A few years back, I made what ended up being one of the bigger mistakes of my life: Answering a “Help Wanted” ad on Craigslist with the heading:
LOOKING FOR AN ADMINISTRATIVE ROCK STAR!
I know, I know…if you’ve read any of my other stories, you’d think, “How could this possibly be one of the bigger mistakes of your life? You’ve done some really stupid shit.” And I’m with you there, seriously. So maybe I’ll just call it, “making one of the bigger mistakes when it comes to accepting a job offer” instead.
Let’s start out with the headline of this ad: Why would anyone think that’s a good mode to get the right people in the door? Who does this attract other than day-drinking attention whores with nothing to lose (Hi, we’ve met, right?) – and why the hell would anyone in their right mind respond to it unless they were desperate?
Well, I think we just answered why.
Upon deciding that I was going to relocate back to Oregon, I had spit-balled at several job listings for the Portland Metropolitan Area, and after a few weeks, I get this call from a woman saying she was calling about the ad I had answered. I said, “Hi, you’re going to have to be more specific, I get around.” She replies with, “Oh, yeah, the one that says “looking for an administrative rock star!”
I laughed and said, “Ohhhhh (crap). Yeah. That one. Yeah, I remember.”
So we scheduled a phone interview for the next day, during which I was wearing no pants and drinking beer. Beers actually. It went well. Mostly because she did most of the talking and I just sounded agreeable. “I think this went really well, I’d like to schedule a second interview with you!” Ok, lady.
Second interview also went well (this one was in person, pants were worn), and the third interview was weird as fuck – I was given a $1,500 budget to plan a fake party while utilizing Microsoft Office products like Word, Excel, etc.
Hi, if anyone knows how to plan a bomb-ass party on a limited budget, it’s me. So yeah, weird as fuck, but I slayed it, and they hired me.
To say this job was a complete and utter bait and switch would be an understatement. And listen, this isn’t even going to go into ALL of it because honestly, it’s not a story, it’s a book. It’s a fucking novel. You’re going to get the short story version that focuses on the timeframe where this job and my sanity were circling the drain.
We’re going to skip over how my job started as a real job, an actual administrative support position that entailed participating in both marketing and accounting support and somehow ended up as personal assistant to the president of the company, who, at the time, was going through an ugly-ass divorce.
We’re also going to skip over the fact that I went into work one day and found out that I was supposed to not only find this man – who I did not know – a new residence in both Oregon and California, but I was to furnish them both as well while utilizing the company credit card.
I DON’T KNOW THIS MAN, I DON’T KNOW WHAT KIND OF TOILET COZY HE WANTS OR HOW TO DECORATE HIS NEW MIDDLE AGED MANCHILD BACHELOR PAD FOR FUCKSSAKE. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
We’re totally going to skip the part where I was sitting in the living room of his estranged wife because I was supposed to supervise the very-probably-drunk movers while they removed his belongings from my boss and his once-shared house (she was getting the house in the divorce, hence need for new digs for the sassy new bachelor) as she sat there with her BFF in their tiny yoga attire sipping wine and being generally shitty to me as if I was also probably fucking this guy (Spoiler alert: I was not).
And we’re most definitely going to just gloss over, due to now being the company president’s personal assistant (seriously wtf), how much I ended up having to know about this man who I was “supporting” right down to what medications he was on and the “interesting” content (jesus fucking christ) of personal emails he sent to old girlfriends. I truly started feeling like I was in some sort of bizarro Seinfeld storyline.
We are going to just tap dance right past all that magic (for now).
We’re going to get right to the part where, a bit after they hired me, they also hired this other guy named Brian. Goddamn fucking Brian.
Brian was a conman. A ridiculous, cologne-soaked troglodyte of a conman. He was hired as a marketing expert, but what he was really an expert on was convincing people he wasn’t a compulsively lying shitbag hustler who was also prone to pulling his dick out in public (Spoiler Alert: He pulled his dick out in public).
In retrospect, he totally reminds me of this trashfire I worked with named Sam who hustled his way into a management job at a scrap metal processor I worked for in my 20s who ultimately was fired along with a couple of his friends who he brought onboard at the company…for embezzlement. Because, like Brian, he was a lying shitbag hustler (never saw his dick though). And, like Sam, Brian was good at schmoozing dudes with big bank accounts and bigger egos and saying allllllllll right things so that you didn’t actually notice the smell of burning trash until it was mostly too late. Oh, and stealing shit. He was good at stealing shit (well not that good I guess if you get caught, but I digress).
