Daughter Of the Boss

June 30, 2007

Jack and Work

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlboss @ 3:25 am

I used to think that “dull” in the old saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” meant dull, as in boring, uninteresting and no fun.
Now I’m more inclined to think it means dull, as in lethargic, unmotivated and depressed.

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March 18, 2007

Ego

Filed under: Bossy things,Mother — girlboss @ 4:28 am

My mother lost her cool this weekend.  It happens periodically so I wasn’t terribly fazed.

As per usual this time it was about how the entire house is a mess (it’s not, it’s just got a lot of stuff which is hers) – and why couldn’t we be more organized blah blah blah.  Basically she just hates it when things are not exactly as she thinks they should be, even if it involves her all over 20 (and one almost 30) children.  Nevermind the fact that no-one could be more clutterworthy than she has been in her life – it’s never a question of goose and gander, but do as I say and not as I do.

Then this morning, she sits me down and starts lecturing me about what it means to be in this Expanded role of mine.

Except what she is saying is completely obvious – things I was already planning on doing.

I know I shouldn’t get pissed off that she thinks I am so obtuse I would not know how to go about my work.  I know I should smile and thank her for her advice and let it wash over me.  I know that I should not care what she thinks of my abilities – I should just be quiet and do the best job I can.

Instead I sit there, with gritted teeth, emitting the occasional monotone “Yes” to her “Do you understand?” queries.  I’m sure she can see it in my face, but I can’t help it.  My ego gets in the way.  I really need to learn to not let this kind of thing get to me.

March 16, 2007

Long Service

Filed under: Bossy things,Mother — girlboss @ 4:24 am

One of our secretaries just left today.

She’s been working here for over 20 years – she knew me when I was in junior school, when I used to come into the office and be admonished by my mother telling me not to hold hands with her or my dad because “this is an office”.

She’d been transferred from my father’s to my mother’s office (I have no idea why except that I think my mother had forgotten this secretary had been transferred out of her office before 15 years ago because my mother couldn’t work with her) 6 months ago.

As far as I can see all she has done is made a few phone calls, booked a few tickets (very rudely), been disrespectful and belligerent to everyone (myself included) and spent a lot of time surfing the web and making personal phone calls,

When I reminded my mother today was her last day and she was asking for the company car to be given to her in view of her ‘long service’, my mother blurted out ‘it might have been long, but I don’t think there was much service involved’.

Amen.

March 14, 2007

An expanded role

Filed under: Bossy things — girlboss @ 8:21 am

I’ve spent the last 4 years in a kind of purgatory.

When I graduated from university 8 years ago I went to work in a large multinational professional firm, away from my parents and not in the country I studied in.

After a couple of years, my parents called me home to ‘help’ in the ailing family business.

The problem was, my mother, who calls the shots most of the time didn’t really trust me to know anything (as many parents are wont to do, she suffers from that strange mindset wherein you believe your children are highly capable and intelligent – after all, they do spring from your loins, and yet you also believe they are incapable of doing anything but fail and embarrass you, the parent) .

So I languished in her office, a sort of quasi-Personal Assistant who was expected to attend all the tediously long, inevitably boring meetings, listen, and yet not actually do anything.

Finally, after a year, she let me go work locally in order to finish my professional qualification.  However, after that was done, it was back into the family business fold.

And another 4 years of doing a lot of unnecessary things which were always elevated to ‘something of very great importance’, earning no money (I don’t get a salary or have an official position in any of the businesses), putting up with a lot of shit and having no social life.

I did learn a great deal of patience and forbearance – which was not something I had a lot of previously.

This last week however, suddenly things are changing.

I don’t know how I will handle this, my brain having become so used to the groove of achieving not very much.  Can I re-discover the drive and ability to work autonomously I had when I first started working?  I almost feel like some of the dynamic that made me so desirable an employee when I was working for others is gone.

