Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mind Games: Miniature Capo di Tutti Capis - Our Beloved Bosses

A Caustically Critical and Comical Contemplation of Those Who Would Be Corporate Kings
Mr. Mooney - Iconic Boss #1

“I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link and yard by yard while on Earth and, now I will never be rid of it any more than you will be rid of yours!” – Jacob Marley’s Ghost

 “We all been playing the mind games forever.” – John Lennon

“(What they do?)
(They smile in your face)
All the time they want to take your place
The back stabbers” - The O’Jays

We’ve shared many a cantankerous and crabby, if not disparaging, derogatory and disapproving blog post in the notoriously unheralded history of  “…and several butcher’s aprons,” but this entry may be the Burj Khalifa, the Sancy Diamond, the Mount Everest, the Xaviera Hollander (what are things that are the ultimate in their categories, Alex?)  of self-indulgent, bitter, acrimonious epistles, because this time – it’s personal!  (hit menacing music sting.)

They go by an abundant multiplicity of professional titles – boss, supervisor, superior, manager, coordinator, bully, back-stabber, deviant and sexual predator. But despite this opulent variety of workplace monikers those fellow homo-sapiens, by birth and nature biological equals, who hold far too much say, sway and power over substantial percentages of our days and our lives, whether achieving such through hard work, talent and dedication or through nepotism, quotas or frequent favors of the flesh, often share comparable characteristics. The employer/employee relationship seems by its very make-up to be an unavoidably adversarial one. The relative positions and roles in society are opposite and counter to each other. But why do some (many? the majority of?) bosses behave the way they do? Does management training demand that this sultan of supremacy surrender his or her humanity and humility - those very traits that would permit them to more empathize with and understand those who report to them? Are bosses by necessity always the worst people in the world, is it a qualification for success in the endeavor? With just a minor adjustment in focus and attitude, and a little taken off the sides and back, would Charles Manson have been the best darn Chief Operating Officer the world has ever seen? Could Jeffrey Dahmer have saved Borders Books? Could Mitt Romney have parlayed the personal pain, financial ruin and joblessness of thousands of hard working , middle-class Americans into obscene and almost immeasurable riches for himself? Could he have taken Gerber out of the mouths of babes in order to put more beluga in his own? (Oh wait, that happened.)
Mr. Dithers - Iconic Boss #2

The large, multi-national corporation for which I toil is more top heavy than a Hollywood plastic surgeon’s client list, just chock-a-block with “senior-”, “vice-”, “executive-“, “chief-“ titles of all stripes, manner and ilk - and by that I mean, of course, as in the GOP, the Vatican and every late-night comedy/talk show writing staff, they are in great preponderance, white males. Many are reasonable, rational human beings taking no joy in correcting, chastising or cajoling. And then there’s Maude (the name has been changed for employment security and for easy 70’s sitcom referencing) my main muse for this installment and the person to whom it is dedicated. Maude has mastered the art of the mind game – warm, fuzzy, loving, caring, armed with hot from the oven, fresh, home-made baked goods, a moist munchie in one gnarled claw but a razor sharp saber in the other (perhaps I best borrow the King's food taster), an appealing smile, and a kind but unmistakably feigned encouraging word on Monday; while on Tuesday she is inaccessible, callous, unkind and imperiously aloof. Your days are spent in psychological dismay – which guise will be revealed this fine morning and in what manner should she be approached, if indeed she even allows any approachment at all. Most importantly, whether experiencing either the Jekyll or Hyde phase, you suspect that during both extremes she has been laboring behind the scenes to sabotage and undermine your career; yet it is done not out of a predetermined perniciousness or a particular abhorrence toward you, rather, it is the way she feels she can most effectively and efficiently advance her own. As with any good cult or terrorist organization leader her primary management approach is to break your spirit. Like a wild palomino in a sport jacket and chinos, once you’re broken and defeated, she has triumphed, and from 9 to 5, has wrestled complete control over your being. Have a nice day.
A Few Other Boss Types

This is the Totie Fields or London Lee of supervisors (no, how about the Rusty Warren or Mickey Manners of supervisors? Okay, we’ll go with Sarah Silverman and Patton Oswalt) always on, an apparently frustrated stand-up comic with a confrontational Catskills comedic repertoire. The result, he/she frequently embarrasses themselves in hallways, in lunchrooms, in elevators and most often and most damaging, in department meetings. Unfortunately and through no fault of your own, as all injurious jesters require a foil, you are often drawn downward into their dungeon of disgrace. And, once again, as it has on so many previous occasions, your mind queries, “I report to this person?!”

The whiner, verbalizes only through the nasal cavity, rarely through the mouth, while taking credit for other people’s work. His desktop is covered in pharmaceuticals, vitamins and supplements of every variation, next to the super-sized box of lotion-enhanced facial tissues. This archetype seems to constantly fall ill when exceptionally loathsome assignments appear. Suddenly you’ll be entrusted with unprecedented  freedom and responsibility, but fear not proper due recognition, as he’ll be receiving all acknowledgment and praise for your 5 consecutive nights spent slaving until the witching hour, while he remained at home, reclined on the settee, Chivas Regal,  Primatene Mist and Afrin in hand, convulsing at the Big Bang Theory reruns on TBS. This boss has perfected a management method combining the most irritating elements of Gary Cole in “Office Space,”  Garry Shandling and Quinn Cummings (see Wikipedia – annoying child actress “The Goodbye Girl” and “Family.”)

They don’t have a life, so why should you? This administrator is hermetic, lacking in humor or imagination and possesses awkward social skills, consequently, they subsist on cubicle and coffee machine. They work nights and weekends (and Christmas and New Year’s and especially Valentine’s Day night) so why shouldn’t you? All is not gloom and doom, however, as you will receive one day of recreation while under their vocational jurisdiction, that being, of course, the sad anniversary of the occasion that Captain Fluffy Paws left us for the great scoop-able litter box in the sky.

While culled from individual experience with an extensive degree of embellishment and exaggeration for entertainment purposes - so don’t try this at home - perhaps among the satirical specificity there is some universality to be found. If you are a boss yourself, take no offense, as surely you don’t recognize any semblance of yourself amongst this collection of ogres and miscreants. And although an envied, flourishing leader of men you may be, somewhere there is someone even you have to answer to. So, here’s to those who have attained bountiful business brilliance. Here’s to the winners. “Here's to the winners, lift up the glasses. Here's to the glory still to be. Here's to the battle, whatever it's for.”  But, keep in mind, while you may have achieved exalted ambitions, remember that no one, save his indistinguishable cloned progeny, not even his most ardent supporters, hold any real affection for Mitt Romney. So strive while you may for Willard doppelganger-hood and its accompanying formidable fiscal feats, in reality, humanity and compassion are true traits of the winner and demand a distinctly dissimilar skill-set.
And finally, a question - is it worth the possibility of jeopardizing one’s livelihood just for the juvenile, enjoyable, and spiritually and psychologically satisfying opportunity to expose and ridicule one’s supervisors, especially in such obvious and identifiable ways? When having wine with dinner, it certainly, at least momentarily, appeared so.

We conclude with an “… and several butcher’s aprons” first – 3 classic songs in commentary of the current topic featuring John Lennon, The O’Jays and Frank Sinatra.


  1. That was a fun read!

  2. Thanks. I feared it might be a little too mean and hostile.

  3. Nicely done. This is exactly why I have been a freelancer since 1989.

  4. That's certainly understandable. Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading, much appreciated.