AN EMPTY VESSEL

I’ve been meaning to write this earlier but I have to be honest, I struggled — not due to matters of confidentiality, but of anger, frustration, a truckload of hate, and a loss for words.

I spoke of my decision to resign and join a different company altogether at my work performance review just two week ago, and was empathetically advised by both my superiors that I would have to prepare myself for all sorts of office politics imaginable that I would face in a huge corporation as the one I was going to, and that it will be nothing like my current workplace — petite and sans the politics.

This April will officially mark my seven years of service right here. I have been witness to many that have come and gone, and more than that have asked what kept me for seven years. For those who have read my earlier posts — this and this, you might have inevitably deduced that my work place is a hellhole. No, it isn’t, really. Like all other legit, registered companies, we serve a purpose. And for six years of my life, I have set out with our team to realise that purpose. In fact, most of us give our 250% to meet the unwritten expectations of our superiors. But for the last leg of it, I started to realise that loving what I did didn’t necessarily and automatically mean that it would make me happy.

I loved what I was doing, but by the end of my sixth year, the good people that contributed to it have mostly, if not all, left and moved on to greater things. I felt like I was in a rut. My ex-colleagues were out there building their lives with bricks that were less decorated, less glamorous, less jet setting, and less luxurious, but they were all nonetheless so much happier. It struck me that that was the sense of greatness I was searching for within the things that I have been doing all these years but never found. It made me re-evaluate my life only to realise the sad reality that in place of greatness, I was hoarding gossips, lies, self-centredness, pride, and a love for the things that never ever once mattered to me. It broke me when I realised these things defined me more than I’d wish to admit.

So in 2014, I set out to weed my life of things that didn’t add to it — this career included.

You see Superior 1, you’ve been a generous boss, but it stops there. What I’ve been trying to make you understand is that the many who work for you are not hard up for your generosity. All the extras are well, extras. Instead, buck up. Be a good paymaster. Don’t deny them what they are truly worth, and don’t delay your payments. Everyone’s got their bills to pay, and mouths to be fed, and whether it concerns you to say the least, they deserve the wage they’ve put in the work for.

Over the course of the seven years that I’ve toiled for you and your company, I can safely say that you don’t know what it truly means to appreciate another human being. You’ve always spoken highly of yourself — of your perfect sense of ‘friend-conscience’, your travels that have taken you to so many places and seen so many cultures, your intellectual affluence, your selflessness for animals and the helpless people around, your certifications, acknowledgments, titles and rewards garnered from your studies and courses, and of the many consulting job opportunities you were offered by “tons of clients who desperately need you to rescue their dying publications.” You are undeniably good at what you do. But if I may say, even with all that travelling, all that certifications and titles that are supposed to set the educated apart from the less discerning ones, you are by far, the most uneducated person I have known. You lack everything that makes a human, human — conscience. You have none, and yet you sleep well at night. I am genuinely flabbergasted.

I remember my early days working with you. When a client cancelled her subscription to our design services, she spoke to me separately and requested that I continued to write for her simply because she liked what I did for her. Out of respect and courtesy, I spoke to you about it and you told me to go ahead with it because you always want to allow your staff the opportunity to grow. Two days after, you sat me down and told me to be cautious of this client simply because you heard from the grapevine that she had mentioned to some of your mutual friends that I had begged for the writing job she actually offered me. I slept on it for over a week, and I soon realised it all didn’t make much sense. I was merely a copywriter to her. In fact, what I was writing for her didn’t and wouldn’t actually incredibly make or break her business in any way. What I did for her was just a means of perfecting what was already in place. I thought to myself that she had nothing to gain by having me as her copywriter — aside from perfect grammar and a spell check. But you had everything to gain if I did eventually reject the job and look up to you as my ‘saviour’.

That was when I first made up my mind to question to death everything that you would tell me, which proved itself as one of my life’s most valuable decision.

My heart goes out to one of our ex-designers. In my opinion, she was the bravest amongst us all. She decided early on that she wanted out, and went on ahead of us to experience her exit; one that she never knew would cripple her for a good two months, and scar her for life. You see Superior 1, none of us were prepared for what ensued along with her exit. And if there were anyone who was the least prepared, that would have been her. We all knew she looked up to you, to your success and your stature. She wanted to do good works because your approval of it would make her feel good about her talents — all of which are good things. But instead of building her and egging her on, you tore her down and stripped her of every bit of dignity she had when she spoke of resigning. Instead of wishing her well with her future endeavours, you chose to speak ill of her and word quickly spread like a plague of death. Instead of celebrating her ambitiousness, you chose to ostracize and pick on her for actually making a decision that was beneficial to her self-growth. Instead of making her believe that her respect for you was worth it, you chose to be the ugliest, most dishonourable figure of what a superior, let alone a human, could ever be. I know you don’t need our respect in any way, but as a person of such a high stature, it baffles me as to why you’d stoop so low just to make a person’s life a living hell.

