I feel so cornered and humiliated by my boss
November 29, 2007 6:47 AM   Subscribe

I feel so cornered and humiliated by my boss. She's the owner of the franchise, so I don't know who to complain to or what to do about it.

I work at a fast food restaurant. My main responsibility is to clean the lobby: wiping tables, making sure there are enough straws, etc. I also do some things like dishes and breaking down boxes in the back of the store once the lobby is caught up. There's just no reason to have someone literally constantly cleaning the lobby all day.

Yesterday, she was hostile toward me as soon as I came into work. She started giving me short lectures on my responsibilities in the lobby as if it were my first day on the job, or as if I was doing a terribly negligent job. I kept the lobby very clean, but even though it was caught up on front she would get irritated and mad if I tried to do anything in the back of the store. She kept on telling me I needed to stay in the lobby, although I could find nothing to do there I tried to obey her and stay there. I was just waiting for a table to leave so I could clean up after them, and I was talking to one of my friends at work meanwhile. She found me talking to her and was furious at me for "chit-chatting". She accused me of trying to slack off when I was trying to get my work done in the back. She wouldn't even tell me why she wanted me to stay in the lobby so badly, I repeatedly asked her for suggestions on how to keep busy. She refused to give me any suggestions and became angry with me for asking her. She told me that I had to be self-sufficient in my position, and that if I had to rely on her to tell me what to do, she'd send me home and do it herself. (Am I crazy for thinking that she was threatening to fire me?) When I pushed her further, she (literally) told me to clean the same thing 20 times in a row. After she ended this discussion, she told me to sweep and mop, although nearly no one had been through the store since I last mopped about an hour and a half ago and the floors still looked fine.

None of the managers which work under her have had huge problems about my work. I do just as well as the other people in my position, if not better. (judging that when I get into work, I always seem to have to play catch-up) I don't understand why I'm being singled out and humiliated this way. I'm not a slacker, at my old job (my first) I worked my ass off. I stayed late, I went as far out of my way as I could for a customer, I never came in late or called off sick, I paid attention to all of the small things that the other employees didn't care for, I did favors for my co-workers. When other workers were fired, instead of hiring new people I was given more hours, and eventually I was working 6 days a week. My managers all expressed regret that I left (I moved out of state). I wasn't even that great at my old job (I was a waitress, which is a lot harder than fast food) but I was very dependable and worked hard, so I was still respected by my coworkers and my bosses.

I work as hard as I can here, but it's not very hard as I don't have much to do. I don't feel like I will ever have any respect at this job. I feel like my current boss wants me to look busy more than she actually wants to have the work done. I just really want to be respected for working hard and paying attention to detail. I need that to be happy.
posted by Niomi to Work & Money (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, man, that sucks.

First, you are totally reasonable to want to be treated with respect. It sounds like you are a great employee. However, just because you deserve respect, doesn't necessarily mean this woman will give it to you. It sounds like there are things going on that have nothing to do with you, yet for some reason she's choosing to focus on you. The business may be failing, she may be frustrated about other employees (and taking it out on you), she may just be crazy.

I would suggest talking to one of your managers, since they have had no problem with you. See wat they think. Tell them what's been going on in an objective, non-judgemental way, and see if they have any suggestions.

It might help to separate it out into two issues when you talk to them: first talk about how there isn't enough work in the lobby to keep you busy. If they say "ok, well then, help out in the back" then you can bring up the big boss. Even if they don't say it, still bring up the boss. I bet they've had problems with her too, and they might have suggestions for how to deal with her.

If this doesn't work, and if your boss continues to treat you in such an abusie manner, you may have to leave. Would you be ok with this? Will you be able to get another job fairly easily?
posted by lunasol at 6:57 AM on November 29, 2007

Are you relying on this job for health insurance? If not, get fired in such a way that you'll be eligible for unemployment, then look for another job. Don't waste your time on petty crap.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 6:59 AM on November 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

Remind yourself that nothing that happens there is in any way something to take personally. When your boss tells you to look busy...just say, "Ok," and start looking busy; there's no point in trying to defend yourself, because, honestly, it's not really going change that much: I'm afraid that esp. in food/retail type environments, there are supervisors who take their small measure of power way to seriously and become pains to work with. Just work around them and try not to clash with them, or find a new job.
posted by frobozz at 7:01 AM on November 29, 2007

Just so you now, it takes a very special sort of person to manage fast-food restaurants. By definition, all components of the business are disposable and replaceable, including labor.

