Driving home from summer camp yesterday, my 7 y.o. son asked if teachers were bosses of parents. No, I said, the principal is the boss of teachers, just like he has a boss, the superintendent over all the schools. Pretty much everyone at work has a boss.
“Who is your boss?” he said. I told him the names of the people I currently report to, and, since he knew a lot more people at my old job, talked about some of the people there who were my boss. I said actually at that job, we all worked for the lawyers, so I had almost 400 bosses, really.
He laughed, derisively, and said, “You’re just like the lowest level. You’re at the bottom, and aren’t even the boss of anyone!”
I hid the sting and explained that not everyone wants to be a boss. Being the boss often involves working a lot of nights and weekends, not being available to do fun stuff with your family, and it’s a lot of responsibility and pressure. Some of us, including your Dad, I added, just want to go to work, come home when the day is over and spend the rest of our time with our friends and family and doing what we love, not on work problems.
I also pointed out that I have had jobs where I manage or train people, and described those positions. I said I’ve actively sought out positions where I don’t have to manage people because my time away from work is really important to me, and I’d rather not have the demands and pressures being in management requires.
For him to challenge me when I’m already fragile – with regards to my job, and, as a result, mentally as well, wasn’t really the best way to start off the evening. I have to say, texting is a great thing when you can do it at home from an easy chair while your kid is watching TV and he doesn’t even know you are freaking out about being a failure. Friends are great.
I tried to talk to him a bit more, about how managers are important but nothing gets done unless workers show up every day to do their jobs. We wouldn’t have electricity if people who were not managers didn’t show up to put the wires on the poles and buildings. Nobody would be around to make our food in restaurants if everyone was a manager. Nobody could fix my car, like the people did a couple of weeks ago who fixed my engine, if everyone was a manager. The world runs on smart, reliable, skilled workers.
I like to think I am smart, reliable, skilled. You know, just in case you are looking for a worker.