Tuesday, September 5, 2017

See You in the Morning, Sam

My boss (the Homunculus) and I have an interesting relationship.

For certain definitions of "interesting."

It's not that we don't have a decent working relationship. Deep down, I'm pretty sure he respects me. And deep down, I'm pretty sure I respect him.

For certain definitions of "deep down."

Things get a bit prickly between us at times. I piss him off, he pisses me off, we spar, we joust, we exchange words, I seethe, he sticks a red-hot poker in my side (figuratively, almost always).

Corporate dynamics, you know?

There's no "I" in "team." But there is a "u" in "knockout."
The thing is, for every time I screw up and make him see red, I save his bacon by catching a mistake, solving a problem, or going the extra mile for a client. And no matter how contentious our day has been, we wish each other a sincere good night as we leave the office.

I don't spend a lot of time dissecting our working relationship. It is what it is. But after about 3.5 years of working together, I finally realized exactly what it is. What it does is. What it be.

Forget it.

In our working relationship, the Homunculus and I are Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf.

I suppose if you're a whippersnapper, you don't know the Warner Bros. cartoons starring these two. They're among my favorites. Essentially you have two working Joes who punch the clock every day. Every morning they greet each other cordially. Then they go off to their respective jobs: Ralph Wolf tries to make off with as many sheep as he can, and Sam Sheepdog beats the crap out of him to stop him. No matter what, when the whistle blows, they stop what they're doing (even if what they're doing is trying to murder each other), punch out, and cordially bid each other good night.

That is my relationship with my boss in a nutshell.

I'm pretty sure I'm Ralph in this scenario. But it really doesn't matter. All that matters is that every morning and every evening, we sincerely wish each other well. And for the 8-9 hours in between, we each do our best to wear the other down like and old shoe heel on rough pavement.

Is that healthy? I'm not sure. I do know that I'm pretty well regarded beyond the sphere of the Homunculus' influence, and if he ever insisted on giving me the boot, I'd be able to negotiate a pretty sweet severance package.

But I don't anticipate it ever coming to that. We spur each other on, and we're both a little better for having to deal with our working proximity.

So we say "good morning" and "good night" and spend the time in between dropping piles of bricks on the other's head.

Here, watch a classic Ralph Wolf/Sam Sheepdog cartoon, and then tell me: What's your relationship with your boss like? (Yes, even if - especially if - you're your own boss.)


  1. These cartoons turned me into a child cynic.
    Don't get me wrong: I loved and still love them. I love it that sometimes we see Sam and Ralph sharing a house and having breakfast together. When Sam suggests that Ralph's job is getting to him and that he should take a vacation I think it's out of genuine concern.
    However Sam must also realize that without Ralph he's out of a job, whereas without Sam...well, Ralph would have a pretty sweet life.

    It's best not to delve too deeply into these metaphors, though.

  2. What kind of relationship is it if your boss thinks you've been brought to heel but the reality of shifting corporate priorities just brought out the worst case of apathetic agreement with whatever hare brained scheme has been cooked up by upper management? I used to argue about the trickle down of procedures and how it affected other aspects and departments but just honestly gave up about a year ago. My boss reads it as me being effectively and successfully muzzled but I rather went with allowing them to be hoisted by their own petard. I guess it's made me easier to work with.


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