I once had a boss so bad that the women I worked with were encouraging me to hit her.Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say, they weren’t discouraging me from doing so.
I’ve mentioned yesterday that I once spent a summer working in Kansas City, Kansas as part of a Peace Corps inspired project to help community development in Kansas. I also mentioned that our team was five brilliant women and me.
I never understood why such a large group was assigned to the project, but luckily we all got along well so we never spent our time pondering “How the hell did we get here?” (something like that). I think part of the reason we got along was we didn’t like our boss. Let’s call her Bad Betty (not her real name).
The trouble with Bad Betty started before we even technically worked for her. Part of the project involved spending the semester beforehand doing research on the community. This included visiting the community and conducting interviews and trying to figure out who the movers and shakers were. Somewhere along the way, we met Bad Betty, who was a social climbing government worker with a “vision”. All of us were put off by her–working with someone who is always right can be very tiring, as I’m sure my colleagues know.
Sometime during our eight weeks in Kansas City–or maybe, because our faculty adviser joined us, before as part of our preparation; the timeline has grown fuzzy–we joined a group of neighborhood kids on a trip to Worlds of Fun. We had a great time, met some great people, and emerged looking like, as one of the team put it “drowned rats”.
At the end of the day, we returned to the community center that would serve as our headquarters and stumbled into a meeting of VIPs from the community center and the community. We were exhausted, but one of the ladies explained what we were doing and the rest of us just grunted and nodded and went “grrto rmto gootagoo” (something like that). At least that’s how were were treated. About the time we were ready to suck down gallons of coffee and head back to Kansas State U and shower, we were instead asked to stay for a short meeting with Bad Betty.
Bad Betty then proceeded to lecture us about the importance of leadership and praised the person who spoke up and then berated all of us for not being ready for a meeting of VIPS we didn’t know was going on before we found out it was going on. We were all stunned speechless as we thought we’d done a pretty good job. Somehow, we all managed to stay quiet although I did have to whisper “Wait until we’re in the car. Wait until we’re in the car.” to a couple team members.
Yes, believe it or not, for a few moments, I was actually the one calling for reason and restraint while others were suggesting I slap my boss. Then we got in the car and I had to be restrained. Bob, our faculty adviser–and all around great guy–eventually intervened on our behalf which earned him the full wrath of Bad Betty and us little bits of snark.
I still wonder if we’d have been such an effective team as we turned out to be if Bad Betty hadn’t gone full bitchtard (a technical term) on us that day.