Monday, January 19, 2009

power players


During a conversation today with an old friend, the topic turned to money and power - specifically how money and power affect the way people deal with and treat others. This is something I see occasionally with a few of the older doctors, this power that they feel is due to them. Most of the younger ones don't have that bent, thank goodness, so it's not usually a factor. Some nurses make it their business to straighten that bent out of any uppity docs, and I say more power to them. I work in a department where it isn't a factor, bless the stars. But I sure do remember what it's like.


If you want to see firsthand how absolute power corrupts absolutely - go work in television or film. I've got a million stories and they all send my blood pressure skyrocketing. But it can happen anywhere and in tons of different ways. I'll never forget one regular customer we had when I was a waitress. I worked in an affluent town and she was a trust fund babe. She came in regularly with her husband and she always spoke through him. I'd go to take the order and she'd tell him what to tell me. If I'd ask her a direct question ("blue cheese or ranch?"), she'd look at him and say, "Tell her I'll have the oil and vinegar". Every time she did that it would make my eyeballs burn, but she never deviated from her pattern. We were simply beneath her. A totally different class. And she had no qualms about letting us know about it.



But my classic story about this sort of behavior comes from my Paramount days. The artist still being known as Prince was scheduled to appear on The Arsenio Hall Show, and the day before his appearance, his people sent out a memo to all of us who would typically be on the stage before and during the show. The memo was short and to the point. No one was allowed to look at Prince, and it was expressly forbidden that he would be looked in the eye. Anyone within a certain range (I can't remember exactly what) was instructed to look at the ground until he passed by. Violators would run the risk of termination.


My boss read the memo with trepidation in his voice. And when he was done he told me and my office mate, my best friend there, that we wouldn't be going up to the stage that particular day. He said we could go home early with pay and then he delegated our jobs to two more sedate people in the department. When asked why, all he would say is that he knew us both far too well. We argued strenuously, to no avail. We promised that of course we'd follow the rules. I never even mentioned the line that popped into my head immediately, attributed to Roseanne Arnold during a recent feud with The Purple One, when she said he looked exactly like he'd been dipped in pubic hair. Our restraint went unheeded and my boss had the last word.


So I never got to see Prince in person.


But I did get to keep my job.

18 comments:

speccy said...

Love it!

Potty Mummy said...

It really sounds as if he wasn't worth losing your job over - your boss did you a favour!

laurie said...

hey, no dissing Prince! he's just a kid from north Minneapolis, after all!!!

and i hear he might have to have hip replacement surgery. hey, maybe he'll end up in your hospital! it'll be interesting to see how the surgeons replace his hips ... without looking directly at him!!

best child trust fund said...

Thanks funny - I am sure it wasn't worth losing you job for.

Maggie May said...

No, not worth losing your job for.

lv4921391 said...

Wow what a fore-thinking boss...he took care of his 2 best employees in spite of themselves..hahaha

Rudee said...

Trust Fund Brat demonstrated pretty awful manners. Kind of dangerous behavior in a restaurant venue, don't you think? I hope at least they tipped well.

As for Prince, well he's just a wee bit off his rocker. At least he has an excuse.

the rotten correspondent said...

It totally wasnt' worth losing our jobs over. The funny part is that my boss (who was simply the best) went up to the stage himself to enforce the "edict" and said he had a terrible time not looking at him.

laurie - it anyone deserves blind surgery, it's Prince.

lv4921391- I don't know that we were his two best employees. We were certainly the mouthiest. But we were #3 and #4 in the dept. hierarchy and he really couldn't afford to replace us that quickly.

Rudee - I don't remember how she tipped. To tell the truth, I avoided her as much as possible. Prince has an excuse? Do tell.

The Finely Tuned Woman said...

With his attitude being the way it is, I am amazed that people bother even hanging out with Prince and accepting any of his shenanigans. He sounds like he needs to be stared at really hard by a couple of people and then needs a good talking to. Well, I never was a fan of his, so you have not burst any bubble of mine. I hope he gets a better attitude some day, he and Sharon Stone.

the rotten correspondent said...

Irene - DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON SHARON STONE!

aims said...

Good thing it was you not me. I've been known to do things I shouldn't. Especially while waitressing. Like tripping and accidentally pouring liquid all over that beautiful suit. Oh dear. What a klutz I am!

As for not looking in the eye - again - I would have stared him down - I know it.

Pffft - egos = asses.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I think Prince is a tosspot anyway. And I don't think you would have gained much by looking at his face.

CJ xx

Devon said...

I can imagine being there and not looking at him, but saying loud enough to be heard, "Why would anyone want to look at him anyway?"

Yup, I would probably be fired...

laurie said...

enough hatin' on my state-mate, prince!

i love his music. he's a genius. geniuses are quirky. so be it.

c'mon, admit it: you guys love little red corvette, don't you? and 1999? c'mon.... i see the toes starting to tap already..... raspberry beret?

distracted by shiny objects said...

Not looking at somebody because you've been told not to is like not giggling in church once the pastor's wife starts singing ALL 4 VERSES of The Wedding Song offkey. No can do.

the rotten correspondent said...

aims - I've done clumsy things when waitressing. Oops. Klutzy ol' me.
Heh.

Crystal - the only thing I would've seen was the pubic hair he was dipped in. No thanks.

Devon - I'm sure the no talking in his earshot thing was added eventually. And no breathing, either. It upsets his concentration.

laurie - so sorry to bag on your state mate. He may make my toes tap, but he's a little out of touch with reality. Case in point - Michael Jackson was on the show around the same time, and Prince made him look totally normal. I rest my case.

Distracted - I know. That's what I thought. That power of suggestion will kill you.

Anonymous said...

The guy, at most, is 5'2" and wears little boy's pants and baby shoes..I can see why he doesn't want anyone to stare at him..

You did not miss anything!

my two cents said...

You didn't actually want to see him, did you?