My friend Avril sent me a copy of a letter a network administrator sent to her idiot boss in response to my open letter to my ex-boss, which I recently mentioned in So Hard. I Googled it and found an entry in Snopes.Com that debunks its veracity. Even so, the letter is hilarious and it is the type of letter many of us have wanted to send to a boss one time or another. Enjoy.


Actual letter of resignation from an employee at Zantex Computers, USA, to her boss, who apparently resigned very soon afterwards!


Yeah, but… No, but…

This is how I felt today, especially this morning. Finals are near and I find myself having a to deal with a Vicki Pollard moment. Only trouble is I’m not in a comedy skit. As much as I feel my life is comic, this incident definitely was not. I’ll just say I had to deal with someone who was not cooperative when confronted in the classroom and my requests for that person to leave with met with rants. I had to call campus security, which is something I’ve never had to do. I wound up losing about 15 or so minutes of valuable time.

Here’s a clip from Little Britain where Vicki Pollard evades the social worker’s question. It’s the only way I can laugh at the situation and get on with my day.

Being Sick is Bitch

This past week has not been fun. I got sick on the first week of school and I’m the one who winds up playing hooky, partly because I felt horrible and partly because I didn’t want to be “incubus of the viral plague.” I had to call two schools to report absences, and I showed up to the Thursday night class only because it was the first night and I wanted to see who was present and wanted to crash. The session went on a little longer than I wanted due to some student questions. On some level, teaching is theater and I think my students had a perverse desire to see me die in front of them. Maybe not, but I can’t help thinking it as my voice rapidly deteriorated that night.

I’ve been resting and doing what you’re supposed to do when you have a cold: drink plenty of fluids. I have also been taking Airborne like candy, a habit that will stick around when I’m better.

People who work in public spaces like schools run the risk of getting all kinds of nasty bugs. I wonder how many times I was in college that I picked up some cold or flu from a fellow student or some super-sick prof. There was also the grocery store I worked for all through my college days and lots of people showed up sick and suffering. When I was in graduate school, I tutored students, which provided a one on one risk factor. I wonder how much of this could have been avoided if people helped themselves and others by not calling in sick when they’ve come down with the cold, especially early on.

I’m sure it’s worse in office settings, where people often have to be in the same room with each other for 8+ hours a day. Somehow, I don’t think cubicle walls provide that much protection. I could go on and on about the evils of the cubicle, but that would be getting off-topic.

I wonder how much germs get passed around in religious settings. When I was in a small evangelical church in my early twenties, people got sick all the time. When someone came down with a common cold or flu, they didn’t stay home on Sunday morning. They showed up and gave a whole new definition to communion with a gift that keeps on giving. Speaking of communion, I occasionally wonder if I’ll catch something drinking the wine during Episcopal services. I’ve been told that the chalices are made of silver and thus germ proof. I’ll take their word for it, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about it every time I’ve gone up to receive the bread and wine.

I’ll get some rest soon. At least the worst is over.

First Post of the Month

I can’t believe that 2007 is almost over. A year ago, I wrote a post about not posting for a while (since August 2006). A few things were going on, especially with holding back on blogging about the workplace. I often felt like posting about the drama at the office, especially the incompetent woman I worked for. There was an incident with her that left me scarred for months after I was gone from that job. I wrote a scathing open letter half a year later to her (name withheld), which more or less pointed to what I felt about her level of professionalism. I still have a lot anger looking back on it, though returning to teaching has helped me move on from it.

I started the ShindoTV blog in May 2006, though I stopped posting regularly after August 2006. It was this month a year ago that I made a New Year’s resolution to write. It would not be until February 2007 when I started posting regularly. I’ve managed to make good on this, though Chris, Brian, and later Danny were helfpul in being part of my blog community. I can’t forget about one of my earliest blogfriends Josh and then Murphy (why did you drop out of the blogosphere, buddy?).

Fellow adjunct instructor Rob also become a part of my blog community. It’s also been fun creating and exchanging original postcards.

I have blogged about the dramas of teaching, though I tried to be careful about it. I know what’s happened to some other people, so I know I can never be too safe. Better to have a voice and pay for it than let fear silence me.

