And Yo Mama Too!

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Last week I was presented with a large amount of challenges in my young and budding career with The New Employer.

Things have gone pretty well so far, and I’ve been able to tuck a few successes under my belt. My boss seems reasonably happy with my work. I’ve even gotten a few kudos from other teams.

I’d say I’ve been doing a decent job, still learning, still growing. All in all, I’d give my performance over the past eight months a solid B. Maybe even as much as a B+

Enter the events of last week. I’ll spare you the details, but I came up against a very volatile and angry person at one of our offices in an undisclosed Asian country. I’ll be a bit dodgy about details as that seems to make best sense in this public forum.

I have to admit, honestly, I have now encountered one of the biggest bullies I’ve ever run across in my little life.

And by “biggest” I don’t mean in physical stature.

I can remember only once during my schooldays where I was bullied. A girl who was my friend in elementary school fell in with a bad crowd in mid-school. She started making threatening calls to the house. She promised to beat me up if I didn’t stop looking at her funny. (has she met me? I always look funny! I was born that way, waka-waka…thanks folks I’ll be here all week…tip your waitress…)

On one of these awful calls with me crying and my former friend acting hateful, my mom pulled the phone out of my hand and had a good solid conversation with the girl. As soon as my mom interceded, the bullying ceased.

Honestly, that’s about the worst I’ve ever had to deal with. Until now.

Who could imagine that my worst bully would arise when I’m in my forties? I sure didn’t. I thought I was past all of that B.S. once I hit adulthood.

Nope.

This gent is an angry, unreasonable man. I try to be open and work with him, and he says really awful things in return. Long hateful emails in which he calls into question me, my management abilities, the capabilities of my team, and perhaps whether I’m best suited for the role in which my employer hired me.

And every time he sends a vitriol filled note, he copies a higher level of my management team in on the action. By way of the dreaded cc field, he’s making a case to those who control my destiny that I’m a complete idiot.

Karen bashing! Yay!……. /sarcasm

Today I was looking in the company directory to get this guy’s contact information. I agreed with my boss earlier today that I’m going to call him directly to try to sort this out. The best way to deal with a bully is to face them head on, and I’m gonna do so.

I happened to notice that not only does this fine fellow live in the same country as my hardworking ex-pat big brother, he even works in the same large office towers.

So here’s the question: Am I too old to ask my big brother go beat someone up?





C’mon, how great was that movie “My Bodyguard“? Loved that movie. Just noticed on IMDB that it came out in 1980. Damn I’m old.


In case you were wondering, my boss is awesome and has been very supportive through all of this. I know that the real bodyguard lies within my boss and my amazing management team. I’ve watched my VP smack someone down before. It was brutal and final, so I’m certain she won’t let this mess go on much further.


I Fought The Law, and the Law Won

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So it’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m awake and working. At my job. At 4:30 in the morning. It’s dark and all hell is breaking loose, business wise, in several of the major Asian countries I’m working with.

The problem isn’t entirely my fault, but it’s my team, and I manage them, so I take the fall because that’s what a manager should do.

The time zones are right, mostly, for talking to my folks already working through the end of what is their Thursday, pesky time zones being what they are. It’s really right timing for talking to my boss. Four thirty means noon-thirty in London and the meaty part of his day.

He asks me why the hell I’m up so early. Well, for one thing, I can’t sleep. For two things, there are emails scorching the inside of my email inbox. Someone’s gotta do something about it, and that’s someone’s gotta be me.

So we’re talking. My voice is still creaky from lack of sleep as I make my case. “I’m in over my head here,” I tell him, and he agrees to help.

I’m keyed up on adrenaline and buzzing like a pot of coffee and two five hour energy drinks dancing a polka across a vat of 1970’s diet pills.

The boss and I are puzzling through the problems. We’re working on solutions. I’m trying to answer as best I can and agree to find out answers to questions I don’t know.

So the boss is talking, going on a long riff as he’s wont to do. It’s good stuff and I’m listening hard. While I listen, I lean my chair back on two legs, perched there for a moment.

