Part 2 – My Life in Exchange for Yours – Revelation of Tyrant

Picking up where we left off, as Dear Anonymous wants to know, why was my first manager referred to as Tyrant in this story?

Read on, and once again, thank you for your time in reading this, all comments/ criticisms welcome 🙂

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Ever since my return, Tyrant had pulled a 180 with me. The first 3 months I spent in his department he was firm, but fair, friendly even. This new side I was suddenly being shown was downright ugly. The side that everyone had warned me about the day I joined. I was being subjected to the same abuse his other accountants had grown accustomed and conceded to. There are a few incidents that are notable, and shall be discussed as the story continues.

During my absence, a new accountant was drafted to the team, as the senior accountant at the time was planning on leaving. Him being a fellow countryman, H-Mad shall be his name, we meshed instantly and became great friends – to this day.

His story was that he worked for a company, and left it to come to this one after a disagreement on his raise. We would spend the evenings together, hard at work as Tyrant toiled in his office behind us over the phone. I recall one incident where, after working for a straight 10 hours without a lunch break, I was sharing a kit-kat bar with H-Mad, so I passed it along over the top of our stalls, right under the nose of Tyrant, who could see it from his office. Apparently, the hungry hippo was craving a break and a kit-kat also, as the very next day, he sneered during his typical daily rant towards us by saying something along the lines of “and you stay overtime to just eat candy” infront of some other people in the office. He fancied himself a ladies man, although he was grotesquely rotund, he had a disgusting habit of sitting in his chair, pushing it back, and patting his immense girth like some savage caveman after a delicious meal.

One time in the office I was amused to hear the sound of what I believed to be a real purring cat, I thought it strange but declined to make any comment. Tyrant however would not be tethered, comes out of his office like a blundering ogre and proclaims who has a cat in here? In an amused, comedic voice. As soon as people started laughing, he realised something was wrong, and it was revealed that there was no actual cat in the office, only H-Mad’s ringtone. To say Tyrant blew a gasket would be putting it mildly, he was furious at being made a laughing stock of he immediately ordered H-Mad to change his ring tone. Since we are on the subject of ringtones, Tyrant had a habit of yacking away on his phone for extended periods of time, being in accounts I saw that his monthly mobile bill was running close to the 300KD mark. Imagine, a 40-something year old man, who’se ringtone was the “Buttons” song by the PussyCat Dolls. It was like a bell around the neck of an enormous kitten, for everytime that music blared in the office, I knew he was close.

At that time, there was trainee from a subsidiary of the company, she had had a falling out with her supervisor and hence was to our department until things calmed down. She was Kuwaiti. It came onto me to train her, and I did. I even went the extra mile and made her quizzes, a to-do list, a job description, the whole enchilada. This seemed to fall on deaf ears with Tyrant, he did not care.

My patience was wearing thin; day after day the demeaning attitude would continue to reveal itself, all the while I was unaware as to the reason behind this sudden animosity.

One time I called him on it; in response to his constant berating comments to everyone (including myself) I walked into his office and told him, to his face, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. He proceeded to rant on about how when he was young they used to catch flies by rubbing vinegar on the inside of barrels. At that moment I was looking at him and wondering, what exactly is this swaggering oaf talking about, I was being hypothetical and here he is lecturing me on fly hunting.

H-Mad informed me one day that Tyrant had spoken to him and was planning to let me go. During that time, we had already interviewed a fresh new recruit who was to join the department, a girl, so my services would no longer be required.

This new girl, a friend of mine as well to this day as well, had been offered a salary higher than mine (the same salary I would use as a benchmark in future interviews), despite us both being fresh graduates. The only difference was, her residence was transferred, whereas mine was made from scratch.

Armed with the news that my job was in jeopardy, I spiraled into a chasm of depression. I lost weight, felt lethargic all day, lost sleep and felt utter despair when waking up in the morning to prepare for work. When at home, I would scour the papers and the online world for hints of job openings and would quickly send out my resume to any and all.

