Boiling Points And Slaying Dragon Ladies

I’ve realized I have a cantankerous side. People who know me well will tell you that it’s a rarity for me to lose my temper. In fact, one of my biggest flaws is that I’m too controlled. But I have this line…and once it’s crossed, all bets are off.

Why am I telling you this? Because tonight someone asked me how I wound up in Florida.

My buddy Robert will relate to this story as he believes in turning the other cheek…but only twice since he only has two.

I took a job at the hospital I worked at back in the late ’90’s. I guess you’d consider it a promotion and I should’ve been pleased, but I enjoyed the position I held prior to this one and wasn’t in any rush to leave it. The thing was, there were only two people in that particular hospital that were capable or qualified to do the job. One was only part time and in school. The other person? Me.

I liked my direct boss, so when she asked me to take on the role as a personal favor, I agreed. Then a new executive came in to run our group of departments.  We’ll call her The Dragon Lady. (And I use the term Lady loosely) Her people skills were so strong that she kicked off her first, introductory meeting with the departments by sitting everyone down and saying, “You should be happy to be here. If you’re not happy to be here, find a reason to be happy to be here. If you can’t find a reason to be happy to be here, then maybe you should leave.”

Yeah…definitely gave ME the warm and fuzzies…and that was Strike 1.

My position with the company required that I go over every single in and out patient registration with a fine toothed comb and ensure proper segments and insurance was billed properly. When the information was incorrect, it was my job to correct it, coach the employee and re-drop the bill. This meant I had anywhere from 800 to 1000 registrations per day to review. I was about 6 days out, but the ideal was to be no more than 5 days out. Unfortunately there was only 1 of me…

One day my boss calls me into her office. Waiting inside…you guessed it…The Dragon Lady. Here is how the conversation with her rolled out.

DL: I want you to be no more than 3 days out an all registrations. Where are you now?
Me: I’m 6 days out.
DL: How soon will it take to get you to 3 days out?
Me: With overtime? Probably 3 days.
DL: Then get that done.
Me: Ok.
DL: I can be the best friend you had or the worst enemy you’ve ever made.
Me: Okay…
DL: I can make your career or I can break it. And I support the people I like. Otherwise I can crush you.
Me: Okay…
Direct boss pipes in: Dragon Lady, in her defense, she was perfectly happy in the job before she took this one. She took it as a personal favor to me and because she was one of two people in the entire place qualified and the only one able to do the job.
DL: If you want me on your side, you’ll get that done.

What she couldn’t see was that in my head she’d just gotten Strike #2!

My husband was my boyfriend back then and knew how miserable I was. Between the long hours I was working (10-12 hrs and 6 day work weeks) and the way she talked to me, he knew something had to give. He gave me the green light to post my resume online. So I did! I didn’t even apply for any jobs…just posted it….when I got a call. A hospital on the west coast of Florida wanted to interview me. So, I walked into my direct boss’ office and told her I needed a personal day and reminded her that I had never taken any time like that before…and that I couldn’t answer any questions about the why. She gave it to me.

When I got back at 8 am, the Dragon Lady (who, incidentally, was never in before 10 am) was in my office waiting for me.

Now if you know the arrogant management types…then you know the power plays that come along with them. Often, if you’re told the boss’ boss is in your office…and said boss is a douche…you can count on them taking “the power position”…the seat at your desk. They leave you with the guest chair…their way of saying it’s their universe and you’re just lucky enough to be living in it.

This move would have been typical of her breed of people. Oddly enough, when I came in, she was sitting in my guest chair. Between the being at work a minimum of 2 hours prior to her normal time and sitting in my guest seat, I knew something was up.

As I sat my bag down our conversation happened:

DL: So, a little birdie told me that you went on an interview.
Me: (Thinking…so THAT’S what this is all about) Your little birdie heard correctly.
DL: You know, we absolutely love you here.
Me: (Looking at her in disbelief) Thank you. (She was fishing and she wanted to know how serious I was about leaving. In fact, if I’d have mentioned a raise, I would’ve gotten it.)
DL: You’re a hard worker.
Me: I’m glad you think so.
DL: We don’t want to lose you.
Me: Well, you know, you said something at your first meeting that really resonated with me.
DL: (Her ego puffing up) Oh, really? What did I say?
Me: On your first day you told us “You should be happy to be here. If you’re not happy to be here, you need to find a reason to be happy to be here. If you can’t find a reason to be happy to then you should go somewhere else.” So I took your advise!
DL: Oh.

