My amazing boss at Vortex of Doom Communications left the company on her own terms, after holding herself hostage for a huge "stick around" ransom, thanks to having a new job offer in hand when the board finally bothered to talk to her about the post-acquisition transition. Her last day was Friday, November 14, 2008. She was beyond ecstatic about it. I was considerably less than thrilled. I was disconsolate, actually. My sadness was mitigated, though, by the fact that I myself would be gone in two weeks (less, with Thanksgiving week), and by the fact that 99 percent of my own work was done. I also still had high hopes that somehow, she'd be able to help me find a job - not necessarily with her new employer, but with a someone in her vast professional network, or through one of her head-hunters.
So, I couldn't help but feel conflicted when I stepped into her office for the last time and proceeded to conduct a mock exit interview.
Me: Thank you for taking the time to meet with me, Boss Lady. I will try to keep this brief.
Boss Lady: No problem. If it takes too long, I'll just leave. I'm going to keep packing up my shit while we do this.
Me: You don't have much to pack up, though, do you?
Boss Lady: Nope. Most of my office stuff is still in the trunk of my car from the move in July. I wasn't about to waste my time moving it in here, just to have to get it all out again in a couple months.
Me: Of course. So, let's start off with the big one. What is your primary reason for leaving Vortex of Doom Communications?
Boss Lady: Really? Are we really doing this? I thought this was just a - you know - a bit.
Me: It is a bit, but it's our last one, so play along. What is your main reason for leaving?
Boss Lady: Well, we could go with "I got a job offer I couldn't refuse," but really, I'd have to say that it's because this place was already a swirling whirlpool of shit and dysfunction, long before our new owners came along. It was making me feel like I needed to drink every night, and a couple of times it frustrated me so much I almost cried.
Me: And you don't cry.
Boss Lady: And I do not cry. So just put down "fuck this place" for number one.
Me: I see. What do you value about the company?
Boss Lady: Nothing. No, wait. I value the package they only gave me because I had an offer in hand when they got around to finding out they couldn't do the transition and audit without me. I value that.
Me: And? [Batting eyelashes]
Boss Lady: [Holding chocolate voodoo doll, still in its box] You wanna hang on to this?
Me: [Looking wounded] I gave that to you! It was a gift! Wasn't there anything else here of value to you?
Boss Lady: I'm sorry. Okay, okay. I value you. Geez - you're so high-maintenance. You know I hate this kind of stuff.
Me: I know. But I gotta get my last shots in while I can. I know you're not crossing The Bridge, like, ever again. And unless it's to work for you, I ain't going to the other side. Okay. This one will be more fun. What do you dislike about the company?
Boss Lady: They took away our free sodas.
Boss Lady: [Blinking]
Me: That's all?
Boss Lady: Yes. Otherwise, it was a fabulous company.
Me: Okay. How was your relationship with your manager?
Boss Lady: My what?
Me: Your manager? Supervisor? You know - boss.
Boss Lady: I adore Jim [CFO who bailed on us two years prior], but I would never work for the guy again. The rest were idiots.
Me: I see, I see. Did working here help you to advance your career goals?
Boss Lady: Well, I'm starting a new job that's pretty much a lateral move from this one. So, no. I'd say my five years of 90- to 100-hour work weeks, babysitting a bunch of sales boys and killing myself in a fruitless attempt to polish this turd have not exactly advanced my career.
Me: You're pretty cranky for someone who's leaving forever in an hour, and who was paid - what, about eleventy thousand dollars for the last 60 days.
Boss Lady: [Gesturing toward the white board, behind me] You are forgetting Rule #4.
Me: Sorry. Forgot. Okay, last question. What could the company do to improve this workplace?
Boss Lady: I don't know, Joe. Suck less? How about not fail. The company could try not failing. They'd have to go back in time, obviously. But then maybe we could have gone IPO, like our competitors, and not have had to sell out to this bigger bunch of assholes and all lose our jobs.
Me: Would a company car have helped?
Boss Lady: You know, I think it kind of would have.
Me: Corporate jet?
Boss Lady: YES! And those automatic hand-dryers in the rest rooms!
Me: A Starbucks in the lobby?
Boss Lady: Well, obviously. Maybe a masseuse on staff. Or Skittles in the vending machine.
Me: Well, at least we learned new catchphrases. If it weren't for our old receptionist, we would never have given any thought to which sodas were highly drunk daily!
Boss Lady: I'm going to be saying that for the rest of my life! And let's not forget the sales guys, with their "see, what happened was..."
Me: And the one I should have said earlier when you were bitching about everything...
Boss Lady: Hey - If you want happy, get a dog!
Me: Well, if you think outside the box at the end of the day, it is what it is.
Boss Lady: UGH.
Me: And will you have a coworker like Foghorn Leghorn at the new place? I doubt it. Ah say, ah say, ah say.
Boss Lady: [in her best Foghorn Leghorn voice, which was really bad but kind of adorable] Ah say - wHot in THEE hale is the matta with ya, boy?
Me: You're going to miss me.
Boss Lady: I don't miss people.
Me: I'm not people. You're going to miss me.
Boss Lady: Maybe a little.
(The preceding has been highly fictionalized, because while the idea of a mock exit interview was cute, the reality of it was just kind of sad.)