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My Former Boss – The Seething Dillweed

The worst boss I ever had was roughly 2 decades older than me (approximately 18, 250 days of age). For the sake of secrecy, let us refer to this gentleman as Leo. Now Leo was (and may still be) in a variation of the helping profession. That is to say, Leo spends his days of work in an effort to try and help make fellow people feel better about their selves or enhance personal feelings of efficaciousness. For better or worse, Leo stubbornly tries to make every single person in his life feel better, even if they already feel perfectly fine about what they are doing in the first place.

                To highlight and elucidate why Leo was the worst boss I ever had, we will venture our way through 4 tantalizing lessons that may give you some insight into the interpersonal transactions I had with Leo (My Former Boss – The Seething Dillweed).   

Lesson # 1: Never Say ‘I Am Going To Help You Have A Better Life’

Now for some reason or another, these words were some of the 1st words Leo ever uttered to me during a private conversation (i.e. – Matthew, I am going to help you have a better life). How on earth does someone think they can help someone else have a ‘better life’, when they don’t have the faintest clue of who the person is, what they know, and where they have been? I mean, what kind of presumptuous, unknowing twit thinks she or he can preemptively project their supposed healing powers, when not one iota of personal information has been revealed by the person who apparently has a sign on their back that says; ‘help me’ (reference – Good Will Hunting – for that emotionally evocative little nugget)? Wake up and smell the petunias Leo, when individuals look up to other individuals for guidance and support, they typically contrive a subtle way to show it.  

Lesson # 2: Men Don’t Embarrass Other Men In Front Of Women (Who Are Also Bosses) Via Email

As a few months passed by in the workplace, my relationship with Leo was clearly on the rocks. Not only was he not helping me have a better life, my life was actually becoming much worse. It is safe to say our relationship had deteriorated and dwindled to the point of no return. As a result, Leo decided (in his own infantile mind) to make my life, at the workplace, as miserable as he possibly could. The apex of this reality happened when Leo sent a belittling and undermining email message to me. Not only was the email message rude, inconsiderate, and ambiguous, 2 female colleagues were also cc’d (both of them being my bosses). Apparently Leo felt inclined to beckon 2 women to his side to deal with the ‘Big Bad Underling’ – who, heaven forbid, had the ability to think in an independent manner. Sorry Leo, I extracted minimal value from your self-proclaimed; ‘fireside chats’ – FDR would disapprove of your ignoble interactive dealings.     

Lesson #3: Limit Cubicle-Stalking Behavior – It’s Just Weird

When Leo finally realized (after 5-6 months) that I would not idolize him and complacently kiss his tush-tush, he reached a boiling point. Wait no, that’s not strong enough to describe the situation. He reached, what a keen observer would call – a breaking point. Not only was he now consulting fellow colleagues (fellow bosses) on how to handle me, he began to openly tell me how flustered he felt in whatever sliver of a relationship now left between us. It got so bad (because I would not be emotionally vulnerable in front of him), that he began to try his hand at invasive ‘cubicle-stalking behavior’. What I mean by cubicle-stalking behavior, is that he would park his buttocks in a row of cubicles (an aisle intersected to create reciprocal vision) directly behind me as I worked at my cubicle station. How did I notice this very odd, intimidating, and hard-to-prove behavior? Because, on a few occasions, I saw him in my peripheral vision just over the neap of my left shoulder intently glaring in my direction. Although I felt somewhat unsettled by this interpersonally intrusive (and pathetic) behavior, I knew exactly ‘what’ he was attempting to do, and, as a result, ignored it. Besides, what was Leo going to do all day anyways, twiddle his thumbs and hum ‘Crazy’ by Patsy Cline to himself?

Lesson #4: Incompetent Therapists Force Emotional Connections       

As Leo twisted his imaginary mustache, trying to figure me out and make me all better, I stuck to my guns – content with who I was and wanting to get more work done. Much to my chagrin, Leo was not all that interested in me getting more work done. Instead, he sharpened his focus on the supposed ‘sign on my back’, doubling his efforts to help me arrive at a new plateau of emotional and existential enlightenment. I knew I was next in line to get the axe when Leo put me in an untenable position. His message  (unspoken but crystal clear) – ‘either you cry in front of me behind closed doors and give me a hug, or you will no longer have a position at this organization’. In other words, a clever strategy devised to force an emotional connection to satisfy his own unresolved psychological needs.  

                In the end, I begrudgingly resolved to give Leo the emotional connection he so desired (even though it was subtly coerced out of me). And, I gave him the connection because I became aware (through careful analysis of our interactions) as to why he wanted it (perhaps needed it). Despite my willingness to quench his psychological need, it was not enough for Leo. I sensed that his need would constantly reappear in our relationship and have to be quenched on a frequent basis. Alas, I could not repeatedly force tears in response to the illogical force of his whimsical commands and my butt was eventually canned in a way that would bring the organization and its senior staff into indisputable disrepute.     

Forgive & Forget: History Repeats Itself

Our 4-lesson discussion has now come to a close and Leo probably remains a seething dillweed. Nevertheless, dill-weedish behavior needs to be put in perspective, placed in hindsight, and forgiven. Leo, even though you are a seething dillweed, I forgive you. Now, please continue to twiddle your thumbs and hum Patsy Cline. Who would have known that the twiddling of one’s thumbs and humming equals a steady paycheck.   

                Incidentally, the 2nd worst boss I ever had decided it was O.K. to skim money off my paychecks because he paid me directly out of his pocket. I deduced that he was up to such shenanigans when his lunchboxes became stockpiled with lavish treats – abounding with newfound M&M’s, peanut butter cups, and liquorish – while the amount of my paychecks continued to decrease every 2 weeks. I suppose being pushed to the brink of psychological insanity trumps the unsavory taste of being monetarily slighted every 2 weeks.

                 The irony and commonality with respect to these morally reprehensible bosses of mine? Drum roll please…they both hail (ah…ah…ah)…the suspense…they both hail (oh…oh…oh), wouldn’t you know it – from the country known only as Italia!

Matthew Polkinghorne

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