toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

November 09, 2012

vampire manager

Heather, 48, is a manager in a high profile public service department who freely admits to being consumed by a youth culture that excludes employment for people over 30. She's a vampire manager!

“I hire on youth and looks and personality rather than skills,” explains Heather. “I run my department on the cutting edge, so chances are that none of my new recruits would have prior training in my system. Skill is immaterial.”

“It’s an advantage that my new recruits are ‘green’ and not only green, but also good looking,” laughs Heather. “So, it is not exactly discriminatory that someone with fewer skills will be given preference if they are better looking than the other applicants. Skill and experience don’t count with me. I want them young, crisp and fresh.”

"I love young people around me. They keep me young. I don’t want to waste my time at cosmetic surgeries and strange blood-transfusion clinics in Switzerland. I’ve had some cosmetic enhancements, but I believe that you’re as young as the people you’re with. That’s why I cannot bear having anyone around me who looks old or haggard."

“I surround myself with crisp young things and when they start to wilt, which most of them do after three months, I replace them with a never-ending stream of younger and younger things.”

Heather insists on being on first-name terms with her staff and affects a buddy-buddy relationship with all of the young things, often throwing lavish parties and giving the latest young thing a great entree into latte society.

“I admit that the price of this type of job is that the young things have no life of their own any more,” says Heather. “Also, my style of management depends on drugs or alcohol to keep it going and if you cannot stomach my twice weekly three-hour liquid lunches then you will wilt faster than the average young thing.”

“I tell them that the trick is to drink a glass of water with every sip of alcohol," laughs Heather. "That way they stay hydrated and nice and fresh!”

Apart from the obvious age difference - which the young things must pretend does not exist - there is no ‘them and us’ divide between Heather and her staff. Ordinarily this would be good, but because of the stark age difference Heather’s young things are clearly embarrassed by her wanting to be one of them. But Heather doesn’t see this, and if she does then she doesn’t care.

"Their problem is to keep up with me," says Heather. "As long as the young things can match me step for step and look crisp and fresh every day, I am willing to renew their contract."

However, staying young and fresh and bubbly around Heather is not easy. It is almost as if she is sucking the life force out of her young things. It sounds vampirish and in many ways it is.

“There is very little organization in my ‘lettuce management style’ and that’s the way I like it,” says Heather. “I expect my young things to be creative and come up with their own ideas – but most of all I expect them to be bright, young and amusing.”

Read more by Heather:

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Kissy-kissy dismissals

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