I no longer laugh at Dilbert, but sometimes I cry...

My boss is a tool. I enjoy what I do, for the most part, but the imprint that this man leaves on my mental well-being has taken it’s toll over the past two years. I’m not claiming to have the worst boss in the world, or looking for pity here. More than anything, I’m just amazed at what a piece of work this guy is.

Every new day, without fail, begins with a “Good MORNING, Princess!” That’s me. I’m Princess. So is his four-year old daughter. He says this regardless of the weather, the day of the week, the look on my face, or the amount of thermo-nuclear global wars that have transpired since our last meeting. This makes me want to punch him in the face, which is a good suppressed urge to start each day off with.

This man is a wordsmith of the worst order. In situations where the speaker’s subsequent actions might complicate matters, one might say “I’m going to throw a wrench in the gears here…” It’s a useful statement, conjuring up imagery of a smoothly running, complex operation being bluntly halted by the egregious misuse of a potentially beneficial item–which is, come to think of it, his preferred management style. In any event, he does not use this phrase, but will instead use his now trademarked version: “I’m going to throw a wrench in the monkey here…” I don’t know where the monkey came from, but it needs to go back. I think he had suspected we laughed about this, so one day he caught me rolling my eyes and smirking and asked, “What? Have you never heard that one before?” This was my golden opportunity, and I took it. I carefully explained the correct phrase and imagery heretofore described, and why it makes sense. I also explained why forcefully inserting a wrench into a monkey is imagery that has an altogether different usage. (though I shudder to think of the occasion that would give rise to that usage) He did not conceded that he was wrong, but explained “I guess we just grew up in different areas.” To this day he still uses it in meetings with the client and upper management; they roll their eyes and smirk. There’s at least two of these colloquial-isn’ts a week, but he seems proud of them–not unlike George Bush.

His philosophy must be something like “work harder NOT smarter.” His phrase is “assholes and elbows” which I can make no anatomical sense of, but he uses it when it’s time to put in the extra hours. The last 12 or 13 weeks have each individually been the hardest week on the project. I know this because each time he comes to me and says, “this week is a hard week, and we need to put in some extra hours, and maybe even come in on the weekend to get over the hump.” Then he reassures me that, “next week we can go back to our regular schedule, and get out of here at a reasonable hour–I hate being here as much as you do.” But you wouldn’t know it from the schedule he keeps. He gets up every morning at 3:30, leaves his house at 4:00, drives 45 minutes (no traffic) into town, and goes to the gym. He says he goes to the gym, but I am skeptical because he is consistently a 260-pound sloth, and last year his doctor measured his cholesterol at a staggering 400. He gets to work at about 6:00, rarely takes a lunch break, and leaves the office at around 6:00 or 7:00 at night, frequently staying until 8:00 or 8:30. According to him, he’s usually in bed by 9:00 or 9:30, which makes me wonder if his wife and two children even remember what he looks like.

It also makes me wonder what the hell he does all day at work. On multiple occasions I’ve stumbled into his office and been asked to help him with something that takes me about five minutes to explain/fix/laugh at inaudibly. I sometimes get the impression that he’s been staring like a caveman at the spreadsheet for about three or four hours before I came in, and I die a little on the inside when I think of how many times this man has been promoted.

Don’t even get me started on the useless shit he has me do every day. I could fill volumes with this stuff, but most of it is tedious engineering nonsense that would bore the average person to death. He’s also an asshole, but I can tolerate assholes. It’s the idiot-factor that just plain hurts. On top of all this, he’s incredibly sensitive. I’ve seen him pout with the intensity of a four-year old when someone implied that his idea was less than perfect. I’ve seen him resort to name-calling. I’ve seen him file a formal report with Human Resources that someone keeps taking things off his desk without permission, rather than just asking for his damn stapler back.

The hardest part of all of this, though, is that he LOVES me. I can do no wrong in his eyes. He’s never once yelled at me. He hinted for about five minutes, but has ever since been very blunt about the fact that he wants to ‘mentor’ me, and take me under his wing. I think these were his exact words–and I’ve heard them in varying forms at least monthly for the last year. I’m too nice to tell him how I really feel–that is, that I think he’s consuming valuable oxygen that the rest of us could make better use of. This project ends in about six months (if the gods are merciful), at which point we might get shuffled into different projects. I don’t like my odds, though, since he will have a say in what project I get sent to, and thus I am seriously considering a career change, or maybe even going back to school.

Whatever I decide, though, there is a conversation that will have to happen in about six months. It goes a little something like:

“It’s not you, it’s me”
“You’re great and all, but…”
“I think you’ll make a great girlfriend/manager for someone, but that someone is not me.”