Some people just manage like she's doing. They haze everyone like that. They know most people will quit, but the few masochistic souls that stay will wind up beingg incredibly subservient (and the more of them she gathers, the more convinced she'll be that her method works).

Some managers are just impossible assholes and will pollute the work environment even if ultimately it is to their own detriment.

Some managers are very bipolar and will turn around and ingratiate themselves to you later on, as if that excuses inhumane behavior.

Or sometimes it's personal, and so maybe she really has a problem with you and wants you out. And if that's the case, she'll ride you and ride you until she gets distracted by a new target or you quit.

What's the best way to find out about all this ASAP? Talk to her. (I can't believe how often "talk to him/her" is the best advice one can offer on this site). Pull her aside, or visit her office if she has one, and say something to the effect of, "I want to check in with you and see what I have done that has bothered you so much. Because I feel like I am doing my best, and I feel others are satisfied with my work, but clearly you aren't happy with me." Chances are she'll be much more respectful and honest in person (when she's not flexing her strength in front of the staff).

Oh, and if you get the chance to throw in an "In the future, will you please just pull me aside and let me know if you're upset with me?", all the better.
posted by hermitosis at 7:05 AM on November 29, 2007

I'm looking for another job, but finding it difficult. Most places have hired for the holiday season already. Finding a job before the holiday season hiring faced obstacles also, before October I was under 18 and this being a very small town, most places just told me to come back once I was 18 despite my being emancipated. This place ridiculously over-staffs (runs 7 people a shift on a dead night and 17 people a shift when it's busy-- with 2-3 people on the 'lobby' position leaving less for me to do) and hires almost entirely high-schoolers, so my age wasn't a problem for them. The store is just realizing they have a labor problem. I'm worried I'm being singled out to help them solve that problem.
posted by Niomi at 7:06 AM on November 29, 2007

Does she treat the other employees this way, or are you being singled out?

It sounds like your boss is trying to make you feel this way, either because she wants you to quit or because she is a mean, mean person who likes to make people feel bad.

Realize that the problem is not you.

I was going to suggest you trying to have a conversation with her when you aren't on the clock and she's not busy, but the more I think about it, any boss who ever treats an employee with so little respect is a bad boss. Go find a new one.
posted by argylekneesocks at 7:08 AM on November 29, 2007

No offense, but it sounds like you're at the bottom of the food chain. Just find another, similar, job at another fast food restaurant and quit your current job. For as badly as you're being treated, I wouldn't even give notice; I'd just quit once I had the other job lined up.
posted by Doohickie at 7:08 AM on November 29, 2007

Yeah, it really does sound like you've forgotten your own worth. I've certainly been in an equivalent situation and probably most people have. Its really easy to see what you should do from the outside, but not so easy to see from your own position.

I remember working in a call centre where we had to reach a certain standard before we would be given enough hours to actually make the job worthwhile. I spent the whole of a summer trying to reach that point, as everyone else on the team that joined with me just left for better jobs. I remember feeling slightly proud that I was the last one there from my group. and slightly stupid, years later when i realised more and more that they'd just left and got better jobs. that job, and the constant putting-down by the managers really got me down.

It's really difficult just to quit something though if you feel you would be failing by doing so.

From the outside, it seems like your two options are to either accept that your new job is "looking busy", or try to move on to somewhere where you will, once again, feel appreciated. it does sound from your question that that would be easy to find.
posted by galactain at 7:13 AM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

Was this the first time it happened? Did it just start yesterday (in which case she could have just been having a terrible day and chose, unfortunately and unfairly, to take it out on you) or is she like this all the time and yesterday was just worse than usual? I'm assuming it happens a lot but I can't tell for sure from the way you worded your post.

One thing to remember - almost everyone will, at some point, get stuck with an asshole for a boss and it might just be your turn. It's not right and it's not fair but it happens and it's important to keep repeating to yourself that it is NOT YOU. This person is miserable and trying to make you miserable too.

There is a reason there is such a high turnover in fast food. Part of it is the work, part of it is the pay, and, more often than it should be, part of it is the shitty management. They use the high turnover rates as an excuse to not invest in their employees which leads to even more turnover which reinforces managements decision to not trust their employees and...on and on. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of terrific, caring owners out there but sometimes you get stuck with a dud. Remember - it's NOT YOU.

How do the other employees feel about her? Does she come down hard on them too?

