My uncle Jack gave me the advice early on in my career: get whatever experience you can on a job and leave after a couple of years. I wish I had followed his advice rather than working for the same company for 20 years. Actually, the company changed hands a number of times while I was there, but it was a case of “new circus, same clowns” each time.
I finished my career there working for a person I didn’t like working with many years earlier. To give you some idea of how well it went, the day it was announced that he was going to be my manager, he omitted my name from the list of names he sent his introductory email to. I walked in that morning, and everyone wanted to know what had happened and where I was going. Naturally, I was pretty upset by the whole thing and was ready to raise a stink about it, but I checked my email and he had forwarded me the original, with a sorry-not-sorry added to it. The next time I saw him, I introduced myself: “Hello M., I’m John Holton, and unfortunately I work for you.” He laughed it off.
I was lucky that I had a manager between him and me for most of the time I worked for him, but that relationship went away about the time the company had developed a new product, so to speak, and he decided I should be the lead person on it. He then spent a lot of time and effort micromanaging me and basically getting in my face whenever he didn’t like the work I had done. I should have read the writing on the wall right then, but I was too busy to start looking for another job, or so I told myself.
Things came to a head when I was onsite with a client. He called me in my hotel, informed me he would be arriving that night for a meeting with the client in the morning, and he expected me to meet him at his hotel (which was on the other side of town) so that the two of us and the salesperson (who had worked with us before and who’s another story entirely) could “strategize.” He then launched into a lengthy diatribe about how I have a “cavalier attitude” and that I had better watch myself and change my ways.
I wasn’t especially happy when I hung up. The only thing that cheered me up was realizing I was in Cleveland, whose NBA team is, ironically, the Cavaliers. After dinner, I went in search of a Cavaliers hat, but couldn’t find one. I went back to the hotel and waited for his call. By midnight, I decided he wasn’t going to call, and went to bed. The next morning, he arrived at the client site and told me he had gotten in at 10 the night before and decided to go to bed (and obviously not to call me).
Things deteriorated rapidly after that, and by May I was informed that I was being put on probation for 30 days. I asked what would happen if I didn’t want to do that, and he told me to hand in my notice as of the day the 30-day period ended. Mary and I had already discussed what I should do (she had already told me to go ahead and quit several months earlier), so I handed in my notice, Mary asked some friends to watch the cats, and the two of us took off for Tennessee for a mini-vacation.
We spent the next several days wandering around central Tennessee, and one of the things we did was visit antique stores. In one store, Mary came up to me and said, “I found something you should give M.” She took me to a room and pointed at a painting on the wall:
It was a reproduction, of course, but if it hadn’t been a little out of my price range…
Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. This month, it’s also part of Just Jot It January.
Now here’s Yogi Bear for Kellogg’s OKs cereal. The one with the bear on the box!