These sorts of conversations are fun for nobody. I’ve suffered through these before with overly-sensitive teenage and adult women, but have absolutely NO experience with overly-sensitive 40-year-old men.

I just hope he doesn’t cry on me.

Yick. I hate that “work harder, not smarter” mantra, and also, I suppose a wrench in the monkey would be like throwing a usually-beneficial object into a properly running one…
I think I’d treat him a lot like the overly-sensitive adult woman.
And, of course, if you finish the project, considering that he loves you, he’s going to request your presence in future projects…

You need do nothing. Let the platelets do their work. :;

NOT COOL!! That is Not Cool!!

I’ve heard that one, it means that you should be on your elbows and with your buttocks high in the air, as in the case of someone scrubbing a floor on their hands and knees.

I’m sorry about your situation, I had the same type of boss for 5 years. The only difference was she was intentionally evil to everyone, but loved me, which made things extremely difficult because I am a nice, honest person and felt I was just condoning her evilness by not speaking up. What did I do? Spoke up to HR, got everyone out from under her control, and moved on. I’d recommend you consider doing the same, I’ve never been happier.

In military slang, “assholes & elbows” refers to a situation that is not going well, with furious activity generally not well coordinated.

It’s sort of the verbal equivalent of one of those cartoon brawls where the artist draws a cloud of dust and various parts of various folks are poking out at all angles; here a head, there a fist, over there a foot …

Close but no cigar.
allow me to translate from boss to English

Assholes and elbows: A description of someone bent over a task (think of a mechanic bent over under the hood of a car) where all you can see is his asshole and his elbows as he works. No one is standing up, everyone is bent over working.

Throw a wrench into the monkey: Illegal is 16 states BTW. Corruption of the phrase throw a monkey wrench into the works/gears. Yes there is such a thing as a Monkey wrench

Don’t be fooled. This is manipulation at its finest. Do you need mentoring? Have you ever indicated to him that you want his protection? Sounds like you are rather a competent person all by yourself.

I’ve had bosses who acted just like this. They project this aura that everything they do is to help you, while at the same time, it’s all for them. I mean, if he did scream and yell at you, cut you down, etc., you’d walk.

At least that’s been some of my experience.

I believe this is formally known as the ‘cloud of altercation’. :slight_smile:

Never knew the technical term. I love the Dope.

Me too.

Perhaps the Beetle Bailey Cloud of Altercation? Or have there been other abusers of this comic device?

That’d be interesting. What comics used the Cloud of Altercation (+1)?

Andy Capp used it all the time when Andy was beating up his wife. Lovely comic.

Isn’t there also a saying about not knowing your ass from your elbow? I’ve heard the one about not knowing your ass from a hole in the ground…

It’s strange how that works out isn’t it? I’ve always thought Office Space was funny, and then I started working in an office, and realize that the absurd situations and procedures in an office really happen. The movie is funny because it’s true. Same thing goes for the show The Office. It makes it even more funny, because it’s closer to the truth than it is to exaggeration.

Six months? You have patience. I would have quit already.

Nothing to add to the OP, but I’m actually planning to get some sort of degree in accounting so that I can temporarily return to a corporate environment somewhere complete with this happy horseshit. To do this, I’ll have to set aside a career in libraries which I love.

Sigh . . . It just goes to show: Life is about as strange as you make it. :frowning:

Flo was well able to give it back, especially when he’d been out late, was as drunk as a skunk, and Flo was waiting by the front door in her curlers and dressing gown, rolling pin at the ready. Genuinely lovely comic with excellent characterisation and a number of running gags, certainly not a one-joke strip where the one joke was a man beating on his helpless wife.

:eek: You’re in Hell, eh? Don’t give an inch when the time comes to leave him for good, don’t back down, and don’t let him think he can slyly work to bring you back “for a short project” in the future. Your health and sanity is worth preserving! Good luck.

Don’t forget the Andy Capp vs. the referee or other rugby player(s) moments as well. Didn’t Blondie use the cloud when Dagwood would run headlong into the mailman while late for work? Heathcliff used the cloud of altercation as well. I think even Family Circus used it a few times. I believe I’ve seen old black and white cartoons that used the cloud of altercation, perhaps Steamboat Willie? I wonder where it originated? Maybe old political cartoons in newspapers? It seems I’ve seen some in various History books that had a “cloud of altercation”. I think maybe some of them were battle depictions though, so might not quite count?

This is from the British occupation of Hamburg. The soldiers were told to use the local waterways (the river Elbe, and the lakes Aussenalster and Binnenalster) as points of reference.
So if you still got lost, it was probably because you didn’t know your Aussen from your Elbe.