Monday, August 4, 2008

The Troll

I abandoned my cubicle life today and have the day off to take care of some "personal business". That's what I called it in the email request I sent to my boss early last Monday morning. I apologized for giving such short notice and then crossed my fingers, hit send and waited for his reply.

All fucking ding-dong day.

Usually, wherever he happens to be, my current boss responds right away to anything I send him, whether it be a time-off request or reporting some kind of project issue or new idea. He's good that way.

How novel. An attentive boss that actually listens to me and pays attention to my needs. In previous time off requests he has said things like "Sure! Take as much time as you need. I appreciate all your hard work here".

hat was taking him so long this time? I waited for his reply, squirming with discomfort and as the day wore on, wondering if I should write him back and call the whole thing off. He normally responds so quickly. What if something is wrong? What if he is putting it off because he has to tell me no? What if, what if, what if...

The next day he stopped by my cube and apologized for not getting back to me right away and said of course I could have the day off and then thanked me again for all my hard work.


I felt bad for silently cursing him (and myself) all day while I was waiting.

He's a good boss. And thanks to hideous, bastardly evil bosses I've had in the past, I'm apparently not able to trust or appreciate such kindness and understanding.

I am thinking in particular of the boss I had when I was still in school and working at my first official IT job, the guy would wait for weeks to reply to my time-off requests, even though he was in the next office and we saw each other daily. He even did this when I requested time off 9 months in advance for my wedding. We called him The Troll.

The Troll was a balding, pudgy, 50ish man, who wore his pants belted tight and high around his wide, gelatinous gut. He had big, mushy lips that looked as though someone had pasted two snails on his mouth and steely blue eyes perched closely atop a smushed, yet slightly turned up Hogarth-equese nose. Imagine if you will, that Tweedle-Dum and Jabba the Hut had a baby.

The Troll enjoyed intimidating people with his mental catalog of meaningless IT acronyms.

The Troll often made up his own acronyms, refused to tell us what they meant and would chuckle with glee when we guessed them wrong.

The Troll found it hilarious to schedule network hogging back-ups, system slowing updates and upgrades during his days off or his lunch hours.

The Troll thought it was amusing to make changes to the system or software upgrades without warning anyone. "See if anyone notices a difference", he'd snort. Thus causing my co-worker and I to spend our entire day fielding annoying, "my computer is really slow today" support calls that might have been completely unnecessary had he sent out an email or given anyone, including us, a clue.

The Troll was once overheard boasting to other department heads that he used a management style to keep us on our toes that he liked to refer to as "management by embarrassment".

I've never been one to judge a person based on looks, but when I first met him at my job interview I distinctly remember mentally wincing at the sight of his wide, waddling form coming toward me in the reception area. Oh you poor sad thing, I thought as he reached out to greet me with a handshake and the snails lifted their tails in a gruesome attempt at a smile.

He was a bit gruff and intimidating in the interview, but alas that is the nature of many an IT slug/computer nerd. They are not exactly what you would call People-Persons, so I gave The Troll the benefit of the doubt. But the more he talked, the less I liked this man.

I wasn't completely sold on taking the job until The Troll called in the other person on the team to complete the interview. She was the one I would primarily be working with. I liked her on sight. She was terrific, funny, smart and personable (and I think it goes without saying, much easier on the eyes). Unlike the troll, she had a face that was very expressive, all eyebrow arching, smirks, winks and smiles. We hit it off instantly and I knew that if she worked for this train-wreck of a man that it must be all right. I'll call her Sunny.

On my very first day of work it happened that Sunny was busy working on a project on the other side of the building, so The Troll briskly showed me around and then gave me a task that I was to complete by noon. Basically I had to take apart a desktop computer, replace the power supply and reformat the hard drive.

I bet you didn't know that I could do that.

Neither did I.

Although officially I had never done this professionally (that's why I was here, to get some experience), I had just aced a class on small systems hardware and I knew what and where everything was. No problem-o.

Or so I thought.

The power supply went in OK, but then when I tried to reformat the hard drive something was drastically wrong and I kept getting an error. And it's not like I was getting the error right away either. I waited and waited as bright text whizzed by on a black screen and then thump - error. This never happened in my class.

The time was ticking away and periodically The Troll would come in to check on my progress. When I told him about the error he came unhinged, got all red faced and blotchy and started yelling at me.

What kind of error?!

The blah-blah kind.

WHAT is your problem?

I don't know. I've never seen this error before.

I thought you said you could handle this job. If you can't do this simple thing then you may as well go home right now.

I started to cry. I'd had some asshole bosses before, but nobody had ever yelled at me like this. I was frozen, mortified.

And then Sunny came in.

The Troll then barked at Sunny, "see if you can fix her mess. Now!", and then he waddled out of the room in a blotchy red huff.