And of course, there will always be the boss, standing close by, breathing over my shoulder – woe be it that I may have different ideas on how to do things.

Wish me luck.

March 11, 2007

Doing in the Daughter

Filed under: Betrayal — girlboss @ 4:19 am

Children can betray their parents in matters of the wallet.

But so can Parents betray their children.

The Emperor (as previously mentioned) had another daughter.

This daughter was fiercely intelligent and outspoken. She’d once dated a man who has gone on to become the Chief Justice of his country. That man had asked his father whether he should marry her. His father had replied, “That girl is too intelligent for you”

While the Emperor had been laying the foundation for his Empire, he had found himself short of hands. He called back this daughter from her studies, cutting them short and setting her to work. She worked long and hard, hiring all the staff for the outfit and managing them, setting up the business, and hardest of all, following the old man around the world (he was difficult to please).

He would berate her all the time – it was never good enough. If she was speaking to some foreign expert about some aspect of the business, he would accuse her of having an affair and call her a slut. If she had been working onsite, he would call her attention to some small part of the business and bawl her out if it wasn’t perfect.

Every month, she would take her small salary and invest it in the business itself, buying herself shares.

And then she married and left the Empire. Never was she paid for leaving, nor did she ever ask for anything from the Emperor. She was too proud.

She gave birth to a daughter. And then she was pregnant again. But her second pregnancy was risky. She spotted blood and was confined to bedrest. Some doctors recommended an abortion – that her life was at risk.

She wanted to keep the baby. She was emotionally wrought (not that she wasn’t at the best of times, but especially now), crying every night.

Her mother and the Emperor found out about how difficult her pregnancy was. Her mother and the Emperor’s sons, naturally paid her a visit.

Naturally. Not to comfort her though, or offer her support in her time of difficulty. There was an ulterior motive – it was to take back her shares in the Empire. The shares that she had bought with the salary she earned sweating blood in building the Empire.

She was flabbergasted and protested “Those shares are to look after my eldest child in case I die! How can you take them away from me? How can you ask me this? My daughter, your granddaughter will have nothing if I die.”

The Emperor persisted. He sent his eldest daughter, who turned up at the hospital frothing at the mouth. Not in defense of her sister, but in anger that she would not acquiesce. She screamed and shouted and called her younger sister selfish. “If you die your husband will get those shares! How could you allow such a thing to happen! You must sign those shares over now before you die!”

And she thrust the share transfer forms at the younger daughter.

Later, when he received the phone call from his distraught wife, the younger daughter’s husband was furious. “Sign them!” he advised his wife. “If just for the peace and quiet, sign them. The new baby we’re having is more important than that money. We don’t need the extra aggravation.”

She signed them over.

Those shares today would be worth a fortune , but they aren’t worth as much as the younger daughter, who forgave her father and her family. It’s the way of the world that the Emperor can’t recognize the intrinsic worth he has in this daughter, instead of the gold in his safe and the daughter who plies him with sweet words but stabs him in the back.

March 9, 2007

Daughters and dough

Filed under: Betrayal — girlboss @ 4:19 am

One might postulate that the only people one can trust are family.

It’s why the mob will put their family members in trusted positions right? Or why immigrants will only trust those from their tiny home town (on the presumption that you trust those who are most similar to you).

Of course, it’s all a huge fucking fallacy.

Some family members – even immediate family members will rip the food out of your mouth to boil their own stew. What makes it worse is that because they are ‘family’, your staff are hesitant to bring it to your attention, if at all they know the family member is acting without your authority.

There was a man, a patriarch who built his empire from scratch. It is a big empire, huge – and he was its Emperor.

This Emperor had two daughters and three sons (in that order). While he was constructing this empire he garnered the help of his daughters, the sons being too young.

Eventually, after helping build the foundation and man the stations, the younger daughter got married and left the empire – her husband had his own budding kingdom, which at that time was a bigger deal than his new father in law’s.