I don’t think very many people had ever talked to her that way…and used her words against her. But I meant every word…because I never forgot. And it felt good! I then gave my two weeks notice and moved to Florida.  Oddly enough, it took 3 people with overtime to replace the one me. And one of them ended up in the CCU unit because of the stress.

As for the Dragon Lady…she only lasted another year or two longer in her position. Every time I’ve gone back to my old stomping grounds and run into someone I know in that department, I’m offered a job. Funny thing…I left in 1999!

What about you? Where is your temper threshold? What happens when you get pushed? What is the closest you ever got to saying Eff you to a boss?


29 thoughts on “Boiling Points And Slaying Dragon Ladies

  1. Kourtney Heintz says:

    Awesome story. Go you! I will always play by the rules, but I make sure to know the rules at the start. Biting my cheek until it bled close. 😉


  2. lenwilliamscarver says:

    working my way up in wally world I was one step from having my own store but had a store manager that just looked for the one dust bunny to scream at me about in front of associates/customers didn’t matter if Jesus himself was standing there, he would scream at me “how did I expect to ever have my own store, not going to get it this way Lenny” Oh how I hated that name..or he would say Len, Len Len as we toured the store and I took down his directions. I left that store for another on a
    fillin until the assigned manager could get there from out of town ut ws a 5 week assignment. When time to go on to another , hopefully my own store, I was told to return to my own store but first meet with my regional and district managers.. It gave me great pleasure to walk into the store managers office and say Doug, Doug, Doug…please remove yourself from the premises immediately and oh these gentleman with me are to insure you don’t pocket anymore of the stores profits of the great moments of my career. 🙂 So glad yours worked out for you as well! Karma yes!


  3. ramblingsfromamum says:

    Loved Loved this post – Yes Management (or so they like to call themselves) can be very hard task masters. I have just left a job – I was there not 3 months. In order for the office to be luvey and chatty every morning we had 10/10… at 10 minutes past 10 EVERY MORNING, all staff stood in a circle around the center desks. One by one – What I have to do today. # 2 What do I hope to achieve today. # 3 Are you stuck on something. They actually paid a company to advise them on doing this and how this promotes better communication in the office.?? Sorry I’m on a roll as a I type …in fact I can’t type fast enough! There was the owner of the company his son (let’s just name him PIG) and also the brother-in-law/son-in-law. 2 weeks I was there and PIG did not say boo to me. I finally went up to him and said “Hi I’m your new employee and put out my hand” He grunted(like a PIG) & shook it. He still didn’t talk to me (no great loss but rude!) In 10/10 I obviously wasn’t speaking loud enough for him to hear “I can’t hear you” he bellowed. I hadn’t been there long but thought ‘stuff you’ so in the loudest voice I bellowed back. The room went silence and I got daggers! Then after 2 weeks before 10/10 I was told by one of the girls “Oh and you can’t say ..and whatever is on your desk” in what you want to achieve and you have to show more enthusiasm”???????? Are we in kindergarten? Apparently the rules were you had to say at 2 things that you hope to get done – I did that and more and ended with whatever crops up or on my desk…but nooooo that wasn’t good enough for them. Add that to the darling boss who helped himself without asking to any food you had to nibble on at your desk…and I lost it. Fare thee well That is why I am home presently, but I start a new job on the 7th working with a G/F so YAY bring on the New Year. Sorry didn;t mean this to drag out – but it was sooo good to vent! – So thank you 🙂
    I understand your pain… and so glad you gave her what for 😉


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Yikes! Rules for a team huddle? Wow. Over the years I’ve had to run team huddles…I have found they are most effective in sales. You usually use the time to build energy, set goals for the day and recognize good results from the prior day by the team and by specific individuals. It is also a good time to brainstorm or share best practices regarding certain aspects of sales. I can’t imagine the how terrible such rigid ness was…not to mention how frustrating it would’ve been to work for someone who communicated through snorts.