Months, and even years after her leaving, you still had a way to bring her name up in conversations, to maim whatever was left of her reputation that wasn’t already destroyed. She had a passion for fashion and publications, but you made sure she had nowhere to go by pulling all your strings and telling them the nastiest, most untrue stories about her so that they wouldn’t hire her. All these made you feel good. It fed your ego. It validated the lies you made about her. It felt like the right thing to do, for you.

And through it all, it wasn’t as if I was without fault. I was there the entire time all of these happened. I watched as she burnt down, and you rose to be very pleased and contented with the path of emotional devastation you set her on. I, just like everyone else, knew better that there was nothing that could be done to make things better, so I turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to stay out of things. Guilty — and all of these followed me for the next few years, right up until when I decided to embark on a search for something greater, a year ago.

I wasn’t pinched for this new job I would soon go to, as you and Superior 2 think is the case. If you would take time to read this, you would at least realise that I was not enjoying my work as much in May of 2014. In actual fact, the dissatisfaction dates back even earlier, just sans the written documentation of it until the month of May. I wasn’t particularly looking to job hop, but I was very open to that possibility. However, what I was keener for was to take on bigger, better, and more portfolio-worthy jobs that didn’t just seem like stuff you didn’t want to pay someone else to do. But those things never happened. Instead, I had an ad-selling quota to fulfil. When your designers underperformed and I went the extra mile to stand in the gap with whatever design skills I had, you said I was wasting my time. You didn’t even give me the opportunity to explore this part of the job just because you thought this wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. Did you know that seven years into the job have robbed me of what I initially loved about it — styling, coordinating and executing photoshoots? You made me a glamorous Project Editor by profession, but I could never answer when someone asked what was it really that I did for a living.

I write copy, proofread the exact shit I write, check designs, sell ads, prepare invoices, chase clients for paymentI guess?

In place of shoots, I got the accounts to worry about it. I mean, what Project Editor does billings and chase payments?

But it’s been seven years I’ve toiled and laboured for you and this company, and I’ve never made a peep about these ridiculous tasks. But on January 30 2015, you didn’t just give me one, but too many reasons in fact, to never see you in the same light ever again. When I witnessed the extent of wickedness you had inside you when our ex-designer left, I couldn’t say I didn’t already have an idea of what would hit me when I decide to leave. But I was naïve enough to think it would be different because I played all my cards of employee loyalty while I worked for you, and I thought it was enough. I couldn’t be more wrong. As I write this, I am but barely surviving all the hostility and nasty chatter that have overtaken me, thanks to you (and the existence of Whatsapp chat rooms, unfortunately). As I write this, I am in that phase of fighting against every thing you are, and everything that you have intentionally set in my path to break me as I serve my two months of notice. As I write this, I find myself desperately coveting the prayers of people I never thought I would need prayer from. But above all, as I write this, I realise you are everything that I do not want to ever become.

Superior 1, this is you — vile, malicious, intemperate, proud, deceitful, hypocritical, short sighted, and unjust. And sometimes, people can see how bad you try to be like Superior 2, who has earned for herself honest respect and regard, but try as you may, you will never be like her. Don’t crave the kind of employer-employee relationship that Superior 2 keeps even after her employees have left, because you don’t deserve them, and you don’t know how to appreciate them anyway. The only thing that you have superseded Superior 2 at is being a foul blabbermouth.

I remember the time you asked me to tell you three things you could work on to be a better boss. I know, sounds almost unbelievable that a person like you would ask me this, right? Anyway, I recall telling you that you should channel your generosity to those who deserve it. I told you that you also needed to correct those who need correction, and learn to give praise where it is due too. That was the only one I seem to care to remember, but my point is, it’s so typical of you to ask for an opinion but never actually taking time to sleep on it. As a person who is so short sighted to refuse correction, how do you even bring yourself to think yourself fit as a role model to your team?

I can say without a doubt that you are neither a leader, nor a mentor. You are an empty vessel.

Someone asked me if I ever feared getting into trouble should you chance upon my blog. I think I do. I think that fear is inevitable, but secretly, I kind of hope you’d actually come to reading this. You’d probably serve me a lawyer’s letter like you did this other ex-designer of ours, and I’ll probably take it down. We all know the drill.

You are only as good as your team, Superior 1. To you, everyone is dispensable. And unfortunately for me, it took me seven years — too long, in fact — to realise that you are just as dispensable. I have lost all respect for you as a person. Frankly, I am just short of wishing the worst things to befall you, only because that would be me, stooping to your unscrupulous ways. Instead, I thank you for showing me the person that I don’t want to become. Thank you for being the asshole that I never knew existed, and reminding me never to judge a book by its cover. Thank you for putting me through all this drama. I choose to think you are doing me a favour and toughening me up for the office politics I was told of to exist only in larger corporations like the one I’m off to. It’s really funny how you’d think your company is without politics when you are the only reason it actually exists though.

If there were one thing you were right about when we spoke at my review, it would be that the new corporation I’d soon be part of would be nothing like my current workplace.

Thank God.

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