I feel like my current boss wants me to look busy more than she actually wants to have the work done.

Heh. You'd be surprised at just how many bosses have exactly this attitude. They want you to look busy all the time yet they don't like it when you take the initiative to do something else when things are slow. That's usually the sign of bad management. A good boss rewards those who take the initiative.

Also realize that she might have been burned in the past by employees who retreat to the back to slack off. She shouldn't treat you unfairly because of it but that might be where she's coming from.

If things don't get any better I'd recommend trying to schedule a time to sit down and talk with her. Explain how you're feeling and see how she responds. If worse comes to worse, you can always try looking for a position at another fast food place. They always seem to be hiring. Or check the malls. This time of year, there are retail jobs GALORE. Your average department store is usually dying for holiday help.

On preview: I see you are looking already. Keep going. Check the malls. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Good luck. You sound like an awesome employee doing a job that is a lot harder than most people realize and for that you have my respect, at least.
posted by LeeJay at 7:16 AM on November 29, 2007

ah, just read your comment, Niomi. Sounds like she is trying to get you to leave to save on labor costs. If you need to work, and there are no other jobs available in your town until after the holiday, you'll have to suck it up. realize that she will treat you poorly regardless of the quality of your work, and that you can't change that.

I'd keep looking for another job, though. And please don't let your time with this person undermine your work ethic! You will find bosses later who value you greatly for it. I'm sorry you're in such a frustrating position. Best of luck!
posted by argylekneesocks at 7:16 AM on November 29, 2007

Looking at this from the employer's perspective, maybe she has other reasons for wanting you out front. Sometimes perception is as important as reality. Walking into a fast food place and always seeing someone out front cleaning is great marketing. As a customer I will think this is a good clean restaurant. Why question your boss's request? Why not just do it if you need the money so badly and this is the wrong time to find another job? What good is complaining to a higher authority going to do?

I agree that she seems to be under some kind of pressure and is taking it out on you. That sucks.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:29 AM on November 29, 2007

I used to be a cafeteria manager, and simply put, it sounds like the manager has it in her mind that you are a crappy employee and nothing will change that. There's a lot of managers who get the mentality of, "I'm the boss. You are but lowly peons and can never do anything up to standards. Plus, I hate this bloody job and my life so I'll bring it out on you. I should be more than working in this damn restaurant and it's all your fault!" This attitude will be extremely hard to change as she's probably set in her ways.
With these kind of bosses, I saw two methods come about a) have a talk with them. Lay it all on the table and figure out, as thinking intelligent people, what to do or b) stop giving a shit since they never think the work you'll do is good enough anyways. Most of the time, 'a' worked out reasonably well and the boss would just target another lackey whereas 'b' was a good way incur further wrath.

Also, if you're not being targeted simply to hopefully make you quit, she probably doesn't realize how her actions make you feel. People come and go all the time you're just another face to bitch out.
posted by jmd82 at 7:30 AM on November 29, 2007

Reorient your idea of what your job is. It is to look like you are cleaning, not to actually clean. This does have some value for customers, who may feel comforted about the expectation of cleanliness. Pretend you are in a stage play, and your role is the cleaner, and bring variety and focus to it. I'm inspecting this corner of the table. I'm wiping it. I'm Inspecting again. I'm Satisfied. I'm moving to the next corner. I have arrived at the next corner. I'm inspecting it...
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:35 AM on November 29, 2007 [9 favorites]

None of the managers which work under her have had huge problems about my work. I do just as well as the other people in my position, if not better.

This is why you should probably avoid discussing issues about your work with people other than your direct manager(s). Personally if my boss' boss or higher came to me with some inaccurate criticisms of my work, I would politely explain why they were wrong but still say that I would try to improve reguardless. I would definitely avoid getting into any kind of argument, because it would cause more problems than it solves. I would then tell my direct manager about it and work with him to try to clear up any issues with the higher-ups.

