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 Loser's Guide to Life

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Boss's Little Friend 

Most bosses and managers have a secret friend that they don't tell people about. He (or, more rarely, she) usually lives in a cupboard in the manager's office, and that's why most managers absolutely must have a workspace which affords them some privacy. You can hardly take counsel with your office sprite when there are clerks and even department heads looking at you or barging in and demanding some action. Employees tend to think that when his door is closed, the boss is busy in his inner sanctum poring over dossiers and graphs, embauché, but in truth he is most likely conferring with his secret management friend.

Our boss has one such. Call him Manfredo. (The friend, not the boss.)

Manfredo is a small, whizened man in casual Tyrolean business attire. The only concession he makes to elvery is a pair of curly-toed slippers and a satchel slung over his shoulder containing rat poison and other things.

The other day I had to show our boss some unusual problems that were too important for me to deal with alone. That's to say, I could have figured it out and taken the correct action, but I'm generally not meant to have that level of competence. It would be more than my job is worth to take any bold steps.

The boss's door was ajar. I approached and knocked softly.

“Um!” came the imperious reply. “Yes! What is it?”

As I pushed the door open there seemed to be a flurry of activity in the room, as if someone had hopped off the desk and run into the cupboard just beyond. I couldn't be sure. The cupboard door was not quite in motion—or was it? Or was that slight yaw the result of my pushing the office door open and causing a breeze? Impossible to say. And was there a glint in the depths of the cupboard, as of a single eye looking through the opening, yet keeping well back?


“Just these currency problems. I think it's okay, but I thought you should see them first.”

“Yes, let me think.”

After a little silence, I said: “I'll need to send them on to Carole, but I thought, you know—”

“Yes, yes, a moment, please! Let me consider.”

“...Well, perhaps if I left them here and came back after lunch?”

“You know, that would be the wisest course. Let's do that. Come back in a bit, and I'll have had a chance to go over them.”

“Okay,” I said, turning to leave, “And perhaps you can get some help—from Manfredo.”

The pleasant smile vanished from my boss's face at the mention of this name. He began to look quizzical, and then suspicious, as if his shameful secret were in peril.

I said nothing more, conscious of a change in the order of things.



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