A former boss of mine, let’s call him Rick, is quite a character. During the time that I worked with him there was never a dull day. In truth, the days ranged from being mind-numbingly dull to frustratingly bizarre adventures.
Quite early on in our working relationship he wanted me to organise a large stack of resumes. In his office, the stack had been accumulating for a couple of years. The resumes contained the usual personal information; names, contact information, employment history. I’m sure he thought of the resumes as people, not just pieces of paper or maybe he was just trying to keep me busy. Regardless, he didn’t want to shred the old ones – that wouldn’t do. So, he plunked the pile on my desk and asked me to sort them into alphabetical order and then call each person and ask them if they’re still looking for work. Those that weren’t looking any longer would have their resume removed from the pile, while the active job seekers would remain. Can you imagine the phone call? “Hello, is this Bob?” “Yes” “I’m Christine from Protect Your Steel Incorporated. Are you still looking for work?” “Yes I am.” “Thanks Bob, we’ll hold on to your resume. We don’t have any openings at the moment though.” In the end I kept the most recent resumes and shredded the older ones and avoided making the almost endless embarrassing phone calls.
Rick was a generous man. Generous with taking people out for lunch, and especially generous with pouring the wine. He often had a nice quiet afternoon wine-induced nap or a loud booze-fuelled rant in the shop. I, along with the shop employees, did my best to avoid him in the afternoons. One day, after consuming a copious quantity of vino, he returned to the office with every intention of having a productive afternoon. After reviewing the messages on his desk, he picked up his phone and dialed… on his CALCULATOR!!! When questioned about what he was doing, he at least laughed at his own foolishness. I can hear his deep belly-laugh now, gravelly after years of late nights and overindulgence. Sheesh. Put your head down and sleep it off, Rick.
Years later, during his mid-morning (around 10:00am) commute to the office, he had passed a stalled vehicle on the Alex Fraser bridge. In spectacular fashion, he burst through the office door, briefcase lurching about as his arms flailed around madly and his overcoat and hair resembling Mr. Bean in a windstorm. “Call 911! Hurry, there’s a stall on the Alex Fraser.” Although there must have been minimal traffic on the bridge, he must have almost ploughed into the poor stranded vehicle, he was on such an adrenaline high. If you have ever driven over the Alex Fraser, especially when there aren’t many vehicles around, you can relate to my dilemma. You can see quite a distance ahead, there’s nothing but the gentle curve of the bridge to block your view. Possibly he was too busy talking on his cell phone, waving his arms around while explaining himself or he could have simply not been paying attention. Or, and this is a distinct possibility, he might have been so engrossed in one of the new gadgets on the dash of his brand new M5 that he failed to notice a large stationary object ahead of him on the bridge. However, my flat out refusal to call emergency services did not meet his approval. After explaining that there are cameras monitoring the bridge 24/7 and a tow truck keeping vigil at the south end, he was still determined that I should make the call. In the end, to avoid further berating, I actually faked the call to 911. Not a shining moment in my life. I blatantly lied to my boss to get him to shut up.
Heaven forbid you question him on his decisions or try to hold him to a higher standard. One afternoon after trying to convince Rick to submit receipts, or explain some purchases, our Controller was discussing something while standing at my counter. As Rick walked by, he actually kicked Mr C in the shin! Of course, rather incensed, Mr C, demanded to know why he had been so rudely kicked. Rick’s reply: “Someone has to kick you in the shins every now and then.” Mr C and I were gobsmacked.
After years of enduring his buffoonery and ridiculous demands he became a mockery around the office. Ever in search of the fountain of life, he constantly tried the latest miracle cure that would turn back the clock. He tried blue and green algae, herbal remedies, tonics… Anything to avoid actually changing his lifestyle. By far though, his most memorable health kick was when he began wearing magnets. He had purchased special clothing so that the magnets would be placed strategically on his body during the day so that he could maximize the extolled magnetic benefits. He even went so far as to have magnets in his shoes. Unable to resist such an opportunity to mock and make fun of him, I foolishly embarked on a demonstration of how the magnets might change his life. Usually I reserve my outbursts until I’m in the presence of family or dear friends. Not so on this day. I demonstrated how walking through the shop would suddenly become hazardous, what with his feet suddenly lurching out from under him to be drawn to a steel beam. His computer, residing under his desk next to his feet, would be rendered into a large paperweight, its data erased as he crossed his leg in the computer’s direction. The possibilities to mock were limitless: credit cards, cell phone, driving past scrap yards, watching television at home, and so on. I wonder if he still wears magnets in his shoes and underwear?