I had one bite during that period, an up-and-coming marketing agency in Kuwait City, the very heart of business in Kuwait. As it had been on my list to one time take a bus to a place I had never been to (and up to that point, I had never been to Kuwait city alone) and just walk about and get lost and find myself, I decided to embark upon that adventure and head on over there. The manager I met with was a middle aged woman, well dressed, veiled, who smoked like a chimney with the tell-tale voice of a caffeine/nicotine abuser. She had asked me to jump ship for the same salary, and another ambiguous position as she wanted to “feel out” where my talents lay. I had always wanted a job in marketing, but getting one for the same salary I was receiving seemed illogical, especially at the beginning of my career. So I gracefully turned down her offer.

One day, I had arrived early to the office, the exact time is forever etched in my memory, it was 7:50am; work officially starts at 8am. Tyrant was not there, so I thought to amuse myself a bit and was playing a mean game of Mine Sweep. The thing about my cubicle was he had clear access to stand beside me, out of my line of vision, and see me. So, for the first time in a lifetime, he came to work early, and saw me. As he started to bellow out that I was wasting office time, I told him I was not on the clock yet, as it was 7:50am. Later that day, the IT guy came to my desk to disable the games, it was unimportant however as I saw how he did it and was quick to reverse it.

This dance of one-upmanship continued for quite some time. During that period, and after lasting a whopping one or so months, H-Mad decided it was time to split, he had also had enough of Tyrant, and left the department over a disagreement regarding his leave request, which would serve as his honey moon as he was getting married, an issue he had previously discussed with Tyrant prior to joining. Tyrant reneged on his word, so my friend put forth his resignation papers. It was later revealed to me that the life expectancy (work wise) for most Arab nationals with Tyrant was around 6 months.

Once I had made a mistake on an entry a while ago that both he and his senior accountant had failed to detect before he posted it. Standard procedure dictate that the posted entry into the accounts system would need to be un-posted by IT. Previously, he would simply raise the telephone and make a call to the IT manager requesting the un-post. This time however, he asked me to photocopy the entry I had made, emblazoned it with a huge “Ayman says he made a mistake. Signed Tyrant” and asked me to hand-deliver it to the IT manager.

To those who may think that believe that since I was erring a lot, he was in his right position to criticize or admonish me, I say there are limits to criticism. I may not have been a grade-A student, I was however, smarter than the average person, as Yogi Bear said. I updated several processes that took tedious amounts of time, created several excel sheets that to this day are being used in Tyrants department, and even drafted an operating manual for the job description of accountant in his department. So yes, I had put in the effort, but it was met with scrutiny.

I was claiming my overtime for hours spent in the office one month, hours verified with a record due to the finger scanner, I was taken aback when Tyrant decided to slash my overtime and say, tough.

At the time that H-Mad had informed me that my job was near termination, he had helpfully passed my CV to a friend of his in a more well-known, more diversified local company in Al-Ardiya area. I had gone there for an interview and a test, and that is where I learnt to come up with my ultimate skiving excuse of claiming I had a flat tire on the way to work, and merely rubbing my hands over any car tire to add plausibility to my tall tale. If it fooled Tyrant, it can fool anyone.

The interview had gone well; however, the new job was stuck in limbo due to some inter-departmental conflict within that company regarding the hiring of certain nationalities over others.

July was fast approaching, and I had another event to attend – my elder brothers wedding.

Kuwaiti law stipulates that an employee is allowed to take an upaid vacation after completing 6-months of work. Technically, I had, so it was my entitlement.

Now it is noteworthy to mention that at the time, the “enslavement” policy of most local companies was still in effect; whereby the Human Resource department would hold on to your passport, until such time that you would request a leave, and then it would be handed to you, given the necessary paperwork. Up till that point in time, my passport was nestled safely in my possession. Once I had a sit-down with tyrant and informed him that I wanted to request a 2-week vacation to attend the wedding, I was met with a “where is your passport”, and “No, you cannot go”. He then proceeded to tell me how he had missed his nieces wedding for work, and how work was important, work came first.

I told him, point blank, I was going to attend the wedding. He ordered me to get my passport to him, and not only that, he forbade me from returning to work until such time as I would produce my passport.

I conceded, much to my chagrin.

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