For all of 2011, I bit my tongue. Or I bit it when I was at work. Outside of the office, I spewed my anger and frustration to anyone willing to listen. But I’m a strategic a person. Translation: there’s no way in hell I was going to make my boss aware of my dissatisfaction. I had nothing to gain by announcing my desire to smoosh him with an anvil plummeting off a high cliff (see The Road Runner for an example).
“You need to tell him that his failure to pay you your commissions for six months is illegal,” my mom would say.
“Do you want me to talk with him?” my dad would ask.
I always listened to their suggestions but also always politely declined them. It wasn’t that they lacked value. Perhaps those approaches could have made my life easier. For whatever reason, I opted to hash out a solution on my own terms, at my own pace. I stepped back from the moment, took a bird’s eye view, and plotted out an exit strategy.
“I have some bad news, well, for you,” I said last Wednesday night when I finally told my boss I was resigning.
He was surprisingly happy for me. He asked what I’d be doing, praised my accomplishment, commended me for making the move. That I could not give two full weeks notice didn’t bother him. And when I mentioned having to partake in a conference call during office hours, he made nary a stink.
“He thinks you’re useless. I’m sure he just sees your departure as a financial windfall,” my mom noted when I told her I had formally resigned. I didn’t disagree with her interpretation. But I was relieved he didn’t blow a gasket and tell me to pound sand.
This week, I am technically working my old job and my new job. The timing was terrible and there really was absolutely no way to flex my start date. Sure, I could have walked from my old job the day I gave my notice. I just care too much about my clients to do that to them.
“I’m terming your disability coverage as of Friday. Okay? And let me know when I can term you from the health insurance,” my boss said in an email sent to me on this past Sunday.
I wasn’t even gone and he was counting his pennies. Rather ironic seeing he has a beach house at the shore, drives a high-end luxury car, and is in the process of building a house in center city. More importantly, a man who has worked in operations for over three decades was bypassing COBRA paperwork and just ignoring the very rules we instruct clients to obey, lest they are gunning for a lawsuit.
“Be sure to tell your clients that you’ll be transitioning everything to me,” he said when I stopped in his office on Tuesday night.
“Actually, I haven’t decided what I’ll be doing with them yet. I might take some with me.”
“That isn’t ethical,” he sputtered.
“I think unethical would be sitting on my commissions for the first six months of 2011 and blaming a problem with the payroll service when, in fact, other employees were getting their payouts through the payroll service.”
He fumbled to find an excuse. He tried to justify his behavior. And then he said, “Those clients aren’t yours. If I had known you’d do this, I would have had you sign a non-compete.”
I refrained from pointing out that our company’s go-back-in-time machine was broken. Instead I shrugged my shoulders. “Actually, seeing you had nothing to do with closing those deals, those clients as mine.”
For once, for the first time ever, my boss was at the mercy of my intelligence, my strategic prowess, my confidence. I had a voice and he had no choice but to listen. All of my quiet, all of those times I tolerated his antics, had finally paid off.
A few minutes later, he stopped by my desk to give me a check to reimburse me for some office expenses I had personally paid for. He asked me if I was hungry. He offered some of his leftover vegan mulch. Simply put, he was acting as if nothing had just transpired.
Maybe he dismissed my threat as idle. Perhaps he recalled the windfall he will receive when he no longer has to pay my salary. Or maybe he surrendered to the fact that he had been outsmarted by a woman he so readily dismissed.