So this Brian dude was hired, and as time went on, he got very comfortable there, too comfortable really, and less and less comfortable with the man who signed his paychecks, i.e. the guy whose children I drove to Hebrew school and whose ex-wife I saw naked (yeah, another story). And, honestly, I get it? You know? Boss was a chore at times, but I have to be #teamchore on this one.
When Brian wasn’t allowed to go off and run amok and pretend he was a man of the 80s where the perimeters you needed to stay within to avoid being an HR/legal liability were a lot hazier, he acted out just that much more. He was an insolent child. A “Herman Munster’s slightly handsomer cousin-esque”, cocaine-addled toddler. You say I can’t do the thing? WATCH ME DO THE THING WHILE PISSING MYSELF, GODDAMMIT, I WILL DO THE THING, YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME.
The bummer of it was, I was at a point with my boss where homeboy was seeming to finally agree that maybe I could start transitioning into more of a “business role” with the company instead of basically being his bitch (hindsight being what it was, my bitch-leash was never going to be severed), but the role I wanted to transition into – marketing – would involve working directly with and probably traveling with Brian.
This whole plan get less and less appealing as time went on. I didn’t so much HATE the guy to be honest. He was funny in a big dumb ape kind of way, and we got along fine, even when he was being a bit cringey. He introduced me to a couple of shady greek dudes he used to work for who got me a crackin good deal on a used car after my Jeep died a horrible death. That was a lifesaver, to be honest.
But it wasn’t just Brian’s increasingly toddler-like behavior at work that put me off, though that was part of it because who the fuck wants to work with a six foot six man-baby prone to tantrums? I divorced that shit already.
And it wasn’t the fact that he was attempting to manipulate everyone in the office into some sort of bizarre coup and bringing bottles of vodka in when the boss was away. That was part of it. Definitely. Things were getting insane there and it truly affected my work-ethic. It’s hard to be joyful at your place of employment when Brian is getting everyone to air their grievances over vodka in the new expansion of the office building, sitting around on the floor and basically just being depressing as “Brian The Vodka Fairy” refilled everyone’s red solo cups. Vodka should be joyful, dammit, but it just wasn’t in this case. And I was starting to see that I might need to jump fucking ship and soon.
Between all that and wondering how the fuck it was I was getting texts at 10pm from my boss who was irate that his cable in his California house wasn’t working (because HE DIDN’T PAY THE FUCKING BILL, HELLO) and “OH MY GOD, this is humiliating!” because he had his CHILDREN down there and what were they supposed to DO with NO CABLE (I don’t know, read a fucking book? Ponder your fucking privilege? Big fat shrug, man) and THIS NEEDED TO BE HANDLED IMMEDIATELY (which, after I cussed and called Cox Cable to confirm that the issue was indeed because Mr. Fancypants neglected to pay the fucking bill like his bookkeeper and I had been prodding him to do for weeks, I chose to just let it sit and handle it in the morning because are you fucking kidding me?)…
It was growing harder and harder (that’s what she said) to see a future with this company, but I had no real exit plan so I maintained as best as I could. I had rent to pay and I liked eating food.
But the night that told me, “Girl, you are NOT going to be working in any close capacity to this sentient bottle of Axe Body Spray, there is not enough money in the world,” was a night that a few of us made plans to go get drinks at one of the nearby strip clubs. Brian owed me drinks after I won a bet (I love making bets with dudes who think they’re smarter than me. This one was about music trivia. Don’t fuck with me on music trivia, especially 80s and/or Metal, you will lose). So why not, this sounded like a potentially entertaining evening at least, and at least the first few drinks would be free. Bonus.
At that time, as I mentioned, I lived in Portland, OR. There are more strip clubs per capita in Portland, OR than in any other city, and, being a woman who generally worked in male-dominated industries and quite frequently in proximity to multiple strip clubs, I was a frequent patron. It was no big deal to me, and quite frankly, some of my more entertaining nights included at least one stop to a strip club.
So I show up at the strip club. But shortly after I arrived, the other party who said they’d be joining us texted that they couldn’t make it after all, so it was just Brian and I. Ah well. At least there will be free drinks. OH, and boobs! Huzzah.
We make our way in, and Brian immediately goes to the ATM. He whips out a credit card, and pulls out $500 in twenty dollar bills. I glance down and think, huh, that looks like the company credit card, but maybe it wasn’t. I don’t know.
