Wednesday, July 30, 2003

This Barney is Going Down

The hierarchy of control where I work is a little nebulous, but to cut to the chase, the guy I'm talking about today is basically the boss. This guy is a bull in a china shop, and over the years I've worked here, I've watched his sense of entitlement balloon from Donald Trump size to, oh, Attila the Hun size, both in personal sense of self-worth and hoped-for size of conquered territory. He spends more time here in the building than he used to, and his new thing is to micro-manage and bully the workers into a constant state of loathing and near-mutiny. Which is really saying something, because I really used to like the guy.

He's tall, heavy set, has a lumbering stride which is belied by his disproportionately short arms, and which makes his stride seem more like Barney with a cigar than that of a powerful leader. (I have a theory that men who need to have a large brown phallus hanging out of their mouths for most of the day are compensating for something, but I digress.) As a matter of fact, some of my co-workers have taken to calling him T-Rex, due to the short arms and large body thing. I suppose that sounds pretty mean, but trust me, this man has done nothing to inspire the sort of trust and respect that true leaders hope to cultivate amongst their workers. I further suppose that it goes without saying that no one from inside this building considers this guy to be a reasonable boss, much less a decent human being , even though he talks a good enough game that most people who don't have the misfortune of working under him think he's the guy who invented the bread slicer.

Probably the only person who works under him who thinks that he's special in any way, also works VERY CLOSELY UNDER him, if you get my drift, and has done so for years now. We used to think that it was just a nasty rumor, but now they have become so blatant about it that even outsiders casually comment on the fact that they are screwing around. I wouldn't give a flying fuck about it, especially since if their respective spouses don't seem to care enough to do anything about it, but their relationship has drastically altered the work environment here for the worse. Not only do they back each other up on every fake tiny little detail, but no one dares complain about how little work his chippy actually does around here anymore, because Barney there is the only one to complain to. Fat lot of good that would do, complaining to him, right? She spends most of the day going out with him on mysterious errands, taking 2 hour plus lunches and taking lots of time off in the middle of the day, coincidentally grabbing her purse and needing to "go out for a while" right after getting a phone call from him. Hmmmm. It's obnoxious, because she is the first one to jump down everyone's throats about requesting time off or if you make a small mistake like a typo, but she's gone so much of the day that she doesn't get any of her own work done, and it backs up the whole place. How she dumps on her assistant is another post entirely.

Rather than get into a long, involved story of all the petty politics and personal nastiness that has built up to this nadir of affection for the man, I'll just share yesterday's weird moment of rudeness. But first, a little office culture background.

My co-workers are not generally in the habit of eating lunch together. We do take turns going out for the morning coffee, but we don't get a coffee break, so we just basically drink the coffee while we work at our desks. Chippy and Barney usually buy each other coffee, and will sit in the large meeting room chatting for the better part of the morning. Only if Barney isn't coming by until much later will Chippy get coffee with the rest of us, but she has NEVER taken a turn actually going to the store for it, nor have the two of them ever offered to get anyone anything from the store when they get their own coffees, so it's tradition that if he's around, neither of them join in our coffee or lunch gatherings.

Come lunch time, a couple of us usually go home for lunch, a couple eat lunch brought from home at our desks, and the others buy lunch from some nearby stores. Only on birthdays and on the rare times that we are guaranteed the majority of the day without the Chippy, will we get together in the small meeting room and eat take-out food together. Well, yesterday turned into one of those days, and four of us decided to order Chinese food.

Since Chippy was going to come in late in the day, Barney actually had a moment of decency and let her assistant go home for lunch, and he answered her phone until Chippy showed up. When Chippy rolled in, the rest of us were all still eating our Chinese food, and Barney happened to lumber by the open meeting room door, towards his traditional spot in the larger meeting room. He stopped to complain about the fact that we had ordered Chinese food and that he was starving, and how cruel it was that he had to walk by and smell that food. I guess he was trying to joke around, whining that he would have to go out and get some lunch for himself now, but we pretty much ignored him. Why should we go fetch his damn food? He would never offer to do the same for any of us.

Well, my friend Cathy left the room for a moment, to deal with a problem in our office, and Barney walked past the room again. Only this time, he came in, sat down in Cathy's chair, said hello to the young woman to his left, and within seconds, grabbed the waxed paper bag on the table that had Cathy's egg roll in it. Before I could even think of something to say, he yanked the egg roll out of the wrapper, broke off almost half, shoved half back in the bag, and then rose out of the chair, starting to eat "his" half. We just sat there in disbelief as he left the room. And you should have seen the look on Cathy's face when we told her what happened.

The unbelievable nerve of this guy. He was so pissed off that we didn't go ask him if he wanted something and then fetch his food, that he decided to show us all who's "boss", and come take what he wanted. I know that it's just an egg roll, and in the scheme of things, this is such a tiny thing. But the symbolism of the action absolutely outraged me. It's just the egg roll on the camel's back, if you will. Treating people like they are simply vehicles to get what he wants will come back to him some day, mark my words. If he keeps talking down to people, bullying them, belittling them and shoving his weight around, some day he'll do it with the wrong people. And I really won't feel sorry for him when his comeuppance becomes clear. Because this cigar-chomping dinosaur is heading for disaster. He is just one nanny-cam tape away from having his whole world collapse on his head, and when it does, I'll join in the conga line over the rubble.

This site is certified 38% EVIL by the Gematriculator