LIKE A BOSS–I MEAN, MOM
I’ve had a lot of different types of bosses. There was Merry, the perfect boss. So calm, analytical, and logical. No professional or personal crisis ever seemed to faze her. Not so with Reg. He was the worst kind of micromanager. He’d ask me to check on whether something had been done or a decision made in Home Office. While I worked on the problem, he’d make a circuit of the office (a five minute walk) and every time he’d pass my cubicle, he’d ask, “Do you have an answer yet? Then I’d learn that he not only asked my co-worker to check too, but he’d also harassed someone at the Home Office for the answer as well. There was Shelly who was so anal, she instructed us on the best way to clean the walls of scuffs (you take a damp sponge and stroke vertically over the scuff three times before stroking horizontally for another three, and repeating until clean. You’re welcome). Then there was Jean who used his 6’ 3” height to spy on us from over our cubicles. One time I was engrossed in composing a long, complicated email when I felt a presence behind me. I surreptitiously tilted my head and saw Jean out of the corner of my eye, sitting at an empty chair behind my desk. There was nothing I could do to warn the internet surfing co-worker next to me.
But now I’m working for my toughest boss of all. You could say she is The Mother of All Bosses.
Don’t get me wrong. Samantha is a admirable woman. She started her successful business all by herself. She is smart and resourceful. But Samantha is old enough to be my mother. I’m old enough to be a mother as well as a grandmother. Hence the difficulty. When she has a problem with something I do, she goes into “mother mode.”
My computer goes to sleep after twenty minutes. Hence, I missed an IM from a co-worker. “You really need to make sure it’s always up,” I’m told. “You didn’t respond to Roger’s message.”
“You need to hand in your timesheet on Fridays. Chris needs it every Friday. Why didn’t you?” She speaks as though I am too ignorant or uncaring to learn the procedure, that I intended to cause a problem. In reality, I forgot. Big difference.
The most annoying thing happened a couple of weeks ago. I am in charge of opening the mail then date stamping and logging each piece in the computer. Samantha came to me and held out a letter with a date stamp from the previous day. She asked, “Do you notice anything?”
I took the letter from her and studied it. The date I stamped was correct. There wasn’t a check attached, so I couldn’t have missed entering an amount in the daily log. I was starting to feel warm from nerves when I finally noticed it. The letter was addressed to a company across the street. The mail carrier had delivered it to our office by accident and I didn’t notice the error. I told her the mistake and she replied in a disappointed voice, “It’s a good thing Trina caught it.”
I stood and announced I’d deliver it to the right company. The receptionist there was unperturbed—“Oh that happens all the time.” As I walked back, I became more and more annoyed. Why couldn’t Samantha just tell me that I opened the wrong piece of mail and to be more careful? How did having me analyze the letter help? We all make mistakes, right? That’s when I realized she is a mothering kind of boss.
I have a mother. A mother who asks me questions that I’ve answered many times over the years. She says she still asks these same old questions to ensure that I know these things. I’ve accepted this in her years ago. Because she’s my mother. But I don’t need another one. If I screw up, tell me. I’m not learning a new computer language or have been assigned a protocol to follow when working with the ebola virus. What we do at your business will not destroy the world. I made a stupid, ordinary mistake. No one was killed or maimed or lost their health insurance. Your lesson won’t make me more diligent about ensuring the mail is directed to the right place. I can do that all alone with the simple words, “Here’s the problem. Please make sure it doesn’t happen again.”