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Oh, Maxine!

A little back history: In 2005 I was a recent graduate in Marketing from a University. My fiancé (now husband) had returned to school for a second degree in a college close to where both of our families live so I returned to the city for a long hard search for my first “real” job. To make some money while I job hunted I was able to work at a local restaurant I had been employed at before, the owner of which is like a uncle or father to me. It was he who introduced me to the Boss from Hades, Maxine.

Maxine owned a small publishing company in the building close to the restaurant. She hired me on as an admin assistant at a measly $6/hr wage with no benefits so I had to continue working as a waitress. I was so excited about getting a “real” job that I didn’t mind at first but as my job at the publishing company kept growing (titles mean nothing) and I was pulling 60-75 hour weeks, never seeing my new husband and still struggling, after about a month I had to change. I sat down with Maxine and told her the truth, she seemed to understand but convinced me to stay, increasing my wage and promising benefits in the future.

I learned a lot about Maxine after that. She was a talker, told me everything about her. She also ran a business with her emotions on her sleeve so her decisions weren’t always the best. She also refused to believe anyone who wasn’t a “professional.” Let me give some examples:

1. She confided in me a month after our little talk that she wanted to scream and pull her hair out when I told her I couldn’t handle working the 2 jobs because she never went to college and made a couple of bad life choices leaving her alone with a young son to fend for herself and she allllllways worked multiple jobs.

2. The computer I worked on had many previous employees on it, every one of which left a huge mess of files (many many duplicates) for me to sift through, and little to no maintenance. When I asked her about things such as the last time the computer had been defragmented, she yelled at me because I don’t know anything about computers and her friend had a slow computer and all she had to do was vacuum it out and it ran better. I learned later she didn’t know what ‘defrag’ meant and many many months later told me that she had talked to her “computer buddy” and he confirmed what I told her previously.

3. Around the fall holidays she hires 2 girls about the same age as me as sales associates. Maxine has a problem with other people’s faults, she told me many times that I should loose weight. I am heavier, a size 14, but she was no small bird either. The Sales girls (both very nice) are thin and pretty. It became obvious extremely early on that Maxine favored the thinner girls.

4. I was required to open up the office every morning at 8 am. Maxine never showed up until at the earliest 9 a.m. even though she swore she had been up since 4:30. This wasn’t a problem except for the fact that we had no company clock to go by…the time was determined by whichever watch she wore that day (yes, there were multiple – neither of which was right). I asked about getting a clock, I got yelled at, I asked about syncing to the cell phone clock, was yelled at. I was yelled at when she called at 8:01 (on her watch) if I didn’t answer immediately. Being in the bathroom was no reason not to answer the phone.

5. My timeliness was always a bad mark on my reviews, even though there was no way for her to prove one way or the other since she was never on time for anything. Her graphic designer noted this when we were hired as a sub-contractor for a government job. I was raised in the military and know how important it is to be on time. I made special precautions to be at the off-site location at least 5 minutes early. Maxine was always 5-15 minutes late every day the entire week.

6. Maxine loved to fly off the handle and berate me for any minor offense. The other 2 employees witnessed quite a few tantrums with wide eyes and gapping mouths. I would get in trouble for gasping (like if I banged my knee into the desk or was burned slightly by corroded battery acid) because Maxine instantly thought I destroyed the computers (note: never spilt a thing in the office). I got a long lecture in front of one of the other employees because I mentioned “simple math and physics” (stupid joke about one of our bathroom toilet paper roll hooks being put on backwards) because girls in her day weren’t allowed to take advanced sciences and forced to take home economics blah blah blah.

The stories continue and get worse. Telling stories about her sad life, sex life (she was 64, over 40 yrs older than me), gossip about customers and employees, etc.  As you can guess, the other girls quit after short terms of employment with Maxine (both expressing sympathy for leaving me there alone). It got so stressful and miserable to be in her presence that I loathed getting up every morning.

Maxine ended up getting a cold, nothing bad, just something she could whine and moan about enough to not come into work for 2 solid weeks. I came every day, with little to no work to do in spite of my 15 job titles and duties to perform (everything from minor graphic design to answering phones). After 2 weeks with little to no instruction, Maxine comes in at 9 a.m. to tell me she is closing the business and I was out of a job. I had worked for her for 9 months as a faithful employee, I knew the business wouldn’t last very much longer but when she confided in me that she had come to that hard conclusion the week prior I would have thought she considered me enough to let me know sooner while she was a no-show that I should spend some time looking for a new job. Honestly, knowing her “professionally” and personally, I’m not all that surprised…she is not a nice person. 0813-09

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