Observatio​ns, Conclusion​s, and BUTTMUNCHE​RY

The following occurred between my boss and myself yesterday:

“Hey, boss, you have a few weeks free if you want to go visit your family. I know how much you miss them,” I say, glancing at his calendar. 

“Elise, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something. You see, I’m a science kind of guy. And science is all about observations and conclusions. Do you know the difference between observations and conclusions? I’ll let you think about it. Do you have them in your mind now? You know the difference? No, I don’t think you actually do. And I’ll tell you why. I hear you say things like this all the time: ‘You’re free on such and such a date.’ How the heck do you know I’m free on that date? Because you looked at my calendar? Not everything I do with my day is on the calendar. So your statement would be a conclusion. What’s the observation you should have made?”

He looks at me expectantly. He waits for my answer. He actually wants me to say it out loud? I answer stiffly, “That you do not have any appointments on that date?”

“Very good! That’s the observation. You should try to speak in observations more often. I thought this would be helpful to you.”

I nod. I assemble what I hope looks like a grateful smile and slap it onto my face. I say, “Thank you, sir. I will try to make that improvement.”

He nods. He smiles beneficently. He goes on his merry way. Emotional destruction is the only sign he has been here.

Scissors, people. SCISSORS!

Okay, so the man has a Masters in Biology. He taught remedial Biology to disinterested teenagers for about four years. About forty years ago. But don’t be fooled into thinking that he has worked in any kind of science related field for several decades. Unless you count attending a two day conference once a year that has an hour long class titled “Renewable Energy in Business” as science. I, personally, do not. 

So instead of “I’m a science kind of guy,” I heard “I’m a ‘science’ kind of guy.” I even added imaginary air quotes as he was speaking. Plus, “science guy” made me want to hum the Bill Nye the Science Guy theme song. Now, a day later, I’m replaying it with him saying, “I’m a schmience guy!” with jazz hands. The brain has amazing coping mechanisms, no? Anyway, let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that his “science” background is the most important part of his professional experience and directly pertains to my occupation (not really and, uh, not at all).

Let’s also set aside the fact that my main job is NOT the maintenance of his schedule. Sure, I put things on it sometimes, as the situation warrants. And I often get accused of not doing my job when I have changed the schedule on my computer and his iPhone (which is the very first version they ever sold with no updates) hasn’t updated yet. Yes, Boss: When I say I changed it, but you can’t see it, I MUST be lying. It couldn’t possibly be that you are 1000 miles away, in a different time zone, and using outdated technology. Nope. I’m a lazy incompetent liar. So, pretend with me, if you will, that my only task, my one reason for living and breathing and accepting a paycheck, is to create tiny colored boxes in Microsoft Outlook. 

With all of this pretending, we’re going to need some dress-up clothing and a tea set. But we’re a low-budget operation around here, so tough bananas. Just solidify in your mind that my boss is the KING OF SCIENCE and that I am CALENDER GIRL. No wait… Not that kind of calendar. Let’s try this again: My boss is the KING OF SCIENCE and I am the SLAVE OF THE SCHEDULE! Much better. Have we all “got this in our minds”? Good. 

Now, being the King of Science comes with a lot of weighty responsibilities, I’m sure. The golden safety goggles, the Armani smock, and the fur-lined rubber gloves must become tiresome. And I’m sure the throne (made of beakers and test tubes), must be a little uncomfortable at times. Thank God being King comes with so many privileges—he gets to christen new Bunsen Burners with bottles of hydrochloric acid (this sounds like a really bad idea…) and there’s that whole “naming new elements” thing he’s got going for him. 

And I know being the lowly Slave of the Schedule obviously means I do not have a mind of my own and that I must be kept in line (for my own good, you know). I can’t possibly understand these things he calls “science” so he needs to speak very slowly, repeat himself often, only use words made of five letters or less, and ask for my participation so that it sticks. He’s so magnanimous and patient and benevolent. I am eternally grateful. Uh… Not. 

