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Long Ago Memories of a Battle-Axe Boss

Updated on August 5, 2014

The Omnipotent Boss

African American woman working in grocery store.
African American woman working in grocery store. | Source

How to Cope With a Female Bully Boss

My First Real Job

The first real job that I ever had was working as a sales store checker at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. There, I took on the day to day challenge of ringing up food merchandise, dealing with cranky customers, and knowing that the ever so omnipotent presence of my boss was close at hand.

Myrtle Pollard was a person who put fear into my very soul. She was my first boss and one whom I shall never forget. Short, stocky, and slow moving, this eagle-eyed, African-American woman was the kind of person who always carried that English-John Bull look upon her face. You know the look, the one with the cheeks slightly sucked in and the lips curled in a harsh moue and the squinted eyes shut as if to suggest suspicion. Yes, this vision was definitely my boss, "Miss Myrtle" as all other employees often referred to her.

On occasion and without notice, you could find her standing just behind your back, staring directly over your shoulder and watching every move that you made. I often dreaded this nerve-raking intrusion, and to my chagrin, I soon found out that this was her way of correction, right then and there, whether you had an audience or not. I can still hear that loud, condescending voice drilling into the back of my head as I fused pink with embarrassment, Later on, I learned that the key to avoiding this situation was perfection. I worked hard to conquer my skills, and with time, Myrtle's scolding bark became a distant echo.

Typical Candor

The Boss
The Boss | Source

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The Confrontation

Once in awhile, Myrtle would call each employee one by one into her office and she would give efficiency grading, a report on job performance, which I did not look forward to at all.

I had to be alone with that woman!

On the day of grading, she looked out of her office and scanned the checkout isles slowly with squinted eyes and a crinkled nose; we all knew that she was looking for her next victim. It just so happened that I was in line of her direct attention and with that coarse bellow she called my name as if it were a thing of distaste upon her tongue. Slowly, I was ushered into her cramped little office space, and as usual I kept my gaze downcast so as not to show my intimidation. As I sat across from her desk, she waddled into the room and shut the door. She did not turn around. Instead, while looking out the office window and overseeing her employees, she asked me with a soft voice something I never expected.

"Tell me ... what is your problem with me?"

As I contemplated her simple yet off-guard question, I watched this tyrannical, old battle-axe turn around and withdraw tear stained glasses from her haggard looking face and begin to rub tired eyes. It seemed as though the ice queen was melting, and I was drowning in her presence, struggling hard to find my voice but as much as I tried I could not immediately answer this woman's question.

"As long as you have worked here for me, I have never known you to smile, you have never looked me in the eye, and you have this huge wall around you and you just won't let me in ... I really have a hard time getting to know you."

Her soft-spoken reply played havoc with the long strain of silence which followed.

I sat there dumb-founded and totally speechless. Was this the same woman who wailed about the commissary floor, barking commands, scolding employees, and giving harsh, critical glares?

Where I found the courage, I do not know, but suddenly it all came out at once. All the pent-up frustrations and all the grudges of nearly two years of hard work that had never been acknowledged. After that moment of recognition, something special passed between both boss and employee that can only be described as a revelation. After that day, I no longer kept my eyes level to the floor within my boss's presence, and a smile seemed touched my lips when she assigned me to special tasks that were only designated to a trusted few. A new light shown in my eyes and Myrtle seemed to walk lightly and speak more softly than ever before and not just with me but with all the other employees. Secretly, I knew about why the sudden change, but what I didn't know was that soon Myrtle would enter the hospital and have a serious operation.

In the End

Weeks later, after her operation, I had walked into her office and handed in my nametag. I remember how she looked so sad and fatigued and how her eyes welled up with tears as I told her that I had to resign. She sat there shaking her head and saying that it was because of her, but I reassured her that it had nothing to do with our conflict of the past. I'll never forget her last words to me before I walked out that tiny, clustered office.

"I hate to see you go ... you were my best worker."

Myrtle Pollard died that evening while watching her favorite pre-recorded soap operas. She had a massive coronary heart attack and instantly departed this world. I am so glad that she was here long enough to teach me the value of hard work and the distinction between good and bad working relations. I'm so very glad that she and I came to an understanding. In the end, we had a unique respect for one another.

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Deal With It!

© 2012 ziyena

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  • cleaner3 profile image

    cleaner3 5 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

    Rebecca,great story

    You must be Indian

    And born in the wild

    wish I had known you

    when you were a child

    Now you are a woman

    Beautiful and sweet

    If I could just meet you

    oh, what a treat

    Much Love

    Michael

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

    Awesome Kelly!

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from Southern Colorado

    Very funny! I glad you can share a similar experience with me ... this is why we write, no? It seems as though you have a descriptive talent too lol

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Boy did you bring back some memories for me! You wrote this perfectly! I think you have great talent:).

    I had a boss who had the face of a toad - but she stood like an ape with her chest hunched a bit forward and her ams always down her sides with the palms turned backward and sort of cupped. Anne would walk into the lab each morning at the end of my shift and I could feel her eyes burning holes through my lab coat! One day I was wearing a necklace with the Greek eye on it - she grabbed it and said, "what's this supposed to mean?" and I closed my eyes real tight and kept them squeezed shut for a moment - the I opened them real big and said "ahhh - it's supposed to ward off evil but obviously it doesn't work cuz there you are!". Everyone roared:) I love that memory:). Thanks!

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from Southern Colorado

    I definitely think she sensed something .. She made things right in the end ... I believe that's why we're all here ... To make it right :)

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

    Myrtle's sub-conscious knew didn't it ziyena. Its a very good thing she realized what really counts in interacting with others, subordinates or not. I've known a few battle-axe superiors that never learned.

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from Southern Colorado

    Thank you ... I do and try to write from the heart!

  • ziyena profile image
    Author

    ziyena 5 years ago from Southern Colorado

    Charles ... I wrote that essay 10 years ago and was advised by my college professor at that time to have it published. I should have taken her more seriously ... Thank you for your confidence!

  • profile image

    Lre1949 5 years ago

    Wow, this a very heartfelt story, with your word discription, we can all think of people in our lives who has possed this problem that we had to deal with too. Excellent well written article. Thank you for sharing..

  • Charles James profile image

    Charles James 5 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

    An excellent hub. I have voted up.

    For all of us who have worked in a workplace.

    Now following you.

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