Today, I am going to talk about some of the more memorable work experiences I have had over the years, and some of the personalities I have come across. I cut it short.
1. The Articulate Manager
I’m no therapist, so I don’t know what was going on with this woman.
She “managed” the accounting department, and they actually had to hire another person with a clue of how to actually manage an accounting department. Over the course of three years, I never saw her do one speck of work. It sounds unbelievable, but I swear on all that is holy, it’s true. Never. Once.
My theory is that she was with the owners from the inception of some computer software that was supposed to be bigger than Microsoft, but actually lasted about 20 minutes. She sort of became a pet or company mascot. I don’t know what she had on these guys, but it must have been juicy stuff. She definitely know where some bodies were buried.
Anyway, this was not an unusual greeting to the day.
“Well, good morning and f*** all of you! You want to know why I am so f****** late today? It is because I f****** worked ALL NIGHT! I didn’t see any of you f****** a******* working with me at 3f******AM! As f****** usual, I was here, getting every f****** thing done while you f****** f*****were all home in your f****** beds!”
I could go on, but you get the drift. I don’t think it was Tourette’s from what I have read. I have my own mental issues I’m still grappling with, but this was clearly not the cover girl for “Success Strategies Weekly.”
I don’t know if she thought people believed her because we all saw her leave for home every day, and security said she never worked at night. (Some sleuthing was called for.) No reports were either produced from her office, nor was the data ever updated to produce them.
We all thought that the couple of hours shut-eye she caught every day on the receptionist’s couch would rejuvenate her work ethic, but it only revved her vitriol. Her snoring form on the lobby couch was what we came to look upon as a conversation piece. I can only imagine the conversation had by new clients and prospective employees.
You knew she wasn’t truly angry with you when she would single you out for a special smile and a , “You f****** a******!”
2. Orange Blossom Special
When I was younger, I worked with some women who decided to bring in their wedding pictures. As we went through one particular album, we started to realize that something was different. Let’s face it, when you look at someone’s wedding pictures, your main focus is to see how ugly the color scheme is, how doable the best man looks, and again, realize that all brides are not beautiful. You’re just trying to get through the pictures of all these people you have no interest in, show your happiness that Uncle Bud could make it, but sadness that he got wasted on rootbeer schnapps and broke his hip.
Anyway, this woman’s album was worth looking at because there was something…..something ……..and then, one of my colleagues whispered, “Is that a different groom?”
Yes. The woman had been married four times, in the same dress, and in the same venue, and put the pictures in the same album. I couldn’t make this up.
It seems that she had been cutting quite a marital swath through the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge. For having all those weddings there, they should have given her a punch card for some sort of loyalty program.
3. Terrorizing the Temps
When I first saw Patty come in the office for her first day, I didn’t think she would be my type. She was the ultimate Barbie on steroids. Really, like one of those girls on the Bachelor. Her hair, make-up, clothes, accessories – just impeccable. It wasn’t like we were working at the Federal Reserve. This place was like a bunker.
The two men who worked there (one owner, one manager) had to find their eyes to put back in their heads. What a pair. The owner was really a nice guy, except that he had some serious anger issues and actually had a big pile of phones in his office – phones that he had pulled out of the walls when piqued. That man spent a fortune on new phones.
The other was just an idiot. We’ll call them Dave and Buster.
Turns out, Patty is one of the biggest hoots I have ever known. She was so cuttingly funny, but kept such a straight face. She loved to go out for girly cocktails and flirt shamelessly. She made it into an art form. She was smart, a great co-worker, first to reach for the take-out menus, and kept everyone in line. She did what she could, and accepted what she couldn’t change. A wise woman, was our Patty.
One day, we had a temp in the office, and Patty turned to her and said, “Now, Linda. We all take turns dating Dave and Buster. Which one do you want?” The woman’s reaction was utter speechlessness. You could see in her face that she was sure that she had misheard. She stammered,…I…I..I don’t want either of them.”
Patty looked even more stern, “Now look, Linda, we all do it. At least we’re letting you choose.” Linda said, “But I’m married.” Patty told her that was no excuse.
I’m not proud that I found this so hilarious, but in my defense, when Linda started to get upset, I did tell her that Patty was kidding and it was just her sense of humor. Patty said she was sorry for teasing her like that, but Linda never came back again. I feel kind of badly that she was subjected to being upset like that. These days, that would have been harassment.
But, God, was it funny!
4. The Entitled
I once did back-to-back maternity leaves for two women in the accounting department in an adventure capital firm. I won’t say where it was, but it was quite an experience. One of my duties was to keep tabs on the expenses for the owner’s private planes. In viewing the caterers’ bills, I noticed he spent more on lemons in little stretchy dresses than I made in a week. Seeds on the Dover Sole – not acceptable, you know.
