Several firms ago, I had a managing partner who was not exactly the soft sensitive type. She was tiny in stature and reminded me mostly of a Chihuahua; she had a loud bark, lots of nervous energy, nipped at everyone’s heels, and picked fights with the big dogs.
Susie Q was hardly the world’s best boss. When she wasn’t screaming she was scowling; I know she was frustrated she couldn’t do both at once. She once told me she wanted a firm culture where staff didn’t yell at each other and at attorneys; only attorneys should be allowed to scream at people. Shocked, I told her my vision was that no one would scream at any one. She squinted at me and became suspicious.
Our first run-in was over ice cream, admittedly a topic near and dear to my heart. First, I had the audacity to choose the ice cream flavors for a firm social event, without consulting my managing partner.
Obviously I’d gone radical with flavors like chocolate and butter pecan, but on top of that I didn’t buy the right quantity. Huh? I’d bought…the rectangular boxes that used to be a half-gallon but are now 4.2% less than a half-gallon so Breyer’s and Edy’s can make more money. Susie decided that was my fault and insisted that I be more careful next time, and buy half-gallons. We’ve gone over the word meshugana, right?
As you can imagine, I began looking for a new job shortly after I started in this firm (this is the same place where they held the prayerful Thanksgiving dinner), and when my friend asked me why I was leaving I explained that I was not able to meet ice cream expectations. He nodded his head knowingly, given that he is also a legal administrator.
As an aside, I had a boss at a different firm who got mad at me because, as she put it, I refused to divide by zero even though she asked me very nicely. I tried to explain the simplest laws of mathematics, 3rd grade level, but she wasn’t having it. So I have a history of being a difficult employee.
One day Susie sent me an article from The Washington Post about her 8 year old son and his pet ferret. It was a heartwarming story about how a determined little boy won his parents over by educating them about ferrets; how smart they were, how clean they were, how responsible he could be. They finally relented and allowed him to get a ferret. And there he was, a dimpled little imp snuggling with his best friend Charlie the ferret.
The article quoted Susie and her husband praising their son for being so responsible, and explaining that they too had come to love Charlie. Hmmm. Susie said she loved something with a pulse? Maybe I’d judged her too harshly, too hastily. After all, someone who loves animals has something good in them, right?
You have no idea how much I wish I could still believe that. But just two or three weeks later she came flying in to my office on her little broom, and said she was leaving early to take the ferret to the vet. I asked what was wrong with him and she explained that he made the whole house smell bad and she was having him put down. She was doing it while her son was at school-she would just tell him the ferret accidentally got out of the house. I begged her, pleaded with her, and tried bribing her by promising half-gallons of ice cream in any flavor she wanted. No dice.
She suddenly morphed from
I really amped up my job search after that. I mean if she could dispatch with her son’s ferret so easily, what was going to happen to me?