While I technically work for my father, I also work with my dad’s partner on a regular basis. He’s the opposite of my dad, acting Type A and arrogant to the Nth degree. He’s one of those salesmen who piles on the information regardless of its relevance because as Type A puts it, overwhelming the client makes him come across as exceptionally knowledgeable. Um, if you say so. The bottom line is Type A and I aren’t a match made in heaven but someone’s gotta work with him. The more my dad’s stepped down from the business the more I’ve had to step up.
When I first came on board at the company, I admittedly wasn’t all that interested in the long haul. I saw the opportunity as nothing more than a layover en route to something more exciting and hip like a buyer position with Anthropologie. Until my dream job came through, I hunkered down in the last office of a long hallway. My time was spent either preparing product comparisons or perfecting my Solitaire score. Between the two, I excelled at the latter.
“Do you like working with dad?” Leslie asked me a few months in.
“Dad? Yes. His partner? No. Type A is a total ass and the day I have to answer to him is the day I quit,” I replied.
“Why?” she innocently asked.
“The other day, I heard him yell at dad’s secretary. ‘You have one fucking job to do around here and the least you can do is make sure the goddamn fax has paper in it,’ he screamed. I poked my head out of the office to see what was going on and you know what? He was berating her right in front of a client.”
“Oh my God. What a prick.”
The secretary eventually quit and I immediately became the low man on the totem pole. As a result, I sometimes ended up on the receiving end of his condescending crap. He’d knock me down for taking my time getting licensed or for not knowing everything there was to know about Medicare. But in the last couple of years, something changed. Type A may have continued to claim brilliance but I stopped letting him get away with the erroneous assumption. He was no less human and no more important than the rest of us and I made it my job to point that out.
Now when he comes up to my desk and I’m on the phone and he starts talking to me because he thinks whatever he has to say is surely more important than whatever it is I’m conversing about, I point to the plastic handset at my ear and turn so my back is facing him. When he’s scurrying about the office at his rapid pace and I hear him stumble on the two steps that lead down to another work area, I sometimes yell out “I heard that” so that he and everyone else within earshot knows he tripped. And when he goes and restates what I’ve already said when we’re working together on a presentation, I remind him that the brilliant thought began with me.
So far, it’s worked. Perfectly. Just the other day I heard him stumble on the steps and he said with a chuckle “that was me” before I could even open my mouth. And yesterday we sat down for ten minutes to review an upcoming presentation we’re pitching on Friday. I showed him what data I wanted to use. He made chicken scratch all over my paperwork, asked questions and then sat back, looked at it all and admitted I was right on target. It didn’t even pain him to pay me a compliment. I’d still rather be jobless and homeless than work for Type A but for the time being, I’m more than comfortable working with him.