The place was unbelievable. There was a private gym with on-site trainer, every manner of work out clothes, tapes, Chanel products in the changing rooms. Our lunch was prepared every day by a gourmet chef. There was a coffee making apparatus larger than cathedral organs I have seen.
The raffle at the Christmas party was the cars -yes, cars. This one particular year, the owner gave 5 Jeep Cherokees and for the part-timers, 5, $15,000 cash prizes.
Here is where I come into the entitlement phase of my story. The people who worked here adopted the attitude that they were billionaires, too. One woman, who just received an $80,000 bonus wept bitterly, and left the party because she was so convinced that she would win a car, but didn’t. She DESERVED one of those cars!
As a temp, I wasn’t involved in the Greed-a-Thon. I was just happy with some free booze and that there were some crab cakes left.
One morning, the JavaZilla 8000 was acting up and one of the secretaries was FURIOUS! She looked at me and stamped her foot when she said, ” How can this be?!” I said, “I know, how do they expect us to work in this hellhole?” She didn’t get the humor, just nodded sagely – then went and reamed the JavaZilla customer service people.
4. My Workplace Brush With Greatness
When I graduated from college, I decided to move to NYC. It seemed like the fun thing to do. It also seemed like the sort of place I could get a job with no practical skills whatsoever. So, I ended up slinging lotions and potions at the Clinique counter at the Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue.
One day, they set up a huge fountain with some very expensive scent. Beside it, they put a huge snifter of cotton balls for customers to test the scent. Once or twice a day, a very-well dressed woman used to approach the fountain, take a good, long drink, pat her lips, and move on. It was the high-light of my day.
As I was washing the display windows on this special day, I felt sort of an aura around me, or at least near me. I looked up into the eyes of – ELIZABETH TAYLOR! I made this little sound in my throat like I was trying to dislodge a large seed. She gave me a little smile, and said, “Yes, it’s me.” Wow.
Anyway, she was looking for the liquid eyeshade in plum. Well, what else? It seems that Liz’s eyelids are sensitive like mine and she needs that moisture in the shadow. We had a sharing moment when I told her I used it for the same thing. We didn’t hug or anything, but I could tell we shared a connection, Liz and I. Actually, she just swept out and had some minion pay. Probably didn’t like good-byes.
5. The Good-Bye Luncheon
Now, I like to think I am culturally diverse as the next woman. I love to travel, learn, read, try local cuisines in different places, try to recreate them when I get home. I need for you to know that about me before I tell you about this one woman who used to bring lunch every day.
I have no idea of what God could have put on this earth that smelled so bad cold, but when heat was applied via microwave – MOTHER OF GOD!.
People’s eyes would water. One new employee was convinced that there was a deadly mold. No, it’s just lunchtime.
There was nothing that could be said. Tell her she couldn’t bring her lunch? No. Besides, the woman was Asian, and that brought up a whole cultural can of worms.
The day came when I chose to bid adieux to move on to other pastures, and, in keeping with office tradition, I was taken to lunch. Being the loser I have been since birth, who was chosen to plan my luncheon? That’s right. The Lunch Lady.
She decided to go – where else – to Chinatown! I love Chinatown, but not when someone is bound and determined to create “an authentic experience” for me. Note: the whole group blamed me!
First, we got a huge platter of chicken feet. That’s not a euphemism for some tasty tidbit. They are fried feet – from chickens, off of which you are to suck the skin.
BTW, here is a tip for anyone in this sort of situation, a Clonapin and a big old Mai Tai can break down your inhibitions enough , so that even if you are not eating with gusto, you won’t actually hurl.
On with the menu: Birds Nest Soup. I always thought that was a euphemism as well. No. Wrong again. Ordering this was quite a coup on her part, as it is a delicacy. Bird’s Nest Soup is a gelatinous mix of chicken broth and bird saliva. That’s right, bird saliva. Swiftlets make their nests from saliva and each year, after the bird has left the nest, it’s harvested and added to the soup.
Why, yes – I would LOVE another Mai Tai!
In her defense, she didn’t make us try the sea slugs or the 1000-year-old eggs. It turns out that those eggs are only a couple of months old, but they are buried in pots where their insides turn to jelly. The shell of the egg turns a browny, black, but it’s the inside where that yummy dark green yolk awaits your olfactory and gastronomic delight.
The rest of the meal passed without incident or disturbing surprise, but seriously? I can see wanting to introduce your cuisine, but let’s explore some sort of noodle or vegetable dish before we head right into the newt testicles.
I have had a rich, dark, and varied work history. I hope to someday compile some of the other interesting individuals I have come to know, with perhaps a sentence to sum them up. That would be a lot of work.