Do You See What I’m Doing?

You waited until we were no longer dating to begin instructing me. On the first day you had me walk around to agent’s desks with you. You said, “Do you see what I’m doing?”

I affirmed the fact that I did. You said, “Do that for yourself.”

Good Managers Don’t Listen to Gossip

During the following weeks you would show up at the office in the early evening, after the other team members had left. Almost every night you would give me tips on the practice of management. 

One was, “Good managers don’t listen to gossip.”

A New Rule

You informed me of a new rule. It was that, “Anything that went wrong in the” satellite “office was my fault even if I did not know about it.”

I complained that this was, “not fair.”

You answered, “tough shit.”

The rule was strictly enforced.

To add insult to injury you acted like you were doing me a favor.

With friends like you who needs enemies, thanks!

Rioting Office

Occasionally managers have to announce things that the staff won’t like. One day you asked me to announce something and the entire office started yelling at me. I did exactly what any reasonable young, intelligent, ambitious woman would have done under this circumstance.

I ran away.

Once safely outside I called you. You laughed and said, “I’ll be right there.”

A few weeks later it happened again. I did the same thing.

That time you said, “I already showed you how to handle that.”

You continued,  “Go back in there or else you don’t have a job!”

Are You Doing It?

By October it became apparent that you had a new hobby, making aggravating rules for me. One rule brought you more joy than the others. The one stating that I had to manage myself daily. Just to make sure that I understood the importance of this you also made a rule that if I ever showed up in the office without managing myself you would terminate my employment immediately. Two or three times a week you would show up in the office and say, “Are you doing it?”

I do not like being told what to do. I would role my eyes and say, “Yes I’m doing it.”

One could certainly make the argument that everyone manages themselves. It’s a free country and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, you did not come up with this concept yourself, Peter F Drucker did. He is the most respected management theorist who ever lived. Everyone breaths but everyone who breaths dose not understand mindfulness. The concept that a manager managing themselves for effectiveness is the most important skill for any manager to have is covered in The Effective Executive.

I understand why now. Thank you for teaching me management.

Baby Turtles

One night I was innocently getting my car washed and a woman approached me. She asked me if I wanted to buy a watch and I said no. She asked me if I wanted to buy a scarf and I said no. Then she produced two baby turtles. I thought about saying no but one of them blinked at me. I knew that my cat would consider them dinner. Before agreeing to purchase them I call you and asked your permission to keep them in the office. You said, “No F’ing way! You aren’t responsible enough for turtles!”

You considered me responsible enough for management but not for turtles. Obviously, you were confused about the level of responsibility required for turtle care.

Of course I got the turtles. You routinely watered your plants around seven or eight. They were the office plants but you loved them. I left the baby turtles under a palm tree so they could blink at you. I called you around eight thirty. Without my even addressing the topic you said, “They are very cute. You can keep them. You had better put them in an aquarium first thing tomorrow morning so that they don’t die.”

They made me extremely happy. They lived in the office window and got a lot of attention. A client once told me that, “Turtles bring good luck.”

Piles of Problems

You were dead set on helping me out. Just making the aggravating rules wasn’t enough. You began pulling another trick. About twice a week I would find you waiting for me at my desk when I arrived at work, grinning.

Then you would hand me a pile of folders all of which were problematic transactions and inform me verbally of any angry clients or problematic situations. While grinning, you would explain that it was my responsibility to handle them by the end of the day.

You acted like you were doing me a favor. Thanks.

A Waived Fee

As I mentioned previously, we had an affluent clientele. They did not like paying our fees but they could afford to pay our fees. One day I ended up working with a girl whose single mother lived in government subsidized housing and her boyfriend. She was nineteen. Naturally, they waited until they had selected a unit to tell me that they needed to put the fee in installments. They could defiantly afford the apartment but their income was fixed.

Affording a fee in four monthly installments and food became questionable. I accepted the first payment and it was around fifty dollars short. When I did I said “I want for you to be honest with me, do you have enough money for food?”

She actually said yes. But, biased on the tone in her voice I did not believe her. I informed her of this politely and gently. She explained that they appreciated my help and felt that I should be compensated. I called you and asked permission first. Then I said, “Do a good deed for someone else someday.”

