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when the big boss calls just before quitting time March 27, 2009

Posted by That Guy in A Very Corporate Something, Did I Hear That Right?, Experiences.
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The problem with working on a team that services every other department in the building is when you have conversations like this:

It’s 5:10. I’m scheduled to leave at 6:00. The phone rings. I glance at the caller ID and note the extension number with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

Me: Hello.
Big Boss: Hi, That Guy.
Me: Hey, Big Boss.
Big Boss: So you’re going to stay until the Marketing Department’s crisis is over, right?
Me: *two-second pause* Sure, I guess so.
Big Boss: *airily* Great. Thanks. *click*

This happened a few weeks ago, and I ended up staying until 9:30pm and getting back the next day by 8am (which meant fighting almost a full hour of traffic and skipping my daily trip to the gym). And what did I do? The online equivalent of mailing brochures to people.

Never mind the fact that there was another guy in my department who was scheduled to be here at that time — and got conscripted into helping marketing too. Never mind the fact that I don’t work for marketing. Never mind the fact that I get to work almost 45 minutes early every day, which meant I’d already been at work for almost ten hours. Never mind the fact that I’m on salary and don’t get overtime, so if I had a part-time job or freelance gig, I’d be losing out on that work because you don’t tell your primary boss that you have to leave to go to your other job when there’s a crisis.

No, when the Big Boss calls, you do what he* says. And if you’re lucky, someone will order pizza and you won’t have to pay for it. That plus a thank-you is all you get, because you’ve already screwed up too many times for it to count in your favor when it’s yearly review time.

Y’know what I would’ve appreciated? For him to ask me. For him to say, “hey, That Guy, Marketing’s having a crisis. Can you stay until it’s over and help them out?” At least then it sounds like I have a choice in the matter, even if we both know I don’t.

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* He knows I have kids. If the Big Boss was a woman — and I admit this is a little sexist, but it’s happened to me before — and you said “I have to get home to my kids”, odds are good you’d be allowed to leave. Instead, I missed seeing my family that night and had to leave so early to go to work the next day that I didn’t see them in the morning either. Welcome to the corporate world!

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