Surviving Work

by Marnie Macauley April 3, 2017


advice-aprilI think it’s a crime against 18-year-olds to decide what they want to be before who they want to be (especially if it’s “us” who are “deciding”). While there’s often mega discussion of the “what,” there’s little training for the “how” to survive on the job. The work place, much like a family (to quote the late legend Mary Tyler Moore) is where you put your soul on the line daily. The problems and issues that arise can result in a life of stress that doesn’t end on a time clock. They may know their job, but where do they learn how to manage their careers, the stress of workplace, and fighting back against workplace injustice?


Dear Marnie: I work in the executive office of a medium-size franchise company. My direct boss is lazy, incompetent, and gives me “orders” that make me the bad guy when things she told me to do go wrong. I love my job, and more, was raised to treat others with respect. No one can stand her except one of the executives. My family including my husband says “forgiveness not revenge” is the Jewish way. No one understands. Any brilliant suggestions here?

– Miserable

MARNIE SAYS: First, a little clarity. While We Jews certainly believe in “forgiveness,” if we had “turned the other cheek” (a Christian principle) … we’d be passing “under” not “over” this holiday. Forgiveness in Judaism is not automatic. We’re not talking “revenge” here but fighting back against injustice. Which brings us to your boss who is so slick, so snaky, she could swallow you whole – and blame you for giving her indigestion.

“Come on down” and play “The Memo Game!” Here’s how it works: Request a meeting. Ask her to refine your job description. Add positives she hasn’t let you do, e.g. “motivate,” “create a positive staff corporate view.” When she orders you to low-blow an employee or do some other cover-her-Tuchala, memo/email/message her!  (With an FYI to the VP if you have the guts.)

Be warned. The little Sidewinder will develop a truly astounding case of the rattles because you’ve waved the one stick she fears most:  Accountability. Plus, she may be “doing” more than power lunches with the VP.

Meanwhile, your artful memos may attract someone “up there” who’ll catch her slithering. If not, take your power lunches with people who can network you into a corporation without a “manage-by-fang” policy.


Dear Marnie: I have been at my job for five years at a Jewish nonprofit. If you ask any of my co- workers they’ll tell you I’m a good worker and I think my boss feels the same way, yet, I always get the rotten end of the deal. When someone’s hours have to change, it’s mine. Ditto with days off.  I’d like to move up to a higher position, but so far, no luck. It’s getting harder and harder to get up in the morning to go to work. What do you think I should do?

– Frustrated

MARNIE SAYS: And such is the reward for excellence. More work, admiration, and a mazel tov because you, mamala are such an agreeable soul, you’ve become everyone’s Plan B. Now, hear that high-pitched wail? Trust me. No one over voting age has ever whined his way to success.  Ok, maybe “The Nanny,” Melissa Rivers, and a Beverly Hills housewife. But they had either talent, a relative, or lips the size of blowfish. If you’re always getting the “rotten end,” you have far superior sides to show.    

Get the info by looking at the history. Who do they promote? How often? Is this “use and you lose” a pattern? Also consider politics – who’s really running the show?

Consider creating your own opportunity at work. Create a better idea for your non-profit, which of course includes an upgrade for you – and a pat on the head for the organization. Get with the boss and whip out your brief but tantalizing proposal.

But fair lady, idea or not, do discuss your situation calmly with your superior(s). I’d start with … “I’m flattered I’m asked to scrub the floors (you fill it in). I would like to talk about moving up in the organization and where I stand?” Nicely. Well, what did they say?

If you get a “no” or even a “maybe” said with darting eyes and no timeline before you can cash in your IRA, get a new pair of walking shoes!

Check nonprofits you’d like to work for. There are millions of them. Even if they don’t have a current opening, try to get a human intro. Research want-ads. Make your resume a thing of beauty. Get a headhunter. Call your connections, for example, former employees you trust.

Get going, mamala. According to my watch, your coffee break is over and your Big Project is about to begin.


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