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October 6, 2011 - Austin Porter
I have come to realize that my wife is right when she points out that I babble. And with age, she feels this problem has gotten worse. I’d rather talk my way around Robinhood’s barn then just say what I’m thinking. After all, there are so many words, why not use them. Is it so bad to be prolix? Especially when I’m such an amusing fellow. Or was.

Late in my career, I realized that the people who laughed at my jokes did so because I was their boss. Even more importantly, I belatedly learned that my boss, perhaps all bosses, expect their underlings to be less funny then they are. Even if they aren’t particularly funny. I cringed to think that I wasn’t nearly as amusing as I thought I was. I was horrified that I might be just as foolish, self-important, delusional as the people I worked for. Even more foolish then my “betters” because at least they knew why people were laughing. They were sucking up. And isn’t that one of the reasons we strive to be in charge? Why hadn’t anyone informed me about this rule of nature. I had unknowingly become one of those people I used to make fun of. And because I didn’t know that I had, I undercut myself.

If you are going to sell yourself to the devil, it helps to know that there is a sale going on, else it becomes apparent to those at the top, or the top of the middle, that you aren’t one of them , you’re not a team player. And you ain’t going to rise from the bottom of the middle to the middle of the middle, let alone to the top of the middle, and if you are thinking you might like to be in the bottom of the top or above, you better find another job where you can make a new first impression.

Here’s a tip on impressing other managers: Threaten to fire someone every once in a while, the more trivial the issue the better, the more talented the employee the better. If the person just purchased a house, better becomes best. Don’t go through with it, of course. You just want people to have trouble falling asleep for a few nights.

Another tactic is to force people to work over a holiday weekend just because you can.

Leave meetings early so people will think you have more important meetings to attend.

Never have lunch with someone who works for you. A real manager will lose his appetite at the thought.

Be selective when attending retirement parties. You have to demonstrate that some people are more important than others.

Don’t do favors for people who will never be in a position to return them.

Learn to enjoy the ire you have earned.

You might wonder how, with my attitude, I entered the managerial class. I was ten years without a promotion. My boss and I shared a cubicle wall. Whenever he was in his cube, I had an imaginary job interview over the phone. A few weeks after I started my job hunt, I was promoted. Months later my boss told me they had to promote me because they knew I was getting ready to leave. Who says a degree in theater hasn’t any value in the real world of business?

After the promotion I started getting average reviews. The kiss of death for anyone looking to switch to another agency. It ain't going to happen. Prior to the promotion, I always got better than average reviews, cash awards and the like. For the most part, those days were over. I couldn't leave, and I'd gone abut as fur as I could go. A good deal, actually. I wasn’t cut out for management. We both knew it. The race was over and I'd lost. I could relax a bit.

At times, it must have been annoying to have me around. A friend/colleague once told me that everything about me was spit in the face of everything they held dear. One big shot was crazy in love with expensive cuff links. It was pointed out that I never complimented him on them. When he threatened to give a contractor the old heave ho - "This is a contract ending event.", I would let the poor b******s know that he was blowing smoke. The contract wouldn’t allow it, the problem was trivial (say an internal web page was down for an hour in the morning). Just get it fixed. let me know, and forget about it.

Imagine having to drag yourself to work knowing you had to put up with nonsense from an economist who thought taking an ITIL course made him a technical guru. A person who felt the best way to motivate people was to threaten them. Obviously, I had very little respect for this imposter. It probably showed. I must have looked like a fool to him and to other people at the top.

If I was a fool, I only regret not being a bigger fool. And that I’m, maybe, not as funny as I once was.

When I retired, there wasn’t much to be said. My immediate boss managed to come up with two things. I was always good for an inappropriate joke during a meeting – I kept morale up (ah...right). And if he had something no one else wanted to do, he would give it to me and I’d take it on without complaint. “Why not, “ I said to myself, “It was all the same to me. I didn’t want to do the work other people liked to do anymore then the work they avoided.”

So here I am babbling on like a lunatic. I was planning to talk about aging. Even had a picture of my bald spot taken to go along with it. Looks like babbling about aging will happen another day.


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