Friday, July 14, 2006

Righteous Ogre

Ogres scare people. Like Shrek. Outside they terrify everybody, but inside, they're wonderful people. You just have to get to know them.

My boss died this week. Suddenly. He wasn't young, but I was sure he'd live to around 100 years old and never retire. I was sure I'd retire before him. And it is difficult for me and anyone who has worked in my office to bounce back to work - and we were told we can have a week's respite in order to mourn.

We used to come in at 7:30 in the morning and he'd be waiting impatiently for us to begin our day's routine. Now nothing. No routine.

He was difficult to work for but I managed and looked beyond the pettiness of me not being able to write my own e-mails and him checking every word that I did write on my own, and not rustling papers lest it disturb his train of thought, never being allowed to leave the office in case he'd "need" me for something, never being allowed to work for anyone else who needed my "English language" expertise, because he may need me at the same time, and I even learned to lie to him about my computer crashing, and printers not working, telling him it's better if this was typed on another computer or printed on another printer because it would be quicker - because he'd get hysterical if there was ever a lapse in the running of equipment here. I'd type list after list for him - personal and work-related of things to do, of which he'd get to only 1/3 of them, if he were lucky. And I'd never dare take a sick day or be late 5 minutes. That would surely be my demise. Plus, he'd scream and yell at the receptionists for all kinds of very minor infractions, like disconnecting a phone call, or not being at their desk even for a moment. When he'd leave the office we'd gather together and have coffee at the front desk for a few minutes of chit chat, only to scatter like cockroaches when we'd see him coming back in.

But there was another side to him, like the time he treated me and his secretary to a fancy lunch at the King David Hotel, for no reason at all. Every time he barked at me, he'd always apologize 10 minutes later, and compiment me on my work. Every time I was distressed for personal reasons, his laser would pick it up and he'd know something was wrong. Sometimes I'd tell him, sometimes not. One time last year, when I was walking around without any money for weeks, and feeling quite depressed about it, he found out about my situation and gave me and a fellow coworker who was a close friend, some money to go to see a wonderful movie playing at the Jerusalem Theater. He was raving about it and asked me if I'd go to see it.

"I won't be able to go to the movies for a while" I told him.

"Here" he said, dishing out some money for popcorn, a taxi and 2 tickets. "I want you to see it tonight."

You couldn't refuse a gift from him.

Last week I found myself thrown off a bus because all I had was a counterfeit coin. I was 10 minutes late to work because I had to walk. His secretary told him what happened, and later that morning handed me a 50 shekel bill which she said was from her. I had a feeling it was from him.

Yesterday, I told her I wanted to pay her back the money.

She told me "Give it to charity in his name."

"He gave me the money, didn't he?"

She nodded. "He didn't want you to know it was from him."

But I knew. And I wasn't the only one he did stuff like this to. There were many others.

I will miss him terribly. Rest in peace, Mr. Boss.


Anonymous said...

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W. Lotus said...

That was a beautiful tribute.

May he rest in peace.