So I ask you, while you’re still wearing your pretending hats (which are pretend in and of themselves because low-budget, remember?), is this any KIND of appropriate way to speak to one’s employees schedule slaves? Personally, I wouldn’t speak to a child this way, even if the child did, in fact, NOT KNOW the difference between observations and conclusions. Then again, I have never been in charge of managing people. And I don’t have a degree in “science” either. So what the hell do I know, anyway?


But in the interest of…needing to post something this week, I thought I would share my rage with you all. You see, it’s a golden opportunity. Because it doesn’t give away specifics about my industry and is a perfect example of what I have been dealing with EVERY. DAY. FOR. TWO. MONTHS. 

Okay, let’s face it. He’s been saying crap like this since I started working here a year ago. But it was less frequent and less… less ridiculous, I guess, back then. Or maybe I handled it better back then. Who knows? This summer, I swear he’s kicked it into overdrive. I wonder if he wants to fire me, but he doesn’t have the stones (or the cause), so he’s pushing me to quit and save him the trouble. Then I wonder how this kind of BUTTMUNCHERY could possibly be part of a COORDINATED EFFORT. Because please! This man has trouble remembering the names of the TWO PEOPLE who work for him. TWO! PEOPLE! I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have the brain capacity for evil plans right now. 

I’m sorry. I think that was a conclusion.

As you can tell, people, I need your help. Please tell me about your work-related buttmunchery.  Fast. Because I need to laugh at your pain share in the human experience that makes up the Internet. Tell me your bad boss stories. Tell me your incompetent coworker stories. Tell me your they-don’t-pay-me-enough-to-put-up-with-this-crap job stories. Tell me your CONCLUSIONS, dammit!

And then tell me it’s okay to quit my job. Because I just might do it anyway. But the approval of the Internet would make me feel better.


  1. I wish I had a story to share, but I can offer a tiny bit of advice...punch him in the liver as soon as you do not need this job.

  2. My boss is the type of person who tells you to do something or says that from now on we will do something "this way" and then changes her mind but doesn't tell me. She will expect things to be done a certain way and if they aren't it's your fault even though you weren't told the certain way to do it. If you don't do a task correctly she will forever take it away and do it herself instead. In spite of that she is a nice person socially, just a hard person to be managed by.

    My strategy is usually to just let her talk and then get annoyed about it in my head. However recently I've done a few courses that included looking at personality types and how that makes people think and act differently to me. It definitly helps to know it's not really me, she just has that type of personality and it's strange to me because my personality is different. I'm slowly changing the way I talk to her to be more in line with her personality, that way I know at least she understands what I'm saying, and I can filter what she says me so that I don't take anything personally.

    Hope my experience helps.

  3. Worked with someone who pretended to want to collaborate on projects (since we were assigned to do so), and who would be all nice-y nice in meetings. Then after the meetings when the follow-up was supposed to happen, he did NOTHING, let me do a lot of the work, kindly "corrected" my work (although hi corrections were then corrected by a higher up), and then took all of the credit for successful projects...and, of course, threw me under the bus when anything didn't go quite right.

    I feel your pain.

    It's OK to quit your job.

    My philosophy these days...I only have one life to live. Just this one go around. And I'll spend more time at my job than I will doing just about anything else so having a job that I loathe is...ummm...not acceptable.

    Hope you find something that will pay your bills and be somewhat more...satisfying and less rage inducing...

  4. Sarah Pearson8/23/11, 6:07 PM

    If I had a job, I'd console you with some terrible stories but I don't, so I can't. On the plus side, although I'm unemployed, I'm happy. Very very poor but happy. I'm only looking for a job so I can go back to buying books. I guess that means I think it's okay to quit your job ;-)

  5. Nice. I don't have a work story to share, unless I can count the idiotic things my husband and kids do. But I do want to say that this sort of thing would be PERFECT for the Fantasy Eff Off Friday meme I intend to start!

    Oh and yes, you have my permission to quite anytime you want!