My advice would be to find a lower manager who appreciates your work and wants to keep you as an employee. Tell that person about the incident, and that it made you upset and you're not sure what you should be doing differently. The lower manager can help to smooth things out with the owner, and that would hopefully prevent the owner from intruding on your work.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:42 AM on November 29, 2007

If you're searching for a reason why she'd suddenly go nuts, perhaps she was going to be randomly audited by the chain's HQ, in the "mystery shopper" sense where she didn't know who was the auditor?
posted by WCityMike at 7:49 AM on November 29, 2007

Lots of good advice here. Looking at your AskMe posting history, I just wanted to encourage you to keep pursuing your high school diploma/GED. Go to college. Set goals for yourself. Use this as motivation to become something so much better. You're smart and hard-working; there's a career out there for you that doesn't involve petty managers and repeatedly cleaning the same lobby. Everybody takes shitty low-wage jobs when they're young; I'm not discounting your suffering -- because it's totally unfair, and you should try to improve your situation -- but every bad job I've had taught me something, either about myself or about the difficult personalities one encounters throughout life. You deserve respect and good management, but remind yourself that this is just a job; don't let your bad boss make you feel bad, stupid or worthless. You're not.
posted by junkbox at 7:52 AM on November 29, 2007 [4 favorites]

Niomi -

It sounds like you're ambitious, young, and probably one of the smartest, most thoughtful people in that place. It also sounds like the manager _may_ have an irrational dislike of you.

When I was 17, I worked at a Burger King in the small town where I grew up. For one month. Now, my circumstances differed form yours, and what I'm about to tell you isn't the reason I quit, but let's just say I really didn't fit there.

While I didn't have a real problem with the manager/owner, there was this one "senior" employee (it was a new store, but she was older) who was just nuts. I was too inexperienced to see that she was, in a way, crazy, so I'd always listen (politely, I thought) to what she said. She was always telling me to "look busy" by, for instance, constantly wiping the same clean tray. I have no idea why that's important, and I suspect it's a corruption of some genuinely useful idea. I don't remember what else she told me, but I do remember that one day she slapped me. I realized then that she just plain hated me.

Since then, as I've gotten older, I've started to understand how an older person could conceive an irrational hatred -- jealousy -- of someone just because she's young, pretty (in a certain way, all young people are pretty and more likely to be able to get young boyfriends/girlfriends than older people), and likely to achieve more than, say, a worker at or even the owner of a fast-food franchise. You're young; you could do anything. Even if she's only 24 or something, she may be feeling doomed or bitter about... who knows.

You know you're quality. What are you doing in that small town anyway? I really want to know. Do you like it there? I have nothing against small towns, and I even think it's a shame that smart young people seem to _have_ to leave, ensuring that the small towns often _stay_ blighted -- but if you are smarter than them, or better in any way, there's a certain element that's going to feel they _have_ to PUSH YOU DOWN. Your "attitude" will make them see black, and they will feel the urge to punish you. I'm pretty sure this kind of feeling is what led to the Taliban. Here, at least, these desires have to be sublimated into casual cruelty.

Even if you have to stay, you should look for a better job than fast food. Maybe there's a law firm in town where you could be an assistant or a gopher. Maybe you could be an independent pet sitter / dog walker. Maybe you could be a receptionist at a hair salon, veterinary office. There are good, smart people around you somewhere -- find some you like and see if you can work for them. Someone educated and smart enough to be kind could even help you figure out how you can get educated yourself.

Smart, caring people are not that easy to find. Don't think that an employer is doing _you_ a favor; they will welcome your help if you can just communicate your value to them.

It would be nice to know your location.

Good luck.
posted by amtho at 8:06 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with JohnnyGunn that she may want you out front as window dressing. I'm usually the one giving the tough love in job threads, but from what you say she is not doing a very good job of communicating her expectations -- if she wants you to take initiative, she's gotta give you some solid examples.

That said, if you can't find another job right now, you've gotta survive this one for the time being. Keep your head down and keep your poker face steady. Do not complain about her to anyone at work, because stuff will get back to her and she will use it against you. Take the high road. Be ridiculously, formally polite. And write it all down -- rant and rave in a journal -- until you can get out of there into a better job.
posted by desuetude at 8:22 AM on November 29, 2007

I feel for you, but to be blunt, you're going to be very open to this kind of crap so long as you're doing jobs that are completely replaceable. A lot of the world thinks that people two levels "below their pay grade" aren't worthy of basic courtesy, much less respect. So as junkbox says, keep your eyes on the long-term and get to a higher level in life - the most effective way to make the world less full of people in power who treat the less powerful like shit is to become a person of power who treats others well.

That's certainly not an excuse for the treatment you're getting but this is one of those unfortunate things that are near impossible to cope with from below. Grit your teeth and keep looking for a place where you'll be treated courteously.

That said, I would suggest you keep one important thing in mind: your job is to do what she wants you to do. Your description of your problem does a good job of describing what you've figured out is a good and productive use of your time to make the place work well. She's asking you to work in a way that isn't as productive.

