At the risk of revealing my true identity and pure madness, here’s a recap of what the hell has been going on work-wise….PS….I’m going to try and make it short and snappy, but if you read this blog in its honeymoon months, you know I have trouble with keeping things brief 🙂
In December 2008, I started working for a small plant company that was owned by a loon. (I didn’t realize he was a loon at the time of course.) He brought me on as an office manager. The title he gave me was Business Development & Project Manager. He essentially wanted me to be a great number of things – totally understandable when you work for a small company. With a tiny little salary and no benefits, I got to work. His enthusiasm was contagious and he really did have me thinking that we were going to to great things. He had owned the company for 30+ years and told me dozens of nightmare stories about people who had come and gone and “screwed him over.” You’d think that would have been a warning, but it wasn’t. Sure enough, I soon realized the office was a mess, the client files were puzzling with huge gaps in the record-keeping, and he needed some help bringing everything into the 21st century. So away I went, cleaning up house. While I did that, early in 2009, I launched his contracting company. This was a highly specialized type of contracting, and we were essentially the only ones in California focusing on it. (I won’t say what it is, because you’ll find the site immediately. Plus there’s going to be a lot of material here. So I won’t call the owner out personally.) Any knowledgeable resources I had were limited and although very helpful, were all on the east coast and were busy plugging away in their own companies. The owner? No, he was nowhere near being a resource.
The owner could tell I was sharp, and soon, I essentially starting running the new contracting arm. Mind you, this was a full-time position, absorbed into my already full-time position. Thanks for the opportunity boss, but I not only managed these things without anyone to help me, I did every piece of grunt work entirely on my own, too. It’s like I was my own assistant, manager, engineer, contractor, encyclopedia and google searcher extraordinaire. The owner helped ZILCHO and didn’t even know basic things about the specialty trade, or contracting in general. He also started the company with zero investment, which meant that not only did he get lucky that his “office manager” was willing to dive headfirst into a field she knew nothing about and do pretty damn well in it, but that he was lucky that said “office manager” was slightly too naive to realize, “wait a second, don’t we need a consultant or something to help us figure out how to be a contractor? And maybe some software or something with templates for basic submittals and other documents, so that I don’t have to make it up as I go and we don’t look like completely idiots? Or maybe you could send me to ONE training course – just to learn some basics about the process.”
A list that includes (but is not limited to) all the things I did:
– taught myself and the owner how to be a subcontractor, along with all the rules and regulations that go along with it
– met with potential clients including designers and architects to explain what we did and teach them how to build it into their projects
– estimated projects
– built relationships with suppliers and created a library of samples that included soils, geotextiles, lumber, etc
– designed the systems we installed (and their subsystems)
– purchased all products
– performed the training for installation
– did all the research to complete the job
– created drawings like basic schematic plans using bull crap software like microsoft office (which in and of itself is NOT bull crap, but does not measure up when creating construction documents for goodness sakes)
– researched and implemented industry standards (an industry which was CONSTANTLY changing with new technology and people eager to “cash in”)
– figure out the many systems along the way, trying to test them out before we installed them so I knew what the hell I was talking about
– coerced nice industry experts to essentially volunteer their time because they felt bad for me knowing that my boss was no help whatsoever (this they found out for themselves for the most part – it did not really take any conceiving on my part)
– handled all the budgeting and most of the accounting (although I managed to hire an AWESOME bookkeeper for the company that, with a little bit of legwork from me, was able to take over my estimate and reconcile all the receipts I coded for him)
– created all the schedules for the projects, including templates to keep track of them
– created all of our templates and contracts, including all the legal terms and small print at the end, because you know, I’m also an attorney
MARKETING & BIZ DEV.
– redid the original company’s website while building the second (I hired web developers but created all content and images and worked with them on the layout – everything short of writing the code.) However, I did have them make a CMS website that allowed us to save money and keep any changes to content internal. READ: I did something so we could save money but instead I had to make all the web updates, too)
– rebuilt our brand and with very little knowledge of photoshop, created a logo that brought both companies together, then created stationary for both companies so our brand was communicated properly to EVERYONE
– created every piece of marketing collateral (brochures, flyers, ads, handouts, articles, newsletters, etc)
– launched and managed social marketing efforts (facebook, linkedin, twitter, blog)
ADMIN & MANAGEMENT
-created coding for the sales department and an electronic filing system for all of our existing, new and potential clients
– wrote and implemented policies and procedures for admin, bookkeeping, sales, owner, general employees, etc
– used my tech savvy to save THOUSANDS annually in outsourced IT services, and even developed such a good relationship with the outsourced IT, that they started teaching me how to do some of the things I called them about for free, because they knew I always had zero budget, has lots of stuff that needed to be done, and the owner never thought to ask whether people knew how to use a computer when their job involved using a computer regularly
– managed benefits and all HR (yuck i think this part was the worst!)
– researched and green lighted all major purchases (equipment, software, etc)
-babysat the owner and pretty much everyone because his stellar hiring practices resulted in many a “gem” of an employee. With exception to a FEW people, I swear I thought we were a breeding ground for degenerates, drug abusers and just flat out stupid-ass people with ZERO common sense. I’m not saying I’m the brightest crayon in the box, but use your common sense people. Use it often. I beg you!