She smiled and said, “Thank you.”     

You Have to be Kidding!

One day I made a mistake and you were particularly hard on me about it. Typically I excelled at ignoring you but for whatever reason that day you hurt my feelings. You walked into the office and noticed me not working. You asked me why and I attributed this to my hurt feelings. You said, “You aren’t going to work until we resolve this? You have to be kidding!”

Later you said to your father, “Alex is a workhorse. The only thing about her is that if I hurt her fucking feelings I have to stop and resolve it right away or she’ll stop working.”

Leadership Rule Number One 

Ultimately you and I had a mentor-protégée relationship not a romance. We never even attempted a romance. We had a summer fling and sometimes we were each others back up plan. Again, all apologies, but you're vigilante stunt that you pulled six years after the fling makes this necessary. What were you thinking?!! I digress. Extremely early on you made a rule that I was, “Never allowed to play hot shot like some fucking idiot ever!”
I like to test rules. I decided to do a little hot shoting. I got away with it once or twice and then you found out. You reprimanded me in private. I waited a few weeks and did it again. Then you reprimanded me in front of the staff. I found that a touch embarrassing but I did not consider it a big deal.

Then the team realized that they could get me in trouble for playing hot shot. In the following six weeks they would tell on me for having played hot shot when I had not done so routinely. I could tell what they were up to because they looked smug and amused, but I could not do anything about it.  You yelled at me relentlessly each time.

Finally, after having been yelled at routinely, I finally explained that I was not actually playing hot shot but the office had figured out how to get me in trouble. I was on the brink of tears while explaining.

You are not speaking to me now and I would still be afraid to play hot shot.

Leadership Rule Number Two

None of my accomplishments were my own. They belonged to the team. If I tried to take credit you yelled at me. Any mistakes that my colleagues made were my mistakes as much as theirs. You yelled at me for them unless I was proactive about taking responsibility for them. Thanks, ass hole!

                      How You Caused Me Anxiety and Why

All that is legal is not necessarily ethical. You did a lot of random good deeds. When it came to repeat business you were quite well behaved. Nine times out of ten you were not opportunistic when you thought that you could get away with it. But, there was that other ten percent. Mentor-protégé relationships are extremely well researched. Frequently the parties involved are not alike but balance each other well.

I looked up to you and allowed you to involve me in one or two opportunistic endeavors. You quickly learned that whenever you did this I would call you complaining of anxiety for many days following. And likely take a few days off.

You stopped doing it. You are effective at aligning individuals behind a vision or goal so by Bennis’ standard you are competent at leadership. You certainly apply elements of his style but it isn’t the pure form.

You did not write those rules on leadership yourself, Bennis did. You were effective at realizing that it is exactly the right style for me.

The integrity, dedication, openness and creativity were already there.

You adjusted two and nurtured the rest.

Thank you for teaching me leadership!

Winter Vacation!

I decided to take a vacation to Flordia. My childhood best friend lived there. I was the best man in his wedding. He and his wife had just had a baby. He said that he wanted to stop with one child and his wife said that she wanted two children. They were happy and I was happy to be there. 

He was a mortgage broker then. Making money didn’t require much work for him. I wondered if it was foolish for me to work so hard. But, mostly I just relaxed and laughed. I loved seeing palm trees and I played in the ocean.

I knew for sure that my childhood best friend would always accept me and be on my side no matter what. I felt quite fortunate. 

Wasted Time

Despite your opportunistic streak you did more good deeds than bad deeds. For example we had a client who had no immediate family in the area and lived around the corner from the office. One day she came into the office saying that she needed to go to the hospital. You took her. You also canceled your appointments and waited for her.

Not much later I ended up in a three hour mediation session with she and her tenants that I received no compensation for. You said to me, “It’s good to help people out and everything but you need to stay focused on work that you will make money on.”

I quickly replied, “You do the same thing!”

You said, “Your right. I’ll try to stop too.”

Actually, that is a strength not a weakness.

The client mentioned above is a professional psychic.

We sincerely liked her but we questioned her sanity.

