I don’t know what it’s like where you folks work, but my tiny office is a lot like a family. A dysfunctional family, to be sure, but a family nonetheless. Part of this is because there are so few of us here and so much that needs to get done that we end up leaning on each other pretty hard. The other part is bonding during the campaign months. You’d be amazed how much you can learn about someone over hundreds of late night slices of pizza. And you’d be less than amazed to learn that most of us hate each other by the end of it. But after a few days away, things mostly settle back to normal.
All of this is to say that it’s sometimes hard for people to let go after they’ve moved on to greener pastures or, in some cases, been put out to pasture before they were ready. This is how we end up with what I sometimes like to think of* as the Ghosts of Staffers Past. These are the ones who just can’t let go in some way or another. They write to us long after having left to recommend changes to the website, ideas for events and outreach, suggestions for our newsletter. To everyone else, it seems like a considerate thing to do. We sound insane when we complain about receiving a tip from a former staffer, a friendly voice, offering suggestions that would make Bossman look good.
And yet… It’s like a younger sibling using just the right tone that sounds innocuous to an outside observer but drives the older one completely crazy. It’s never really about being helpful. It’s all about that little dig, reminding the new people that they were there first. Needling under our skin, quietly shouting, “I know how to do this better than you do.”
Yesterday was a particularly bad day. In addition to receiving helpful suggestions from not one but two of these Ghosts, we were also unexpectedly flung into the wake of the Flaky Phantasm. Over a year after she was fired, we still can’t decide whether she actively sabotaged us on her way out or if she was really that incompetent. Either way, it was hours lost to trying to recreate work that had ostensibly been done long ago.
I like to think that there’s a quality unique to my particular type of job that causes people’s presence to be felt well after they leave, some sort of remaining loyalty to Bossman that makes them want to continue to insert themselves into the office. Some are better than others at leaving it all behind, usually the ones who were more well-adjusted while they were here.** I hope that once I move on, whenever that might be, that I will be able to leave it all behind.
What about you folks? Am I deluded in thinking that it’s a Bossman thing, or do you suffer similar apparitions? Or are you a Ghost who can’t let go of your past job?
*More often than not, I’m cursing the Ghosts of Staffers Past instead of thinking on them fondly. Much less entertaining than the Ladyghosts of TV Past.
**Maybe we should have the Casper types give lessons to the rest?