– handled all insurance requirements (renewals, certificates, compliance, etc) even looking at different policies and comparing costs to what we needed (um shouldnt the owner be REALLY involved in THAT PART at least? after a while, I just told the broker to call him directly. No way was i going to worry about the company’s insurance, too.)
– redid all of our agreements and contracts and also digested and executed the 20+ page contracts with which our our bigger clients trumped our tiny little contracts
– handled all events, developing protocol, planning the event and preparing for the day; handled PR internally and with a contract agency
– the owner loved to promise people things “tomorrow” when he knew very well that some items had lead times of weeks. Most of the time he did this because the client was cute (see below for details on why that mattered) or because he was enamored with the title on their business card. So there was a GREAT DEAL of last minute scrambling to redo every schedule that I meticulously had in place, and beg vendors to send me stuff asap for free so we wouldn’t look bad.
– the owner had several things on the property that did not meet local building codes, so I managed that process and got several things up to code until I realized he had spun a web so deep that even the code compliance people had thrown their hands up. He also forced me to use my contacts from my previous career, which at this point, I was leery about because I was starting to see how he operated. Doing so, I believe, hurt me professionally a wee bit.
– anytime he had to do something to get a job done (and we only dared allow him to do VERY SMALL THINGS), he wouldn’t come through, so each week we scrambled to redo the schedule to fit in an errand he wanted to do personally, into his hoe schedule (see below for details on this last part)
– he’d always force us to call people and get stuff for free. Usually it was like, “hey, you know that new client you got last week? See if you can get me a free ticket plus one for whatever whatever that is coming up next week there. And see if they know anyone to hook me up with a hotel room in the area, too. A nice one. Not anything overlooking the courtyard.”
PERHAPS MOST DISGUSTING OF ALL!
The owner was a major man-slut. (Like one girl in the morning and another in the evening kind of man-slut.) And he was middle-aged and not at all good-looking. I think it’s because he gave the air of “I’m successful.” But really, none of these poor women knew the absolute mess his company was in and that if it wasn’t for me and the other manager, he’d nose-dive the company to the ground. (That last sentence was actually told to me by several other people who had gotten a glimpse of the inner workings of the company.) So he would share almost everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. It got so bad that I couldn’t even be nice about it and I would just have to walk away or pretend he didn’t say anything at all when he started with something like: “so I was out with this gal the other night, and she did this thing that was so amazing. She took her….and then my…” (HELLO?! WTF???)
Also, he thought it was funny to take shits in the bathroom up front and let the smell waft through the office (even though we had a rule that everyone shits in the bathroom in the warehouse because the bathrooms up front had no ventilation). My office, which was off the hallway where the bathroom was, would get the brunt of it. It had two doors, but no windows, and the stench would circle its way in there and just swirl. I know. Disgusting.
He also thought it was funny to never wash his hands when he went to the bathroom, and then come and stick his hand in your bag of chips, or blueberries or touch all the papers and binders on your desk. He outwardly liked to torture me this way because he knew how gross I found it.
(PLEASE NOTE, THIS LIST IS SUBJECT TO BE ADDED TO, AS I SIMPLY CANNOT REMEMBER EVERYTHING, NOR DO I FEEL LIKE DOING SO BECAUSE AS YOU CAN SEE, THIS EFFING LIST IS EFFING EXTENSIVE, AND AT THIS POINT, I THINK YOU HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA OF WHAT A COMPLETE CREEP THIS GUY IS.)
Okay, so I learned a lot. And that’s what kept me doing this for almost three years. Unfortunately, I also learned that my midnight panic attacks were not gone. They were just lying dormant, waiting for me to be totally loyal to some asshole that treated me so badly, that they were forced to rear their ugly heads and totally freak out my new hubby : (
In July, amidst securing several small projects, finishing up a high-profile one out of town, and gearing up for another shortly, I landed a HUGE project – one that would pretty much put us on the map. And then all of a sudden, there was me, with no trained crew, and a university project (prevailing wage with fiery hoops to jump through and all), a general contractor, an architect, a landscape architect and an artist who all thought I had lots of experience and worked for a company that was well-established, with all the right tools and a fully-experienced team, and that we would build them the best effing product EVER. No one, including myself, let them think otherwise, despite this idea being the farthest thing from the truth.
I mean, what was I going to do? Tell the client the truth? Of course not! But I DID tell the owner the truth. I started telling him before we got the project, and increased the frequency of telling him immediately after we landed the project, and a minimum of once per week for months until a couple of weeks ago. Most of the time, it sounded exactly like this:
“I can’t do this by myself.”
What do you think he did about it? If you guessed “not a damn thing,” YOU’RE RIGHT! He just kept blowing smoke up my ass, while spending 3-4 hours at work each day during which he spent most of that time on match.com and texting his flavor of the hour. I broke down everything to him, from what our challenges were, to what we needed to address them. And he took zero effort to do anything about it.