An Office Rule

Your personality is excellent but your temper is ridiculous. When you practiced you would tell about a third of your staff that they were fired within on the same day around once a month. It’s just what you did when you were in an extremely bad mood.

Naturally, you did not want to actually lose agents over this. So you made a rule that no one’s employment should be considered terminated unless they found their personal possessions in a “box on top of their desk.”

Later I learned that this behavior had a great deal to do with crash diets and low blood sugar. Frequently, I could recognize the early warning signs and encourage you to eat a candy bar. You would initially refuse.

I learned to purchase two and eat one in front of you. That almost always worked.

Then the mass firings went down slightly.   

Someone Should Write You

I continued my writing despite my extra responsibilities. Plenty of people made the observation that someone should, “write” you. 

 I always explained that it would be more complicated than it seemed because unless someone had met you they would be unlikely to believe that you actually exist. A writer’s first job is suspending disbelief. 

 You might have noticed that I’ve toned you down a good deal.  

The Satellite Office is Closed!

One night I went to a particularly good party. It was so particularly good that I decided to sleep in the next day. When I woke up and checked my voicemail the next day I had several messages, all from you. Relatively early you had instructed me to, “show up immediately.” 

Apparently the entire staff decided to sleep in. Naturally you considered me personally accountable for the mishap. The messages became progressively angry and culminated in your informing me that you intended to, “close the office!”

I drove into work calmly. When I arrived I saw everyone’s personal possessions in boxes on their desks and you finishing the last desk. You scowled at me and I scowled at you. I began unpacking my own desk. You began unpacking the other desks. Then you informed me that you had made an appointment and preferred that I cover it. I agreed to.

When the man who you had made the appointment with arrived you introduced me to him. Then you informed him of your litany of complaints about me and my desk. You put particular focus on my desk.

Finally, to drive home the points regarding my desk you pulled out the index card file and opened it while saying, “And here is the best part, a dead turtle!”

Special Can Create

By spring people in the office noticed that you interacted with me differently than anyone else. When they asked me about it I would say he, “thinks that it’s cute and funny that I can manage and train myself. He likes to pick on me and wants his office managed for free.”

You would say, “I’m doing something different with Alex. It’s because Engel is special like me. Alex can create like me.”

I Don’t Want to Manage Myself Anymore

One day I decided that I did not feel like managing myself anymore and informed you of this. You informed me that I would no longer have a job. I explained that I considered this, “unfair” because no one else had to, “manage themselves to keep a position.”

I added that I had never been managed in the way that you taught me to manage others and thought that it might be, “fun.”

You informed me of the rule that I, “do that for other people” but “no one dose that for” me “ever.”

You also explained that my ability to manage myself is what made our relationship, “special.”

You added that if I stopped managing myself then our relationship would no longer be,“special.”

Indecently, Drucker’s definition of management is a, “practice and creative process.”

I did not remember that conversation in the summer that we had our falling out, otherwise I would have made different decisions. I’m sorry.

I hope that you will forgive someday and practice again.

Lousy Compensation

Eventually I asked you to pay me for management. You explained that the rule that I manage myself daily and all of the other aggravating rules were my compensation. That sounded like lousy compensation to me and I told you so.

You laughed at me.

On Feelings

You had an employee who wore rather short skirts. You liked her a lot. The cynical explanation for this is, of course, the skirts. Truthfully, she is quite intelligent and independent by nature. You value those qualities highly. She paid her own way through an expensive and reputable university. It made you happy that her summer income helped significantly. It’s likely that she is the only employee who you never threatened to fire. She ended up going to one of the most reputable medical schools in the world, but I am ahead of myself again.

One day, she drove to the satellite office to find me. She could barely breathe or stand up. I felt concerned until she broke into hysterical laughter. She explained that you had approached the topic of feelings in a casual conversation with a small group of team members, and specifically regarding personal relationships. As the story goes you explained that at first one is innocently, “trying to get laid. But if the sex continues for long enough then feelings arise.”

She explained the inflection in your voice while referring to feelings.

She made it analogous to your referring to, “green slime.”      

We laughed.