The elder daughter, who was the homelier (and less intelligent) of the two, married a husband who was not so capable – a tall good looking wastrel. He was a man the Emperor did not like, but the daughter cried and wailed, comforted by the younger.

“I don’t want his money,” she exclaimed passionately, pounding the bed with her fists, “he thinks he can control me, but I’ll run away back to England! I don’t want his money!”

So they married. And she remained living in the Empire, strategically placing her finger in all the right pies. The Emperor, he trusted her – after all, if you can’t trust your own daughter, who can you trust?

But the Emperor had always made it known – a son would take his place at the top. Never a daughter. He gave no thought to how his elder daughter would feel about that – no thought that she was not quite the loving, loyal girl he’d conjured up in his mind.

The years passed and the elder daughter had three children.

And as the years passed her private treasure grew larger.

Every month she would call her broker. And her broker would travel up to the Empire to see her, sometimes taking his bodyguard with him. To him she would regularly give instructions of what property to buy, what shares to invest in. And she would pay him with large bags filled with casino chips, disappeared from the cage. Or she would pay him huge amounts in thick stacks of paper notes.

The broker would sweat bullets carrying her loot until he made his way to the bank.

Eventually, the sons grew up and the Emperor gave them their ‘rightful’ place in the Empire. The Elder daughter stayed, loudly undermining the more timid sons, until one day the Emperor looked down on his Empire and realized he needed to eject the daughter – she posed a danger to his sons’ authority.

He unceremoniously kicked her out of the Empire.

She was furious.

Irregardless of the fortune she had pilfered, she still had designs on the throne. She had even trained her children to chase out their cousins – once her son had shouted at his cousins “this is my home, not yours! And you are not welcome here!”

Now she had been soundly thwarted.

She rebelled. She went to see the Emperor and she told him, bluntly, that she knew all his dirty dark secrets and if he didn’t pay her off she would start washing his dirty laundry in public.

The old man had no choice but to pay her, despite his rage.

But it doesn’t matter how much money she got from the Empire, she is still unhappy, still scheming, still the most bitter and angry woman I know.

I have seen so many rich families and their complicated webs – children are no more likely to be loyal employees than those with no connection at all.

Blood can be thicker than water, but it is also sometimes much, much more expensive.

February 16, 2007

Chinese Whispers

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlboss @ 4:45 am

A simple childhood game can be a fantastic teaching tool.

This game, in a nutshell, is why most fuck ups at work happen.

February 14, 2007

Naptime

Filed under: Bossy things — girlboss @ 7:01 am

I’m hopeless after lunch. I really want to do the nap thing. I’m thinking if I ever get to be the boss I’ll impose some sort of siesta thing – after all, it’s not like the staff don’t. I know some staff will doze off at their desk or in some empty room somewhere sprawled on the floor.

Of course I know some people will just use the extra time as an extended lunch hour and come back even more tired and useless. Sigh.

It probably means I’m just eating too much at lunch. I could start drinking coffee, I guess that’s how everyone else does it.

February 13, 2007

Mismatch

Filed under: Father,Mother — girlboss @ 4:25 am

My mother and my father are an interesting match.

My father is 8 years older, he was 37 when he met my mother.  Good looking, sporty, doing very, very well for himself, my dad really was the big ‘catch’ in town.

My mother was very pretty (she’s now beautiful in a way she never was when she was younger, even though she never had any cosmetic work down), plump, very intelligent. But she wasn’t a catch then – she was older than was usual for marriage material and she had a reputation for being difficult to deal with.

He first saw her at her desk when he went to do some professional work for her father – who was only beginning to hit the very big time then.

I don’t know how they hit it off. Maybe my father fell in love with the way she looked – she was very glamorous.  Maybe it was that rare combination of fierce intelligence and underlying vulnerability.  He can’t explain his love for her now – when asked, he simply gets a tender, faraway look in his eyes and looks away. Love is a funny thing, despite all that has happened in the intervening years, I think he still remembers her as she was then and not as she is now.  Perhaps that is the secret to lasting marriages.

