Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Merits & Virtues of A Specific Born Again Christian

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  • My boss, Kevin, is a born again Christian. I don't think he is a fundamentalist, but I am pretty sure his wife is. I am equally sure that his wife, if she knew my faith. would work day and night to get me fired. She strikes me as extremely attractive, highly intelligent and frighteningly dangerous if you cross her. Despite this, I like her. Probably because of my great affection for my boss and my observation of her loyalty to him. Kevin inspires that sort of loyalty.

    Kevin is a wonderfully imperfect and flawed human being and he knows this. This self knowledge allows him to not take himself too seriously. It gives him a flexibility and a power that many other businessmen of equivalent ranking do not have. They are limited to using threats and praise to get others in line to agree with their goals. Kevin sits down and talks with you and gradually aligns your vision with his so that your goals wind up being similar to his. Not only does he motivate with rewards and consequences, he also motivates with vision. Even as I sit there with an awareness that I am being seduced to his viewpoint I am going along for the ride.

    He does not take your accomplishments and claim credit for them. Rather, Kevin will promote you and what you do to the owner of the company. I have even seen him attribute something he did to one of his employees so that they would receive the credit, not him. That behavior is rare among bosses.

    At one point, years before I got there, he had to lay off over a hundred people. Kevin made it his personal mission in his spare time to work to find jobs for them either in this company, or in another. Apparently he was so insistent upon doing this that he became something of a laughingstock of the company - the story was that he was "soft" and did not have what it takes.

    The company I work for is horribly disfunctional and resistant to change. I get so frustrated, so angry working there. I have one distributor who has yet, after twenty orders, to receive a single order without a major fuck up in it. From mispriced items to wrong items to things comletely forgotten, we just can't get it right. We are a manufacturer. When I tried to find out if we are ISO 9000 compliant, the head of our production unit asked me what ISO was. That's just sad.

    Many of the employees are as enlightened as a chunk of granite. I am the lone liberal and I am treated as somewhat of a pariah there. It has been over a year since I was asked to join any coworkers for lunch. Yesterday night, at the office Christmas party, when Laura and I sat at the table with my department I watched one of my coworkers look at us and as I said hello he turned his back. Despite the lack of spaces at the table, nobody sat beside me. At one point Laura and I sat for over forty five minutes, alone at the table without anyone engaging us. In fairness, I did not actually attempt to engage them either.

    So why am I still there? In a single word, Kevin. He is in many ways a sort of hero and mentor to me. Now that Laura is pregnant I told him that I might need to be a stay at home dad. Without any prompting from me he suggested that perhaps my company could create a stay at home position for me. Since then, again, without any prompting from me, he has taken steps to create that position.

    As I said, Kevin is not perfect. I have seen him gleefully screw clients. But overall he is an extraordinary man who I admire greatly and am glad to work for. I don't know if he knows of my faith, I don't hide it. He has seen me reading Starhawk and has seen the note taped to my computer "Have you asked Her for guidance? Have you prayed to Her today?"

    I am so torn about what to do. If only he was like most christians I know: a hypocrite and a liar, my choices would be much easier.