Monday, July 9, 2007

A Run-In With The Ice Queen

I wouldn’t say I’m a hateful guy, but I found myself in an interesting situation yesterday which exposes my dark side.

Here’s a little backstory first: Many years ago, before my biotech company was bought out by an evil global conglomerate, we were an evil privately-owned business. There were three people in the company whom the employees considered particularly mean and immoral: one of the company founders, the Bio R&D director, and the Human Resources Director.

The company founder was a crusty old bastard who had some good product ideas, but had absolutely no social skills. He ran the company back in my early days there. If you dared to raise objections to his opinions, he’d just as likely fire you as ignore you. Happily, he retired to a third-world country and is now trying to fix his Karma by helping orphans.

The Bio R&D Director was famous for taking credit for other peoples’ ideas, panning off his own personal failings upon his employees, and pitting employees against each other. When enough of us complained to HR about him, HR’s decision was to move him to another department. When he had run amok in the new department and received the same sort of complaints, what was HR’s verdict? Promote him, of course! As my boss at the time said, “Shit floats.” He was given his own facility at another site in the company (which had been recently bought out at that point). Sadly, that fool is still part of the company, and his “special” facility is now failing miserably. I am watching intently to see what happens next and drooling at the prospect of laughing openly at him as he carries his personal effects out the door for the last time.

The HR Director, a beady-eyed woman named Sherrie, seemed to delight in the suffering of the employees. She hired and fired employees not by some detailed methodology, but seemingly on the whim of upper management decisions. There were a lot of relatives of upper management hired into unsuitable roles. A lot of good employees were let go because they didn’t agree with how things were run, and a lot of bad managers kept despite serious flaws. She saw her role as solely representing upper management to the employees. Of course, that wasn’t what she told the employees. She was always quick to say that any concerns or grievances should be brought to her, but when they were they inevitably wound up being used against the employee by the very bosses that generated the grievance. Unfortunately, I was one of those unwitting victims when I once complained to her via email about my boss not updating my woefully outdated job description (which any promotions would be based on in the coming weeks), but instead of addressing the problem, she forwarded the email to my boss. My boss flipped out. The job description was updated, but I didn’t get promoted (again). The only negative comment he put on my performance review: “needs to improve his email communication skills and tactfulness”, and the only example he could come up with was the email to HR. Luckily, Sherrie was booted a couple years ago when my global biotech company decided to run HR out of their home office.

So fast-forward a couple years to yesterday evening. My wife and I hired a babysitter and went out to a movie. After the movie, we decided to have a rare treat and went to a local Baskin-Robbins for ice cream. And who did we see dishing out our ice cream? Sherrie!! Oh, how delicious it was to see the person who was once the representation of evil dressed in a restaurant uniform and scooping out my mousse-chocolate ice cream. How suiting that the woman I most regard as having a cold heart is the one dishing out ice cold food to others. I wanted to gloat, wanted to point and laugh openly and bark commands to the once high and mighty evil minion. But I didn’t. I took the high road, kept my composure, and said hi. I even engaged in a little somewhat friendly banter. Decrepit as she had been, I felt a tiny pang of sympathy that she would have to take a minimum wage position. A fall from a position of authority. I took my ice cream and looked in my wallet for a tip.

And then she revealed that she owned the restaurant.

My heart sunk. Cosmic destiny had failed me. Whatever deal she had struck with the devil had remained, keeping her in charge, even if it was just an ice cream shop and a handful of employees. I hardly had the will to eat my dessert, and I urged my unknowing wife to eat outside and to flee the heavy atmosphere. Alas, my wife wanted to eat at a table inside, and thus we did, and I was happy when I finally finished my cone and left. I didn’t say goodbye to Sherrie, and never intend to return.

Oh well. Shit floats. At least she haunts people other than me.

Image taken from HERE.


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