If You Don’t Stop Firing Me I’ll Quit

In the event that you were displeased with me you usually didn’t explain that calmly. Typically you would tell me to, “Go look for a new job!”

One day I scheduled a meeting with you. I explained that if you did not, “stop firing me I would quit.”

I asked you to, “please stop” because I “didn’t want to quit.”

You did not stop and I did not quit.

Take Your Keys and Shove Them Up Your Ass!

You had a habit of telling clients to, “Take their keys and shove them up their ass!”

You did this about twice a week on average. Everyone attributed it to your bad personality. But, there was an interesting pattern to it. Typically, what prompted the statement was their having refused to meet your terms, whatever they were.

By late afternoon or early evening you would calm down. You would call and apologize. In an apologetic tone you would explain exactly why you considered those terms necessary and non-negotiable. Around nine times out of ten the client would then agree to them. You made it a point to do the last step in front of me frequently.

The Weirdo

I first met the weirdo in the summer actually. He was wearing leather pants, no shirt and a hat. He also had fungus growing under his nails. He was one of our regular clients. He liked working with me. He also liked staring at me. I knew that I was giving him an extremely high level of service and consultation, but I kind of thought that he didn’t know that. I figured that he was getting lucky in that regard for the wrong reason.

He absolutely loved to play games in the negotiation process. He liked that as much as he liked looking at me. One day I was in a bad mood. I told you that you needed to call him because I would tell him to, “Take his keys and shove them up his ass!”

You said, “Do it.”

Curiously, he laughed and met my terms.  

Do That For Yourself!

Occasionally I would make statements seeking approval. You would say, firmly, “It’s your job to do that for yourself.”

I Can’t Hear You!

Sometimes I would try to give you information about how I managed and trained myself. If you were in a good mood then you would put your hands over your ears and sing or say, “I can’t hear you!”

If you were in a bad mood then you would yell at me or hang up on me.

Someday Little Cobra

The unfortunate joke began that summer. I must say that this is the most unfortunate joke imaginable. Had I gotten the joke earlier I would have averted a traumatic stress breakdown. I like jokes but this one had unfunny consequences. Nightmares and flashbacks are no fun at all. But I am ahead of myself.

The joke was, “Manage yourself for long enough, manage my office for free for long enough, train yourself to be the best rental agent in” the city “train enough agents who become successful and someday Little Cobra I’ll teach you big important things.”

I did not get the joke until seven years later when I was suffering a traumatic stress breakdown.

Red Hair and Blue Eyes

That summer I began dating your assistant. He had gone to a reputable university but had been in the technology industry when it collapsed. Late in the summer you gave him long term employment at my request. You were supportive of the relationship in following years because you thought that if I married him I would, “live a happy life.”   

You were well intentioned but inaccurate. We broke up two and a half years later.

He had red hair and blue eyes.

Fix it Now!

In early fall the inevitable happened. I forgot to manage myself. You said, “Are you doing it?”

I froze and fell silent. That is the only time that I thought that you might actually fire me. Instead you said, “Fix it now!”

I did not forget again.

I Don’t Want To Manage For Free Anymore!

One day I informed you that I would no longer manage for free. You put your head in your hands and said, “But Cobra, it’s the only skill you need.”

You seemed so distraught about it that I decided to continue managing for free.

New Office Rule

Somewhere along the way the team in the satellite office made a rule that it was, “a bad idea to make me mad, ever.”

I found that curious since I had by then figured out that my getting mad was also against the rules. I could get as mad as I wanted to at you, but that was all. Getting angry with team members was not allowed under any circumstances. You would become furious.

The assumption that it was a bad idea to make me angry was made because I didn’t get angry. I see it now. It’s also keeping control through leadership. You never wasted your time or mine with a simplified rewrite of Fayol. I see why.

Nightmares and flashbacks are no fun. I’m angry now. 

But I’m ahead of myself again.

Why Do You Manage Yourself?

One day you asked me why I managed myself. I said, “Because you will fire me if I don’t.”

You said, “Why else?”

I said, “I don’t know.”

You instructed me to, “think about it.”

Unfortunately, I neglected to do so.

To Be Continued....