Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Be Careful Who You Yell At

Shortly after graduating from college I got a job. It was a small outfit; just the boss, me and an office manager. I was thrilled it was in my field of study and thought I was so awesome. Big kid out in the big world doing big things. But after a short while it all started changing. I started screwing up and forgetting things, characteristics totally opposite of my nature. And the more I screwed up the harder my boss came down on me, yelling and huffing and puffing the day away. It got to the point that I was developing a very thick and tight knot in the pit of my stomach every morning when I opened my eyes and thought about going to work. I hated going but had signed on for a year. I had to at least give it that year! But the more I screwed up, the more she yelled and put me down. Seriously it was out of control, I was never one to make mistakes, and certainly not frequently and regularly! The more pissed off my boss became the meaner she got, then the more I screwed up. This horrible cycle continued until I could not take it anymore and it was not long before I began looking for new employment. Literally the second I put in my two week notice the bitch went away and I worked out the rest of my time in a very pleasant environment. Whatever. But I vowed to myself I would never be allowed to be treated like that again. I would stand up from the second it started and channel it back into a professional dialogue, not a parent screaming at a kid.

It was quite a few years before I had to put this silent vow to use. I learned my lesson and was on the ball! Even creating full-proof record keeping systems at my new job and D-O-C-U-M-E-N-T-I-N-G everything! I covered my butt as best I could into a new career and 4 promotions up without ever needing to pull out that unspoken promise to myself. And then one day, out of the blue, I needed it. I was a very stressed out cosmetics executive and was launching a new makeup counter in a very high-profile store in downtown San Francisco. I was still recovering from the Pancreatitis of a lifetime in 2004, when my triglycerides were 7,000 and my lungs nearly failed. In my true nature I returned to work the second I was allowed. I had been hospitalized over Thanksgiving and who in retail can miss the day after Thanksgiving?? I had a lot to make-up for. My stomach still hurt and I was popping Vicodin to get through my 12 hour work days. But this is just what you did, the way the business was, the way my life was built. And then low-and-behold everyone converges upon me for this grand opening launch. Company people from out of town, executives, regional managers, vice-presidents, 15 makeup artists, DJ's and furniture, an extra cash register or two. It is my job to organize all if it, with my head twisting in a perpetual Linda Blair there was so much to do! My boss flounces in a good 3 hours after the event starts and pulls me aside, proceeding to scream at me because we are out of mascara! Never mind the company had discontinued their current one and had yet to ship the new one. He got reamed for this and was just passing it on down the line. I held my head high, did not cry, put on my "professional" face and went back to work, all the while seething and stewing inside.

After a few hours of completely ignoring my ass of a boss he says quietly amid the thick of the chaos "You must be mad at me. Sorry.". I turned, looked him dead in the eye and told him we needed to have a meeting at a more convenient time. We eventually found time to step away and I laid it out, "The company discontinued the flippin' mascara and DON'T YOU EVER TALK THAT WAY TO ME AGAIN!" His startled and nervous chuckle told me he heard me loud and clear. We went on to have a yell-free few months before he moved on because of health problems. The lady that had his job before he did left because of health problems. The person that held my position with a different retailer quit for health problems and 8 or so months later yours truly was down for the count with...health problems! I can pinpoint this grand opening event as a pivitol point in the decline of my core health. It went straight down hill and by June of 2005 I was leaving my job and back to counter management. I know there is a genetic component to this neurological misfire, but a large part of me wonders if I had not lived that hectic and stressful lifestyle would I have still gotten sick, or was that just inevitable, the way I would live my life?

Thanks for joining,


  1. Maybe if you had left off some steam, you wouldn't have gotten sick.

  2. I hate to say this but no one on earth thinks that stress could cause massive devastating effects. We all don't think about the aftermath of our actions. However, with Fibromyalgia there is known definitive cause and not "letting off steam," may not even be the reason we are sick, so to say that is fairly insensitive.

  3. I read this with tears in my eyes. After I finished business school last year I found a job for a small company updating websites. The woman I worked for (who also owned the company) started belittling me. She was constantly on my back,yelling at me, making me redo things over and over because she could not make up her mind. I started making mistakes, doubting myself and feeling like I could not do anything right. I was feeling nauseated, nervous and having lower back pain. One day after making me redo a project she came back in my office throwing papers around and cursing at me. I grabbed my purse, my uneaten lunch and left. Later that evening after my sons birthday party I had burning pain that started to spread all over my body. I went to bed and woke up in the middle of the night and I could not move. I ended up in the hospital for 5 days and was diagnosed a month later with Fibromyalgia. I later found out that the position I held had been a revolving door of employees that all left without notice and in tears.

  4. I seriously doubt it. Stress does not equal disease. Stress can exaggerate it, but not cause it. Glad you learned to stick up for yourself! ~ Peter