  6. Go go go! Quit!! Or stab him in the face! Or both! I strongly recommend both. The other day my boss told me he wants to anticipate every question a particular committee of ours will ask at an upcoming meeting so that I have an answer for them. Awesome. I didn't realize my job description included mind reader.

  7. I have awarded you with "The Versatile Blogger Award"!! http://everydaymie.blogspot.com/2011/08/versatile-blogger-award.html

  8. I worked in a school with a kid who had behavioural problems. The counsellor and I would talk about the kids, and she'd make some vague comment about something we should maybe do to help this kid out, or a way to encourage him. I do mean vague, by the way, totally unspecific. I had no resources except what I could get through the counsellor or the teacher I worked with either. So she'd come up to me days later and ask me where I was at on this new project. What new project? The vague thing we sort of loosely discussed the other day where we came to no real conclusion or plan or set up any kind of resource? Yeah that. No, I haven't gotten anywhere on that. I wonder why?

    On your situation : the boss is being a sanctimonious dick, but unfortunately there's no legal recourse for your boss being a douchebag. All you can do is find a new one. And go for it.

  9. Do you know how often I find myself mentally chanting, "You can't hit an old man. You can't hit an old man. You can't hit an old man!"? Because it is more often than I care to admit. Punching his liver would be satisfying. Until it killed him. Then I would just feel bad. Which kind of defeats the purpose...

  10. Oh my word! You just described both Crazy Boss Lady and my current employer. Except for the whole "...she is a nice person socially..." thing. Because no. Just. No. But the whole changing expectations with no warning thing? Yes! I don't know what her reaction is when she realizes you've done it "wrong," but my usual experience is unending rage and grudges. I hope you have it a little better than that.

    And I'm not going to say you have it easy. Because your situation sucks. It's frustrating and annoying and ridiculous. But it IS good that you have found some ways to cope. I'm glad you've been able to use these solutions. I need to work on the whole "not taking it personally" thing...

  11. Uggh! The Do-Nothing-Know-It-All Coworker (yes, I've named several of the recurring personality types). We have all seen him. We have not all experienced the bus-throwing. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I will never understand people like that, not just because they're mean, but because they have to be found out eventually, right? I mean, SOMEONE has to see their incompetence, right? I need to believe this is how the world works.

    And I LOVE your philosophy! That sounds like the things I have been thinking but couldn't fit into one sentence. I wish I could make that happen today, but I'm going to have to bide my time. Not bide it in an evil way, though. As much as I wish... scissors...

  12. I was unemployed for five months last summer. It was hard to have no money (I was living off my rapidly dwindling savings), but it was SO NICE to free for a while. Not just the whole, I can get up when I want and go where I want and do what I want thing, but the idea that I didn't have a crazy person monitoring and judging my every move. If I didn't need my barely replenished savings account to do other things, I would totally do it again.

  13. HA! Thanks, Jen! You permission means a lot. And you can totally count your husband and kids as bosses/coworkers/jobs. Because that's probably the HARDEST job of all.

    Umm... Is it wrong that yours is the only job I actually want? Because I would quit today and never enter an office or collect a paycheck again if I could do what you do.

  14. I had no idea you were clairvoyant! Awesome!! So you can totally see the alligator apocalypse coming from a mile away. OH MY GOSH! I just realized the implication of this on our unicorn hunt! Why have we NOT found it yet??? You are falling down on the job, SG!

  15. Yes! This! Bosses who don't ever tell you what they want and make it seem unimportant and then suddenly it is the MOST! IMPORTANT! THING! EVER! Yes. I have been there. I am so sorry you have, too.

