Monday, March 24, 2008

Bossland Diaries: Internship from Hell

Last night I received no less than 2 texts and one phone call from Honey Bunch asking for me to please find her another job. She's on the road and doesn't have a Blackberry so that leaves me to do her bidding. As much as I am her Svengali, I declined, opting to snuggle with my darling husband who I hadn't seen all weekend long. But she got me thinking about some crazy work experiences we've had, and I've decided to share one of my more awful ones.

Currently I love where I work (the picture to the right is me working in my basement dwelling). I work for a technology company which has absolutely nothing to do with the degree I have. I have a Masters in Social Work which I got from a very prestigious school (that was way over rated in my opinion) and paid about a gajillion and five dollars for it. But while working on my practicum, and after starting my career in Social Work, I came across three of the worst bosses I've ever had in my entire life. I guess I should put out there that one Boss had nothing to do with social work and was just a crazy woman someone gave a job to. I'm not kidding.

My wonderful supervisor during my second internship placement would say that social workers are either people who really do want to help and make a difference or they have been very hurt themselves and tend to lean a bit toward crazy. They are often wounded birds. I think she was on to something there.

Anyway, one of my bosses was my first placement supervisor, and this woman was in charge of a school based program in inner city Detroit. She was a very overbearing woman who had a degree in engineering but apparently found her calling doing community work. That is all fine and good except that she had absolutely no social skills at all when it came to lording over supervising her slaves student workers. She is the cause of one of my most horrifying experiences.

A Christian Jordanian woman (I'll name her S) came to the school seeking shelter after her husband beat her up. Evil Supervisor takes pictures of her bleeding and bruised body then suggested to me that this woman, who had just fled her home with her children, should PAY for the development of the pictures as "a way to empower her". Could I roll my eyes any louder? I nixed that fast, but that should have been my first warning about Evil Supe.

S had no place to go, spoke very little English and since I used to work at a domestic violence shelter while in undergrad she became my sole responsibility. So S goes into hiding while I spent much of my time trying to assist her as best I could with the meager resources in the community. I drove her to her appointments and spent a million dollars in cell phone minutes calling her cousin who could translate for us. It was exhausting and draining being her sole advocate and attending grad school so I made it my goal to locate an agency that she could go to that would help her better than I.

One morning I got an email from Evil Supe telling me she's made an appointment for me with S's battering spouse at 1pm. Ok, its bad enough that she's making an appointment FOR me but making it with a batterer when I am his wife's advocate...that was another thing. It's near 11 when I read this and S had planned to come meet me at the school to fill out some paperwork. Well, guess who shows up at 11? Yep, Batterer.

So I'm freaking out because she's there, the kids are there and he's there! Well chaos ensues, he gets a hold of the kids and I ended up playing a pretty good game of liar with him while my fellow students sneak S out of there. But now she doesn't have her kids and for the most part I'd like to thank Evil Supe for that.

Later, I had the displeasure of meeting Batterer in court while trying to get a Personal Protection Order for S. That was terrifying! He was in my face shouting at the top of his lungs and two armed guards had to intervene. Did I mention I'm only 5 foot zero and no match for a large angry man? He even had a lawyer with him. Thank god his lawyer was a jack ass and pissed the judge off, that worked in our favor.

After chaos happened I decide to have a boundaries conversation with Evil Supervisor. Her answer to what happened was this.

"Sassy, Sassy. You have to understand, I meant to hit 11 but the #1 key sticks and it only typed one of my 1's. "

She said as if I would say, "Oh? Well alright then. As long as it was just a sticky key..."

However I said back, "Evil Supervisor. You should NEVER be making any appointments for me with the batterer of a woman I'm advocating for. EVER EVER EVER. You just don't do that in Domestic Violence. He could have talked to any of the other slave students you lord over supervise."

"Well Sassy, I don't have the experience in DV so I didn't know."

"I understand Evil Supervisor, but when you don't know you ASK FIRST!!!! Oh, and I'm leaving and never coming back."

Ok, that wasn't exactly what I said. I'm sure I was meek and terrified when I explained what was wrong with what she did and why I was leaving. And I wasn't the only student who left after her awful treatment. Just before I left another quit after she verbally abused him in front of all of us.

