- Business and Employment
4 Deadly Supervisor Types or: Navigating the Shark Infested Waters in an Inflatable Boat
A coworker of mine told me a few days ago that he and a friend were planning on going shark fishing in an inflatable boat. While I have passionately defended the intelligence of postal workers in these pages in the past, this one seemed to fall under the category of "exception to the rule." When he told me his wife had been encouraging him to participate in male bonding activities such as this one I suggested he check if she had taken out additional life insurance on him lately.
All of this talk about sharks got me to stroking my beard pensively and thinking how deadly life's waters can be sometimes. Even if you live and work hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean you are never entirely safe from predators that can lunge out and bite off a body part without warning. Sometimes these vicious fanged beasts can be the very people in the workplace that we entrust with our livelihood. Surprisingly enough, the supervisors that manage our daily workload often spend more time and effort thinking about how they are going to catch us doing something wrong than they do figuring out ways to get the job done productively.
I don't hide the fact that I used to be a supervisor, but I got out of it quickly when I discovered that supervisors can be very cannibalistic in nature, and they often even try to consume their own kind! Fancy that! But that horrible experience from the past has imparted unto me secret insider knowledge on how this voracious species functions and now I can supply you, the humble working man and woman, with safety tips that can help you get through the day without being devoured.
With this in mind I have compiled a short list of supervisor types that can be particularly deadly. Some of them are openly hostile and can take us out in a full frontal attack, but more often than not their hunting technique is to sneak up from behind and assault us unaware. So let the words that follow serve as the verbal equivalent of shark repellent, so you can make it home at night with all of your limbs still intact. Oh, and one disclaimer before I proceed. This hub is in no way an endorsement for hunting dangerous predators in a flimsy, puncture prone flotation device.
Sweet Poison - The Leopard Shark
I associate Deadly Supervisor type "Sweet Poison" with the Leopard Shark for a couple of reasons. First of all, although I admit my knowledge of marine biology is sketchy, I understand that the Leopard Shark is definitely a bottom feeder. It feels comfortable slinking around down near the sand, mud, and slimy seaweed covered rocks, waiting for some gnawed-on scrap to filter its way down to the ocean floor. Secondly, while the Leopard Shark is not particularly imposing in appearance and appears to be gentle and meek in nature, it can still lunge out from behind some protective reef to deliver a nasty bite, after which it will scurry away back to shelter.
Sweet Poison - the Leopard Shark supervisor likes to stand by the door to high five all of the letter carriers when they return from the street and tell them what a great job they did, but this is mostly because she feels relieved that they are all back before 6 PM and she does not have to make that frightening phone call to the Area Manager, who is a much bigger, nastier, toothier shark than she is. But in the AM hours, as the letter carriers are loading up for the street she will slink around with a clipboard writing secret notes about how bad and inefficient this lazy bunch of lowlifes is; the same people she was high-fiving the night before. This Leopard definitely does change its spots, and at a moment's notice! If she is observed scribbling on her clipboard she will quickly scurry behind the cover of some LLV in the parking lot and wait for her prey's attention to be diverted elsewhere before she stealthily creeps out again.
Sweet Poison - The Leopard Shark can be bold and brash as long as there are other sharks present in the water to back her up, but if left alone with any kind of crisis or situation that requires an immediate decision on her part she will quickly dash for cover, swimming quickly for the safety of the office, the supply room, or even the bathroom, failing the availability of the other two.
"I'll deal with you!" - Bull Shark
I'll deal with you - the Bull Shark seems to be one of the most common species in the postal managerial ranks, and the type that most often advances up the organizational ladder. The reason for its success is not due to this shark's intelligence; as a matter of fact it is one of the more dull, dim witted beasts swimming beneath the surface, but because of its propensity to puff itself up, throw out its burly chest and pretend to be something that it is not. This is reason number one why this specie's name is so appropriate, because it is so full of it. The second reason why this one's sobriquet really fits is because of its tendency to solve every problem with a fierce bull rush in which it devours every potentially useful sea creature in sight in a mad frenzy to get at the single offending one.
I'll deal with you - The Bull Shark flings out its "I'll deal with you" slogan at every one and everything that arouses his beastly ire, and it is not an idle threat! Once this fearsome predator has caught your scent he will stay on it until you are completely devoured. He will write you up for not carrying enough mail trays back with you from your vehicle when you are unloading, even though he wrote you up yesterday for carrying too many. The teeth of this shark consist of his letter of warning pad, the pages of which he dispenses like confetti in a Super Bowl victory parade.
