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Goddamn It, Roger -- Writer's Poke #196

Larry was in the hospital, and so it was not a surprise when the College President called me. "I've asked Roger to fill in," she said. And just like that, I had a new boss.

Roger was a great guy, and he and I had a fine relationship when we were both Department Chairs. Now that he was Interim Vice President, however, many of us felt that he had let the role go to his head. It even got to the point where he was sending out memos about how dirty the coffeespoon was in the breakroom. And that's something as Interim Vice President that he could not just stand by and let happen. The coffeespoon must be clean at all times, or else there would be no more coffee. After all, he was a former military man, and what we needed was a little military discipline. He saw the coffeespoon as symptomatic of bigger problems.

Then one morning Roger called a meeting. It was just me, him, and Richard, who was the other Department Chair. Richard was the nicest Southern gentleman you'd ever want to meet. He was considerate, thoughtful, and soft-spoken. In other words, if someone wanted to run over him, he'd just take his suit to the cleaners afterwards to get the tire tracks out. He hated confrontation.

Roger began the meeting by letting us know that the President's Cabinet had decided that we needed to make a change to our scheduling practices. I'm sure he was trying to project a look of sympathy, but all I saw was a smirk. We weren't here to discuss anything; he was giving us an edict. Just weeks earlier when he was only a Department Chair like the rest of us, we had held conversations with our former Vice President like equals; he evidently believed in a different style of leadership, and now that he was the superior, he expected us to suck it up and follow orders.

So I just let it out: "Goddamn it, Roger!" That's all I said. Roger and Richard both lowered their gaze, and I sat there not quite believing that I had said that, but glad that I had expressed what others had been thinking for the past few weeks.

Have you ever lashed out at your boss, a spouse, a friend? Besides being cathartic for you, did doing so ever help strengthen your relationship? If so, why?

"When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear." -- Mark Twain


  1. I did indeed lash out at my boss once that I recall. I don't recall the discussion that led to it, but I said something like "damn it Dan" to Captain Danial J. Meehan. His reply was "Get your damn feet off my desk". I did, but no long term ill will resulted. That was probably about 1955.


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