Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In which I have a new fun project and Canada is just too big

I'm writing speeches for the president of my organization.

He's very articulate, charming and charismatic. He presents well. He has good timing and is witty, and likes clever humor. His speeches have just been kind of factual and uncreative. And he can be very sparkly. So, the last time I heard him speak at a big meeting, I decided that he needs me to write his speeches.

I proposed the idea to our HR director. Who talked to my boss and then to our president. Who was delighted with the idea.

When we met to talk about the idea, I told him, very candidly, that I've never written a speech before. But that I know I can do a good job. And I know I can. I'm just a little nervous about this first one.

I like working with him. He's really bright, professional, straightforward, and consistent.

So yesterday I sat down to delve into it, and I looked up the states that comprise the region whose meeting he's speaking at next week.

And looking at the color-coded map reminded me of an experience in a previous job.

I used to work at a place where the president was a lunatic. She is, honestly and truly, one of the most malignant human beings I've ever encountered. She did horrible, underhanded, manipulative things to people. I'm certain she still does.

She's the only person I know that I have to actively decide, whenever her name comes up, or when I run into her, not to wish anything bad on. You know, because of karma.

Before I worried about karma I used to wish a flesh eating bacteria on her. Maybe starting with her face. But now that I take karma into account, I have ratcheted it down to where I just wouldn't prevent something terrible befalling her.

Like, if I saw that she were about to step off a curb into an oncoming bus, I wouldn't yell to stop her. But I wouldn't push her towards the bus, or try to distract her so she wouldn't notice it, or even secretly fantasize about her stepping off the curb. I am hoping this counts.

So anyway.

Everyone who worked for her tended to keep their head low and just try to dodge any bullets she might be aiming at them. And, while in the office, people lived in her alternate reality. She tended to hire people who were easily cowed. She could tell.

I, however, am not so great at agreeing that something is blue when I know for a fact that it's orange. I tend to be really agreeable and pleasant but I'm not going to agree with stupid shit just because you want me to.

At some point she wanted a map to put on our website that showed all of our members. Which meant the 50 states and Canada.

So I found a graphic designer to create a color-coded map. Of the US and Canada. A nice, simple, accurate map. Very straightforward project. You'd think.

The map they produced, according to her, was absolutely unacceptable. Because of Canada.

She said, "We can't use this! Look how big they've made Canada! Lisa. They made Canada very big."

"Well, but, Canada is big."

"It's too big! Canada needs to be smaller! We need to be much bigger than Canada."

I shook my head. "But we're not. We can't have a map where we're much bigger than Canada."

"Then our American members will think we think Canada is more important! And we have very few Canadian members."

"But if we make Canada small, everyone will think we don't know geography."

"They have to make Canada smaller! Let's think together of a solution. Maybe they could just put the edge of Canada on our map?"

I took a deep breath. I loathed her so much already

"Then we'll look stupid. We can't just lop off most of Canada. Because everyone, even our members, everyone knows that Canada? Is very big."

This kind of thing pissed her off no end. Because you were just supposed to agree. She called a meeting. To discuss the Canada situation.

It was decided we'd ask them for a new map.

And so I called the designers and said that while they had given us exactly what we originally asked for, thank you, we'd like to pay them more money to change it. Because could they, um, make Canada seem a lot, well, smaller?

Yes, I knew that the map they'd given us was accurate. And they'd done a great job. But was there any way to make it rather inaccurate but not totally ridiculous?

They said they'd try.

If I recall correctly they gave us another version where the map was angled in such a way that Canada looked a lot smaller. But even with employees who are afraid of you, it's hard to force a group of smart people to say they think you should put up a map where Canada is dwarfed by the US.

The map project ultimately got scrapped. And I left not long after.

So now, if I see her down the block, I turn the corner or duck behind a building. It's just easier. And better for my struggle with karma.


  1. Is there any way you can send this ignorant, egregious woman exile in "Little Canada?"

  2. I think you worked for the female version of a malicious, paranoid, insecure turd I once had the pleasure of working for. I won't go into the sordid details, but suffice it to say that Satan does haunt the earth. Anyway, he contracted a life-threatening disease (seriously) and, I hate to admit this, but I would sit at my desk imagining my work life after he had died a slow painful death--a lot. I'm a bad person for that, I know. But I reached true enlightenment when he called me long after I quit begging me to come back. Or maybe that was just revenge, a heaping plate of cold revenge....

  3. Jebus, your old boss sounds like my old boss. I can't even count how many times in the four months i worked there that she made me/my coworkers cry because of our supposed incompetency. *shudder* craaayyyyzzaaayyy!!

    Congrats on the new position though!

  4. Why does everyone have a boss like this at one point, who is a complete asshat?

    Honestly, it's like a rite of passage.

    My ass hat boss of times past?

    When I quit, she told people in the office that I left because I was pregnant. (Which I was not.) And that since I was unmarried, I was moving back home to live with my parents.

    Thank God I left that job when I did. To be an unwed mother no less.

  5. Wow. Just, wow.

    You can get maps that show countries sized according to things like population, which would change the proportions a bit. Or maybe by malicious wackjob bosses. That might get the kind of size difference she was looking for.

    Congrats on the new project. Glad that worked out for you. :)

  6. Almost - I wish, I wish! Ha!

    Riley - I haven't say, I'd have sat at my desk doing the same thing. I'm glad you found enlightenment. Or got revenge.

    LH - Yes - that's how she was. Awful. And yes, craayyyyzzzyy! Thank you!

    SL - That is truly astonishing. What a vile human being.

    WiB - I wish I'd thought to suggest that. And thank you! :)

  7. Is your current company president married? I'm just saying - seems a good match for you. Male, smart, common line of work, gets your humor. If he's bald, well, change your type ;)

  8. FK - Yeah, you seem like you'd be easily cowed. I am sooo sorry to hear about your proximity to her sister. True and utter misery.

  9. HKW - He is married, but thanks for the suggestion! :) And he's not bald. And actually, I think bald men who carry it well are super hot.

  10. Oh I would love to go to lunch with her.....Ass Bitches are my favorite!!!! I had one of those as a boss in my early 20's I used to hide under desks when I heard her coming down the hall and rock back and forth in the fetal position saying "Poor cinderella, poor poor cinderella" She once caught me and said "What are you doing?" I told her I was hiding from my evil step mother....never realizing that I was talking about her. Those types seem to be totally self absorbed too.

  11. I would think that the challenge of speechwriting is keeping in mind the cadence and tone of the speaker. Writing things that THEY can deliver well must be pretty challenging... especially if the speaker doesn't have the sparkling qualities your boss has.

    I agree, my friend: You'll probably rock the house. Your blog is one that I read for the writing, as well as the personality. There aren't many of those.

  12. Too funny. Thanks for the giggle.

  13. DD'sD - You are a nut! That is hilarious. And yes, those types are very self-absorbed.

    Rich - Yah, I think you're probably right. I know his style a bit but it'll get easier as it goes along. And thanks for the vote of confidence! I appreciate it!

    Amisare - Thanks! :)

  14. stories like this one (which totally made me giggle) remind me of the woman i worked with when i was a receptionist years ago. upon learning i was headed to grad school, she said, and i quote, 'i always *knew* you were more than just a secretary.'

    uhm. thanks?


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