He buys us a couple whiskey sodas, and we head out to the “beer garden” area first so he could smoke. We meet a couple guys who are in the construction industry and he starts chatting them up and then welcomes them to hang with us. Nice old dude and a younger guy, both kind of hickish, I don’t really care. Free drinks!
We head over to the rack and sit down. Brian pulls out four twenty dollar bills and sets them down in front of each of us. One of the guys asks what the fuck, and Brian replies, “Just taking care of my new friends!”
Guys, this is Portland, OR. Portland, OR before it became unaffordable to live in that is. Even NOW a twenty laid down on the rack was a lofty statement.
Well, we just became very popular with the dancers there.
Drinks kept arriving, money kept being thrown down in front of each of us, dancers kept playing with my hair. It wasn’t a bad time, but I was like dude…I know you don’t get paid THAT much. Wait, do you?
Brian made another trip to the ATM, pulled out more cash, comes back to me and winks says in an exaggerated manner, “Busssinesss expeeennnsse!” I’m all what the heck, and he says, “These guys…new clients. Maybe not, but for tonight…yes.”
Listen, I’ve had approximately 900 whiskey and sodas at this point, but that’s about the time I realized that holy shit, he was actually pulling money out of the ATM with the company card.
“Brian, I don’t know what you’re doing and I really don’t want to, but this shit is going to come back on you. You have to know this,” I remember saying. I’m sure I was mostly not slurring. I probably had one eye closed to focus, but I still knew that this was bad fucking news and I didn’t want it on me.
He just smiled, shrugged, and waved his hands, “It’s fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.”
I realized even in my inebriated state that it was not, in fact, fine.
His new besties were growing bored with his increasingly loud banter and the dancers were even getting a bit annoyed and probably rethinking their life’s decisions that they were totally cool with up until that night. I know I was starting to have a little less fun because fuckstick here was turning into an even bigger dope than he was sober.
I turned and started chatting with one of the dancers who was on break, her name was Italy (sure it was). Pretty soon I see her eyes shift and she raises her eyebrow. “Oh boy, there goes your friend.”
I swivel in my seat and see Brian stumbling off with another dancer, and my new friend goes, “Oh, he’s with Daisy. He must have got a lapdance. I saw him go to the ATM and pull out a stack of cash.”
I just shook my head and said, “Yeah, that guy works with me but I don’t know for how much longer.” Italy and I both laughed.
Dude was gone with the new target of his generosity for a good half hour and I was growing annoyed and a BIT worried because dumdum was barely able to walk when he went back there. Annoyed because I honestly was ready to jet at this point, but I didn’t think I should bail without letting him know and/or finding him a safe ride home. I lived in walking distance so that was my mode of eventual escape.
Just about the time I had given up on him ever coming back from wherever he had run off to, Ape Man comes stumbling out of the back with a big goofy smile on his face.
“Oh, so you ARE still alive,” I snorted.
He looks down at his hand which I realize he has cupped in front of him and says to me while still looking at the contents on his palm, “Hey, do you know what these little pills are?”
Before I can respond, he says, “Oh well!” and, as I protest, “BRIAN, NO,” he tosses them in his mouth and grabs a beer that IS NOT HIS BEER and washes it down as he exaggeratedly throws his head back. “AHHHHHHHH….good stuff. Hope it’s roofies!”
This is the moment where I realized: I cannot work with this dude. I can NOT work with this dude in any capacity. And I certainly can’t attend conferences in OR out of town with this man, he needs adult supervision and I have found in the last few months or so of being my boss’s beck-and-call girl, I don’t even want to be HIS adult supervision let ALONE a gargantuan bipedal sack of rocks with the impulse control of drunken pre-schooler.
He looked down at his now empty hand as if the mystery pills had disappeared by magic. And then he started crying.
Big dummy crying in a strip club at his empty hand, “Oh god, I’m going to die now. I can’t leave my babies like this. Oh GAAWWWWD.”
Oh, did I mention that this idiot was a parent? Yeah. Anyway…
I glance over at my new friend, Italy, and she’s all, “Yeah, the bartender already called him a cab. It’s just around the corner.”
I look over and Brian starts to unzip his pants.
“DUDE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? STOP IT.”
He looks at me, looks down at his open zipper, and then starts crying again as he zips it up.
