Friday, February 26, 2010
Paranoia is catching
This sequence from Dilbert reminds me of the time I was so exasperated with my boss I told him, "If I come to your funeral I promise I will stick a pin in your leg just to make sure you're really dead."
Saying those sorts of things doesn't endear an employee to a supervisor. But there comes a time when an employee has just had enough of a bad boss.
My last supervisor, Ross the boss, was extremely paranoid. Ross's own immediate supervisor once called Ross "Captain Queeg", in reference to the famous character played by Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny, a total paranoid who was relieved of his command by his executive officer. Ross the boss's favorite word was "insubordination." If you didn't agree with him you were insurbordinate. I told him once to look the word up in the dictionary and find the actual definition, because it was different than his definition. Failure to follow a lawful order is insubordination, asking a question about what I'm being told to do is not being insubordinate, it's attempting to find out what to do about the task at hand.
Insomnia Notebook was originally called Paranoia Strikes Deep because of the effect that paranoid people have on others. Especially paranoid people in charge. They make the employees paranoid. The employees have to constantly second guess everything they do, and how it will go through the boss's mind.
I revisited my old job the other day to talk to a former coworker, Duane (not his real name). I worked with him for 30 years, and I know the effect Ross the boss has on him. The other day Ross went into total paranoid meltdown over some questions Duane had over policy. As if asking for a clarification on some company policy is the same as undercutting your boss, Ross went through the ceiling. Of course the fingerpointing and accusations of insubordination came flying out of Ross's ugly piehole, just like they usually do. Duane was upset when I saw him, going into his own paranoid rant about Ross. I told Duane that his blood pressure was too high for him to be that upset and angry. I think in that case a Valium would come in handy.
I left there with that old feeling I had when I worked for Ross, that sick sort of queasy feeling of knowing a mental pipsqueak is in charge, even the smallest thing was apt to set him off, and there isn't anything you can do about it. Despite everything he's done he's apparently immune from being fired. I believe he has his own superiors afraid of him.
But, now I'm retired, so as sorry as I am to say it to Duane, or my other coworkers who are still living with "Captain Queeg," it's no longer my problem. However, that doesn't account for why I spent 15 minutes of my allotted 50 minutes yesterday with my therapist going over my story of me and Ross the boss.
*Now deceased, but I did not need to stick a pin in his leg to make sure.