In my former life, I worked in administration for a global energy company. I worked hard, put my time in and climbed the corporate
pecking order ladder. The job family was a good fit for me because I am organized and efficient, can juggle projects, connect the dots, and keep things moving.
After being promoted to a more senior position supporting one of the Vice-Presidents, I found myself with many new responsibilities and challenges. The man I reported to was kind, agreeable and well respected. Definitely a high flyer and certainly on track to become something more. We developed an easy camaraderie, I made some new friends and, for a time, felt very much at home.
Then, one day, everything changed. We were all told that our present boss would be moving on to a new opportunity and we’d be getting a new VP from another part of the business. Not a problem, I thought. In my career, I’d had many supervisors and had made many such transitions successfully.
A farewell lunch was held and the old boss shipped out; arrangements began to move the new guy in from downtown.
A few days later, I received a phone call from his then assistant. The movers were scheduled to pack belongings the next day and she wondered what time I planned on being there. Surprised, I asked, “Why? “So you can photograph the birds,” was her reply. What?
You see, the new boss was an avid hunter and apparently had a variety of stuffed birds mounted in his office. He expected – demanded actually – that the birds and his very large swordfish be hung in the same fashion at his new office.
Lest you think I am against hunting, I’m not. I grew up on a farm and I understand what happens when the deer herd is over-populated. It’s not pretty. I’ve grown up with hunters and I’ve eaten some game. Any hunter I know eats what they take, and they don’t just kill for killing’s sake.
Back to the story. Boss moves, birds, fish and assorted dead things get hung up on the wall. Staff meets boss, and boss makes his mark on the department. And not in a good way. Boss yells at employees, talks down to staffers and soon .. people begin to hide and I ponder changing careers.
Flash forward a few months … boss books an expensive hunting excursion for exotic game in Africa. Every single one of us endure endless meetings derailed by his hunting talk.
Finally, the date arrives for his “big trip.” We wished him well, shut the door and erupted in cheers because we all knew what we were in for — three gloriously delicious weeks of mutual respect, project work, a host of accomplishments and, at long last, peace.
And then, like a dark cloud, he returned.
With stories of the trip of course … And pictures!
Pictures … of the carnage.
Water buffalo. dead.
Zebras! Who shoots a Zebra? That’s like shooting a pony!
I found myself sitting at my desk, reeling at the blood and the gore and the look of absolute delight on his face. I still shudder when I think of those images.
Time passed, and our work life returned to normal. He continued on as usual, swearing at the mail room clerks when his paper wasn’t delivered on time and made a sport out of crucifying analysts in budget meetings. Halls were empty and staffers hid regularly.
Over time, I notice him growing increasingly agitated. Why?
Because his shipping container of African dead things – all the skins and hides and hooves and heads that he couldn’t wait to display – was delayed. In Customs. Where it sat in the hot African sun. And rotted, rendering all contents unusable.
And to this day, I still smile when I think of that day: the day that one of the nastiest people I’ve ever known had himself a big, fat slice of Karma pie.
And I like to think those animals smiled with me.