They say you hate in other what you hate most about yourself.
I recently came off a show where I had one of the worst bosses of my entire life. Besides having the emotional maturity of a four year old (he once yelled at the script coordinator for bringing him pages, when we had just distributed pages the night before; what the hell is she supposed to do about it?), he was also unrelentingly condescending and sarcastic.
For example, someone came in the office and asked for the wireless password. Since I was using a desktop, I asked my boss what the password was. He responded thusly:
“GYWAAAAAAHHHHhhhhhhhaaaaa. [That’s the closest I can approximate his drama-queen sigh of feigned exasperation without using the Klingon alphabet.] You don’t know the password?!”
No, asshole, I’m plugged into the wall. My password is, “I’m plugged into the fucking wall.”
Equally annoying was his little sidekick, a PA who’d worked for him on a few shows. She was constantly telling me things I already knew, or reminding me to do things I’d already done. This was all very annoying, of course, but I dealt with it. I wasn’t going to be working there forever, after all. Besides, she was an idiot, so why should her opinion bother me?
Fast forward to the present. Now, I’m the one with more experience. In fact, it’s the other PA’s first show.
He’s a good guy. A nice guy, too. He doesn’t always know what’s expected of him, but he’s trying hard and asking questions. Pretty much all you could ask for. Things are going great.
Then, today in the copy room, he confronted me. I asked if he had put the bagels and stuff away, and if he had, he should put the cream cheese in the fridge, not on the shelf.
He whirled on me, and said, “Look, you’re not my boss. I don’t need you telling me what to do all the time.” He went on to say that he knows I’m trying to make him look bad, by waiting until our bosses are around when I ask him if he’s done something yet. (He failed to notice I was asking him in the copy room, when no one else was around.)
He was visibly shaking as he said this, too. It got really weird when he told me that I didn’t know who he knows, and he could make my life a living hell. Plus, he went to military school, so he could knock me on my ass. “Not that I’m threatening, but just know that.”
Which is not to say he overreacted (barring the threat of physical harm). From what he said, this has been bothering him for a little while. Plus, there was an unfortunate confluence of events–
On Monday, our boss gave him a stern talking to, about thinking ahead and picking up the slack, blah blah blah. Totally unwarranted, in my opinion, but whatever. Then, when I was gone yesterday, he told me he had his best day working here, since he didn’t feel he had three different people looking over his shoulder all day.
The truth of the matter is much more banal. When I ask, for example, if he’s checked the mail, it’s not because I want him to look bad for not having done it already. Nor am I checking up on him. I just don’t want to go out to the mail box if the job’s already done. Far from bad mouthing him, after he left on Monday, I defended him to our boss, saying basically, “He’s trying hard. He’ll learn.”
I told him all of this, of course (except for the part about defending him, which seemed inappropriate to say). I don’t really know if he believed me, but I got out of the room without being punched.
Somehow, I went from being annoyed to being the annoying one. I don’t mean to be obnoxious or condescending, but I always seem to come off that way. I hear this all the time from people. I once had a therapist tell me she thought I was a jerk for the first few weeks of therapy.
So, I’m aware this is a problem. Last week, I even thought about telling him, “Listen, if I’m telling you things you already know, or if I’m talking down to you, or whatever, just let me know. I’m just trying to help.” I don’t really remember why I didn’t, other than the opportunity didn’t present itself. Now, of course, it’s too late.
I honestly don’t know what to do about it at this point. So far, I’ve just avoided talking to him, for fear of offending, but I can’t very well do that for the rest of the shoot.
What should I do?