I say “two legs” but perhaps I should say “two wheels” because that’s really the case. I’m nestled into my worn but comfy home office chair. I do this all the time, go up on two wheels, while I’m thinking or listening or just because.

I’m listening. I’m “um hmming” and I’m very into the conversation when I guess the gods that rule gravity decide that it’s time they had a say in this situation.

With nary a wobble or early warning, I go from being semi-upright, let’s say a nice 10 degree angle, to staring at the ceiling, knees in the air, I’m-an-astronaut-strapped-to-a-solid-rocket-booster-and-ready-to-light-this-candle position.

This descent of Karenkind does not occur without some noise. And by noise I mean a bone-jarring rattle that travels in waves through my seventy year old domicile. I can hear the plumbing pipes rattling below the floor.

The boys who follow earthquakes over in their center in Palo Alto might have noticed a barely imperceptible blip on the screen while taking another sip of stale government coffee. Meanwhile, seismic waves are going off in my home.

The curious cat, a moment ago fast asleep, comes galloping down the hall to find out what’s the deal. The Good Man turns on the bedside light. I see the yellow glow at the other end of the house.

Over there in London, either my boss hasn’t heard or doesn’t care. He keeps talking. I lay there, knees up, and listen. And reply. I continue the conversation, because the last thing I want to hear right now is “what was that?” because I have no good answer. “I just fell over in my chair” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in my capacity as either employee or human.

I half expect The Good Man to come check in on me, and am glad he doesn’t. I assume he hears me still talking and believes me to be all right.

Slowly, making the least amount of noise possible, over a period of several minutes, I slide out of the chair and slither into an Indian-style sitting position on the floor.

I finish my call. I hang up. I put my chair back upright and I pat its fake leather back as if to say, “we’re all right, big fella.”

I walk down the hall to go back to bed. The Good Man is snoozing with the light on. I place my iPhone on my bedside table, and as I do, I knock a stack of hardcover library books onto the floor. They make a sizable crash.

Apparently gravity and me are gonna tussle today. Being as how he has the law on his side, I think gravity is going to win.

I plan to give it a good fight.





Image found from Alex Huges Cartoons and Caricatures, a really fun site. I recommend a visit.


Oddly enough, this post actually sorta fits with this week’s Theme Thursday, which is book, so we’ll call it good.


Round Two: Your Definition and My Definition Differ Greatly

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Yesterday, early in the morning, I had my weekly one on one with the boss.

He’s in the US this week, so it was nice to have a face to face meeting. I have such respect and yes, I’ll say it, affection for my boss. He’s amazing.

I had a long list of items to discuss, and we jumped right into the fray.

It was a good meeting, much cussed, much discussed. Decisions made. Strategy set.

When I’d exhausted my list of items, I said to Boss Man, “so, do you have anything for me?”

He said he did. There were a couple small items. “No problem, boss, I’m on it.”

He continued,”Also, I wanted to let you know that I’m going to put you on a development plan.”

Then the world went molasses on me.

Oooooh. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

My hearing slowed down. My head swam.

I’ve been a manager for a long time. Development plan is a cute little Human Resources euphemism for “You suck, we’re trying to fire you, but we have to do a ‘development plan’ first to document what a toad you are.”

What had I done? In four months I already blew this gig?

Sure, I was a little blunt with that supplier, but damn, they suck at invoicing! And ok, I might have made a joke in a serious meeting, but that’s just my way. Everyone seemed to appreciate the moment of levity! And fine, I might have been late to work a few times this week, but that’s mainly because I was on seven in the morning calls with India, and I took them from home.

I’m not a perfect employee! But damnit! I work hard and my intentions are right!

While the edges of my eyes went wavy, and I tried to figure out where exactly I’d screwed the pooch, I noticed my boss was still talking.

“And so we’ll be working on this over the next month. Being new, you may not know that development plans are only offered to our top performers, so be aware that not all of your coworkers will be doing this same activity.”

Wait. What?

Oh. I see. “Development plan” as used at *this* company is a good thing.

Whew.

My heart can now regain regular rhythmic activities.

(And then I almost cried….but I held it in. A girl crying at work is sooooo uncool.)