“What is this?” My supervisor yelled at me over a cubical wall as I heard the sound of him slamming his pen down. “What’s that?” I replied. “Gregory, come here!” He commanded as if he was talking to a child. I dragged myself into his cubical. “You were talking about a client’s high heels in your narrative, but you spelled the word incorrectly as ‘hills.’ I am sure that she was not wearing high hills. Your client notes need a lot of work. I am not pleased,” he barked as he shook his head in disapproval. I returned to my cell, I mean, cubical, with a sense that the sands of the hour glass was running out for me.
I dreaded going to work at the substance abuse treatment clinic, although I found the work to be very fulfilling. Every day I would cower at my desk as my boss berated me for not doing one thing after another the “right way.” Never once did I hear of anything I did right. There were several tasks that I performed well, as my co-workers could attest. But, these tasks seemed invisible to my supervisor’s eye. He only seemed to look for and focus on my oversights and deficits which matched his aberrant image of me as an incompetent. I was imprisoned in a sea of never measuring up to his standards. I was drowning in my depression in a boat of fear.
What will I do without a paycheck? How will I pay my bills? Will I become homeless? These were all questions that haunted me day and night. It’s a shame that one person in a management position with a subjective, fear-based, punitive supervisory approach could turn the job you love into a nightmare. My work environment became so toxic and abusive that I eventually took my mother’s offer. She invited me to stay with her in her apartment until I could find a more congenial workplace. To my relief, I immediately resigned from this job to look for greener pastures, somewhere I could thrive. Yet, I felt fortunate that I had my mom and I couldn’t help wondering about those in my situation, but who had nowhere to go.
Over the next 10 years, I worked at a private addictions treatment clinic. Soon afterwards, I got a big break; I became a manager of a substance abuse clinic just like the one where I floundered. In fact, on one odd occasion, I attended a regional managers’ meeting and sat directly across from the supervisor who use to belittle me. He could hardly look at me with an expression planted on his face that said: How did you, of all people, make it to become a manager?
Through the years of working with diverse groups of people and watching the adverse effects of various management styles, I have learned two things:
First, do everything that you can to minimize your stress level even if it means leaving a job; what good is a job where the stress of that job will ensure that you will never come close to seeing a day of retirement.
Second, I am less caught up in buying a lot of stuff, becoming entangled in the materialism trap, instead, I rather put some money away from every paycheck for a safety net; I never want someone to be able to push me out of a job without me being able to have a place of my own to stay and the means to live.