Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bad Bosses

I have been in my chosen career for over thirty years now, and have worked for five different companies during that time. And for at least a dozen different bosses. Some have been very good; inspiring, motivational individuals.

And others have just flat-out sucked.

I am a boss myself. I have a staff of 23 very different individuals. Literally, a United Nations collective, since I presently work in Miami. Comes with the territory. And I can tell you that being the boss ain’t easy. What I have discovered is that it comes down to individual relationships – what works for Scott won’t work with Merci. Management isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ proposal – what motivates one person doesn’t work with another. As well, I have discovered that what people really want to know is why they are doing something. Tell them that, and things tend to go much smoother.

By no means do I consider myself a great boss. But I do think I am fairly competent on what I do, and if my staff’s collective morale is any indication, my style seems to work. But Gawd-DAMN I have witnessed and been subjected to boss styles that are horrid. Here are but a few, and I will be careful as to not totally blow their cover.

Not that they don’t deserve it, mind you. But here we go:

The Condescending Bitch: I have nothing against female bosses; let me be clear on that. But I had one female boss who was very dictatorial and kept her staff on a very short leash. She took over as my supervisor at a job I was at about ten years ago, where I was about three years into my employment. And apparently she felt she had to squarely press her thumb down on staff. She ruled through domination. Her pet phrase was, whenever I was presenting something, was to interrupt me and say, “What Jerry is TRYING to say is…”

Bitch, what I am trying to say is what I am saying. Shut up and listen.

The ‘Nothing is My Fault’ Douchenozzle: Everyone knows this type. He gives vague, cryptic direction on how he wants something accomplished, and then when the results aren’t what he wanted, he rants. Further, he has no compunction to toss his staff under the tires when he is pressed by his higher-ups. You wish he gets run over by a truck, which usually happens anyway, since Karma takes care of these types. The pet phrase of these types is, “You need to work smarter, not harder.”

Yeah well, you need your genitals attached to electricity.

The ‘In Over His Head’ Jerk: This is The Peter Principle in practice. Just because you are a good, say, bus driver doesn’t mean you are good at MANAGING bus drivers. Management is its own field of expertise, but this guy doesn’t understand that. Through doing a certain task for a number of years, he gets promoted; usually due to nobody else wanting the position. He then finds himself in charge of people who were his peers, and he cannot make the transformation. These types usually end up burning themselves out over the pressure and end up doing the work themselves since they have no clue on how to motivate people to do it for them.

The Preening Empty Suit: I saved this one for last, as he was my boss at my previous place of employment. He would strut around like a rooster in his freshly pressed three-piece suit replete with a quad-folded handkerchief in the breast pocket, looking ready to host some fucking game show. But the clothes had no emperor. There was zero substance under the style. When pressed for direction, his common reply was, “Let me get back to you on that,” or, “Let me check with the boss.” But you knew what was really going on – he couldn’t buy a clue if you spotted him a goddamn loan to get one.

This fuck-knuckle would actually walk up to people, look them straight in the eye and say, “How much do you value your job?” Because the common theme with these types is raging insecurity – they know they’re vacuous, but to keep you at bay they have to make sure you’re worried about your employment.

I really hope I am not any of these types. I guess if I was I wouldn’t be sitting in a corner window office on the 12th floor of a building in downtown Miami.

But you would have to ask my staff to be sure.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Word of Our Generation

Want to know the height of arrogant presumption? I am about to do it. I am going to define my entire generation via one word. One. Single. Word.

Ready? Here it is –


That’s the word to define Baby Boomers and those who came the generation after for good measure. It’s what we all wanted to be. Cool. And what did we not want to be?


It’s not a temperature. It’s not a weather term. It’s an attitude. Everyone wants to be cool. Now, previous generations had their terms that connoted cool – suave, debonair, smooth. We also had synonyms such as hip, jake, chill.

But it was cool to be cool.

Cool got you laid. Cool got doors opened for you. Cool got you popular – “Oh, Frankie over there? He’s cool.” It was the only label you needed. Smart? Psht. Educated? Please. Vegetarian? Dude, not cool.

Sometimes imploring someone to be cool is what a situation totally calls for:

Now I would be remiss if I didn't give a nod to the runner-up word of our generation: Fuck. For those offended by that, get the fuck over it.

Or fucking, better, get a fucking clue because fuck is the fuckingest baddest word any motherfucker ever fucked. Which, as that sentence demonstrates, shows the versatility of it.

But cool is a word with so many uses which all center on one, singular intent. 

We all want to be cool.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Everybody’s Got A Cousin In Miami

Years ago, when my dad was a young man, he would make frequent trips to Miami for vacation. As a result of those trips he nicknamed Florida “The land of the hustle.”

No, my dad wasn’t into disco. He was referring to how Florida used to be – a land where people with shady pasts or questionable character could swoop in, run a couple of scams then leave before the authorities caught up with them.

And this was more or less true in the 1960s and 1970s – Miami was a growing, burgeoning cauldron of immigrants, snowbirds and natives trying to stake out their piece of paradise. And in doing so they were subjected to various fly-by-nighters who would promise to fix a roof, build a pool or pour a patio. These vermin would take a deposit to do the work then never show up. They did their hustle then skipped town.

I am here to tell you the hustle still exists. Getting a reputable contractor to do work on your house is still a dicey proposition. But also, a huge black market has flourished here as a result – people don’t call the Better Business Bureau or check Angie’s List to find a reputable worker.

They call Pepe in Hialeah.

I am not a world traveler, so I cannot tell you about the black market in other cities, but I can tell you that whatever you need in Miami, everyone seems to know someone who knows someone who can get you it. I mean, this happens with the most mundane purchases. For example, a few months back I was informed I
needed to get a Guayabera. A Cuban dress shirt. It’s a standard staple of most people’s wardrobes here. So, I innocuously stated my intent to a few of my staff. Almost instantly, one of my staffers, who is Cuban, sidles up to me, turns and looks to either side to be sure no one was eavesdropping, and whispers to me, “Leesen. You want good Guayabera? I have a cousin who weeel hooook you up.”

Dude, I’m not trying to buy a kilo of coke.

This town is loaded with those types of transactions. Trust me, there’s a Guayabera store on damn near every major road in this town. But I was advised to avoid all those and go see this guy’s cousin. To get a shirt.

In many ways, this is a cool side to this town. It encourages you to get to know people so they can do you favors, to get connected. And people here are friendly – if they like you they will hook you up…for everything from sandwiches to yachts, someone knows someone.

But it also causes me angst. I’m a researcher. I scour the internet, craigslist and so on to find a value deal. I pride myself in making informed purchases. It is a bit disconcerting when that all gets neutered when someone whispers in my ear that their brother in law can take care of me.

Sometimes this gets to me so I retreat to my sanctuary – the golf course. Which I did the other day and played with one of the caddies at Crandon, Danny. He was going on about his new set of irons he bought, how much better he was hitting the ball and so on. He was real happy. In an effort to make conversation I said, ya know, I’m thinking on getting a new set of irons too. And there, in the middle of the seventh fairway, with nobody else around, Danny comes over to me, pulls out a piece of paper from his wallet, and whispers to me…

“Leesen. Go see my cousin on Coral Way. He weel hook you up.”

Ay dios mio.