How to Deal With Bosses

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This morning I had a skype lesson with a longstanding friend and student in Moscow. Unless they are lawyers or bankers, I never know what the people in all these offices actually do. I see only that they sit in front of computers. But I trust that my student/friend Ksenia is highly competent, reliable, and dedicated. Her company has (of course !) downsized recently, and now she is being asked to work incredibly long hours, for what amount of extra compensation -- if any -- I have no idea. Her team of six is now down to two.
But that's not the problem. The problem is that one of her bosses is now on maternity leave, and the other is off on a two-month (yes, two months!!) hiking tour of New Zealand. This at the busiest time of the year. My question: what is it with these bosses???
During my long working career, I have had many different jobs. A lot of them were dead-end gigs that I did to help pay my way through graduate school, and the earlier ones were when I was a teenager. I have sold ice cream, fish, encyclopedias, water purifying systems, and artwork. (Never was worth a damn at sales.)  In my early years, I did a lot of construction work, and the hardest job was that of what the British call a 'hod-carrier.' It means mixing concrete and carrying it on your shoulder in buckets up ladders to the stone masons. Or heavy bundles of bricks. It's a killer job, especially if wet ''muck'' (liquid concrete) sloshes out of the bucket onto your bare skin. It eats holes in you. But I was a beast of burden in those days, and I had the body for slave labor. Doing that job for 12 hours in the hot summer sun could work up one hell of a thirst. Cool, refreshing alcoholic cider was my drink back in England. I have packed slabs of ice onto trucks and burned bodies in a crematorium. In Canada, I loaded furniture into vans and shifted them to the new addresses of families relocating. That was hard graft too. I have also worked nights cleaning offices, served beer in numerous English pubs and spent nights cleaning the beer pipes and stocking the shelves. A great way to stay crocked all night and make money doing it.
But all that was for fun and a fistful of dollars (in America and Canada) or a few quid (in England). Beyond that, I have had two genuine  'careers': the major one of course in the field of education and the 'minor' one in health care. Needless to say, I have had quite a few bosses. A couple of them were great, some were good enough, some merely OK, and a lot of them just assholes. The latter group (the most prolific) include bosses at the top (academia) and bosses at the bottom (where you mopped floors and shoveled shit). I guess I really don't like 'bosses' very much as a whole, which is why I am now in business for myself. I might add here that I am by far the toughest boss I have ever had...
Perhaps I am a mere proletariat at heart. In the two professions I have just alluded to, I was never a "higher up', never an administrator, never one of the 'brass.'  In the medical field I was what was called a "nurses' aide", and I worked mostly in old folks' homes, hospitals, and for staffing agencies. The life of a nurses' aide is not an easy one. Our job was to clean and change often incontinent people (it means geriatrics who can no longer control their bowels and bladder), bathe them, shower them, feed them when they could not do it themselves, and hoist them into wheelchairs. On the weekends while I was working on my Ph.D., I would work a double shift, from 7.00 until 23.00. The pay was low, and mostly the only people who would do this job were those (ghetto Blacks and uneducated Whites) who were unemployable in any other venue. Hardly surprising when you consider that a great deal of one's time was spent peering into someone else's asshole and wiping the shit out of it. But that was the job, and, as they say, 'someone had to do it.'
The nurses were mostly women, and that in itself can open a can of worms, especially when the 'aide' is a middle-aged, highly educated man, and the nurses have no education outside of nursing school.

In the American South, this translates in "Redneck with License." The following conversation will suffice:

Head nurse: "I hear you're the college student. That so?"  Me: "Well, sort of." HN:: "Know what I heard?"  Me: "No, what?"  HN: "I heard that a B.S, degree stands for Bullshit, an M.A. for More of the Same, and a Ph.D. for Piled Higher and Deeper. That so?"
If that gives you some idea. But nurses like that were OK. In fact, I still laugh about that one, in part because she wasn't all that far from being right.
The problem I had was with the highly paid administrators. They mostly sat in their offices and would only come out when it was ''show time' -- meaning when the loving sons and daughters of the poor old souls that they, had crammed, American-style, into these death-trap warehouses, would arrive, and the admins would come bouncing out into the lobby to show how concerned they were about poor old Pops who some aide had wiped, scrubbed,  fed, dressed, and airlifted into the wheelchair so he could sit in the lobby and everyone could pretend that he was still alive. And what a performance they would put on. I remember once, when we were working short, that I had been doing the usual chores but hadn't quite got around to passing out the orange juice. Snuggled up to the family, the admin shrieked incredulously, "Eric, you mean you haven't HYDRATED poor Mrs. Hemoglobin yet?????" Of course, this cow could have done it herself but it wasn't in her JOB DESCRIPTION. I felt like hydrating this that hag's face with a stream of orange juice right out of my own trousers.The unsugared kind of orange juice...
But the bottom line was this: These admins NEVER worked weekends, evenings, or nights. Holidays? Christmas Day? Are you kidding me?? They would never, ever think of doing that, but they got top money. Yet since the show had to go on no matter what, people like me did ALL the hours.
The same was true in education, and it remains so. The teachers -- the ones who in the schools have to do the job 'hands-on' and put up with all the spoiled, unruly, disruptive little brats that comprise a typical classroom, as well as taking their work home with them to grade papers and invent new assignments  -- were always the lowest on payroll structure -- the pinheads in business clothes at the highest. Same as in health care. And at university, it really wasn't any different. The graduate students taught the incoming Freshmen flunkies for a pittance while the tenured and gilded stuff-shirts wrote in academic journals that were read by NO ONE but other academics. On top of that, the English Department -- as are all departments in the field of Humanities nowadays -- were run by PC-ers and Feminazis. A white guy with muscles who liked football and wolfed down Big Macs was their version of a Gestapo goon. But these precious geeks were my bosses in grad school. What a great experience.
But here's the rub. When the nurse's aides were too sick or drunk to come to work, it was an emergency, and additional staff had to be called in from some agency. In school, somebody would have to find a substitute teacher right quick because classes in public schools can't be canceled just because the teacher is absent. What this means, I feel permitted to conclude, is that the 'lowest of the low'  in the company were, IN FACT, the most INDISPENSABLE.  A substitute aide and a substitute teacher had to be found at all costs. But nobody EVER went looking for a substitute administrator. Nope, those wearing the pinstripes just took the day off, and business went on as usual without them.
This is why Ksenia's boss who is fooling around in New Zealand on her 'hiking tour' for two months during the high-intensity part of the business calendar, is OFFENSIVE. And these so-called 'bosses' , in Russia and elsewhere, pull these shenanigans all the time. At FULL PAY.

It is why the idiot woman who took over at a certain project which used to produce a very bulky and costly magazine (famous failure of an elitist conception for which I still write articles online) fired the whole staff, including the cleaning lady, and immediately went off on a lengthy holiday in Japan. Now she has canned the rest of her staff, among them another friend and student who had been there for seven years and had been an invaluable do-all for the company. Yet these companies and their transitory, tramp-along, turd-bird 'bosses'' and central directors demand LOYALTY. Ho-ho-ho.

It is why my advice would be this: if your boss is a stand-up guy or gal who is willing to get their hands dirty right along with yours, then OK. These are good bosses and good leaders.If they are worth their salt, then follow them into battle. Otherwise, change companies, or go into business for yourself, like I did. And tell the boss to kiss your ass.

Source: Eric-Artem LJ

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