Friday, April 27, 2007

Taking (Boss) Stock

My mind often forms lists when I think about things. There is a list of the loves of my life, the pets I have owned, and most lately the bosses I have had over the past 36 years. They were all different and it would be an understatement to say that some were better than others.

Ted was my first boss, when I worked in the FSU Computer Center for $2.35 an hour. He was young, slightly overweight, and slightly lecherous. I got a clue every time he tried to convince me to go shopping with him to buy clothes for his wife. His idea was that I would try them on and I always politely said NO. He was actually harmless and left me alone most of the time.

Coleman was my boss at the FBI. He was a soft-spoken little gray-haired man, who contributed $1 to CFC for me because I refused to go along with the mandatory contribution. He had the only telephone in the whole office of 30 people on his desk, the phone where I accepted my next job at the agency where I now work.

Bill was my first boss at my current agency. He was the son of a southern high school principal who referred to his wife as "Miss Libby". His ideal employee was a white male. But he hired me and begged me to stay when I decided to leave. If it weren't for Bill I never would have met my husband.

Bob #1 was my first boss in the international area of my agency. He was a wheeler dealer, who eventually lost his job over a sexual harassment suit. He was grossly overweight and once threatened to plant himself in his boss's office if he didn't grant me a promotion. He convinced me that I could do anything I set out to do and I took on the processing problems of the third world under Bob. He spoke self-taught Spanish with a Portuguese accent, but never failed to make himself understood.

Bob #2 was my second boss in the international area. We came in at the same time and were supposed to have equal assignments, so at first I resented the fact that I was assigned to work for him. But he was fair and honest and always looked out for my welfare. I will forever remember that Bob actually delivered his second child in the back seat of his van on the way to the hospital. She will graduate from the U of Michigan Law School the day of my party.

Larry #1 was my third boss in the international area. He was a slippery one who had been married 3 times and knew how to delegate, to the point where he often ended up with little on his own plate. He taught me that if you didn't want someone to overhear your phone conversation, you should face a back corner of the room. He was good at deception. But in the end he was a good supporter.

Ed was my boss in the job that formed the doldrums of my career. He didn't have the slightest idea about what I was doing and that was just fine. He was an insomniac who loved to send me e-mail messages from work at 2 AM just to show he was in the office.

Bob #2 was again my boss when I was sent in to save a management information system that was floundering. He was slightly disorganized, but he was honest to a fault and I knew I could always trust him. He was ultimately my ticket out of that division.

Jay was the first wicked boss I had. I was put in charge of a large cost model when they couldn't figure out what else to do with me. When I tried to tell the truth, they decided to get rid of me. Jay told the big boss a bunch of lies about me and I will forever hate both of them.

Larry #2 was my boss in my current job until just about a year ago. He had a very different management style from mine. Most e-mail messages to Larry disappeared into a black hole as he much preferred personal communication. But Larry let all of us do our jobs without interfering. He required only the minimum of bureaucracy. He backed our decisions. He could talk about sports or yoga or meditation or politics, all equally well. I have missed him every day since he retired.

Lisa was the young boss that took over temporarily while they filled Larry's old job. She was in her mid-thirties, but had the wisdom of someone much older. I just received the sweetest note from Lisa in support of all the work I have done here. She was the one person in authority above me who never wavered in her support. I rue the day she was not selected for the job.

Susan is my current boss. She knows a lot about policy, but not a lot about technology or people. She has impressed those in authority, but is no longer fooling any of those of us under her. She is determined to micro-manage every aspect of our work and will cut anyone who disagrees with her off at the knees. But she has no regrets about any of our unfortunate dealings over the past few months. I asked and she said as much. She is a true bureaucrat through and through.

There you have it. These 11 individuals were my upper management during the past 36 years. I learned many lessons under their tutelage – lessons about what to do and what not to do.

It will be quite a change not to have a boss any longer. I suppose I will finally be my own boss. I hope I will treat myself with dignity and respect!


Blogger Kate said...

"I am the boss of me." I can hear my younger son saying this years ago.

And shall you be.........if you are treating yourself well the slap yourself silly or call me in AZ & I will!



4:11 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Well that was really tired and I want to go home ...........prior message edited here:

"I am......"

And so shall you be.......if you are NOT treating yourself well, then slap yourself silly or call me in AZ & I will!

See you Sunday!

4:13 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

You sure had the broad spectrum, some pretty bad and some good. I could smell that ending coming...and I'm sure you'll bre the best of them all!

7:35 PM  
Anonymous David said...

overall, not too bad as the range of bosses go. it's just too bad that the worst of the lot was your last.

5:13 PM  
Blogger steve said...

Yeah, david, thats the shame of it isn't it?
One of your bosses sounds like a chracter out of a Faulkner novel titled "Harlots Ghost"

8:27 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- Not having read that Faulkner novel, which of this hit parade might that be?

9:20 AM  
Blogger steve said...

Its actually a combo of bill and Bob # 1 that reminds me William Harvey who was a real like whiskey drinking assassin runner for the CIA; i questoned whether I could make this associatioon and ...what the hell, why not!
The idea that Bob # 1 would take over his bosses position to keep you on...smacks of the characterization of Harvey.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

My 2 worst principals came at the end too! You have to look at the sum total and overall career picture.

4:48 PM  

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