But telling her I was quitting was one of the scariest things I've had to do. The look on her face made me want to flinch because I swear I could see in her eyes the desire to hit me. I cut out of there so fast and never looked back. That woman scared the ever loving spit out of me and it became terribly obvious when, a few weeks later, I had a dream that she tried to rape me. Awful huh? It was terrifying and I guess it just spoke to how awful she made me feel while I was working there.

After I left I still worked with S until I found an organization that would be able to help her. She cried when I handed her off and to this day feel like I didn't do the best of job passing her along as I could have. Another skeleton in my closet. I often wonder if she made it to Florida where she had family, if the kids were ok, if he ever found them. I worry she went back. I worry about a lot of the people I've run into through my course of working in the social work field. Are they ok, are children safe, will the girls grow up strong and the boys grow up gentle or will they all repeat the cycle they've been exposed to. All these questions, no answers...only hope for them.

During this brief experience I think God sprinkled people around me to help me, like the Victims Advocate at the court who went up on our behalf to talk to the judge and the Parking Lot Prince who, not only let me park for free, but gave me a Ten dollar bill to give to S (I told him what he puts out there will come back to him three-fold so the next time I went there I tipped him $30). Those of you who think there are no good people in the world, or in a city like Detroit, I beg to differ.

Image provided by this guy. I have taken this same picture however it was with my film camera so I had to borrow his.

So, do share your most awful work stories in our comments. Lets make HB feel better about working for a lying liar who lies.
What's that? You want to comment? Just click on the itty-bitty words below that say "Gimme Some Sugar". Can you see them? Good. We can't wait to chat with you.


Sister Honey Bunch said...

I have had some good bosses too. Both retirement communities were awesome. And so was my first B2B sales job.

But then...I've worked for the man who let his employee ask detailed questions about my pap smear. And then laugh and walk away.

I've worked for the guy who told me my engagement ring was crap. He also treated his wife like his personal slave.

Now I work for a guy who really just wants to screw people over and have me help him do it. Can't. Won't.

Sassy, didn't you quit a job once and after you said you were quitting you RAN AWAY?

Sister Sassy said...

yeah, thanks for bringing THAT up! I was in college and the job was so many hours and so I quit without a notice and felt so awful about it that, yes, I did run. I ran all the way across the store.

That was my job as a cobbler. I repaired shoes. NEVER did that again (quit without notice. One and only time)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

My worst experience I'll write to both of you via e-mail - don't want it public.

My second worst experience was selling business-to-business dictionaries (like what business NEEDS a dictionary?) in scary neighborhoods in the San Francisco area. I was groped, spat on, and generally treated like scum. And then I found out I was lying in my sales pitch (I was told and was supposed to demonstrate, how the dictionary was stitched - and as I demonstrated, a huge chunk of the dictionary fell out and it was clear that it was glued, not stitched.) I was mortified and the business who had agreed to hear my pitch during my lunch hour threatened to call the police on me for fraud. So I quit then and there. And the "supervisor" who drove me out to this suburb refused to give me a ride back to SF, so I had to navigate various forms of public transportation to make it back. Great job. Wish I was still there. ;-)

Sister Sassy said...

Wow Jen, that does sound awful! How scary. I can't believe they just left you there. Thats so terrible. I'm sure Karma caught up with them.

Ashlee said...

Let's see...I worked for a man who was a sexual harrasment case waiting to happen. he was the manager and I was the assistant. He told one of the shift managers that if he wasn't married he'd definitely go for her. He liked to stare at my chest.

I worked for a gal that liked to steal my work and claim it as her own. When I finally quit and went to work for a better company and it was the job SHE wanted :0) she was horrible and told me I'd ruin my marriage if I took the job, and that I was a horrible mother for taking the job, and that God didn't want me to take the job. She also told me I would fail because I was inexperienced. Just so you know, I rocked. I got three raises in a year because they loved me so much. And her? She got fired. :0)

I work for my kids now..I could tell you some stories about what horrible bosses they are. :0) But, they're pretty good for the most part. :0)

Sister Sassy said...

Ash, you crack me up! My weekend bosses aren't so bad either.

Way to show that mean woman, what is wrong with some people. When she said that God didn't want you to take the job did you ask her how long God's been talking to her?

Jen said...

My worst job experiences are definitely occurring NOW, but unfortunately it's government work and I think they'd hunt me down if I wrote about it in too much detail.

