Friday, August 06, 2004

The Other Night

The other night I had a dream about my old boss. Gah.

Now, this requires a little bit of background. First, I finished my B.A. in Philosophy last spring (2003). I was kind of old - 28 - but I dropped out when I had K the wonder baby, and finally came back when he started pre-k. We moved to NYC to be with Tim (the wonder dad) soon after, and I started the job search of the 21st century.

Mind you, I was naive idealist girl. Nevermind that I attended a no-name state college; I was so f***in' great that I'd be sorting through offers from the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the offices of every left leaning congressional rep in the whole stinkin' city. Nevermind the shitheap, er, job market either. Surprisingly, I did get an offer within a month or two, which I was pretty happy to take.

Background, part II: I am an overachiever, especially in bookish/mental/intellectual pursuits. I was an academic standout, and was armed with recomendations from my entire department to prove it. I'd never been fired, even disciplined, in a professional setting. I'm also kind of idealistic, and I had my heart set on working in the nonprofit sector. Furthermore, I thought that fundraising would be a good fit (though I'd never actually WORKED in fundraising... hmmmm...) because I could do some grantwriting, etc., etc. , etc. I didn't realize at the time that fundraising entails schmoozing with a lot of monied assholes so that they'll give your organization money. Some might like such work. Not me.

Anyway, this teeny tiny fundraising consultant wanted to take me on as a development assistant, at the salary I wanted, and said they wanted me to do a lot of writing, loved my writing samples, and so on. They were in a rockin' neighborhood (always a good criteria when evaluating an employer - NOT), had an artsy fartsy "organically designed" office (which turned out to have been inherited from the previous tenants) and a staff full of women, since the principal (the only male) was so damn lecherous (*cough*choke*) I meant, feminist, that he only hired "young women". His name was Charlie. I noticed in the office cabinet that he had had coffee mugs made up, embossed with a group photograph of about twelve knockout women in various action poses (former employees, I guess) under the caption "Charlie's Angels". Asshat.

At first, I thought cube life was great. I was earnest. I tried hard. Then I started to notice that, while I was working hard, everyone else was on Friendster or taking a 2 and a half hour lunch to go shopping. Those who weren't were staying until seven or eight o'clock every night, which I simply couldn't do if I didn't want to face child neglect charges. I started to feel like I was the dorky girl amongst cool girls -- while they were shopping every lunck break, I was saving my pennies for a 2 bedroom apartment. There was a lot of whispering, especially from my own boss (who we'll disparage in a moment.) I hadn't felt so miserable and insecure since seventh grade.

All this time, I received basically no feedback at all. My boss, a petite, blonde, blue eyed upper east side ice queen, generally either ignored me or gave mild praise in her best "good child" voice. She seemed woefully overworked, but wouldn't give me any concrete assignments, tell me what I could improve, or interact with me in any other meaningful way. She got really angry with me when I had trouble figuring out how to transfer two pages to a double sided copy. Granted, it was a mistake. But an honest one, and shit, after the first time, I'd KNOW HOW TO FUCKING DO IT, OKAY? Thus was born one of her best quotes:

I forget that you don't learn these things in college. Afterall, I had my first internship at fifteen.

(In response to a joke about free services from a prospective client, a massage school) I have an aversion to people I don't know touching me.

My fifteenth college reunion is in six months. I'm not eating until then.

After months of non-feedback misery, along comes my first review. TPB, who had never before directly expressed displeasure with my work, made up for months of silence by ticking off every mistake or misjudgement I'd ever made and declaring that she questioned my commitment to the firm because of it. She who never raised her voice above a ladylike whisper and a girlish giggle screamed of her frustration at my shortcomings to good ol' Charlie and the HR Director. Oy. I walked on eggshells for months afterward and eventually requested an informal review in which she told me that I had vastly improved and that she was happy and impressed with my progress. I realized I really really hated working there and started circulating my resume elsewhere.

Meanwhile, there had been a mass exodus -- 14 employees when I was hired had now become 7 -- and senior staff had taken a pay "rollback" due to everyone's inability to DO ANY GODDAM WORK. (There was much, much more time spent there figuring out how to make our clients think that they needed us than there was spent actually doing work for them. No wonder the ship was sinking.) In December, right before the match on the IRA plans and the bonuses were given out, the HR Director called me into her office and terminated me. She cried. I felt vast relief. Since then, my boss' name has been removed from the company website. She's outta there. The weird thing is, other senior consultants who left - left the country, found new jobs, retired -- ALL of them are still on the site, as though Charlie wants to pad the firm's resume. But not her, super ice queen bitch from hell. I hope she was fired. The day they axed me, she left early and said to me, "Have a great weekend! I'll see you on Monday." Hypocrite whore.

So, uh, I'm a little bitter. Heh. BUT, I dreamed about her the other night. And it was foggy and surreal, as dreams tend to be, but I remember that she was being kind to me, and giving me some sort of medal. Huh? Why? I have no idea why my psyche would do this right now, aside from the fact that I ran into one of my former co-workers about a month ago. But, I would have dreamed this a month ago, no? Either way, she at least taught me the extraordinarily valuable lesson that I want nothing to do with office culture of any kind. And now I'm starting a business, which will be far, far better than some office full of hacks in Chelsea. Blahrg.


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