And that's completely within her right as your employer.

Maybe it's stupid, or maybe StickyCarpet (ironic in this context, no?) is on to something and has gleaned a method in her madness. Maybe the place is a money laundering operation and overstaffed to help disguise the books. Who knows. It doesn't matter: your job is to do what she wants you to do, and if that involves shining a table 20 times in between every actual use then you need to do it.

Please advance your education. I've worked with people in offices who likely make three times what you do in exchange for working half as hard, none of whom were as obviously intelligent, sensitive, and articulate as you are. Everyone should be treated better than you describe, but you so obviously have the capacity to not have to put up with this nonsense.
posted by phearlez at 8:29 AM on November 29, 2007

Lots of good comments here. My 2 cents are that you should just do what the lady wants you to do. It's that simple. One other thing to remember is that entreprenuers usually are bad managers. They know how to get a business going and run it, but they don't how to work with others.
posted by internal at 8:52 AM on November 29, 2007

Here's an off-the-wall suggestion. If you are, as StickyCarpet says, working in "cleaning theater", why not explore that? This might make it more interesting, compelling even:

Read the book "Respect for Acting" by Uta Hagen. It's a fairly standard acting book, so it's probably in the library. She specifically addresses doing the same task several times, with different "given circumstances" [read the book to find out what that means] each time. Now, I'm not suggesting you go into transports of grief or joy every time you wipe a table; you should do the exercises in the book in a quiet way, obviously. But it might be a fun thing to explore.

Even if you're not interested in acting per se, knowing what actors know is hugely useful in all kinds of circumstances. It might even help you deal with this impossible woman.
posted by amtho at 8:54 AM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

Work slower and stop answering back to your manager.

Right or wrong doesn't matter, she's the boss, she's not going to like or respect you any more and she's certainly not going to change her mind because you argue the point with her.

If this is a sudden change in her behaviour it could be that HQ have had words with her about the over-staffing, she might need to justify having so many staff, or maybe she got a tip-off about an inspection and it doesn't look good if staff are hanging around chatting. See what happens tomorrow, if it continues then just do as your told and do your time til something better comes along.

Just keep your head down and your mouth shut (I'm assuming this is just a temporary holiday job and you're not actually intending to make a career out of mopping floors in a fast-food restaurant), keep collecting your pay until you move on to bigger and better things.

Another thing to consider, are you coming to the end of your 'probation period'? If you're a new hire and they have more staff than they need you could be for the chopping block regardless (especially if they have to pay you more because of your age) I know that when I was 16, my manager tried to give me loads of extra shifts because I was cheaper than the 'real' staff. In the end my parents made me give up the job because they said it was unfair to the older guys who really needed the money.
posted by missmagenta at 9:11 AM on November 29, 2007

Been there. First off, you need to find another job. Fast food management and franchise owners are some of the dankest slime on the planet (Watch the movie Say Anything). When you're not working, you should be looking for a better job. Second, depending on how small the town you live in is, think UNION! It is hard, but see if there's a UNITEHERE or an IWW anywhere close to you. Call them. Leave some fliers around. Third, remember these moments and, for the rest of your life, be nice to people working those jobs.
posted by history is a weapon at 9:32 AM on November 29, 2007

Why not give in? She wants you mindlessly wiping down napkin holders that are already clean, even while there's more important work to be done in back? Why can't you just do that? I'm not saying she's right, and I'd recommend getting another job, but in the meantime, just keep up the appearance of doing what she wants. (Meanwhile, mentally entertain yourself by memorizing and reciting inspirational texts or something.)
posted by salvia at 10:18 AM on November 29, 2007

The world of managers is often seriously screwed up. But she has the power and control, and you seem to need this job. Try a bit of managing your manager: "How are you today?" "Is your kid still sick (i.e., follow up on yesterday's chat)," "Looks like the morning shift left the floors a mess, I'll take care of that right away," etc. Plan your time and check in with her: "The lobby is in great shape, so if it's okay with you, I'll unpack some boxes out back for half an hour."

Some managers are moody, play favorites, are up to no good, etc. Try to make her look good and feel good, and your life will be easier. Someday, when you are a manager, you'll do a better job if you take the time to analyse her and find out how to manage your relationship with her.
posted by theora55 at 10:37 AM on November 29, 2007

You seem intelligent, conscientious, and motivated. There are lots of people out there who aren't. You would be a valued employee in all kinds of businesses.

