Saturday, February 20, 2016

There's no fool ...

I've seen this with my boss before. He falls into thrall with some of his coworkers. They always look the same: long, straight blonde hair and no bust. The first was The Chocolate Covered Spider. Then it was Blondie McBlonderson. They both quit in January 2015, and he was bereft.

I don't mean to imply that he's sleeping with these women. There were never any affairs. It's just that he's a balding 60 year old in a young person's industry. His college-aged son is having expensive medical and emotional problems. He gets off on being adored by svelte, flaxen-haired 30-somethings.

How do I feel about this? Sometimes I think it's sad/sweet. Sometimes I think it's creepy. Most of the time I think it's none of my business.

But the last couple weeks have been difficult because there's a new blonde in town. And, unlike The Chocolate Covered Spider and Blondie McBlonderson, this one is his boss. Which makes her my boss, too. So I've got to care.

She was hired without much fanfare over the summer. Then, all of a sudden, we got an email saying she was being installed as the top creative on our account, which is one of our agency's largest. An EMAIL! The two men who were co-directors weren't even told in advance that this new younger woman was replacing them.* Nor was my boss told that she was being installed as his immediate supervisor.

And I'd never even seen her. When I asked who she was, I was told, "You've seen her. She's a thin blonde who wears fashion-forward boots all the time." So every time a thirty-something blonde walked by, I'd echo the title of that children's book, Are You My Mother? That's why I shall hereafter refer to her as, "Mommy."

My boss began working closely with two weeks ago. "Mommy says this," and "Mommy wants that." I began imagining her as a brittle ball buster. "This is a new world," my boss would intone ominously. "We have to anticipate what Mommy wants and deliver."

Interestingly, my boss made no attempt to introduce us to Mommy. She remained this behind-the-curtain, larger-than-life presence. And she was getting in the way of me doing my job.

My client wants to be in the mail with a special promotion on May 1. That means it has to be written, designed, approved by the lawyers and ready to go to the printer on April 1. So the client wanted to see at least three concepts on Tuesday of this week.

But because Mommy wasn't going to be in the office on Friday, Monday, or Tuesday, we couldn't deliver. Because, my boss said, Mommy needed to approve everything.

WHAT THE FUCK?!? How big is her ego? She'd rather piss the client off, just to put her imprimatur on work that was begun before she took over the account?

Well, I met Mommy on Friday. It was over wine (she was drinking, I still can't) at Happy Hour. She's very nice, very unassuming, and let it slip that she couldn't have cared less about my project. She told me she was driving to and from the client's downstate offices every day Friday, Monday and Tuesday. It's 135 miles and 2.5 hours each way. She didn't want to stay at a hotel, even though it would have been easier, because she has a toddler and wanted to put him to bed herself. Anyway, she confessed that when she reviewed the creative we developed for my project, she really couldn't see it very well. She was looking at it on her phone when she stopped for gas. "But I gave it a glance because your boss wanted me to."

There's a massive difference between her having to approve everything and her giving it a glance. My boss is obviously working overtime to impress her.

A product of his generation, he doesn't know what to do with her. She's clearly his type, he's obviously attracted to her. And yet she has authority over him. Unlike Blondie and The Chocolate Covered Spider, Mommy is not going to look at him as a sweet and amusing elder statesman. She is rightly going to expect more of him.

And he's spinning out of control. It's too complicated and depressing to detail here, but in his obsession with Mommy he's making my life hell. He sees everything through a Mommy-colored prism. He doesn't care if the client is happy. He doesn't care if we're giving the ones who pay us their money's worth. He wants Mommy's approval. And the sad truth is, Mommy is (rightfully, I think) focused on the high level and doesn't really seem to care what we do down in the weeds.

And so, my boss and I are going to continue to clash. Because I insist on delivering for the client. And I believe that if our contretemps were escalated to Mommy, she'd side with me, because she's a businesswoman and, if our client is happy, our business will grow.

But my boss is spinning out of control and doesn't/can't see that. He's motivated by fear and confusion and sex and he's powerless to stop spinning.

*But they're dicks anyway, so I don't care.


  1. Your work life fascinates and frightens me.

  2. I am so glad I don't work in a corporate world. I don't think I would last an hour.

  3. Truly, this is a ridiculous mess. At 60, he's not much older than you, but you've figured out, and he's still mired in the past. Yes, it's sad and sweet, but it's also bad business. Keep fighting the good fight.

  4. I echo Kwiz's comment. LOL And you have such a unique perspective because while you understand his issues, it's jacking you up. That's annoying as all hell.


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