I hate my boss
Six hours of standing beside a dental chair makes me feel my blood rising up from my feet to every vein in my legs, making its walls bulge and causing me to scream silently in excruciating pain. It surges up through my gut, shoots up to my chest as if being pounded by a hammer, and makes my heart beat so fast that I want to rip it out. Then it reaches my brain, and my head just wants to explode.
I hate my boss, and every day I bottle up this enormous anger inside my head, as angry as the blood raging through my veins. I try hard to restrain it. Sometimes I can’t, though. So, I just curse her inside my head countless times.
Ever since my college years, I’ve often blamed others for my failures. I hated my English professor in technical writing for giving me a midterm grade of 2.0, which led me to lose my scholarship for the second semester of my second year in Nursing.
Her remarks were so harsh that I doubted myself and started to question my inclination toward writing and my fascination with my English classes. When I graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2010, I faced an unknown future. There was a surge of fresh nurses, yet few hospitals were hiring unless the new graduates could afford to pay for their training, with the hope to be employed afterward. Worse, others worked as volunteers to get a year or two of hospital experience before heading abroad.
Many of us went astray from the field and into the call center industry. I was one of them. For five years, I imprisoned myself in the corporate world. I thought I would never pursue nursing again.
I was held up with the unspoken responsibility of sending my younger brother to college. My parents helped me, of course, but I had to shoulder most of his tuition and monthly allowances for four school years. I was so adamant about succeeding in this new world I had joined because I had a sibling to support (and parents whom I chose to support financially, too). Subconsciously, I wanted to succeed even in another path.
Working in a call center was like scrambling up Mount Apo and onto its boulders with sulfur vents. Every day was always stressful and suffocating. Not a day went by peacefully. I would curse at the person on the other end of the line, sometimes at my boss or another colleague’s boss—whoever made my job complicated when it shouldn’t have been. Of course, all of these were only inside my head.
I hated the stunted, short-haired, high-pitched supervisor of another team. I hated her because everyone hated her, so I’d been told. I hated how I simply got intimidated by her presence.
I hated the flashy, perky and tactless team leader for a financial account under a prominent US-based credit card company. She would harangue us about our flaws and mistakes like we were the ones solely responsible for them. I never felt that she nurtured us; though we had to be independent at times, for most of my stay under her leadership, I felt she didn’t care about us. She only had regard for her performance rating.
Now, I work with a different supervisor, a dentist by profession, a thousand miles away from home and back to the medical field as a dental assistant. (I was unhappy with my office job, and I had this gut feeling that perhaps it was time to go back to nursing. A former colleague of mine had a sister-in-law who owns an agency, and she offered me a job here in Saudi Arabia.)
My current boss is the exact opposite of my previous team leader: quiet, reserved, aloof. Perhaps I can misjudge her as insensitive and distant to her subordinate. Despite working in Saudi Arabia where English is not widely spoken, my supervisor speaks English fluently, yet we hardly communicate unless we’re in the middle of a procedure extracting a tooth, or drilling a decaying one or inhaling the fetid air from its roots.
During Ramadan season (8 p.m.-2 a.m.) and most of the afternoon shift (4 p.m.-9 p.m.), the influx of patients is excessive. I hold my bladder, sometimes miss a bite of my crackers and stand for almost the whole shift. I never hear her ask if I’m okay. I don’t ask her, either. I feel that the person leading me this time still doesn’t care about me.
After getting done with one patient, I usually take three to four patients’ charts from the receptionist, assist the dentist, go back and forth, clean and sterilize instruments, then tend to another patient again. The cycle repeats tomorrow and the next day. The dentist doesn’t offer me water to drink or a piece of the biscuit I caught her eating behind my back. Not that I couldn’t afford a bottle of water and a snack. I just can’t seem to feel her compassion.
I hate my boss, but must I hold her responsible for my own job satisfaction? No. My rational self says I can’t blame her. The idea that I should be responsible for my emotions struck me hard after reading Mark Manson’s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.” In it, he said: “There’s a difference between blaming someone else for your situation and them being responsible for your situation. Nobody else is ever responsible for your situation but you. Many people may be to blame for your unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you. This is because you always get to choose how you see things, how you react to things. You always get to choose which metric with which to measure your experiences with.”
I know now that I complain about my bosses because I want to be heard and see change. Some would refute this belief and demand that I start the change in myself. But I do think we all just want to be heard. To see change, we have to speak up. Except oftentimes, when I actually do, it has caused me trouble.
Someday, when I get the chance to lead and become someone else’s boss, I have a plan. I hate my boss now, but my strategy as a future lady boss is: DON’T.
D: Determine the problem by initiating a conversation with my subordinates and engaging them in discussions.
O: Offer opportunity by giving them choices and letting them participate in the decision-making process.
N: Nurture them by teaching the necessary skills and training them to prepare for their career advancement.
T: Thank them for their hard work at the end of the day. Acknowledge their efforts and recognize their accomplishments.
When my time comes to be the lady with a “supervisor” nameplate, my hair in a confident ponytail tucked under my nurse’s cap, I see myself walking away from the nurses’ station after a night’s shift, and I would like to at least hear my team say, “I DON’T hate my boss!”
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Mabeth Bonga, 29, currently lives in Baqa’a, Ha’il Region, Saudi Arabia, working as a dental assistant.
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