Sometimes, Breaking Up With Your Boss Is Hard To Do
On Friday I’m going to have that “it’s not you, it’s me” chat with my boss.
I’ve had sleepless nights over it. I don’t know how he’s going to react. I’m not sure what I’m going to say. Do I go into all the trivial things that really piss me off, or do I talk about the bigger picture — the “I hate working full-time” picture? The “Singaporean manners shit me to tears” picture? The “we are very lonely here” picture? Do I break it to him gently, or just hit him with the fact that I’m quitting?
My boss is quite dishy. He is calm, considerate and patient when appropriate; sarcastic, snarky and inappropriate when appropriate. I’m going to miss him. I don’t really know if I can convey how much I will miss him without sounding like a lunatic stalker. (He’d probably love to have a stalker, too, and I just can’t give him the satisfaction.)
I’ve done this before, broken up with bosses. Some breakups came waaaaay too late. One boss left me. That hurt, a sharp and personal pain like an unexpected bikini wax.
One boss I mourned for nearly a year. Before the breakup, we were on the phone together several times a day. He’d fly to Melbourne for drinks and fancy dinners. He’d fly me to Sydney and put me up in a five star hotel and let me loose on the posh parts of the city with a company credit card. He even danced a jig when I snagged an interview with someone-or-other — I forget now. But I missed him after we broke up. And I missed the company credit card, too. Oh yeah, that boss was dishy too.
Another boss, an asthmatic, would put a grin on my face every morning when he called to breathlessly ask me what I was doing that day. If it was anything vaguely exciting, I’d hear the psssht of his inhaler and feel the thrill of victory.
I’m going to miss my boss. I’m going to miss the camaraderie of working in an office, even though the camaraderie is severely curtailed by the need for each of us to stare at our computer screens in slave-like-drone-like-zombie-like-devotion for 7 hours and 50 minutes every day. (The company turns a blind eye to the 10 minutes a day we spend peeing and refilling our water bottles at the water cooler.)
I lay awake at night and worry that I’m making a big mistake — letting go of the stable income, the nice house in a friendly leafy street, the company health insurance, the company retirement plan. I try to remind myself how miserable I am at the prospect of catching the bus every day, getting into the lift in my office building, facing the crowds at lunchtime, then catching the bus home again. The work is not so interesting but it’s do-able Getting to work kills me. Every trip to the ladies is another voodoo pin in my soul. Oh, and paying the rent, which chews up more than 40% of my salary, is making my badly-dyed orange hair go grey.
So… deep breaths… I have to have the chat. I’m going to have to say, out loud, “time for a chat”, and then walk the walk of shame past so many cubicles into one of the glass-walled conference rooms. Then I will tell my blue-eyed, dashingly grey-haired boss that we are leaving Singapore and, therefore, quitting. It will be the end of the relationship. There is no way I will have his odd British respect once I’m not helping him look good to his bosses. He won’t see it that way, of course. But that’s the stark reality of our relationship. All’s well when the underlings make the boss look good.
Sometimes, breaking up is hard to do. And it really is not him, it’s Singapore. It’s Singapore public transport, it’s working full-time, it’s the night-owl baby, it’s being mistaken for a grandmother, it’s the fact that I’m not learning anything in this job, it’s the fact that we have made no new friends in Singapore in 15 months (we have made colleague-friends and renewed wonderful old friendships, but it’s just not enough, it’s not a fulfilling life), it’s being hot and sweaty all the time, it’s putting on weight from the oily local food, it’s the lack of exercise opportunities in my sleep-deprived working mother life, it’s the shift work, it’s the fact we’re not saving, it’s the fact that this is not an enjoyable life we have in Singapore.
It’s really not him. It’s me. It’s my need for a happy family living an exciting enjoyable fun life. It’s totally me. Poor bloke. He never really stood a chance, did he?
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9 years ago