So far, I’ve had a prolific year in posts. December should be a good month. Here’s to 2007.

Mindy Shatner’s Little Sister

I think I have Mindy Shatner‘s sister in my class. Not literally, of course, but enough know the God, the Universe, or whatever, is trying to teach me a lesson that began with Mindy a few years back. I really don’t want to repeat this chapter this semester, so I’m ready to learn. Here’s how my day went.

I forgot to go over the essay rough draft requirements that are due next week (per my syllabus). One student asked me about what was needed, and I could have gotten myself out of this by pushing the date forward. I do say that the schedule is subject to change, and that language was added for anything that would push the schedule out of whack (as class schedules are bound to do). Then, this young woman rudely chimed in that the assignment was due and I hadn’t done anything to give them guidance. Perhaps her point was valid, but the way she pushed it forward was out of line.

So, I stuck to the schedule, gave them a general prompt for their narrative essay, and required them to bring five copies to class for the workshop. She interjected out of turn that she didn’t have enough printer paper for that. Well, excuse me. Go abuse the photocopier at your job. That’s what everyone else does.

Then some of the students had side conversations when a young man was trying to ask me a question (which would have benefited other people if they were listening). I asked them to quiet down a couple times before I raised my voice and said, “Excuse me!” I then calmed my voice and said, “Now that I have your attention,” and attempted to answer his question and close class.

Overall, I had a bad day. After taking some time to cool down, I went to the course’s coordinator and talked about the situation. I have until next week to get caught up. I also have this little Miss Shatner situation to deal with. Any sensible student who doesn’t like their teacher early on usually jumps to another class, but she may be here to stay because the class best fits her schedule or whatever.

If anyone truly gets out of line, I have the orange papers and the Student Affairs office number. I always hope I don’t use them.

Thanks for hearing me vent.

Open Letter to an Ex-Boss

In publicly bringing closure to this whole bad job issue from last year, I post this open letter to the lovely woman who was my boss for six months.

—— ———
The Company
K&OM Ith Avenue
Ste. LMM
San Diego, CA 92JML

Dear Ms. ———,
Towards the end of my exit interview back in January, you expressed that you hoped I wouldn’t feel any bitterness towards the Company. I must say, though, that I have nothing but good feelings and joyful thoughts towards you and the Company that you represent. My experience with the Company has been one of the most positive in my working life.

First of all, I must commend you on your ability to spend the Company’s money. Some of your choices may be extravagant, but it’s definitely for the long term good. When we moved into our new office, state of the art appliances were installed. The refrigerator and the dishwasher did not match, so in your infinite wisdom, you had a perfectly good (and brand new) dishwasher yanked out and brought in another. You showed you can accessorize for the good of the shareholders and that you can prevail over the accountant, the ultimate corporate spoilsport.

I shall always remember your dazzling interpersonal skills. There are the times where you calmly instructed me on how I should do my job. You always had something very kind to say at the proverbial drop of a hat. I will always look back upon you as someone who treated me with a great deal of humanity. One of my most indelible encounters with you was an open door meeting when you exuberantly praised me in your office for a job well done so everyone can hear. Your smile was memorable as it demonstrated to me that the Company under your leadership was a happy and safe place to work. It also showed me your friendliness and how much you really liked me.

Thank you for the invaluable experience of working for the Company. I shall recommend it as a wonderful place with plenty of growth potential, especially under your guidance.

With very warm regards,

Shinichi Evans

Some Warning Signs You’re About To Be Terminated

This article is featured today in Helium‘s front page. I wrote about it a few months ago and forgot about it. Getting fired is never fun, even when it’s in a bad job situation, but it is fair game for material. It was approximately one year and a week ago when I was hired in that awful job with that awful boss, and I’ll have to see you next Tuesday if you want my opinion on her. It was my first and only time working in an office environment. I’m allergic to cubicles, among many things, as a result.

