I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 116 - Strikes, Spares, and an Open Frame of Mind

Daily Kup (Mind in the 20's, body in the 50's, temperature in the high 80's)
A truly good day and the first consistent glimmers that I can break my son of a series of negative behaviors and reveal the sweet little man inside. The tantrums are becoming less frequent and blow over with less effort and fanfare. And that's just my tantrums.

If you've ever been involved with the training of any animal with a pack social order, you've probably seen the exercises where the trainer kindly but conclusively places the trainee in a submissive physical position to communicate that the trainer is the lead dog. The same principle works in human beings, though opportunities to pin the trainee's shoulders and head to the ground are fortunately rare. Especially in business meetings. But I digress.

Most of the time, sheer will and some measure of experience/sneakiness will accomplish the same aim in people. Initially, this wasn't an area where I was doing well as a parent, but I'm getting traction now.

Our volunteer gig weeding the school garden went by with nary a complaint and we were able to keep up the winning streak with back-to-school shopping at the thrift store, chores, school subject review, and a bowling trip for reward. Other than a snit this morning when both kids decided to cover each other with toothpaste (minty fresh clothes!), one thrown pencil followed by swift punishment was the extent of it. I like people who test boundaries, just not mine.

Either the weeds are blooming or my head has decided to take on water on the starboard side. The sneezing has been so strong that my pedicure is starting to crack off. Now I have my precious, my darling, my generic off-brand Benadryl. I cradle the little bright pink pills in my hands and know that I must finish this post quickly in the twenty minutes left before I plummet face first into the keyboard and awake with a loose T embedded in my forehead.

A Trophy is Just Another Cup (My mind was in the gutter so I took my body along)
I took Attila the Son bowling today. Once again, I got the defective bowling ball -- the one that is attracted to the strong magnet in the left gutter. Still, I managed to maintain my longtime average of 75.

The alley was populated by about a dozen eight- through ten-year-olds and me. The kid on the right lane, evidently a creative soul, started to explore the endless varieties of approaching the foul line. He attempted through the legs, a two-handed shotput, back toward the pins and through the legs, and -- almost lethally -- with eyes shut. He still had a higher score than I did.

I haven't been bowling in a long time. Bowling shoes have velcro closures now. I can honestly say that the bowling shoes looked better than 80% of the crocs, flip-flops and mud-encrusted sneakers that people wore in. I was tempted to call it an even trade and head on home in my light blue number sixes.

The little boys were careful to swallow the occasional curse around me and I returned the favor by using foul language only under my breath and at the foul line. I believe in truth in advertising.

Almost every kid lofted the ball. It sounded like a reenactment of Gettysburg ... if there had been pink and green swirly cannonballs.

When I bowl, I stretch out my right arm after releasing the ball , back away from the foul line in a crouch and then twist the outstretched arm as I psychically control the ball's trajectory. If I didn't, I'm sure that I wouldn't achieve the exceptional average of 75.

Since to the blind, the one-eyed man is king, my 70's awed my son from his vantage point of 55 and 39. My son, bearer of innate physical gifts, is quickly catching onto the sport. I may have to use bumpers soon.

Has everyone read about laid-off General Motors worker Tom Smallwood who used his unemployment as an opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream become a professional bowler? http://abcnews.go.com/WN/unemployed-general-motors-worker-bowling-champion-tom-smallwood/story?id=9469068

I have now evaluated this option and feel that one more career door has slammed shut.

Received a Freecycle offer with an unusual subject line -- "Wanted: Dog crates for new family members" Imagine Thanksgiving dinner at their house!


Corsair, The Mostly Harmless said...

“If you've ever been involved with the training of any animal with a pack social order, you've probably seen the exercises where the trainer kindly but conclusively places the trainee in a submissive physical position to communicate that the trainer is the lead dog. The same principle works in human beings, though opportunities to pin the trainee's shoulders and head to the ground are fortunately rare. Especially in business meetings.”

You MIGHT be surprised about that..

I had a Manager some while back who, though physically bore a more than striking resemblance to “Mr Burns,” liked to pull the Alpha Dog routine in meetings where one of the team leaders disagreed with him. He'd march his bony butt right up in your personal space, leaving maybe 3-4 inches between his beady little.. forehead and your eyes, and proceed to demean and ridicule the focus of his Napoleon Complex. The more in the wrong he was, the more agitated this browbeating became. It got bad enough that my immediate superior fled the environment. Leaving ME to have to deal with his half finished projects (sound familiar?) and our own little Tin God of a Manager.

About that time, a major piece of infrastructure was on the verge of complete failure. Built on “Gray Market” equipment with ZERO support or warranty, if this system had fully died, it would have put our organization out untold hundreds of thousands of people hours, and millions of dollars. During one of the first meetings after my old boss fled, we had a sit-down with our team and Upper Management. “Mr Burns” led the meeting, essentially telling the Big Bosses that there was no problem, and therefore, no need to spend any money. When asked my opinion, I flat out told them it was a train wreck waiting to happen.

After the meeting, I was of course called on the carpet in “Mr. Burn's” office. He pulled the same schtick with me. Inches from my face, finger stabbing at me, and demanding to know just what I thought I was doing.

I've had Freshman Psyche too.

I ever-so-slightly leaning into him and said in the coldest, most emotionless voice I could manage,

“My job.”

Turned and left the room. He never bothered me again.

Now, this sounds like a pretty self-serving story. I've never wanted to be an “Alpha Dog.” Neither a “Beta.” However, I will not submit to tyranny. I guess if I was going to torture this metaphor any further, I'm maybe and “Omega Dog?” I've little interest in status pissing matches. Maybe that is why I have such libertarian impulses:

I desire to run no-one's life, but my own..

Corsair, The Mostly Harmless

Burning Khrome said...

A matchless description of the sad state of some management personnel. Thanks for sharing it. I'm sure that there are many who can relate, though probably not as many who could have handled it as cooly as you did.

I worked for a guy who used to creep up behind me and poke me in the ribs because I snap like a Venus Flytrap. After a number of these incidents, I spun and punched him square in the solar plexus and claimed it was another one of the involuntary reflexes of mine like jumping and screaming when someone attacks me from behind that he seemed to find so funny. I told him that I was "just so glad that I hadn't had a cup of boiling coffee in my hand, because I don't know what could have happened ..." That slowed him for a while.

Corsair, The Mostly Harmless said...

Oh, I should definitely point out that my "cool handling" of the situation was immediately followed by pacing in my office with the door closed, trembling hands due to rage and adrenalin, a certainty that I was going to be fired, and the surprise return of an ulcer I hadn't heard from since Grad School. Fortunately, he was "let go" shortly after that for irritating too many people who had their names in bold in the company directory.

Burning Khrome said...

Ah, the cocktail composed of one part justifiable righteousness (the good kind, not the Scarlet Letter kind), a feeling of a fist squeezing the aorta, and a dash of cold sweat and hot indignation on the rocks. I've noticed that the fellow employees that discerning people consider to be pig swill often eventually "get theirs" in a karmic fashion and later mutual sharing reveals that most people felt just the same about the offender. It's my one hope for the future of business that Management, no matter how inept, frequently does have a good idea who the real screw-ups are and tolerates them until they detract more than they add on some brownie point scale.

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