I explained the situation in a raspy whisper to Sunny who said it was no big deal and that she'd seen this error before on some of the other older machines and miraculously whipped out a new thingy-ma-bob that we installed together. Fixed.

Sunny was very reassuring. She said there was no way I would've fixed it on my own in the amount of time The Troll had given me to do the job, and that she too was flummoxed the first time it happened to her. She had spent hours back and forth on the phone with the computer company's hardware support to solve the problem and had ordered extra parts knowing that it was likely to happen again to the other machines. She said if she had known that he was going to make work on that kind of machine she would've warned me.

Speaking of warnings... when I asked her about The Troll's atrocious behavior and whether or not he was like that all the time she said, "I tried to warn you in your interview, didn't you notice me making all those faces?" I hadn't taken the hint. Then she said that if The Troll hadn't been in the room the whole time she would have told me to run away screaming and never look back and that she had been looking for a new job for several months.

I moved on eventually, but the scars remain.


Anonymous said...

I may be reaching here but the Troll was a Catch22 situation: He needed to get laid BADLY but he was The Troll therefore the possibility of that happening was minus something. Having had my share of moronic bosses (yes really!) I sympathize. And envy you your fabulous current one. I hope my next one is as awesome but I have the feeling you snagged the only good one out there. :)

Boldly Serving Up Wheat Grass said...

There's nothing worse than an asshole IT guy. Nothing.

Tara said...

Trying not to imagine Jabba the Hut and Tweedle Dum having sex.

It's horrible bosses like The Troll that help us appreciate the other managers in our lives, doesn't it?

I too dismissed the warning about a bad manager once for a former job I had. I just figured, "How bad could he be? He's running a business, he should be professional." Yeeeah. No.

Tara said...

BTW, I love that little Lego set in the photo.

Oh and my current manager uses the initials T.O. as in "I'm gonna TO them over to you." I finally asked him what that meant and found out that "T.O" means "turn over".

Alice said...


Did the Troll come to work at the Census Bureau while I was there?

I swear the Troll's twin liked to mess with shit that would affect multiple divisions, but not send out a memo alerting us to changes. ARRGHHH!! I wanted to scratch his eyes out most days.

SkylersDad said...

Management by embarrassment? What a fucking tool! He needs to be taken out back and have his ass kicked.

Sorry, getting all worked up over some dude I have never met, but I hate people like that.

- said...

last summer i had the boss from hell. one day for no reason she yelled at me about something another employee failed to do. she screamed at me for 15 minutes. then i called my mom and cried. two weeks later, i walked into her office, stared right in eye old bitch eyes, slammed my resignation on her desk, walked out the door and never looked back.

timed perfectly, the other two employees were on holidays and there would be no one to work the next three days. i loved myself that day.

Renaissance Woman said... the name. I think the "troll" has moved on to my office!

Quiet one said...

Arsehole. Those kind of people put me in a rage.

Anonymous said...

My current manager is a great boss. me: "may I have Friday off"

L: "eh, sure"

me: "do I need to fill out a form or anything"

L: "nope, have fun with the day off"

I have worked for the one-woman panel before. She would basically make you beg for a day off. This only after you painted some sort of wretchedly pathetic tale in which someone was dying and it could not be avoided. Just asking for the day off would garner a big fat "NO"

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, what a prick! Man I hate people like that...

I'm so glad you've got a nice boss now. Just like sexual partners, maybe you've got to shag the duds so you appreciate the good ones? :)

Gwen said...

Yowza. That's pretty bad. His terrible looks might be karma.

Dr Zibbs said...

I know that Troll type very well

Claire said...

How sad that all of us seem to have encountered him in one form or another. So much of American business rewards assholes just for being assholes.

Falwless said...


This post almost made me cry and I didn't even go through that!

Jesus. Thank goodness you left that terrific job. Whew.

dmarks said...

You are lucky you escaped from that awful IT boss guy without being encased in carbonite.

Churlita said...

If you replaced boss with boyfriends, I can totally relate to this post. Okay, maybe not exactly, but I have a hard time trusting men because of my past dating experiences.

BeckEye said...

There are times when being really descriptive is not a good thing. That mental image you just stuck in my head of the Troll is giving me the dry heaves.

I've had my share of completely horrific bosses, and it sucks going through it. But once you're free, it's always nice to be able to look back, breathe a sigh of relief and be happy that you're away from that environment. You get the last laugh because you're in a better place, but I'm sure the Troll is still a Troll.

Leonesse said...

I am currently looking for my next Troll. I left the corporate world due to a serious Working Girl situation. Seriously, I didn't see the movie (i know, i know, amazing I missed it) until about 2 years ago and I was like HEY they made a movie about my life except where she gets the guy and becomes rich. Instead I ran screaming and am not looking forward to returning. NOT LOOKING FORWARD>......

Anonymous said...

I have totally had good luck with bosses. That being said, I still prefer to work for myself.

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.