I Love My Boss…(but here’s the awkward bit)

I love my boss.
We’ll call him Morris – to protect the identity of the innocent.
He hired me in 2000.
We’ve been together ever since.
We’ve worked together longer than either one of our first marriages lasted.

Now, that says something.

Of course, it is probably due to the fact that we live/work in separate cities. He’s in Anchorage. I’m in Juneau. Contrary to what you may think, it’s not like working in Boston, jumping in your car and going to see a colleague in Cambridge. Or having an office in Seattle and one in Renton, or even a division in Orlando and another field office in Miami.

Why?

Juneau doesn’t have any roads out. (Our main road extends all of 40 miles before it has a lovely yellow sign that reads: Dead End) If Morris wants to come and see me, it involves jumping on Alaskan Airlines and flying 1.5 hours or almost 600 miles/900 km. The upside is I learned early on in our relationship that when Morris says he’s coming to Juneau – chances are – he ISN’T REALLY coming to Juneau. If he actually did show up, then it was one of those days when it was painful for me to sit, because obviously monkeys were flying out of my butt.

It was common for him to say in the beginning, “I’ll be there on the morning flight on Thursday.” Then Thursday morning I’d get a call from Morris, “Yeah, I’m not coming.” At first, I was crushed, but then realized, Morris obviously thought I was handling things okay! I think in our first five years I only saw the man ten times.

What cracks me up nowadays, is …. well, wait, I have to back up.

So Morris hired me in 2000 for a job that didn’t exist with the company at the time. Okay, so I jumped in with both feet and like a mountain goat whose afraid of heights, I stumbled and whined and did the best I could out on the skinny ass ledge. We’re lucky that I didn’t take up chain smoking during this period. Although I did realize early on that sensible shoes made a huge difference when working 12 hour days.

Of course, I should have taken a note from my gut that this job was going to be like a roller coaster when I answered the phone one day and they asked for “Pees Lots.” I turned to the manager and thinking this was a crank call told her who they were looking for. She thought I was nuts cause obviously I should have known…duh, of course…..Pees Lots…he’s in the maintenance hangar.

Oh great. So I go down and throw open the door to the hangar and yell out: PEES LOTS phone call line 1. (Of course we didn’t have an intercom system, this is Alaska. We’re lucky we’re not still using tin cans and string.) Some time later, I did come to find out that Pees Lots was actually someone’s name – obviously – but his name was Paul Lott (name changed to protect my buddy). From there on out, I understood it was P. Lott….not so much the Pees Lots.

ANYHOW. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, fast forward five years and our parent company decides to sell off our part of the company. Long story short (cause of course there is always some drama, and there were quite a few moments that left me either wondering if I fell down the stupid rabbit hole again, or going in for hearing tests cause that can’t be what the new owners just said….out loud….to me…right?) I tell Morris, I’m not staying to work for these new lunatics without him.

Enter a new job with Morris!

Reason #2 I love my boss: When talk of leaving the one company to start a brand new company. (Yes, that’s right…starting up a brand new company…talk about moments of insanity.) I have heard Morris on several occasions say, “I took the one good employee with me.”

Cue Self: Gleaming bright shiny star enters stage left and takes a bow.

Anyhow, I’m getting there…

With the new company, the employees who hadn’t had the pleasure of working with Morris before would corner me and say: “OMG! Did you hear? Morris is coming to Juneau on Wednesday!” For days the proclamation would be shouted throughout the offices….Morris is coming….Morris is coming! It was like kids waiting for the Easter Bunny to show up. They wanted to know: What does he looked like? Is he nice? Will he be here for the whole week? Does he like donuts? How long have I worked with him? Is he mean? Does he like beer? What religion is he? It was exhausting to be one of the only ones who had ever met Morris. After a while I took to hiding in the maintenance shop’s furnace room. Employees would either be on the verge of peeing their pants or have beads of sweat breaking out on their upper lips. It was hard to tell if they were excited or fearful.

My standard response: “Don’t worry about it. He’s not coming.”

After 11 years of our working marriage, I’m right 90% of the time.

So here’s my awkward bit: after all these years of working together, our interaction is 80% phone calls and emails. When he comes to town, it’s generally to check in with the operations teams and while we’ll have our minutes together – we don’t really spend a huge amount of time together.

That’s our flow. He knows, I know, what I’m doing, which is another reason I love my boss. He points me in the direction, pulls the rip cord sticking out my back and off I go. Easy. This is why we work so well together.

So you can imagine my befuddlement when he tells me last week that we’re going to go to Miami together. Wait. What? We’ve never traveled together, unless you count the times I drive him to the airport. I’m thinking…holy shit…we’re going to spend four days together. What on earth are we going to talk about? I’ve only got so much “chatty” stuff in my arsenal before I start to talk out my ass. Mental note: bring breath mints.

Oh and did I mention, neither one of us likes flying. So this trip has the potential to be entertainment in it’s highest form. Almost like the time I was on an Alaskan Airlines flight with my better half, his boss and co-workers when the pilot came on and said:

“Excuse me folks. In case you feel the plane jerk a little bit as we approach our landing, I wanted to let you know the plane will be landing itself today. It’ll do the whole thing on auto pilot. I won’t have my hands on the controls.”

I literally started yelling out as I started to get out of my seat: “WHAT DO YOU MEAN AUTO PILOT?” Luckily I was in the middle seat between my better half and the Director of Safety for his company – or else I would have been up and out of my seat, no doubt ending with a take down by the Air Marshal.

If I don’t like flying and Morris doesn’t like flying, then how many little bottles of alcohol can I have during each flight? Hummm. An 8:30AM departure, I could have mimosas at the airport bar. Do I invite him too? Or is it better to just mimosa by myself? He could have a beer. Does he drink beer at 8:30AM? In all reality, it’ll be more like 7:30AM as the flight leave at 8:30AM.

Just wait until he sees me break out my sanitary wipes on the plane. Not for my hands but for my seat/tray table/seat belt. Then I’ll offer him one. Okay, maybe I’ll just have to run around him and board early with “those who need extra time or assistance.” Then I can get both our seat areas cleaned before he gets on.

What to talk about on the plane? Two out of four flights we’re sitting next to each other. So, did you see the latest UFC fight? Love that Forrest Griffin. Yeah, then he’ll think I’m nuts. Luckily with the sound of the airplane engines, you won’t be able to hear the awkward crickets chirping away in our silence. Then there’s the car ride to the hotel, meals….down time. Really?

Now, I can’t decide if am I more nervous about the flights (we’re going through Chicago so we’re definitely going to get stuck), trying to pack everything in a carry on, or spending four days with my boss… with whom the longest one-on-one time has probably been the length of a meal.

This morning I get my flight details and Morris tells me, “I may take an earlier flight to Seattle.” Yeah, well this is how it all starts. He changes one flight and then the next….until he gets frustrated enough he doesn’t fly at all. I told him, “I’ll see you in Miami.”

Anyone who knows me, you know my boss. If you send this to him, I will break into your home and unleash three hearty crickets. The first cricket the pet will find and eat. The second cricket will be the one you find and release outside. The third cricket….that’s the ninja cricket that will torment you with their chirp for days and days to come.

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