Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Some people just aren't happy unless they're in charge of something. You know the ones I'm talking about...the folks who wear even the smallest bit of authority on their sleeve like they're a five star general. We've all had the misfortune to cross into the kingdoms to which these tyrants hold the keys. The guy at the convenience store who literally holds the key to the restroom...the crossing guard who puts on a dayglo vest and believes herself the newest member of Homeland Security...the bureaucrat whose spiel you must listen to once a year because the law requires it.

Like the man for whom their complex was named, these little Napoleons are clearly overcompensating for something. Maybe their mama didn't love them enough, maybe they have small...feet, or maybe the good Lord just didn't bless them with fabulous hair. Judging by the abundance of hair gel on the asshat I ran into yesterday, I'd say the latter was at least one of his problems.

Hair Gel Dude (HGD) was in charge of reading some information off of a powerpoint, and then testing his captive audience over the information. Yesterday marked the 13th time I have had the information imparted to me (although it was the first time via powerpoint). He presented the powerpoint, looking bored and only leaving his seat when absolutely necessary. Then, he strutted across the room like a smug Ken doll in a too-tight shirt that stank of Dapper Dan or whatever brand of gel gives hair an artfully mussed appearance.

Normally, I would roll my eyes at HGD, suffer through his presentation, take my legally-required test, and go on my merry way. In fact, that is exactly what I tried to do. I was in a hurry because a very nice person was covering another obligation for me until I arrived, so I was trying to be considerate by getting there asap. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of leaving when I was finished with the test instead of waiting for HGD to dismiss me.

HGD slung Dapper Dan all over the room trying to get to the door before I left. Cause see? He hadn't dismissed me yet, and I was being rude and imposing on him by leaving.

Wow. Yeah.

I was so stunned by his nasty tone that I didn't use any of the really awesome and clever comebacks I thought of later. Actually, I probably wouldn't have anyway. In spite of being addressed as if I were a child, I never forgot that I was a professional person in a professional setting. I actually apologized and tried to explain. He wasn't interested in anything but making sure I understood that he was IN CHARGE.

I finally just left. I waited until the door closed and called him something excessively nasty and not clever at all. Only the four walls heard me, so I suppose I retained my dignity.

The thing that bothers me the most about the encounter is that I let it get to me. I stewed about it the rest of the evening. Even Jazzercise didn't help. I looked for fault in myself. Was I rude in the way that I left? I didn't think so, but clearly HGD and I don't perceive reality in the same way, so maybe he thought I was.

I share this story to vent a little and offer it as a cautionary tale. When you meet someone who has obvious compensation issues, remember it's his problem. You can't fix it, and being nice won't get you anywhere. Just put on your professional armor, shake him off like toilet paper stuck to your shoe, and walk away.

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