I would really try to find a job somewhere else, where you will be treated with more respect. Just reading your post indicates to me that you are qualified for something much better.

Inspirational story:

I had a roommate who worked at a fast-food restaurant for 6 years, becoming the most senior employee and dealing with all kinds of crap from management, precisely because he was actually much better at his job than anyone else there.

My roommate was an incredibly bright guy -- in fact he finally quit his restaurant job and ended up with a master's degree in nuclear engineering. He now makes a very nice salary doing government-related work that he can't even talk about. But 12 years ago he was a Hardee's employee.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:47 AM on November 29, 2007

dood, it sounds like an entry level shitty as it gets job, you seem too concerned! jobs like yours are for brainless androids and anything else is enough to freak out any boss of such an establishment

get out now!

go somewhere else where they value you!

but if you are some trust funded, highly educated or other highly capable person who must work in such a position for whatever reason, ie, writing novels after work, then just suck it up and go with the program

anything but unquestioning compliance is not accepted in such jobs
posted by Salvatorparadise at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2007

Is there a head office/regional office you could complain to?
Is there another set of shifts that you could work where your manager would be different?

I agree. Some people are just strange like that. They feel that they can treat you terribly because they are in charge.

Remember you are a good person and deserve better. Good luck! We are all rooting for you!
posted by bitteroldman at 11:12 AM on November 29, 2007

Don't try to go to any higher authority with a complaint. This is her business and as far as you are concerned the important thing is that she is in the position to make your life miserable. The corporate headquarters or whatever are not.

There is nothing to gain in trying to address this in any way except to focus on doing whatever seems to keep your boss off your case. This is the voice of experience: you will spend a significant part of your working life thinking your boss or your job's upper management are wrong. Some times you'll be right, and some times you'll be wrong, but most of the time you will have to just let it be.

Your boss is probably unreasonable and dumb, but it's not much of surprise to see anyone reacting badly to having a teenager who is at pretty much the absolute bottom of the employee pool talking back to them about how they choose to run the business they own. If you are indeed being singled out basically because your boss is looking for excess employees to "cull," well, there's nothing you can do about that - and your best bet at keeping your job is to do exactly what your boss says, don't talk back, and try to dwell as little as possible on whether what you're doing makes sense.

And it bears repeating: you're clearly too intelligent and articulate for what you're doing. Your focus on the job should be staying under the radar and getting through the shift. Your focus outside your job should be developing opportunities to get into something that fits your intellect.
posted by nanojath at 11:39 AM on November 29, 2007

This person is taking personal problems out on you. I know you're feeling like finding another job is very difficult, but redouble your efforts. There are plenty of things a young person like you can do, small town or not, without dealing with this kind of crap treatment.
posted by arimathea at 12:06 PM on November 29, 2007

Yeah, theora55 has it.
posted by salvia at 1:24 PM on November 29, 2007

Dude, it's the sort of job that comes with a nametag and hairnet. This woman's working life amounts to this: bossing around teenagers who, unlike her, still have prospects in life, good looks, and a sense of fun, to supply barely-edible pseudofood at ridiculous markups to selfish morons. Stop taking it so seriously. You're not there to save the world; your job is to do a certain series of idiotic tasks in a set order, look busy, not get fired, and collect your pay. Save your sense of duty for things that are actually worthwhile, like college.

My grandfather once told me that back in the days when he was a farm laborer, he worked for a man who had a little test - he would order new hires to plant a row of cabbages upside down. Those who just dumbly did it, he hired as workers. Those who said "Upside down? Are you sure?" and when he said "Yes, do it." said "OK", he hired, and put in charge of small groups of the first kind. Those who argued with him, he sent packing. This hiring policy means you end up with a lot of obedient idiots, and a handful of smart alecks who have realized that what you want is a lot of obedient idiots, and are sufficiently self-disciplined to go along with that.

Just do what StickyCarpet suggested above, plant the row of cabbages upside down, nod and smile, and do whatever other crap she asks you to do. In the meantime, go round the other McPurveyors of McEmployment in your town and fill out their employee applications, on the off-chance you can find a job where the boss likes you better or best of all, isn't there most of the time.

Generally speaking, jobs will have good work, good pay, and/or a good boss, and you get to pick any one, and if you're lucky, sometimes two. If you ever get a job with all three, don't leave.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:28 PM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

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