Friday, March 24, 2006

Who's Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?

I've had trouble dealing with "authority" my entire life.

It's not that I think I know more or that they are out to get me. When I was a teenager I didn't have trouble with (SOME) teachers because I thought I knew it all. My reason is simple.

I'm not going to treat you any differently than the guy who collects my trash and let's face it - I treat him pretty well (xmas cards, cookies, and gift certificates).

In all the jobs I've held there has been some senior member in the office, whether it's the president of the company, a board member, the CEO etc etc.

One job I had there was this guy named Lenny who was what I like to refer to as King Senior PoopyPants. Meaning that he basically ran an extremely large company from his well lit corner office with leather sofas.

Lenny really liked me and I keep in contact with him to this day - I was just a receptionist but he still remembers me now almost 4 years later. He told me one time why I was different from everyone else. He said that I treated him the same as everyone else, that I cracked the same jokes, swore the same amount, and didn't change my demeanor when he entered the room. I teased him just the same as I do everyone else and I called him on his shit when the shit needed to be called.

Fast forward to now.

I'm at this gigantic International company where there is a strict org chart and it's held to pretty firmly. The rats get the cubes, the managers get the offices with no windows, the directors get the windowed offices, and the board member gets the corner office with the view. I'm all for organization - I like knowing the exact chain of command when I need to escalate an issue.

What I don't get - and I never will - is the way some of my co-workers act around the board member who is housed in our office. Let's call him Burt. When Burt's in the office they skitter around like scared puppies whispering "Burt's here... did you see - he came in around 7 and said he'd be staying till he had to go to the airport and..." blah blah blah fill in the blanks. They also act like Burt could fire them for sneezing too loud. They turn into sniveling yes men and it's ridiculous.

The odd thing is that the people who do this at work are all most certainly over 50 years of age. I have never seen the younger crowd at work act this way.

I think it has to be a generational thing. I think that my generation and even the generation right before me don't fear authority. We just don't really give a damn who the hell you are. I think Burt wants me to fear him - and guess what - it ain't going to happen. Fire me if you want - even though it would take quite a bit of paper work and time to make that happen.

Guess what - I'll do my job and treat everybody with respect. You do the same and we're all good. No ass kissing required.



At 10:28 PM, Blogger Rhonda said...

What's up with bosses who are like that anyways? I mean, THEY'RE the ones who make the big money. So, in my book, THEY'RE the ones who should be nice and treat their employees well. Ahhhh, gotta love the corporate world.

Oh and I didn't comment on this before, but CONGRATS on the engagement. Its an engagement in my book, and I don't care what any stupid commented says :) It'll be official soon enough, but I still think congrats are in order.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Elizabeth Blair York said...


You know I love your site (I visit often enough!) and considering how my days are spent recently, it gives me my "corporate fix" to read your adventures.

I have never met the folks in your office, but I can hazard a guess about the behavior of the older folks. You are young and beuatiful and the whole world is in front of you. But after a certain point, it's sort of down the other side.

And people on that side of the hill have the higher salaries (seniority) which makes them targets of layoffs. Also? Harder for them to get new jobs. TWICE as hard. And they usually have reposinibilities weighing on them that you don't (yet! :))

Two people, similarly qualified, one is 25 and the other is 50 - which will get hired? Yeah, you guessed it - the 25 year old at half the price.

Very common in rigid corporate heirarchies for the more established (older) employees to conduct a little "hazing" on the younger ones and serious kissing-ass on the more senior executives (including building up those relationships in "private" time - you'd be shocked how much happens on the golf course. It is NOT a joke).

You are approaching the situation with a an egalitarian nobiliity that I respect very much. As an older folk (*cough* *cough*) - your respect for all equally is refreshing.



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