Monday, April 08, 2013

The Trials of Job....Part 1 of 3

I've written about some of my workplaces before but here is one from the other side of the fence, so to speak. There were a few of those too. Here's one:

In chatting with Daughter the other day, I was recalling a particularly appalling work position I took back in the day when I was in my late thirties. I was hired as controller/office manager in a small manufacturing plant I'll call “Briggs”. There were five in my department who reported to me. What struck me as odd from the beginning was that I was the tallest person in the office at 5' 8”. The president was a wee British man, and by wee I mean about 5' 3”. (Sorry, I'm of the age where metric for the most part is a challenge.) The two salesmen were equally short. And I noted I drove the smallest car. The president, Harry, drove a blue Lincoln Continental with a cushion on the driver's seat to keep his head above the steering wheel.

From my very first day there I sensed a resentment from my staff. They had adored my predecessor, Vivian, whom I had met during the transition. I had the impression that they firmly believed that Lucy, the accounts payable clerk, should have succeeded Vivian. Lucy ruled the roost now that Vivian was gone.

There were very strict rules in the office. Every pencil, note pad cover, pen, paper clip, stapler and coffee cup had to be in the colour favoured by the company, fondly called “Briggs Blue”. Even the office chairs, in-baskets, and out-baskets, teapots and water cooler. No other colour was allowed. Harry was adamant on this. Harry liked to stand behind us as we worked. He would come into my office and walk behind my chair and even when questioned as to what he wanted, he would just humph and say in his nasal cockney voice “Oh carry on, carry on, act loik I'm not 'ere.” It only took me a half a day to find this behaviour offputting - and I reported to the man!

Single mothers with a household to maintain can't be choosy when it comes to employment. I persisted in trying to turn this whole scene around. I was able to escape every day with the bank deposit for I had taken that task away from the credit manager, but not without a struggle. I added office supply shopping, purchase of bank drafts and letters of credit and mail pickups and drop-offs to my daily outing and then added my lunch hour. I could escape every day for two hours. Liberation! A brief reprieve!

I mentally prepared myself every morning when I got up for my "Blue Life with the Munchkins”. Mean-spirited, I know, but in this hostile atmosphere (and it was increasingly so) it was sometimes the only humourous thought that would get me through those workdays.

To be continued.


  1. You have me curious for the other two parts. How will this story end? I know you are alive and well, but what hurdles did you have to jump over?

  2. At least back then you were able to find excuses to escape. It would not be so easy these days, everything except going to the loo can be done on computers! Looking forward to the next episode.

  3. Were you the tallest human being in the smurf kingdom office?

  4. Oh god. I'm tall, too, and some people act like I'm tall on purpose to make them feel small.
    I've had hellish jobs like this but usually could leave them.

  5. It's very unfortunate when you find you've been hired instead of the internal favourite, who forever holds it against you. It's never happened to me (to my knowledge) and I hope it never does.

  6. As usual, I shall save my punch lines to the last episode but one thing that we share must be mentioned here. I had a very powerful boss twice removed who sat in London who was 5'3" and I was and am 5'9". This guy had a complex about his height and would never stand up in the presence of others taller than he in his office where the visitors chairs were kept in such a way that his desk would hide the fact that his chair was specially made to give him height over his visitors. I was a particular favourite of his for reasons that are unimportant and one very relaxed, read lubricated, evening, he confided in me that he wished he had my height. He claimed that he could have achieved a great deal more in life had he only been taller. After that evening, our relationship kind of tapered off into a more formal one.


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