Saturday, September 09, 2006

Why I Hate Working For Dragon Lady

My brother, Frey, is in town, so last night after I finally got out of work at 10:30 pm I hung out with him and Raj. I had two beers while watching some sports movie on HBO ("Remember the Titans"), which is the most alcohol I've had in a while, and woke up with a headache this morning. Everytime I drink lately, I end up thinking I should cut out all alcohol except for wine. I'm such a lightweight, and I'm so past the time when hangovers didn't bother me. Now I jealously guard all of my non-work time. It's just a waste of a day lying in bed with a headache when I could be out and about in the sunshine.

Speaking of wasting the day, today I had brunch with Frey and then headed in to the office to prep for depositions that will take place next week. For the next several hours, I will be combing through my emails to make sure that I have dealt with every request Dragon Lady fired off to me during the last 4 days. Fun, fun, fun.

I was thinking about why I hate work, and I've concluded it's almost entirely because I work for Dragon Lady. I came to this realization after complaining to Frey last night that I've been working around the clock for the last four days. He looked at me as if he was missing something and said, "So? That's not bad." To put his response in context, I should mention that he is an investment banker, regularly works until midnight each night, and works almost every weekend. His hours are far longer than mine, and he rarely gets a break.

Thinking about his comment, I realized it's not the hours that I necessarily hate. Of course I don't like having to cancel plans or missing sleep, but I don't mind working hard or long sometimes or when it's important. On Wednesday, when I worked 17 hours and didn't get home until almost 3 am, I actually felt good because I knew I had done a good job, felt productive, and like I was doing something useful. However, as I explained, all of those good feelings evaporated in the face of Dragon Lady's lack of appreciation and nasty attitude.

There are global things that I dislike about my firm, and law firm culture in general, and there are things that I want to pursue in my life that I can't pursue from within a law firm, but none of those things cause me to loath my daily existence. One factor, and one factor alone single-handedly turns almost every work day to shit, and that factor is Dragon Lady.

Here are some of the reasons why I hate working for D.L.:

1) She sees almost every issue, at least initially, as an enormous problem. Even if the issue will have no negative impact whatsoever on our client, case, or firm, she goes ape-shit about everything.
2) She often treats me, and everyone else, as if they are totally incompetent, and like every single thing they have done is wrong, wrong, wrong.
3) She generally sees the bad in things, and hardly ever shows any appreciation for the work that others have done for her. No matter how hard you work, nothing is ever good enough.
4) She's often rude. In her presence, she rarely looks at you except to glare at you with bug eyes when she's accusing you of doing something wrong. She mutters "fuck," breathes really heavily, and radiates tension.
5) I get incredibly stressed out whenever I'm working for her, mainly because I'm always waiting for the next crisis to pop up.
6) I believe she intentionally acts nasty to create a culture of fear around her. I know she behaves the way she does intentionally, because I've seen her radically change her behavior when dealing with other partner or clients. With them she chuckles awkwardly and speaks in a softer tone - kind of like a dog showing respect to the leader of its pack.
7) She's fake. I hate people who pretend to be something they are not. I have no respect for them, and that's what she does when she's around people at her level or higher.
8) She talks behind associates' backs. I have personally heard her say things like "So-and-so is driving me fucking crazy" while insinuating that they are doing a substandard job. I have also heard that she complains to other associates about the allegedly poor work product she gets from other associates.
9) She makes it almost impossible to ask questions because her response is usually to treat the questioner like they are a moron. For example, I have to ask some questions at a deposition and as this is the first deposition of this kind that I have participated in, I do not know exactly what questions I should ask and whether I should introduce documents. I am working with Dragon Lady on this deposition so was forced to ask her these questions. She has not yet responded and I know that the very fact that I asked her questions is going to make her feel as if I am incompetent and can not do anything. This doesn't bother me because I know I am competent, and I also needed to cover my ass by asking her for direction. If she chooses not to give me direction, and I fuck up, it's her fault. People who ask questions and are not afraid to admit that they do not know everything are smart and willing to learn. The people who don't ask questions are the morons, and I would think everybody knows this.

It's hard to combat all of that, even with a shield and a sword. I'll leave it at that for the time being, as I have to get back to my work. I'm pissed that I have to work and can't hang out with Frey. It's so rare that I get to see my family, and now when Frey's in town I have to work for her. It would not be half as bad if (a) it was for a worthy cause or (b) if it was for a worthy person.

The one positive thing about working on Saturday, as opposed to the weekday, is that D.L. is not in the office, so the stress level is down considerably in comparison to yesterday. Until the emails start, which I know they are bound to do any minute now...


Caledonia said...

You should keep that list and present it to her on your last day so she knows what a bitch she is!

Buttercup said...

Caledonia, I will keep it close at hand. :)

sister-friend said...

I dare say that her behavior is not just rude, but abusive. It makes me angry to read how she treats you. It would be interesting to know how a psychologist would diagnose her. It just seems like her issues go beyond a lousy attitude.

Buttercup said...

Sister-Friend, I agree. I think she is abusive and I also think she is extremely unhappy and probably insecure about certain things. You can't be that nasty to people without having serious issues.

Bubbles said...

I hate to disagree with you, but the hours DO matter. First, you are supposed to have a life outside of work. Take it from my SW training. People who work constantly for 20 years of their life have serious crisis as they near 50. It is just not good for long-term mental health.

Second, working super long hours does not put you in the frame of mind to deal with the extreme nutters that seem to be with every job. Take my job for example. My boss has a serious personality disorder. People in my office have had it written into their contracts that they will not have to have their offices next to him or work with him on any project. That’s how fucking bad he is. But, I go home after 8 hours, exercise and get 8 hours of sleep. When my boss is being an asshole and is, for example, telling me that something should have been perfect before (see your post below), I tell him, in my most condescending tone, that whatever “mistake” was made doesn’t really matter (i.e., I say “I don’t think it really matters.”) Then (sweetening up my tone), I say “but, if you really want to make the change, I think I have the time this afternoon after I do this, that and the other thing.” In other words, I have the energy and mental-state to manipulate back.

I just wanted you to keep this into account when you look for your next job. Even when you love your job, there are so many other things you should have to make your life full and happy.

Gypsy said...

She is such a hag. I'll be so excited when you're in a more fulfilling environment. :)

Buttercup said...

Bubbles - Of course your point is well-taken, and the hours are definitely part of the problem. I only meant that they would be far more bearable if I didn't have the dragon-factor thrown into the mix. You're learning some good stuff in your SW program, I see. You know, I've been considering social work now and then lately. Am I being crazy?

Gypsy, You and me both sister.