I have only been fired from one job in my life. It was my first time working in an office environment and I was not apparently a good fit. I went from teaching to running a mail room and a lot of mistakes were made. I tried to take it in stride as I was new to the job and the stress and the mistakes were a part of it. I went through a 90 day probation period and still had my job. However, my employer was not happy. There were a few signs, especially right towards the very end.

1. Delegation of responsibilities to others. Some of my responsibilities were taken away at an early stage and given to my boss’s administrative assistant. This occurred during the 90 day probation period, so I didn’t think much of it. However, this was definitely the first sign of doubt my employer had in me.

2. Someone screaming for termination. I had to make a rush order to the printer for an event. After the printing, it needed to be mailed out by a certain deadline by an outsourced mail house, which it wasn’t. The person in charge of the event was not happy with me at all and yelled at my boss to fire me. While they did not fire me at that moment, the incident certainly lingered in the mind of my boss and reinforced earlier doubts.

3. Management withholding resources. The company recently moved to another office, where new resources were needed. A security system for doors at the office’s entrance was installed, and a coded key to be scanned at the doors was required. The accountant, who was in charge of issuing the keys, refused to issue me one, saying “There are going to be some changes and some people are going to be fired.” While my name wasn’t mentioned and he even said “It’s not a reflection on you,” his roundabout phrasing indicated I was going to get fired.

4. Being isolated by others. The receptionist was one of the most popular people at the office. Whenever a co-worker was facing termination, the receptionist was instructed to keep her distance. I became good friends with her while working at the office, but a month before I was fired, I was instructed to keep my distance from her. A roundabout reason was given that didn’t seem to fit. However, I did feel very isolated from her and the people that now formed her clique.

5. Micromanagement. When I received an e-mail from my boss asking that I send her weekly reports, I knew I was in trouble. I was never required to keep a log detailing weekly activities before and the only logs I turned in before were those that recorded mailings. My boss’s request for a weekly report indicated I was being watched. At first, she said she needed it because she was out of the office a lot, but she bluntly told me some time later she did not know what I did with my time.

6. Unexplained changes in management’s behavior. At one point, I made a mistake in photocopying a document to be mailed out, resulting in a few thousand that could not be mailed out. My boss was furious and yelled at me without inviting me to close her office door when meeting with her. She was openly hostile. The next time I reported to work, she was extremely nice to me leading up to my firing two weeks later. Essentially, management had to cover their tracks and avoid a hostile firing.

7. Unofficial warning. A few of the other signs were in place when this occurred. However, this is one that hit me over the head. The accountant, a member of the management team, pulled me aside on day and issued me an unofficial warning that “some people” were not happy with me and wanted me fired. While he was not my direct supervisor, he essentially gave me an informal performance review, which was not good. I tried to improve my job performance; however, I knew I had to shop my resume out.

8. Changing of the locks. In my case, it was the locks on my cubicle file drawers and cabinets. I saw a new lock on my desk on termination day. While this should have been obvious, this went over my head until I was fired later in the day.

These warning signs are some of the things I observed before getting canned. You may experience some of these same things, or you may have a slightly different experience.

If you’re able to get another job lined up whenever the proverbial handwriting is on the wall, do it. Jumping ship before you get fired saves you from telling your new employer why you got fired. Unemployment takes a while to process, so the new job also saves you from this hassle. Work the resume. Use all the sites and resources you can within the time you have. Don’t just quit unless you have another job to go to.

Kevin Spacey’s character in American Beauty tells off management and wittily coerces them into giving him a nice severance package, but remember this is a fantasy scenario in a movie. If you are in a meeting about your firing, handle yourself in a civil manner and ask about what kind of reference they are going to give you. Severance may be in the discussion, though that is something you would want to take to an attorney.

Read the “handwriting,” so to speak. The time you’re getting clues about getting the axe is a good time to evaluate if this is the job you want. You may have taken the job, not because it’s your passion, but for the pay. Look into what you want to do and go after it. Getting fired has a way of making people examine their career choices; however, the examination should occur earlier.

It’s A Wrap!

The summer school session at the community college is over (for me, anways)! The course load was concentrated, but so are the paychecks. There were so many early mornings where the students and I were so not awake, but we made it.

