Settle in, this is gonna be a long one. And there’s some Jamaican patois because I’m feeling particularly ornery, so grab your patois dictionary because I’m even feeling too ornery to translate.
I think I’ve officially met the stupidest person on earth. And he’s my “boss”. Oh, joy.
I knew he was not the most emotionally intelligent human being because I was privy to some of what A went through with him when she was handling our Aceh Imigrasi issues. During that time, the “boss” was impatient, ungrateful, unhelpful and straight up disrespectful towards A, who was not running around and dealing with sexual harassment for kicks and giggles. On more than 1 occasion, I counselled her to not respond to his emails and Whatsapp messages immediately (or at all in some cases) because it would only escalate issues. During that time, it became clear to me that he lacks basic people skills and has no management or leadership ability. He’s the type of person who should work by himself in a dark back room with no human interaction – that’s how poor his people skills are. We won’t talk about the obvious lack of wisdom above him that would appoint someone with his personality into a position of authority over the people who are literally keeping an organisation running.
Now di man look like him tink him have strent fi me.
It started innocently enough. I’ve mentioned before that I lead the hiring team (don’t be impressed, it sounds like more than it really is). I was following up with a new volunteer who was to arrive in May, checking that his plans to join us in Indonesia were going well, when the gentleman advised me that he was re-thinking joining the organisation due to some unpleasant communications he had recently had with the “boss”. He was unsure whether he should join because he felt that things could only get worse. After all, if he was not yet even in his assigned role and this man felt that he could address him in this way, how much more so would that be true when he actually arrived? Plus, he had picked up on some things that alarmed him about the “boss'” competence in running the operations of this organisation.
I sent the gentleman a commiserating, professional reply (he had forwarded to me the email trails of the unfortunate communications and he was absolutely right – the “boss” was his usual boorish self), hoping to soften the organisation’s image, and I told him that he should take some time to think about his decision (I felt that it was not my place to try and sway him one way or the other). He replied with gratitude for my understanding and professionalism, then a few hours later he emailed to say that he had decided to withdraw. I replied that I understood his decision and wished him well in the future. He again thanked me for my professionalism and expressed his disappointment in the “boss'” behaviour. I told him that I would share his feedback and hopefully, the organisation would profit from it. Then I forwarded the series of emails to the “boss” as a means of advising him that the gentleman had pulled out and I copied 1 other team (that consists of A and 1 other volunteer who is here in Jakarta, and who is personally familiar with the “boss'” charming personality) so that they could update their records. All of this communication took place over the course of about 24 hours.
Oh, the “boss” reamed me out good…by email…because, you know, behind a keyboard is where he’s most powerful. He told me that I allowed the man to attack him (me? Allow? Suh is suh me powerful?), that I didn’t tell him what was going on (true, because he would have made the situation worse since he has zero people skills), that I have no common sense and I’m unprofessional (say what now?!), that I forwarded the email to the whole organisation (lie!), which makes him look bad (uh, dude, you handle that all on your own with no help from me), and so much more.
I took a deep breath and said a prayer before I emailed him back. I told him that I did not appreciate him saying that I have no common sense and that I am unprofessional; in fact, I believed that I acted professionally in trying to soften the organisation’s image to the gentleman. Additionally, I was unaware that it was my job to protect his reputation within the organisation. I ignored the rest of his rant.
He replied with a long email asking me condescending questions about all sorts of things to do with hiring practices and my judgement, basically talking down to me as if I am a child or an idiot with zero professional experience.
Now, people, for those of you who don’t know, I am a big austerin 40 year old ooman, an ex-corporate executive with 16 years’ experience in the corporate world, 10 of which were spent in management roles, with 8 of those 10 years spent as a vice president at 2 of Jamaica’s largest insurance companies. My experience is nothing to sneeze at.
I do not say this arrogantly because I have never believed that I have arrived and have nothing to learn from anyone. I approach most situations with a posture of learning because I am human and not God and therefore, I obviously do not know everything. But I lay out my experience to set a context – it would be virtually impossible for me to have made it to that level of responsibility without common sense, professionalism, serious management skills and emotional intelligence. Or just pure blind luck. (It wasn’t blind luck. I worked hard for it and God blessed me with those positions for a reason.) Compare this man who seems to be somewhere in his mid-30s with 6 years experience as a “boss” in this patty shop outfit.
Also bear in mind that I am a volunteer with this organisation. Nobody is paying me to put up with his crap. I choose to put up with it for my own reasons and therefore I also choose, with God’s guidance, how much of it I am willing to put up with.
So, after praying on it for a minute I decided that no good could come of me responding to his last email. Therefore, I chose not to.