The only good thing about I'll Deal with You - the Bull Shark is that he won't be troubling you long. This one tends to move around a lot because there aren't many nuances or subtleties in his behavior pattern. He tends to only obey the Postal policies and procedures that suit his predatory nature and ignore the rest. In other words, he pretty much does what he wants. Sooner or later he will threaten an employee with physical violence or sexually harass some clerk, and then he will swimming along on his merry way! Although any one of us meek minnows in the rough postal waters would certainly be dismissed or go to jail for committing these acts, I'll Deal with You - The Bull Shark is much too valuable a postal asset and he will merely be moved to calmer seas until the tempest blows over.
Dangerously Ditzy - Dumb Gulper Shark
Dangerously Ditzy - Dumb Gulper Shark behaves in a fashion that is so breathtakingly, unbelievably stupid that on first impression you have to assume she is faking it to get your sympathy. The fact that she was entrusted with a position of authority is all the proof one needs to support the theory that intelligence is not a necessary qualification to become a postal supervisor, and the fact that she eventually gets promoted to station manager reinforces this notion in a way that makes your head spin with disbelief.
Dangerously Ditzy - Dumb Gulper Shark scrambles around the workroom floor in the morning in a frantic manner that makes letter carriers dizzy trying to keep up with her. Armed with her ever present eraser, she will change work assignments at least 47 times before the letter carriers leave for the street. At 9:00 AM, when most of the letter carriers have already departed for their routes, she will finally notice that route C008 is down; that none of its mail has been cased and there is no one assigned to carry it. At approximately 4 PM, after the majority of letter carriers have gone home, it will finally occur to her that no one has been assigned to do city collections. She is a mess; but she smells good, wears pretty scarves and will snuggle up to you to try and get you to do the impossible.
The reason why I include Dangerously Ditzy - Dumb Gulper Shark in this list of Deadly Supervisors is that her stupidity can become a safety hazard. Heaven forbid that you should get bitten by a dog at 1 PM and have Dangerously Ditzy answer your distress call on the phone. It is highly likely that she will forget about you after hanging up. You might still be there at 6 PM, bleeding out on the sidewalk, wondering if help is ever going to get there.
To demonstrate the intelligence level of Dangerously Ditzy - Dumb Gulper Shark I have included the following calculation that she could not figure out without running for a calculator. Let's see if you can do it. Please note that this is a real life example. I did not, and probably could not make this up!
Route C008 is down, and there are three carriers available to carry it. If Smith is carrying 2.0 hours, Jones 2.0 hours, and Davis 1.5 hours, how many total hours have been assigned to the route? No calculators!
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Feeding Frenzy - Oceanic White Tip
Sometimes sharks swim in dangerous, feeding-frenzy swarms that can track their prey across hundreds of miles of hazardous, peril ridden ocean. Shark behavior dictates this pack hunting behavior because at times a single free lancing shark might be a little timid to lunge in for the killing blow. In these situations that single fish will communicate the situation to his fellow sharks, who will gladly come rushing in for assistance once the scent of blood is in the water or if a delicious prey item can be sensed flailing about helplessly on the waves.
Therefore, the Deadly Supervisor type Feeding Frenzy - Oceanic White Tip is not one shark so much as it is an entire hostile, blood thirsty group of them. The proper name for such an accumulation of sharks is a shiver, and you will be the one shivering if they ever catch your scent, which you can bet they will because a shark can sense your fear and weakness up to 330 feet, and smell one part of blood in 25 million, which translates to one third of a mile across open ocean. In other words, you can run but you can't hide once a shiver is on your shivering tail!
Successful Postal supervisors, like sharks, also have amazingly keen olfactory senses, and they can sniff out minor deviations from approved postal practices from several zip codes away. Also like their finned brethren from the briny deep, they sometimes need help once a particular letter carrier has been targeted for destruction. This is because carriers can be like squirming, wriggling, slippery fish that are very hard to catch doing anything wrong. But even if a carrier isn't doing anything seriously wrong, once he or she is on the wrong side of management you can bet that carrier will be damn well busted doing something, even if it is only borderline bad, like taking a 31 minute lunch break. In cases like this the tail flapping distress call will go out to other stations and the supervisor sharks, equipped with their deadly clipboard teeth, will converge upon the offending carrier from all points of the compass in a mad, thrashing, water churning feeding frenzy!
I hope I have not frightened you from going into the water altogether. The ocean can be a happy place if we all learn to swim or float together in peace, but there are always those who don't swim well with the other fish and are always anxious to roil up the tranquil seas by bullying, bothering, and sometimes even consuming the gentler inhabitants of the postal reef.
In closing I confess that I won't be going shark fishing with my co-workers in that flimsy inflatable boat I was talking about earlier. All of this conversation about sharks has made me somewhat skittish about going anywhere near the water, in fact. I guess it doesn't matter, they didn't invite me anyway.