Regular readers of this blog (good one!) know the extent to which I’ve relied on workplace-generated bad feelings as a source of cartooning motivation and material. Bad bosses, idiot coworkers, office pet peeves, blah blah blah. As I was drawing this one—and I’ve been composing it in my head for two weeks now—it occurred to me that this is one of the few (perhaps the only) work-related cartoons I’ve drawn that is motivated solely by positive feelings. Well, sort of positive.
Barb, my kind-of boss, resigned. It was a bit of a gut punch. I’m usually pretty good at reading subtle vibrations about these kind of things, but I had no idea she was looking to leave (beyond the level of looking-to-leave that pervades my current workplace, I mean). It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Barb is responsible for founding my company. And it’s an outright laughable understatement to say that she’ll be hard to replace, from both a professional and a cultural standpoint.
I say Barb is my “kind-of” boss because I think our current workplace is supposed to have what HR people and business consultants (and God knows how much I try to emulate them) call a “flat organization.” I think that’s supposed to mean that no one has any title or rank, and that the workplace is therefore an egalitarian paradise. Or something. The point is that Barb wasn’t my on-paper, org chart “boss.” Or maybe she was (it’s only been four years, so we haven’t had time to iron out some of these subtle points). Anyway, Barb is the kind of person one tends to look up to, draw inspiration from, and follow the lead of regardless of what her title is. In my professional experience, this puts her in extremely limited company.
Barb was my boss at Curatio, and the scene depicted here (with some quasi-artistic license) was pretty typical of her management style with me (ie, not a micromanager, in case that didn’t come through). Twenty-plus years into my career (such as it is), it was still pretty novel to have a boss who actually trusted and looked after my interests to such an extent. The story I like to tell is that when Curatio was “wound down” (that’s corporate-speak for “shuttered,” by the way), Barb and I were both among the layoffs. Faced with unemployment, Barb’s first actions included…putting two good(ish) job opportunities in front of me. THAT is a captain who sees to the well-being of her troops!
We didn’t socialize all that much outside of work, which is my loss. I always thought (and said on multiple occasions) that I’d always sensed that Barb was someone I would have wanted as a friend regardless of what setting I met her in.
As someone who wears his feelings on his sleeve way more that I would like, I’m pretty cowardly about expressing some feelings. For instance, rather than SAY a lot of this stuff to Barb, I’m going to put it down in my blog—where it is certain that NOBODY will see it (not really: I am going to point Barb to it when we meet for lunch today).
One final question: Barb, did you ever watch “Columbo?” If so, do you remember one of his most consistent habits (aside from the cigar and the dumpy raincoat, I mean)?