Friday, October 2, 2015

Who's the Boss?

So you think you want to be your own boss. Make your own hours. Get to take credit for all your own ideas. The dream of small business!

You can do all of that. You'll also be responsible for writing your own checks. Finding your own clients. Dealing with customers and all their weird requests. Doing your own marketing, networking, invoicing, web design, inventory, phone answering and having no one to blame but yourself for running low on printer ink.

But you knew all that. Me too. The one thing that I wasn't prepared for was that I hate BEING THE BOSS.

The Enforcer. The Hatchet Lady. The one who has to deal with minute details of dealing with the public. You didn't pay on time. You checked in with extra people and didn't pay the fees. You are 3 weeks late with the deposit. You broke the rules.

I feel like a Snitch. I hate Snitches. (that's right, capitalized)

I was never a tattler when I was little, I just took care of things in my own way. I was a creepy hoodlum that no one knew about in elementary school. Pig tails and all. I extorted artwork and paintings from kids who were better artists than me. I would pinch the skin above the elbow of the girls I stole from-- threatening them with further pain if they Snitched on me. Who'd believe you anyway? I'd hiss in their ears. If they cried, I twisted harder. This is me, 1972. Looking at it now, I'm surprised there aren't feathers poking out of my mouth.

I'd make kids stand in the cubby hole where we hung our coats until I said they could come out. I was 5. I have no idea where I got this script, there was only Wonderful World of Disney and Lassie TV, maybe Romper Room? My parents were white bread super Midwestern 'nice people'. I don't know why that's in quotes, exactly. But my point is that I didn't have any black sheep uncles hanging around from Coney Island. There was only one sibling at home when I came into the fold...and he didn't give me the time of day. I apologize retroactively to both Julie S. and Julie K. for the extortion of their Underdog paintings.

In middle school I was terrified at all the things going on, like boys asking you to 'go with them'---I went with some boy Dale from first period to third. It made me physically ill to be fenced in like that. I returned the necklace and broke the news of the break up after science class. Other things that deterred me from being a hoodlum were gym class, getting a training bra even though I didn't need it, locker rooms, first kiss, and having other friends who were WAY worse than me, the smoking drinking in the bathroom and getting pregnant at 13 kind. I just stood back. But I never told on anybody.

By high school I was insufferably bored and ran a ring of stolen Admits from the Dean so people could skip class. Dean Butts I think her name was? There were colored pens for different days of the week and an easy to forge signature. No problemo. I was one of those kids who was a school patrol, a 'natural leader', tutor, office worker and hall monitor. I wasn't book smart, but sharp, a huge bullshitter, prone to Eddie Haskell behavior around adults and a persuasive pretty blond with a criminal mind that wasn't being challenged. I'd definitely be the kind of prison warden involved in helping inmates bring in ropes and booze.  I'd turn off alarms, let everyone escape. I don't have problems with authority, I just ignore it all. I don't break laws, I just self govern. And I think others should do the same. Someone got a hold of one of my Admit pads and tried to forge their own signature. Wrong colored ink. Busted. She turned me in. We all got suspended. That was weak Amy P. I'll never forgive you.

By my junior year, a few of us were notorious toilet paperers. Stealth. Quiet. Ninjas. But as one would expect, someone had butt hurt over the cruelty of teens, had their parents call the cops, and the fall guy spilled the beans on the whole crew. Troy. James. Mike. Brian. Carol. You'll have to live with your decisions.

I grew out of my criminal white collar phase and went into hospitality where if you're not a thief, you're a weirdo and should look for another line of work. I knew all the bartenders stole from the hotel I worked in...never breathed a word. No one got hurt. So the Hyatt made a few bucks less on a $20,000 bar shift.

After owning a couple of my own places, I had some boomerang Karma. People stole from me, my bathrooms, ignored rules, did credit card charge backs months after they ate dinner there---I realized that a shady uncle from Coney Island wasn't a bad thing to have. I had a hard time pulling it off being a cherub faced middle aged lady person with curly blond pigtails. I hired managers. Handlers. People to Act on My Behalf. I can set the rules, but I hate enforcing them. And if people don't heed the rules, maybe out of kindred spirit, I really hate calling them out on it. Especially if it's under $100.

And here we are. 48 years old and I still don't quite know how to tell people that their manners suck. That they're doing it wrong and that they won't be getting their deposit back. I get emotional. I don't want to be bothered. It's not so much that they trashed the house or didn't pay for extra people or broke my air conditioner, no, I'm mad at them for making me do extra work and be a Snitch.

Line #4 clearly states that you cannot jack the AC down to 62 in August and leave for the day, and that you'll pay the service fee when it freezes. Your deposit will be surrendered. Ugh.

So since none of these 'jobs' I do warrants enough to pay a full time manager, bill collector, secretary or security guard, I have to figure it out on my own.

To call customer service lines to haggle over incorrect billing I often take on other voices just to keep it interesting for me, keep a lid on my exasperation and to hopefully brighten the day of (get better service from) sullen phone bank workers. I have an old black woman voice who sounds like Flip Wilson's Geraldine and a tiny Jewish grandma from Yonkers, who is intimidating, but endearing. Regular Me is curt. Unimpressed. Not smiling. No one wants to help Me out. I make people defensive, if I'm not careful. I have a Classic Bitchy Resting Face, but I swear it's because I'm writing something in my head. I'm not judging you. I'm wondering if I have enough Asiago for the salad, I swear.

So people who ask for favors, those who don't expect to be charged, sneak in the back door with extra people, use the bath towels to clean their cars, leave trash piled to the ceiling or who otherwise think the rules don't apply, (aka 29 year olds) be prepared for Olive Rose Hanselcraft. Our VERY strict German housekeeper and bookkeeper. I gave her your number.