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Life out here by Bret Kofford: Too easy going?

October 24, 2001

"It's so nice," my wife said over the phone one afternoon last week. "They gave me a card and chocolates and candies and other things. It's really wonderful. The women who work with me did it because it's National Bosses Day."

I looked at my desk. Nothing, nada, less than zero in gifts and cards.

My wife is a wonderful human being, so I would think she is a wonderful boss and deserving of such an outpouring.

But as is so often the case, my only thought was, "What about me?"

I searched my general work area, frantically scouring it for presents. I looked through all my heaps of papers, desperately hoping to discover a nice card. I even mentally checked to see if I was subconsciously stifling a sneeze from the flowers at my work station I hadn't yet discovered.

I am a boss, although I don't like to think of myself that way, being a man of the people and all that crapola. I have a considerable number of people who work for me. I could count how many if I were into flaunting my power (17 full-time, eight part-time). I could even say I have more workers than my wife if I were into spousal power flaunting via respective workforce under respective commands (25-6).


"I'm on the phone with my wife right now and she told me she just got some nice presents and cards from her employees for National Bosses Day," I shouted to the newsroom and the photo/graphics department as I considered translating my message for the folks back in Adelante. "So now would be a good time for all of you to bring your cards and presents to my desk."

"Ha, ha, ha," those in the newsroom and photo and graphics department laughed.

"Ha, ha, ha," I laughed angrily in response.

"Ha, ha, ha," they laughed in response to my angry response laugh.

(I could not tell from my vantage point if the people in Adelante were laughing, "jar, jar, jar" in Spanish.)

"I have to go now," I said to my lovely, gift-laden, exuberant wife. "We have an issue in this workplace."

I looked around. Those who work for me, or work for the collective "we" with me as something of a benevolent, wise, philosophical figurehead, had gone back to their little duties, making their little phone calls, taking their little notes, typing their little stories.

That was fine, I guess, but where were my goods?

"I realize many of you don't think of me as a boss, me being such a down-to-earth, humble leader and all that," I said loudly, "but this is National Bosses Day and I want some presents."

This time they ignored me. Not even a ha, ha, ha.

I realized that the situation might be awkward for my underlings who had brought me large presents like a George Foreman Grill, so I got up and went to the bathroom, giving them time to quickly retrieve big-ticket items from the trunks of their vehicles and place said merchandise on or around my desk.

When I came back there was no George Foreman Grill, no Julio Cesar Chavez Chimichanga Champ, not even a card to be found in or around my desk.

I was baffled. Am I not nice to my employees? OK, sometimes I'm not nice. Do I not provide special attention to those who work for me, giving them inspirational little pep talks about their value within this organization? OK, I rarely do that. Do I not listen to their issues and problems? Of course I don't.

I'm busy. I don't have time for any of that coddling garbage.

But I rarely strike my employees, and when I do it is with an open hand.

For that a guy deserves at least a present, a card, maybe a Mazda Miata, don't you think?

From all I can determine, what went wrong this year is I am such an easygoing boss no one knew I was in command. In response to the lack of an outpouring of stuff for me on National Bosses Day, I plan to flaunt my power more, let people know who is in charge. I will be more of an authoritarian, a dictator. I will be arbitrary and capricious in my decision-making and treatment of my staff.

I realize I made an error in not preparing a gift list for myself for National Bosses Day. I have already partially rectified that by providing a list of my sizes to one of my longtime co-workers, whose name I can't recall right now. Blonde lady, wears glasses.

So yes, my employees might have failed to fulfill their obligations to me on National Bosses Day, but they don't need to fret.

They have my sizes, they know my wants, and my birthday is coming up in two months.

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