IF YOU READ NOTHING ELSE IN THIS POST, READ THIS: Would you, a 30+ year business owner, make some 20 something year old with ZERO background in the industry, launch a contracting company where projects carry a great deal of liability and the tiniest mistakes could result in HUGE losses not to mention tarnish the image of the industry of which we were spearheading in the southwest? Would you then also, without hiring anybody else that was remotely experienced in the field, provide no other resources other than a computer and a place to sit, and then do absolutely nothing to learn about your own company or the details of the projects that she won for your company (unless you were on the news about it, at which point you’d make me write up speaking points)? If she kept telling you point blank that she desperately needed resources and was unable to perform the job, would you just ignore her?
Unlucky for him (and me for that matter), was that I came back from my wedding in July 2010 (best day of my life, to this day :)! ), and had 2.5 days to turn around a bid on a large (for us) project. It was our first real gig. We won it, and then won another one after we finished it, and then another, which resulted in other jobs at that site, and then this one. This meant that I worked 50-75 weeks from July 2010 to August 2011 with almost zero time off except for two days in February. Even when I was sick, I worked from home and he called me for stupid shit. Even when I was sick!
Did he know something I didn’t know? Like that I was a robot?
Again, just asking….
Recently, after weeks of dealing with an employee’s attitude, I went to the owner to discuss it. I thought, after decades, he’d be able to give me a little insight about how best to handle this new employee’s horrendous attitude and constant complaints. He waited a week, then without telling me, made some deal with the employee one day,without a) giving me, as the gorilla’s direct supervisor, a chance to have a discussion with him, b) not including me as the HR manager in the meeting even though we’ve agreed to the policy of having at least two managers present in these kinds of dealings and c)not telling me what the deal was so I could implement it.
I came in last Monday morning around 720 am, about ten minutes early. Before I even had a chance to turn my computer on, I found myself on the receiving end of a verbal attack from from this gorilla of an employee while I was alone in the office with him. We were the only two people on the whole property and I thought he was going to hit me. When it was over, I hid in the bosses office crying into the phone to my husband until people started rolling into the office. Ironically, the gorilla was angry about something that was HIS mistake. He was so retarded and so pumped up on anger stemming from his self-admitted, decades-ago steroid habit that he was foaming at the mouth and I could not get in a sentence and explain his mistake to him.
Like I had told the owner, the amount of pressure on my shoulders were immense, and the submittals and deadlines for this project were coming up one by one. I was falling behind, not getting any sleep because of the stress, and simply had no idea how to do half the things that were asked of me. Feeling that way on Monday morning, and then getting verbally attached was something that I just couldn’t handle.
I quit that morning.
The other manager was in the room with me when I told my boss. She followed my statement up with, “What you don’t understand, is that I am RIGHT behind her.”
Okay, I really appreciate the support because I love her and all, but at least she got commissions on her small jobs. I sold 6 jobs (and that’s just the big ones) single-handedly, in less than a year, each individually worth between $25,000-$260,0000, with no commission, zero overtime, and a salary so low I could not afford the expensive benefits that he “offered.”
Boss was so shocked, he couldn’t even say anything. So I went back to my office and started packing my shit up. About three minutes later, I was walking out the door, with him asking if he could have a minute. I couldn’t give him a minute. I was already at mental breakdown and it was compounded by an incident with a gorilla first thing in the morning. I felt mentally and physically threatened.
FUCK YOU DUDE. YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN. I didn’t say that. I actually was quite nice about it. But that’s what I was thinking.
At least in the title, I warned you that this would probably be an all-out bitchfest. You’re welcome.
The point is….I love to work hard. Don’t look at me like that. I do. It’s stupid of me. But I do. I like for the people I work for and with to know that whatever it is I’m handling, will be HANDLED. That’s what I expect from others on my team (but very rarely get because people are so effing entitled these days!), so that’s what I give. But because I have a hard time standing up for myself, I end up working for blood-suckers.
On top of all of that, since I was little, I’ve wanted to own my own eatery. When I was little, it was all about my mom creating the recipes. (Before she “done completely lost huh mind, chile”, she was very well known in our cultural community for her amazing culinary talents, and often catered large-scale events). I wanted to plaster the walls with art from my very talented sister, and use it as a gallery for her to sell her wares. And as for my other sister and dad, we’d figure out what to do with them along the way.
Over the years, the desire grew. But I never really felt I had the backing to do it. My husband, a small business owner himself, never really brought in a steady income, and I felt I had to carry the brunt by working salaried jobs with guaranteed paychecks, regardless of how much I hated them. My parents didn’t have my back, so if I failed, I wouldn’t have anywhere to go. And I didn’t want my husband’s family thinking I was a loser. I held on to all this guilt and obligation and used it as an excuse to never follow my dreams.
But on this particular Monday, I think I snapped.
If this fucking asshole can do it, I CAN DO IT. Why CAN’T I have my own eatery?! Who says I can’t? Let me at ’em!!!!
Wait…you mean the only person holding me back is …….ME? *GASP!*
Well shit….what am I waiting for then?