    On the bright side, this is the kind of occasional swearing I can totally get behind! ;)

  16. Even worse? A friend works for a company doing research and statistics. While doing a project for a client, they told him to modify the data responses. Basically, they told him to lie. If this was for say, bubble gum or something, sure, who cares of 70% of people like the green colour or not? But this was for a company producing medical products. When people say they don't like your product or company, you change the product or the way your company works, not the statistical data. I mean, if you were making say, cookies, and your research says that 65% of people don't like raisins, logically, you start making cookies without raisins. Changing that to say 65% of people LOVE raisins isn't going to suddenly make people like raisins. It would still be unconscionable to change the data, but to do so for a company that makes products that affect people's lives and health? That's downright awful. If I were in his position, I would have refused to do it, and quit if I had to, but I'm all full of silly morals and principles and that kind of thing.

  17. How is it possible that you have yet to break a beaker on the desk and stab him with it?

  18. Huh. Those silly morals and principles totally get in the way of the REAL work, don't you know? I think the same way you do. One caveat: I've recently realized how hard it is to put those in practice and how easy it is to let those opportunities slip by when you're IN THE MIDDLE of a mess you didn't create. But it's still the right thing to do and so you do it. I wish more people thought like you.

  19. It is only because I don't work in a lab and have no access to beakers that this kind of behavior has not occured.

    Plus, I keep hiding my scissors from myself and then I chant "You cannot hit an old guy, you cannot hit an old guy..."

  20. Elise, I had to chuckle at this post because a minute ago, I was evaluating whether or not to see the film "Horrible Bosses." hee hee! I'm with Nature Girl, as soon as you have something better, tell him where he can stick his observations!

  21. Kim at Let Me Start By Saying8/24/11, 5:16 PM

    Can you get your hands on a sock filled with manure?

  22. metacognitivethoughts8/26/11, 6:06 AM

    I have a coworker that I call the Troll. Possibly because she is short and round and lives under a bridge or might break into my school bathroom and bludgen me to death.
    I was given a promotion at work January of 2010. I am the youngest person working in that department by fifteen years of experince. But I was choosen for that department, because I had several of the gold star qualifications, and many of my upper management wanted me there. So I started my training and eventually Troll Co-worker was the one doing the majority of training with me. Every question that I asked was answered with as few words as possible. Or with the wrong answer because she didn't want to me to be better at the job than she was.
    During the training process she did something wrong, and I tried to point it out to her, get her to fix/change it, to explain to me why she did it that way. She completly ignored me. And then proceeded to yell at me because I had 100% screwed it up in a way that couldn't be fixed (not true).
    After training we still worked in the same office but at opposite shifts, so she would be there when I wasn't and I would be there when she wasn't, except I was there a lot more than she was and she became my back-up person, instead of me being her back-up person. Basically I was the person that managment wanted there most of the time, and she worked there when I didn't work.
    One time she told a customer that I was stupid and didn't know what I was doing and if I had just called a manager they could have fixed it. (No they couldn't have.) She constantly tries to prevent me from taking vacations and special weekends off, by asking for the same time off. She repeatedly looks at the scheduling book, finds my name and then tries to uses any excuse to ask for the same time off. Because she has senority over me she is supposed to get first priority for time off.
    She has terrible customer service skills and has damaged several of the customer relations I have built by being rude,or angry at them. And she also treats our fellow coworkers the same way and doesn't understand why nobody wants to work with her.
    Okay rant over.
    Quit your job if it's possible. If you have the ability to use passive agressive manupulitive methods without consequences I would throughly encourage you to do so, if simply because it might make you feel like you are doing something. Use up all of your Vacation/Sick leave at the most random, not-helpful times. Bring in baked goods, there are few people that think baked goods are terrible inapporpriate things.

  23. Good luck with the time biding and your job hunt (and I hope that you are indeed looking for a new job...)

    No scissors...

    No hitting old men...even if they are pompous jackasses...


    Okay, whining out of my system. I am currently looking. I am searching. Turning over rocks and leaves and digging through caves. And biding A LOT of time. Thanks for the support. You guys are awesome!!

  25. Umm... Yes? I will need further instructions, though. But I must say, I'm intrigued! ;)

  26. You should read the book "Quitter" by Jon Acuff. I think you'll like it (: