Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The one minute tantrum manager

Tuesday, August 3, 6:30am. Phone. My younger brother, Greg.

"What's up, Twinkie?" My nickname. Long story.

"I'm just gettin' ready for work. How's the ball and chain- I mean, wife?"

"Hahahahaha! She's AWESOME, man. Listen. There's a stag party for my friend Jeff Friday night at the VFW. You in?"

"Uh, maybe not."

"I know it's your birthday and all. Plans?"

"I might. I'm not sure. I'll meet ya there, if I can."

Stags are ok, for about 15 minutes. There always seems to be some dude at these things who is way too thrilled with his own drunkenness, flitting around, butterfly- like, providing a running tally of how many Sam Adams Lights have tumbled down his bottomless gullet.

"OK, listen. You know that heavy-ass table at dad's house?" Greg says.

"The wood one?"

"Yeah. I'm using that for the party. And I need some help moving it..."

"Ahhh, I see. No WONDER you invited me. You need moving help!"

"You catch on quick, Steve. So, if you could just help me move the table and set it up, and maybe have at least one beer, that would be great."

"Yeah, alright." Kelly is gonna be gone, anyway, and Lila's coming over to clean on Saturday, so Friday should be relatively free.

"Any strippers?"

"You KNOW it, bro!"

"Ok, maybe two beers."

We laugh.

"And I wanna take you out for your birthday, too, on Saturday, maybe?"

"NOW you're pushing your luck," I say.


Wednesday, August 3.

Along with trying to derail my career, Ross is also turning into quite the critic lately.

He calls me into his office.

"What the hell is going on with the postage meter?" he demands.

It's becoming clear to me now, the strategy:

1. Go to the board of directors and bad-mouth Steve, saying that he's not ready for prime time (i.e., to work at corporate); and,

2. Nit-pick and micromanage every aspect of Steve's work in search of fuckups, which by their very existence would justify the tactics detailed in #1.

I wonder how long I'll have to deal with this before something happens. Ross might calm down, or get tired of being the ogre, or he may continue to be a prick indefinitely. Who knows?

For all I know, ROSS will get the promotion instead of me. This is HIS division, after all, and if the board believes I can't handle it, he might be the next logical choice.

"What are you talking about, Ross?"

"The postage meter ran out."

"Oh, that? Yeah. Bonnie was suppposed-"

"Oh, THAT?!" he snorts. "Were you gonna TELL me about this?"

This isn't scary for me, or even really that uncomfortable. I've known Ross for so long, and I've gotten so accustomed to his true personality, that I know this is an act: It's so obvious that I feel like I am watching TV. And I'm wishing for a remote.

"Tell you? Why?" I say. "We refilled it."

"Yeah. On CREDIT!" he snaps.

"Yeah, so? We'll pay it back in full when the bill comes. We always do."

"Doesn't matter! Do you know how much they charge us for doing that?"

"Yeah. It's a fifteen-dollar finance charge, Ross."

"I thought you were 'Mr. Detail'," he says. "How do you let that get by?"

"Bonnie is supposed to check it at the beginning of the month. I guess she forgot."

"So this is BONNIE's fault now?"

Ohhhhhhhh, you try my patience, asshole.

"NO. Anything that happens here, anything that goes wrong, it's MY problem, Ross. If there's a problem, it's my job to figure out how to fix it. And I will, I promise you that. But you asked me how it happened, and I'm explaining it to you."

"You just have all the answers, don't you?" His face is red. His chair is pulled tightly under the desk and his head swings heavily from side to side, as if he's about to vomit.

"Shit! Are you drinking, Ross?"

"Steve, if you wanna help yourself, you'll solve our fucking operational problems and stop worrying about EVERYone else but yourself. This is YOUR problem! It's YOUR responsibility! STOP blaming everyone else and fix it!"

Now you see, nine out of ten people snap here and start yelling back. If I do that, if I let this come to a head, if I let Johnson's name be uttered in this conversation, Ross will have ammunition to fight with. If I mention Dan Johnson, Ross's response can be: "SEE! Dan Johnson casually mentions a job, and Steve gets obsessed, and starts neglecting his job duties."

So I do what Steverino always does: I pretend not to notice his anger, inappropriate tone, and volume. And probable drunkenness. Not only will I not say anything he can use against me; I will also infuriate him when he sees he is not getting a rise out of me. Of course, that may make him up the ante, but I'll take that chance.

"Ross, I can add the postage reserve balance sheet to the list of reports that are run for me at the beginning of each month. Of COURSE I will take ownership of it. But it's fifteen bucks, Ross."
"Fine, Steve, fine. Go handle it." He waves his hand dismissively.

As Chandler Bing might say, "Could this guy BE any more of a douche bag?"