A new job, a new boss (who may also have ADHD), and déjà vu on the first day.
by Jane D.
After nine months of a hiatus, I found myself in the land of the employed again. The shift was sudden, and I joked to a close friend yesterday that if I'd known that layoff land would someday end, I would have taken a real vacation. (It's almost funny how humans are; I never really believed that I'd get a real job again.)
The job is a shift too, or should I say, a Tarzan-like swing into a new profession. I have gone from intrepid Sherlock Holmes investigative journalist to what the journalists call "a flack," a public relations/communications monkey who is a mouthpiece for a university. I've sold out, gone to the dark side, and entered the world of academia.
The president of the university, as I quickly learned, is the male version of the she-boss in The Devil Wears Prada. He's a big-picture guy, full of grand ideas and goals. I have a feeling that he's well paired with worker bees, but would clash horribly with his clone.
With despair and a sigh, I've already discovered that we are clones of each other. I am the younger female version of him. I had a sense that it was going to head south when I met the guy. My new boss, a seemingly laid-back housewife type, gave me a clue before the he-boss made his entrance. "Don't try to impress him," she said. "He hates that."
Well, I think I did the complete opposite. While I smiled and flashed my dimples at him, I also hammered him with a few hardball questions, pretending that I was still the reporter. What was the school's long-term strategy? He rattled off what seemed like an endless laundry list of tasks that he wanted me to tackle, of goals that needed to be achieved.
I feverishly scrawled down notes, my exhausted mind running on pure adrenaline. My faux smile started to fall apart, and I wondered what I should do next. Someone mentioned that he'd been a professor for years before becoming an administrator. I felt like an unwilling participant at a very long sermon followed by a marathon confession.
Silence. I looked around at the other people in the meeting, my boss and others who reported to the President. How did they get these tasks done, how did the guy keep track of all of these things? Well, he does have a quartet of secretaries and doesn't even know what public transportation is. Word in Cubicleland is that he'd never taken a subway in his entire life, and he had homes all around the world.
After he finished, the he-boss clasped his hands together and said, "Well, Jane, you and I are probably two of the happiest people here today." I smiled but I could feel the skin around the smile tighten like a noose around the neck. At that point I knew that I'd met my match, the male version of me, perhaps a fellow ADHDer, except he has an entourage of secretaries, maids, butlers, and a chauffeur. What have I gotten myself into?
I looked down at the legal pad packed with the gazillion things that he wanted accomplished. "So any questions for me?" he asked. I moved my lips around, the smile was still there, but fast fading. "No, just that I'm very excited to come on at such an exciting time, I mean wow, wow..." I said. The four or five other people at the meeting, including my supposed supervisor, looked a bit pale. Were they OK? Maybe he's right, we were the two happiest people here today or the only happy people.
With that he clasped his hands together and turned his attention to someone else at the table. "I want to speak with you about..." His gaze totally shifted and I followed the other meeting attendees in a single file out of the office. He did not look at me again or say another word; it was as if I were invisible. The instant I left the room, I could feel myself exhale. I did not realize it until then, but I had been suspended in a freak-out state for about an hour or so. The air felt like it was being sucked out of that room, and now I could finally breathe again, however brief it was.