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.
DL: I can be the best friend you had or the worst enemy you’ve ever made.
DL: I can make your career or I can break it. And I support the people I like. Otherwise I can crush you.
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!
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?