, but not really knowing what to do next. It was a beautiful day and we escaped to a restaurant. We even sat outside for a bit and talked and gained a little perspective that the world was so much bigger.

That afternoon, we had one of our staff meetings. This time, E and I both just sat there, doodling on our note pads, trying to take our minds elsewhere. Be anywhere but where we were. As he yelled on and on, it got more difficult. We were both barely hanging on.

Finally, it was over. He went somewhere else to yell at someone else. E and I had our offices opposite each other. S, a colleague, tried to joke with us, but neither of us were in the mood. We simultaneously slammed our doors on him.

S called me later and gave me hell for it. He told me off for sticking around. He told me that it was time for me to go. He said I was becoming less of a nice person, and I had kids to care for, and I should go home to my family. He was right. You can't stay in that type of atmosphere without ill effects.

The next morning, I told E I was planning on giving my notice. She was planning the same thing. So one right after the other, we walked in to our boss' office with our letters of resignation. It was done. We were going to be free.

Cut to a couple of months later on the first day of my current job: I was told that all of the lawyers were in a staff meeting. I thought to myself, "oh, great." But when they came out, there was actually laughter. What? No one's crying? No one's shutting themselves into their office? You mean, staff meetings don't have to mean 2 hours of sheer torture? It may not be theatre, but I've developed a newfound appreciation for the undramatic.

And the nightmares have finally stopped.

11 comments:

Kori said...

There is much to be said for lack of drama; some people like to call it boredom or ennui or whatever fancy-schmancy word they want to use for it, but I call it PEACE.

citizen jane said...

You'd think that the best place for drama at a theatre company would be on stage... I also worked for a theatre company once upon a time, so I can totally relate to the budget and projects and such.

Hooray for the nightmares finally stopping. Here's to a calmer subconscious ;-)

Tara R. said...

I would have nightmares about my waitress job while in college. It was worse than the school dreams - the ones where you have a test, but had never been to the class, or even knew where the room was. *shutter* Good thing you got out of that craziness.

Meg said...

I'm not opposed to drama, but one has to be able to step back and look at it, and even laugh about it. Try convincing your kids of that!

cablegirl said...

Gotta love a job where you don't feel stressed every time you go in. I mean, I'm not opposed to a little drama, but not like that. I have no patience for assholes who think they know everything but are totally incompetent.

Don Mills Diva said...

That sounds absolutely insane - I would love to hear more about that lunatic if it doesn't upset you to write it - freaks fascinate me...

Hilary said...

Led here by CableGirl.

I am so glad for you that that is a flashback!

I had a boss who was sort of like that. He thought it was perfectly normal to rant and yell at employees, and led long, long meetings that mostly involved the sound of his own voice and imagined wrongs of everyone on the staff.

OHmommy said...

Freaks fascinate the Diva? LOL. I too am a little intrigued. I live in a bubble and love to hear about freaks. :)

Law Student Hot Mama said...

I feel you . .. I've had some seriously messed up bosses before, too. Like the old man I worked for who was so clingy he'd WAIT FOR ME OUTSIDE THE BATHROOM for me to come out! He was out of control!!!

Piscesmama + One said...

Hahaha Yay for that post! Thanks for commenting on my blog, I get more and more excited everytime i meet another single mom blogger! Woo Hoo! I love your Dave Barry Quote BTW. He is too funny. Dave Barry's Guide to Guys is seriously one of my favorite books ever!

Florinda said...

I've had difficult bosses, but not to that extent. Then again, I work in accounting, which is not known for drama.

But I definitely agree that the lack of drama has a lot to recommend it. It's actually one of my favorite things about my relationship with my (second) husband. I had quite enough of that the first time around.