The cab shows up, the bartender, a man who looks like John Goodman and Homer Simpson had a baby, walks over to Brian, grabs him by the arm, and leads him out the front door. Italy and I follow behind, me mostly so I can ensure that he’s in a cab and going the fuck away.
Once he’s gone the fuck away, I kiss Italy goodbye after getting her number, and I stumble home, a lot more sober than I should be at this point honestly.
The next day at work (did I mention that this was a work night?No? Yeah…it was a fucking Wednesday), I show up on time, and Brian doesn’t show up. I overheard someone mentioning that he’s called in with some excuse like one of his daughters is sick. Sure, ok.
Then I get a call from Brian’s wife – Oh yeah, married, too by the way – and I remember that she and I are supposed to go wine shopping for the Christmas party that, oh Jesus, this is great….that’s going to be at Brian and Linda’s house, that’s right… She’ll be at the office in a half hour, will I be ready?
She shows up, we hop in my car, and she immediately goes into how glad she is that Brian found this job, how we’re all great people, and how good this has been for him. How good it’s been for the family, he seems so happy and he really plans on making some great changes at the company and blah blah blah, words that make it clear his wife is either super in denial, or that he’s just that good of a conman that she has zero idea what he gets up to. I listen, awkwardly, the pain of my hangover being punctuated by her loud, raspy Rachel Ray voice. God, can you make your fairy tale any quieter, I’m dyyying.
We get through the shopping trip and I’m feeling MILDLY bad that I don’t just scream, “LINDA, RUN. RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE. LINDA, IF YOU HAD ANY IDEA WHAT A DUMPSTER FIRE YOUR HUSBAND IS…DO YOU EVEN KNOW? IS IT THAT HE HAS A REAL NICE DICK OR SOMETHING? WHY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD…
At this point, the entire office environment is tense and weird. But this party is planned, caterer is hired and a deposit was paid…it’s on. It’s like no one REALLY wants to go, but we’re all sort of clinging to it as “the one good thing” at this point.
Saturday rolls around. It’s party night. Yippee. We all head over to Brian and Linda’s home, it’s beautiful, the food is great, the wine is great (because of course it is) and there are enough people and spouses and Christmas cheer that you can sort of forget about all the rest of the bullshit, at least mostly, and just sort of relax. It’s nice. Then the boss shows up and things get weird again because Brian, who has been drinking a LOT (shock!) and is in the comfort of his own house, starts being kind of a shit to the dude who, for a bit longer at least, signs his paychecks. I don’t even remember what was said, but it was definitely weird and the mood shifted a bit. So after a pretty good evening of everyone plugging their ears and going LA LA LA, THIS ISN’T A SINKING SHIP, LET’S ENJOY THE FREE FOOD AND BOOZE, people started saying their goodbyes until soon, it was just a few of us who had offered to help clean up who remained.
Brian starts slapping Linda on the ass, she says to stop, he keeps doing it, she retreats upstairs while apologizing to those of us who are still there, saying she has a bit of a headache, please don’t spend too much time on the clean up, she’ll get it in the morning.
The other helpers helped a bit and then made their escape, and it was just me left. Oh, and drunk fucking Brian of course. But he’s sitting half-slumped over on a chair near the Christmas tree. Cool.
I put a few things that could be salvaged as leftovers in the fridge and load up a box full of wine I had decided I had earned (don’t worry, I left some for Linda; I felt sorry for her).
“Hey. Heeeey. Hey, Lisa. You see this?”
I don’t hear him at first, but he gets a little louder and a little more insistent. So I look up from giving the counter a quick wipe-down and over to where he’s calling out from.
There’s Brian with his dick in his hand. Standing there like the desperate and pathetic overgrown primate that he is, holding his not-size-proportionate-to-his-big-dumb-frame penis in his big catcher’s mit of a hand. Dude thought it was a good idea to pull his dick out at the Christmas party with his wife and kids in the same house. Because of course he did.
My first thought is, “Well, the mystery of why Linda stays continues to be a mystery.”
I just look at his droopy face and go, “Dude…why.”
He starts crying and puts his dick away.
“I’m sorry….Linda…uh…Lisa. I’m sorry. I’m sorry…..”
“Yes you are, man. Jesus. Get your shit together,” I laughed. I grabbed my wine and my purse and left the scene.
AND THIS HAS BEEN PART ONE OF MY CAUTIONARY TALE OF WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER ANSWER A HELP WANTED AD WITH A STUPID FUCKING TITLE. THANK YOU FOR COMING TO MY TED TALK.