TheOttawacker

By TheOttawacker

The look that tells me I'm cooking dinner

If I've told Mrs. Ottawacker once, I've told her a thousand times. The better you do your job, the more of it you get to do. It's the inverted scale of gratitude. Been there, done that. No thanks.

I'll tell my story, because, let's face it, this is all about me, isn't it? Actually, I can't, because ridiculously, I was asked to sign the official secrets act. But I can make it general.

I worked in communications for the Canadian government. I was brought in to cover announcements, write speeches, write stories for the web, promote the programme for which I was responsible with TV channels, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc. I started it off looking after one programme and for the first year or so, I did it rather well. In fact, I did it very well. I travelled, met interesting people, wrote some good stuff, had very good placements on TV, radio and in the media in general. 

In fact, I did it so well, I got asked to take on a second programme. "Great," I said, I'd love to. "Out of interest, how much extra do I get?" Surprisingly, there was no additional money.

For the first six months or so, I struggled getting my head around the background and history of the programme, and then started to get everything up to speed. In fact, with a little unpaid overtime to go along with my unpaid additional programme, I managed to get both things up to the same level (or near enough).

Then my manager got fired, for some egregious mischief, which may or may not have involved a donkey, a person of restricted growth, and naked sunbathing on the roof alongside a bottle of tequila. Actually, I don't think it was that. He got away with that.

"You'll report directly to the director, now," I was told. My director, as far as I could tell, had committed all her energies into becoming a vice-president, so for 12 months, I had only one meeting for her, during which she informed me I was to be sent off the next day to Quebec City to host (on her behalf) a roundtable and make a presentation on the organization's communications output. Due to the execrable state of her French, it transpired she had misunderstood what the roundtable was about. She had also misunderstood what her role in it was to be - and neglected to tell me that I was actually replacing her as the sole representative of the government. 

Finding myself in Quebec City as the sole representative of the organization (and at that time not even a Canadian citizen), with no idea of what I was doing there until the time I arrived (fortunately the day before), no idea who was going to be involved in the roundtable (which turned into a panel discussion involving two renowned Quebec journalists, one of whom may or may not have had her own weekly current affairs television programme), I somehow managed to organize a PowerPoint presentation, host the panel discussion, ask the odd insightful question, and pretend I knew what the hell I was talking about. I was drained, and made my way back to Ottawa in a semi-comatose state. My director had seemingly taken the week off on leave. You can imagine my delight when an organizational email was sent round two days later congratulating my director on her excellent showing at the event, and thanking the entire team for its contribution. As I was the entire team, I suppose I should have been satisfied with that. 

This carried on in a similar vein for a further two years I accumulated two additional programmes, worked without a supervisor at a senior manager's level (with no commensurate pay raise or promotion), until my director became my VP, and possibly the world's laziest and least personable human being was brought in as her replacement.

Shortly thereafter my hair started falling out and I went on blood pressure medication. I may have told this story a thousand times before, but it never fails to rankle.

The moral of the story is, Mrs. Ottawacker, do your job well, but not too well. 

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