This is part of a series on Horrible Bosses:
For a short duration of my undergrad, I was a resident adviser in a dormitory. I say “short” because I got fired – well, I resigned, but we all know what that means. But that’s a post for another day.
I was both blessed and cursed to be an RA in the largest, nicest dorm on campus. This meant great amenities, e.g. AC, housekeeping, and that's where it ends – and also a professional hall director. That meant my hall director had a degree in being a hall director or something like that and took her job way too seriously as opposed to other hall directors who were either grad or undergrad students and understood what it meant to let loose on the weekends.
Meanwhile, my boss had lived on college campuses ever since college. She was 32. That is fourteen years of college life. Where was her quarter life crisis where she asked herself why she is voluntarily living on a college campus?
You could tell she was the sort who had never been cool, from kindergarten onward. This fact bellowed out from her glasses to her frumpy cardigan. To reference the title, a devil that didn't wear Prada.
As RAs, we were responsible for decorating a bulletin board on our hall once a month. In October, I actually got the Board of the Month – for the whole campus. You can touch me.
My boss’s trademark was that, at the beginning of each month, she would evaluate every board and initial it if she approved. If she did not approve – no, she didn’t tell you: She just didn’t initial it. It was on you to ask her why she didn’t initial it.
You can guess what happened to me. (No, this is not why I was fired.)
In November I was making a new board, I realized my paper roll was too long and my scissors were twenty feet away so obviously too far to deal with going to get them, so I just pinched and pulled on the paper until I “neatly” ripped it to fit the board. Then I threw some staples into it. Voilà!
My boss did not initial the board.
Every week we had to meet with her. At the beginning of the year, we scheduled these meetings, and she told us to keep at least an hour available. I thought this meant the meetings had to be an hour. As one who likes to avoid awkwardness, I scheduled our meeting during dinner, so I could spend at least half the meeting at the buffet in the all-you-can-eat dining hall instead of being asked how I was doing and how were my residents (“I don’t know, I heard one vomiting in the toilet last Friday at 4 AM. Freshmen, you know”).
Halfway through the year I discovered not everyone’s meeting went an hour. We only had to keep an hour available. If the meeting was done, it was done.
So, like, how do I tell her we don’t need to get dinner anymore?
Anyway, at our dinner, I asked her why she hadn’t initialed my board. Really, the question went more like, “I saw you didn’t initial my board. My guess is that you think the edge of my paper is a bit rough-looking. Is that what you wanted to passive aggressively get across to me?”
My boss: “Exactly. Why don’t you put a banner around it to cover up that rip in the paper?”
Me: “Definitely. I will fix that immediately, because I think it’s affecting the atmosphere on my hall. My boys can’t focus on their studies or sleep at night after witnessing their RA’s inadequate job at cutting paper.”
My boss: “You’re the best.”
Now if you were ever a freshman in a dorm, you know that some people feared their RA because they could “write you up.” Whatever that means. We’re just going to add onto that file the school’s been keeping on you since pre-K. We pass it onto the FBI once you graduate.
As a freshman myself, I learned to cringe at the idea of being “written up.” Usually this meant you had to talk with the hall director. Gasp! Let it not be so!
In RA training, however, they brainwashed us RAs into believing that write-ups are not bad. Write-ups are just incident documentations. You can document anything. For example, you could write down that Susie helped the housekeeper take out the trash. Good for Susie! Or you could take notes that Joe came back on Friday night at 11 PM sweating profusely and unable to walk in a straight line. He also was yelling and waking up the nerds who were in bed before 11 PM.
But it’s just documentation.
Say it with me:
It’s just documentation.
Anyway, come December, I had written up no one. Because I had angels. Literally, I did. One time I thought they were playing beer pong in their room. The kids were playing water pong.
Me: “Who are you?”
Admittedly, it was the Honors dorm. But still!
However, I was considering applying for a position above RA for the following year, so I needed to bolster my credentials. So one Saturday afternoon I walked into our TV lounge to discover some girls had built a fort with the furniture. We are talking a chair on top of a couch. That’s it.
Me: “Unfortunately, I have to ask you to put the furniture back. Thanks so much!”
And I documented it. As in, I wrote, “I found four girls building a fort in the TV room. I told them to take it down, and they did so.” The end.
Next thing I know I have the girls knocking on my door asking why I wrote them up.
Me: “…Uh, how do you know I wrote you up? I only said good things. Seriously. I know you don’t believe me. Why are you crying?”
Because that raging B-word (Boss, I totally mean "boss") called those girls down to her office and asked them why they would deface university property, let alone property in their own homes.
Me: “…She said what? I am so sorry. I had no idea she would – I had no idea. I hate her, too.”
At our next dinner (those bloody dinners, ugh!), I asked my boss about it.
My boss: “I always follow up on documentations. You don’t have to do something bad for me to meet with you. But they caused a fire hazard. One of them could have been harmed. And they knowingly broke the rules and disrupted their living environment. Of course I had to talk to them, Cazey.”
Me: “I need to grab more salad.”
*drowns self in vat of ranch*