People I like, part 3: I don’t even know what to call this one

My boss of twelve years.

I can’t give a pithy phrase that explains why I like her so much.  I guess because it’s a few different things, and none of them are easily summed up in a word or two.

1)  She’s an excellent boss. 

Well, for me.  As my husband is an excellent husband for me.  Maybe other people wouldn’t appreciate it either of them as much as I do.  Anyway…

She tells you when something’s wrong, as she tells you when something’s right, without being passive-aggressive or beating around the bush.  She’s not afraid to just say “That is wrong”.  That is, about facts, like you’ve got a number wrong in a report.  She’s one of those rare people who seems to easily make a distinction between the presentation of facts and that of opinions.  So while she would tell you that a number or a name that you entered in a report is wrong, she never implies that the way you dress or keep your house or think about politics is “wrong”.  I realized recently that a lot of people get those things mixed up – they will get all in your face about an opinion that you have which is different from theirs, but are squeamish about pointing out that something presented as truth by a book, teacher, politician, etc. is inaccurate.

She always knew enough about my job to know that I was doing it well, but didn’t need to know every detail of what I did everyday.  Instead of micromanaging me (which I abhor), she would tell me what she needed done and then get out of my way and let me do it the best way I saw fit.  I work well that way.  I get peeved when someone hires me to do a job and then wants to hold my hand all the time I’m working and tell me how to do every step – makes me want to say “Don’t you have something else to do with your time?  If not, and you think you can do this better than me, just fire me and do this job yourself.”

2)  She can “dress up” and “dress down” at will.

What do I mean by that?

She can attend a scientific conference, play a game of basketball, go out to a fancy dinner, and round up cows, all in the same week.

She can socialize with her employees or with a room full of international professors with the same apparent ease.  She seems to enjoy my low-brow sense of humor, while at the same time being rather “classy” herself.

There is a flexibility to her life that I wish I had more of – I am terribly uncomfortable in formal settings, and unable to pretend that I’m not.

3)  She rides her bike a lot.

Of course, there are plenty of people in this world who ride their bike a lot and yet I can not stand.  She rides her bike because she lives in a town where she can, she likes it, and she wants to keep fit.  Sometimes she rides her bike one way and walks her bike back, because she knows “weight-bearing exercise” is important.  I think that’s way cool. 

Riding your bike to work, to doctor’s appointments, out to lunch – those are signs not only that you are trying to be healthy, but also that you are living a lifestyle that allows you to take the time to ride your bike somewhere, instead of being in a constant hurry.  It’s being more in touch with the world that you ride through, instead of being in your insulated bubble with your air conditioning or heat and your radio.

So I had a very good job for the past twelve years, and a lot of what made it so good was this woman who was my supervisor.  I will miss her – although I am sure that we will get together from time to time.  The chances of me having such a good boss in the next job I find are pretty slim.


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