And Here’s Where I Fail

One of the hardest things for me to accomplish in my life is the ability to distinguish between friends, associates, and bosses.  When I was younger and first starting out as a manager, I did my best to separate myself completely from the other employees.  I was not their friend, I was their superior, and we managed to maintain a simple relationship.  I told them what to do and they grudgingly did it.  It helped that I didn’t like any of them and enjoyed making their lives miserable.  Over the years, however, I have changed the type of manager I am and because of this I have opened myself up to unnecessary drama.

I would say it started for first time when I worked with my future sister-in-law and her best friend.  They opened up to me, and I found myself opening up to them.  We talked a lot at work, and thanks to the internet, we started talking to each other outside of work as well.  Soon we started going out as friends and I was very happy to have some new friends.  Of course, this made it difficult to maintain the kind of control and order I demanded while at work.  I was warned by my boss never to make friends with the employees, it can only lead to trouble.  Well, that was easy for him to say as he was a forty year old man leading a team of 18-24 year old’s.  He was married and had kids. He didn’t need to socialize with the crew.  I on the other hand couldn’t help but become involved with the other employees, especially when I was not that much older than them at the time.

Over the past few years, things have changed slightly, as I have become a more integral part of the management staff and have a larger set of responsibilities.  In 2008 we introduced a whole new crew to my store and since then I have had no choice but to distance myself from them.  It was easier now to avoid friendships with them only because I was approaching my 30’s and they were still in high school.  They never knew me as the scrappy little half manager I was years before and they saw me as an adult, not as a peer.

We come now to present day and I have once again managed to cross the line between work relationships and friendships.  Thanks to the power of social networking, I hesitantly accepted a number of my crew as friends on Facebook.  I ignored the advice of my boss, as I felt I could handle the separation, and I found myself enjoying the interaction.  I know to my crew I am a stuffy, grumpy old pain in the ass, but they for some reason have become attached to me and I took this as an opportunity to show them that despite being 31, I can still make jokes and have a good time, provided they understand work comes first and it never goes beyond playfulness.  Obviously, there are lines that should never be crossed, and I will be sure of that.  However, I have come to see a certain number of my crew as friends, at least in the basic sense of the word.  No, we don’t hang out or call each other on the phone, but while I am still in charge at work, I get a kick out of their silly jokes and odd comments.  We pick on each other, and I don’t mind, but it seems that is where I got myself into trouble.

Yesterday, I jokingly made a comment about one of the more talkative members of my crew.  It’s no joke that she talks a lot, and I know this bothers some people, but honestly, I don’t mind it.  It seems she has a story for just about any topic you can think of, and while yes, the stories can go on and on (This one time, at band camp….) they don’t bother me, and as far as work goes, she is quite good, so I don’t make her stop.  I guess she took offense to my comment, as she has unfriended me on Facebook after calling me an ass. Now, if I were the stuffy manager person I used to be, I would simply shrug it off and not worry about it, but I’m not that person and I feel bad that I upset her.  On one hand, it was just a joke and she will probably get over it, but on the other hand, I feel like I must have crossed that manager/crew person line that I shouldn’t have crossed and it will be hard to recover from that.

I know I am probably making too much out of this, but too many people think I am this emotionless robot who doesn’t care about others feelings.  This is far from the truth as I feel pretty bad for upsetting her.  I know I make stupid comments all the time, part of which comes from my natural response to criticism as I was constantly under fire as a kid.  I learned to defend myself from criticism by firing back with sometimes painful retorts.  I am not always proud to have such a sharp tongue, and I had learned to control it while at work.  I would never say anything to her or other members of the crew at work, but now that we are free to communicate outside of that realm, I open myself up to make those stupid mistakes.

I suppose I have two choices in this situation.  I can go back to being this silent, mechanical manager person that no one particularly likes, or I can try to be a person who some people might like while others will not.  Either way, I guess I run the risk of being hated.  I know I can’t be friends with everyone, but it would be nice if I didn’t hurt the few I can at least be social with.  It looks like I have to take the loss on this one.  Until next time.

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~ by James on October 15, 2012.

One Response to “And Here’s Where I Fail”

  1. […] of course, I soon found myself as her Facebook friend, along with a handful of other employees.  You may recall an entry I posted about a year ago that was all about Destini, although I didn’… She’s the one I upset by poking fun at her.  Well, you may also recall how badly I felt […]

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