June 3, 2010

Dogs Bleed When in Heat...and Other Things My First Job Taught Me, Part Two

(If you haven't read Part One yet, go there first.)

In a small company, you will be the personal assistant.

My hidden job title as Personal Assistant crept up on me slowly, much like I imagined skin cancer was creeping up on my excessively-tanned Boss. It started with, "Will you call my dry cleaner and tell him I have clothes hanging in the front closet?" or "Will you pick up some lunch for me?" But within three years, I was acting as a chauffer for her two sons (who likely never knew my name during that time), waiting outside their prestigious, all-boys high school, delivering them to hockey practice, acting as a PTA parent by proxy, making travel arrangements for the boys' sports tournaments, and even picking up the occasional dog poo—which leads me to...

You will do degrading tasks.

Being such a small office, I was often by myself for hours on end. Hey, not bad. I can handle working independently. The problem was Boss would drop her dogs off in the office before rushing across town for a meeting for which she was perpetually late. Since I had grown to feel such a hatred for these dogs that I believe it has since led me to hate all Labradors in kind, I didn't want to take care of them. I didn't want to take them on walks. It wasn't in my job description! However, that rebellion only lasted until the dogs began pooping in the office, and not just anywhere in the office, but right next to my desk.

(Hateful creatures, I knew they were out to get me. I imagined Amber, the girl I replaced, was probably in boy-dog's stomach, still being digested.)

This led me to a quandary: pick up the massive pile of poo (what did these dogs think they were, anyways? Elephants?) or let it sit there all afternoon until Boss returned. Because this problem happened with such regularity, I ultimately began walking the dogs.

But it didn't stop there.

Girl-dog was the most disgusting dog I had or will ever meet. Not only was she particularly...flappy...from excessive breeding, but she passed the smelliest dog-gas ever. Moreover, because of said breeding purposes, she had never been spayed. Which meant every month, she went into heat. I don't know if you have ever seen a huge dog in a frenzied passion (thank you, Wikipedia, for my newest favorite phrase). I'm pretty sure many of our clients hadn't. And here's the kicker: unlike cats, dogs bleed. Unfortunately I can attest to this.

One particularly heinous day, the dog decided it would spray the wall right by my desk. I will not clean this up, I thought. It's not in my job description! I went to boss' office, squeezing against my desk as I passed the blood, lest it should jump out at me.

"Girl-dog got blood on the wall."

"Oh no, really?" said Boss without looking up from a Very Important Document.

"Yeah, it's...uh...right by my desk."

"Oh gosh, I'm sorry about that," said the top of her head.

"So, um...yeah." I walked back to my desk and in a daze, tried to think of a solution. I glanced back at the blood on the wall, certain it was moving closer to me.

Finally, Boss emerged from her office. She said, "Dammit, girl-dog got blood on my pants and I'm late for a meeting. Can you help me clean it off?" She handed me a damp rag.

Upon looking back on this, I want to scream, "No! Clean it yourself, you disgusting wench!" And then I want to cover my eyes as Young-Kelli leaned over and rubbed the dog-vagina-blood out of her boss' $200 slacks with a dignity-soaked rag. "Doooooon't doooooooo it!" But it's all slow-motion, like the cliché dream in which my body moves too slowly to stop the action and my hands can't quite get a tight enough grasp around her prematurely wrinkled neck.

But I did do it. Because I was young and, though I was essentially defiant, I didn't want to lose this job.

After I was done cleaning up the blood, Boss flapped out of the office with her bat-wings.

You will sometimes perform overly upgraded tasks, beyond your skill, experience, and/or education.

What I would have given to tell Boss' clients that person writing their job descriptions, creating their brochures, issuing their press releases, composing their business plans, and even compiling and preparing the financial reports (in order to keep their businesses from filing for bankruptcy) was not the educated and savvy business consultant. It was her 21-year-old assistant who was still in college and who didn't even know what "Return on Investment" meant.

You are expendable.

Despite taking on so many roles around the office that I was single-handedly responsible for the dismissal of the accountant, the IT contractor, and one of the experienced consultants, my job was not secure. One day, just one month shy of my third anniversary with the company and three weeks shy of my impending wedding, Boss called me into her office. I sat down across from her.

"Kelli, I have to tell you something...I'm getting a divorce."

"Oh no! I'm sorry," I said with empathy that was only sort of genuine. "But really, you'll be better off without him!"

"You're so sweet. I hope so."

"You will be," I assured her.

"Thank you. Well, divorces are expensive..."

I nodded.

"The reason I'm telling you this is because I will need your salary to get through it. I'm letting you go."

"Oh," I said, as if I had just been punched repeatedly by the bumper of her $60,000 SUV.

"I'm really sorry, but you can see why I have to do this, right?"

"Um, yeah..."

Again, looking back, I want to tell my younger self, "Give her a piece of your mind! Tell her that you've put up with her abuse for three years and that she is a horrible human being and you should report her to the IRS and the BBB and whoever else will listen!"

Instead, Young-Kelli cleaned out her desk and left quietly. Then cried in her car on the drive home.

Depressing, I know. But let me tell you: the next day, I awoke in utter exhilaration with the realization that I never had to go back there. I never had to see the associate who threw a stack of papers at me in anger. I never had to listen to another consultant tell me that I'd be "so much prettier if I wore makeup or painted my toenails once in a while." And I especially never had to see the dreadful woman who was responsible for my very first wrinkle ever again.

A week later, Ex-Boss called me while I was at the library researching how to write a resume. She asked for help on a computer procedure. I told her I was too busy to help her. She asked if she were still invited to my wedding. I told her no. Surprised, she stuttered for a moment, then said a hasty goodbye.

One week after that, I found a new job with an upstanding and professional company, who started me off with an even bigger salary.

And I never had to clean up dog-blood again.


Ronnica said...

Wow glad you let go...certainly wasn't worth it! I work for a small company as well, but I'm thankful my boss does not take advantage of me!

Joshua said...

These posts were fantastic!

Kelli said...

Ronnica: in my experience, being laid off is usually a good thing in the end!

Joshua--if that really is your name--thank you. ;) <~~~Pirate wink.