Most of my students did well. I had those few students who wrote well at the freshman level and who intelligently chimed in to the class discussions. It was nice to see one student in particular get excited about the material covered in class.

However, I am concerned about a few, especially their future as college students. All one student did was go to sleep in the back of the classroom. I don’t think he ever participated in class or showed any embarrassment when I had to wake him up in an attempt to involve him in the class discussion. Interestingly enough, he was worried about his grade towards the end. I have yet to receive a term paper from another student, despite her promise to send it to me ASAP.

I have until next Thursday to turn in grades, most of which I already have done.

I learned a few lessons this summer, much of it reinforcement from previous lessons:

  1. Never get behind. Grade those papers the day I get them. In fact, I should grade them after class or when I get home from work that day. Also, be on point with the lessons and not play catch up on lesson plans.
  2. Don’t accept late work. I am not doing this to be a meanie, but it is a nightmare to backtrack, try to look at an assignment when the class and I have moved on to something else.
  3. Take care of myself. If I manage my time right, I get my work done, get some exercise, take care of what life asks of me, and get the rest I need in order to function for all of the above.
  4. Remember that it’s only a job. I should do it well (most excellently), but no job is worth taking over my life.

Next week, I go back to the language school for a couple of weeks. I am substituting for an instructor’s advanced level course and I got to meet the students this morning. They seem like a nice bunch of students, but the instructor told me it’s difficult to get them to do homework. Each group is different. They are mine next Monday.

I also got to see some familiar faces, such as Julius (Joo Seung AKA Ju Ju) and a few others. Perhaps once again, there’ll be a picture of me diagramming sentences.

Bad Bosses

One of Chris‘s posts a few days ago got me thinking on this topic.

This is definitely one where I have to bite my tongue (or in this case, my fingers as I type). God knows I’ve had my share of bad bosses. I’ll try to be as vague as possible to protect myself and the guilty. If a member of the press asked my opinion of any of them, mentioning them by name, I would just smile and say something blandly positive.

The question is, where do these people come from? Bad bosses, like good bosses, come from all sorts of places. They may have worked their way out of the rank and file, gone to management school, come into a job with a degree, come into their respective positions with a sparkling resume, or even received an election or an appointment to lord over you. Given that, the Peter Principle is in effect.

Or, the Peter Principle doesn’t apply. They didn’t get plucked out of the crowd of laborers and they got into their job because they were highly qualified. They looked great on paper. However, they turned out to be psychopaths.

“Do as I say, not as I do” is their maxim. They can be grossly incompetent, but heaven forbid you following their lead. One boss I had never read the reports I gave her, but misinformed the accountant about being caught up (when my report showed evidence to the contrary). Also, she seemed incapable of hiring someone properly qualified to do my job, as several previous people proved to be unsatisfactory. I wonder if this has changed at all, but I’m no longer there to lose sleep over it or her for that matter.

Bad bosses are often verbally abusive. Another boss (years ago) was high strung and yelled at everyone. One time, I did not meet the dress code and I was upbraided not just once, but twice. He screamed at me about how unprofessional I was. Needless to say, when he got a heart attack, no one was sorry it happened. He came back, not changed by the experience and continued in his assholiness.

An employee’s personal boundaries are often ignored by bad bosses. While this boss may have been the most highly educated than the other examples, he proved to be just as charming. He called me at home at 10:30pm to get on my case about how I did not do a task according to procedure. After having him rant and holler in my ear, I hung up. The phone rang again, but I didn’t answer it. When I left that job, I was inspired to get caller ID for my landline.*

The lesson learned from of having my worklife punctuated by bad bosses? Definitely know what my rights are concerning them. Perhaps the most fitting way to deal with them is to walk away, leaving them mired in unfinished projects. However, that’s bad karma for the employee. Talk to their bosses, talk to HR, hold a tape recorder in front of them during meetings, or get an attorney. Maybe all of the above are necessary actions. I know I never have to put with it again.

*Before I had a mobile phone. In an era of mobile phones, I wonder about the wisdom of giving your boss your number. Better to call them than to have them call you.