My favorite work story was when I was a cocktail waitress at a beach bar in South Carolina called One Eyed Jack's. All the girls had to wear low-cut pirate costumes. The last straw was when my manager told me that I was a pretty girl, but I should consider getting implants (I was a WAITRESS in a tourist bar, not a STRIPPER). I dumped the beer I was carrying in his lap. He said, "What the hell was that?" I said, "I guess flat-chested girls are just clumsy." I walked out right then.


Sister Sassy said...

Way to go Jen!

Can I just say that I love how my boss walks through and notices a bag of pretzles on my desk, he looks sheepishly and will say something like
"it's gonna cost you" and takes one. Even if he's just passing through.
SO Funny!

kspin said...

I worked at a ski resort as a secretary while I was in college. I was 19 and my 40 year old boss asked me out right before the end of the ski season. Yes, I quit early!

I don't remember too much, except that he used to wear velcro shoes that looked just like my grandpa's! Totally creepy!

I haven't had too many crappy bosses, but I have had some seriously random jobs.... I have been a lingerie store manager, I worked at a butcher shop (ie. meat), I have been a landscaper, waitress, secretary, sold cowboy boots... and probably more things I have blocked out by now!

Simple Family Supper lady said...

I have been blessed to not have had any TERRIBLE work experiences. I did work as a tellemarketer in college... had lots of not so nice things said to me!
I worked in Social work for 5 years after graduating from college! It WEARS you out emotionally and physically.... all for about NO pay. I would "qualify" for any of the programs I worked for if I was a single mom on social work income.....
Now I have a great job! Mostly as Mom and Wife, but I work from home Planning menus, writing grocery shopping lists and typing up recipes for my mission to help reduce stress for families!

Have a great day!

saintseester said...

I used to do temp work. I was good so I usually got jobs that lasted a couple of weeks rather than just single day assignments. Once I subbed for the secretary of a guy in real estate appraisals or something like that. He travelled regularly to several places and had serious girlfriends in each spot. They would call asking for him, and I would have to ask who they were. One always got mad and said, "HIS GIRLFRIEND." Well. I loathed juggling those women's calls.

Okay now that I wrote that down, it sounds smarmy but not horrible. Must think more. I know I've had bad jobs/bosses.

Sister Sassy said...

Kspin- velcro? For real? 40 isn't so old he'd have to wear velcro. Ew!

Heather-Social work can sure burn a person out. Thats sort of why I picked community organizing over Interpersonal practice. But the work and help you give now is totally great! Glad you found your mission.

Seester- that does sound stressful! And frustrating. And gross. Did you have to schedule his STD tests too? lol!

Valarie said...

So I really dont have any bad work experiences, well except for the fact that my job has been getting on my nerves lately. I at least have none that compare to some of these. But I do have some advice for SHB. GET OUT! GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN. YOU CAN FIND ANOTHER JOB,RUN WOMAN!

gary the great said...

k, so get this, I'm working for an ad agency and I get this crappy newsletter to design...I hated this newsletter but I always do things to the best of my I design it. Well one of the articles is about Therapist the quote in the article was "we'd like to thank the therapists who practice every day". Well I was in this application called Quark...and to move around the page in Quark you can hold down the space bar as a shortcut key, this gives you a little hand icon and you can click and drag around the page. Apparently I had the cursor in a really bad spot and hit the space key and ended up putting a space in the text...The newsletter went out. The next day we got a call from the client who distributed the newsletter and THEN found the typo "we'd like to thank the THE RAPISTS who practice every day" ... I thought I was going to be fired.

Sister Sassy said...

OMG Gary!! OMG, SO FREAKING Funny. Sorry dude!

janethesane said...

Nothing I really feel like sharing but I can confirm that dating your boss is a bad idea. Bad. Don't do it.

Jill said...

My worst work experience just ended. I still have the same job ( I manage a restaurant in San Francisco for those who done know me, but the awful person who was making me miserable has been transferred out of my store. I cant go into all of it in just one comment but here are a few examples ,he made almost $5000 more a year than me while doing %10 of the work day to day that I did. My staff would go to find him and catch him sleeping in the office, he would leave during slow times to shop or get his hair cut, he would "borrow" money from us so we were short often (which affects my bonus!!) and oh yeah he od'd on his shift one day so I had to work almost 12 1/2 hours. That was great. I had to give our boss the "him or me" ultimatim before my complaints were finally taken seriously. At least I look forward to going to work again.