Talk di troot, if you did inna fi him position you wouldn tek a step back, tek a deep bret and fine a new way fi hangle a team member who yuh tink pass dem place? Yeah, dat me woulda do, too.
Nope, the “boss” didn’t do that. Instead, after 3 days of no response from me to his condescending email, he emailed me again continuing in his special, condescending way to say that he was still awaiting my response. Since he had now shown that he refused to drop the issue, I clearly could not continue to just not respond to his email. So I answered honestly but in a professional manner – I said that I had no intention of responding to his condescending and offensive email since I didn’t see how any good could come of it. He answered again, people! “Kristine, stop taking things personal!”
Ah, slow your roll there, buddy! You told me that I have no common sense and I’m unprofessional – dude, that’s personal! But I didn’t say that. Instead, I took another deep breath, fired off another prayer and simply told him that I would appreciate him dropping the matter.
Now, people, I am not usually disrespectful to people who are in authority over me. In fact, I am very respectful of those in authority over me. But I do not recognise authority that loses its mind and passes it’s place. No one has the right to treat me like that and because of past experience with this very type of bully behaviour, I am unwilling to tolerate it to any degree. Even so, I try my best to keep my cool in such situations, gauging how much of my emotional energy they are really worth.
Within seconds, my Whatsapp started alerting me to incoming messages. “Kristine, can you get on Skype.” Uh, that would be a no. No, I didn’t get on Skype! I’m not his trained dog, jumping when he says so. I responded that I was not available at the moment but I would be able to meet the next morning. He asked me what I was doing because dealing with this issue was priority. (Oh, Jesus, take the wheel and the devil is a liar! A who him tink him a talk to??) Another deep breath, another prayer and I told him that he was making me seriously angry at the moment and therefore now was not a good time to discuss the issue, since I was sure he was aware (yeah, I said that) that talking about hot-button issues when emotions are high is not a good idea; therefore, I would be available the next day.
No joke, this man sent me 28 messages over 14 minutes. I responded with 2 simple messages during this episode of verbal diarrhoea: one was my telling him that I would not allow myself to be put in a position to say or do something regrettable because of said high emotions, and the other suggesting a time the next day that could possibly work for both of us. He eventually relented with the foolishness and we agreed on a time to Skype the next afternoon, while insisting that I answer his same condescending emailed questions in the meantime. I ignored that part.
I was so angry that I had to get up immediately and go for a walk up the road to the juice lady for a fresh pineapple juice. Seriously, guys, I’m a pretty even-keeled person but I have rarely been so angry. This angered me just as much as those silly boys throwing rocks a couple of weeks before. Here’s why:
- He mistakenly seems to think that I am one of these inexperienced recent college graduates that thinks they have to allow someone in authority to speak to them in any way they choose. HUGE no; no-one should be spoken to in this disrespectful manner by any other human being.
- This man clearly thinks he’s the boss of me. Again, he’s so mistaken. He supervises the work that I do but he for sure is not the boss of me. He doesn’t have the management or leadership skills to be anyone’s boss and surely not mine. I have 1 Boss and He’s the one who manages and leads me in every part of my life, including my work.
- I am a volunteer. He isn’t paying me for my extremely valuable time. In fact, he should learn to be more respectful to every, single volunteer who darkens the door of this organisation, as we are the ones who have the power to mash up this dolly house if we want to. Him lucky we nuh unionise.
- This rudeness was exactly what the gentleman who dropped out was talking about. But instead of examining himself, this man had the audacity to be lashing out at what he thought was the next best target – me – because of his inferiority complex, which clearly makes him unable to take criticism in any form. Uh, no, buddy, that’s not gonna fly with this chick.
- Did I mention that I am the single largest donor to the Aceh centre because I believe in putting my money where my mouth is? And that my sponsorship is up for renewal in a few weeks? (How you like me now, son?) To realise the sheer stupidity of someone who is in a position of authority in an organisation to which one donates, who thinks it’s OK to treat a donor in this way, is alarming to say the least.
And now I must amend my statement of a couple of weeks ago: rage can keep me awake at night.
When I got into bed that night, I read for a few hours, handled some personal business online and finally read my Bible and prayed some serious warfare prayers. Eventually, with the Holy Spirit soothing me, I managed to get maybe 4 hours’ sleep. I thought I would be drained and muzzy-headed but I was ready for him the next day.
…And the internet was down at the appointed time of our Skype meeting. And stayed down for the rest of the day until some time in the middle of the night.
Sigh. Well, I had prayed that God would work this out according to His plan and will, not mine, which had a very high probability of me verbally ripping this fool apart. So I’m waiting to see if the “meeting” gets rescheduled.
Meanwhile, I will answer his stupid, condescending email when Jesus come dung offa di cross and tell me fi dweet.