Monday, August 29, 2005
BEING THE BOSS
is a shitty, thankless job, most of the time. I don;t think I am making big news here, by saying this, but I had to put that in print somewhere, if only to validate it in my head.
I took a weekend off to go camping (that will be a separate post), and left the house in it's usual state. I was not gone for more than THREE hours before I had my first phone call from the house. Three friggin hours! I would receive three more before the night was out, and a total of 6 through the two days I was gone.
But, oddly, that's not the part that really gets me. What REALLY gets me is that all my staff members, to the last one, are gossipy women. Only two of them think for themselves, and only one of THOSE asks questions when all the above has failed her. That means, when I am out of town for a weekend, and things don;t go exactly as they are supposed to, I come back to hear all the THEORIES as to why that is.
This weekend was a new low for them. Let me set up the story. The old supervisor used to shop for the whole month, all at once. Inevitably, that would mean the shelves got less and less full, and the meals less and less appealing, as the month went on. Further, and more importantly, it meant no food or money at the end of the month. When I got here, that was the first thing I changed. I go shopping weekly, so that by Sunday night there is a mini drought in the house on rations. The idea here is two fold: first, the employees must stick to the menu (because other items do not exist to substitute), which means I am assured my clients are getting a meal properly planned for and prepared, and second, I can plan each week so that money DOES NOT run out, just in case something should come up. It has worked, the past three months, without failure.
This weekend, however, I forgot to buy hotdog buns for a meal; Chili dogs, onion rings, and mixed veggies. One of my workers decided that meant I was being negligent. Worse (her thoughts escalated) the quality of food had decreased since I have been the supervisor, because this had NEVER happened before, and there was ALWAYS something in the fridge before, if some meal didn't fit HER standards. Who eats chili dogs for dinner, anyway? Oh, Josh MUST be stealing the money he is saving by giving the guys slop to eat.
JESUS CHRIST! I want to scream. First, let me say that the quality of food, all other employees agree, has gone UP. I like to make sure the guys have variety as well as nutrition, and my mealplans reflect that. The reason for the chili dogs was simply most clients are gone on the weekends, and the one who sticks around LOVES chili dogs. Loves them. So that;s a good time for him to get them, since he is bored and alone in the house. Also, if another client comes back early, it is very easy to make more. It just makes sense to me.
Of course, that employee cannot understand that the accusation she made COULD COST ME MY JOB. I get a budget of 600 dollars a month, for food, household items, and anything else the guys don't directly pay for. That's 600 bucks to pay for four full grown men to eat 3 meals a day, and two staff members to have dinner with them, each day. 50 bucks comes right off the top for petty cash, so the staff doesn't have to pay for taking the guys to do fun things. Now, for example, take that we use 5-6 gallons of milk a week. At 3 dollars a gallon, 5 gallons a week for four weeks costs 60 bucks. 10% of the budget, right there, on milk alone. Now think of all the items it takes to feed just lunches of sandwiches, snacks, and veggies for four guys, and to make balanced meals for 6 people for dinner. The money just isn't there. The idea of me stealing some of that is laughable. There just isn't anything to steal. Most months I end up picking up items out of my own pocket, just because I have to run to the store for this and that and I don;t feel like the hassle of getting the money from the money drawer, or separating my items from client items during checkout.
Of course, that worker could not have known about that. She couldn't know about the regulations that say I have to save EVERY receipt and prove I am spending 90% of our budget on food each month. She couldn't know how damned much it hurts to hear that someone could think so low of my character they would assume because we had hotdogs one night I must be stealing.
She can't know this, even now, because I am a boss, and I can't explain myself every damned time someone has a stupid notion, because I have to set a standard that I expect from my workers, because I cannot afford to lose her as a worker when I try to explain it and she takes it the wrong way, and thinks I am attacking her
So I will smile, and keep providing the service I am paid to provide. And I will stay friendly with my staff, even when they hamstring me behind my back. And I will keep filing my reports and ledgers happy in the knowledge that some idiots musings about the way things should be have nothing to do with my job.
But I won't be happy about it.