My mother… I’m not sure why she married my father, as far back as I can remember she has only been disdainful of him. Perhaps she’d slept with him in a weak moment and fallen pregnant and hence the matter was decided.  I don’t know if she was ever happy with him, I don’t remember any tender moments between them.  My parents were never a single unit in my mind, they were always clearly distinct entities – my mother and my father, not husband and wife.

I don’t like to say it but perhaps she married what he represented – an up and coming good looking big shot who all the other girls wanted.  Once she ‘cursed’ another woman saying ‘she deserved to marry that husband of hers, so fat’.  Appearances used to matter a lot to her.

They never got married in the legal sense. My mother got pregnant at 28 and that was the end of the story.

My father had fantastic business sense. My opinion is that his biggest mistake was letting my mother into the picture.  My mother is very intelligent – more so than my father. She is not, however, street smart or terribly intuitive about people. Those two characteristics usually make for do or die in business.

He says she insisted on working in his business, that he had no say.  Everyone knows it’s hardly ever a good idea to have a husband and wife team in a big business. It’s too easy for the employees to play one off the other.  Too easy for the husband and wife to begin hating each other, to lose respect.  Our family’s story was not one of the exceptions.

February 10, 2007

Sister vs. Mother

Filed under: Bossy things,Mother — girlboss @ 4:25 am

My mother burst into my bathroom this morning while I was brushing my teeth.

“Your sister is not coming back until Monday morning!” (she’s overseas right now, ostensibly checking up on a second residence, but everyone knows she’s out at gigs and catching up with friends more than anything else)

“You have to call her and tell her she must be back this Saturday.  I need her! How can she be so selfish? I’m so disappointed in her”

I sigh inside.  I’m dreading making this call.

I can understand both points of view. On the one hand we have a mother who works too many hours trying to save a company “for the benefit of all you children”.  On the other hand we have a 25 year old doctor who just wants to do her own thing and not be chained to a desk at home running a household and other bits and bobs.

And then there’s me. 28 and perpetually in the middle.

I know how my sister feels – I’ve been there, I’m still there. On-call every single minute of your life, working for someone who is Very Difficult To Work With who expects you to devote your entire waking (and sometimes sleeping) life to her for some perceived future benefit.  My mother thinks she’s god.

I can understand what my mother thinks – here she is slaving away for ungrateful children cleaning up mistakes that ‘other people’ made and which were totally not her fault (not true, but arguing about this with her would be pointless, besides which I love her and do not particularly want to be dealing with a nervous breakdown – teetering on the edge is bad enough).

Irregardless of what I know and understand, the first thing that comes to my mind is “Why me, Why do I have to be the mediator AGAIN.  Why couldn’t my mother be more reasonable and doesn’t my sister, the bitch, know she’s making life even more difficult for me? She doesn’t have it half as bad anyway…”

But I swallow my bitterness, listen to my mother ranting and complaining, call my sister and request nicely that she come home on Saturday and not Monday (although I know that the difference on a practical level is very minimal), listen to her ranting and complaining, put down the phone, finish putting on my office clothes and get ready to work proper.

Sometimes when it gets really bad I wonder what would happen if I spontaneously combusted.

Parents are supposed to be the glue of the family, but I feel like, right now, I am the glue keeping the different parts of this family together.  The sidelined, aging husband and bitter, tired wife.  The controlling mother, discontented daugther and madly irresponsible son. The sister and brother who can’t have a conversation without it turning into the Apocalypse.

I wish my sister could help me for a little while and know how to placate my mother the way she used to when we were younger.  But she has grown up to be too much the same as my mother – stubborn, vocal, argumentative and too convinced she must be right.

I love them all, it’s just hard not to feel consumed.

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