      And no one should mess with another person’s food unless invited!


  4. sheridegrom - From the literary and legislative trenches. says:

    I understand the impossibility of one person reviewing and then correcting 1,000+ hospital billings daily. That’s an outrageous task for any one individual. Sure, it’s revenue generating for the hospital but DL was going about ‘her job’ all wrong. The ultimate responsibility was hers. Yes, we all have what I refer to as the point of no return. Seems to me you made the correct choice.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Funny you should say that. As you know, not everyone is good at defending themselves. There were two older women who worked the information desk. One could be a bit of a bully and the other was easily cowed. One day the easily cowed one made a very minute mistake, but it sent the bully into a rage. She grabbed the other woman by the arm, yanked her from the desk and dragged her into our office area. She then proceeded to dress her down in a rather loud voice in the back. She made the other woman cry & humiliated her in front of her peers.

      The woman came to me upset & asked what she should do. I was young back then and didn’t consider that she was no good with confrontations. I told her that if she were truly that upset she should talk to the manager. She did. But…she said I told her to talk to the manager.

      My manager at the time called me into her office along with the bully…the intent was probably to tell me to kind my business. I quickly informed them that I had no issue with her correcting the other employee but did take exception to her public humiliation and being dragged about like a rag doll. Our boss got called a way for a moment & the bully thought to turn her attentions to me. (She was in her 50’s & I was in my early 20’s)

      She patted my arm & said, “Don’t worry, I’ll warn you before I bite.”
      I looked at her (I can only imagine the look in my eye) and patted her hand and said, “Oh, don’t YOU worry, Jan. I bite back!”

      She quickly removed her hand and was very careful with how she treated me afterward. Message received. 🙂


  5. wordsurfer says:

    Just reading your account of her tone of voice made my blood boil. I wonder which unbelievable idiot put it into people’s heads that the role of boss/manager is incompatible with empathy, courtesy and just friendliness… I think this attitude is slowly changing, at least among the younger generation of managers. They seem to finally have caught up on the fact that positive reinforcement is much more effective than negative. 🙂
    Luckily, I’ve only ever had really nice bosses who stood squarely behind their staff.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      For the most part, I have, too…obviously there have been an exception or three. 😉 Through this I learned very much about the leader I wanted to be. In fact, more often than not in my past careers I’ve had direct reports. I did my very best to be the manager I wanted to have. I was far from perfect, but overall Because of that I had a wonderful, loyal staff…many of whom became my friends. (It didn’t hurt that I subscribe to the belief…never ask you employees to do something you can’t or won’t do yourself.”


  6. Mae Clair says:

    I’m like you in that I rarely ever lose my temper but, when I do it’s usually ugly. I’ve had one bad employment situation in the past (far too long to explain) that did not end well. I gave notice and left. I’ve never burnt a bridge when leaving an employer, but I’ve only had a handful because I generally stay for years (current employer 16 years).

    Plus I work in an industry where competitors are generally aware of who you are, what you do, and your reputation. When I left the job that ended badly, I had five offers within a matter of a week without looking (people heard I had left). So although my temper might be on a hair trigger sometimes, I restrain myself and remember the reputation I’ve painstakingly worked to build.

    I do LOVE what you told the DL. Professional, honest and to the point.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      LOL! Like you, I don’t burn bridges, either. I tend to be a long term employee as well. My stint with my last employer was 9 years. Oddly enough, only two instances happened that left me without a job already in place when I parted ways with an employer. One went out of business. When they did, like you, I had about 5 offers within the week. This time I have decided not to go my usual route in the two fields I have most experience in. Instead I’m following my dreams. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can do that. 🙂


  7. radaronelson says:

    Working for the government I never had that luxory but I have gone to one’s boss as said I needed to be moved before I did something to ruin my career, I was moved within a week. She wasn’t happy about it. I didn’t care.


  8. amadiex says:

    I remember that time when you worked there! I was glad to see you leave that place, it was sucking the life out of you!! The best was that it took that more people to do the job which then she had to use more of her budget to compensate for what she lost!!! And you and I both know how well going over the budget goes over in that place!!!!!


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