Veruca Salt

A long time ago, I was an assistant editor at a trade magazine. It was a small operation, just the editor, a graphic designer, and me. We worked side by side with another magazine, as we were all part of the same organization’s collection of magazines.

My boss, the editor of the trade publication, was a tyrant. She was disorganized and demanding, bellowing commands from her office to my cubicle despite our use of a computer messaging program. She had peculiar writing requirements, like her outright ban of the word “feature”. My job was to write descriptions of the products that she had selected to highlight each month, but I was not allowed to use the word “feature.”

Like this:

“Acme Pipe delivers a quarter-inch threaded end on all its pipes, including those designed for specialty use. With galvanized connectors, these pipes include triple-soldered elbow joints for increased strength and reliability.” (this is all hooey, so don’t bug me about technical errors)

For each issue, I had to write 25-30 descriptions like this without saying “ABC Company’s product features” or “The features of ABC Company’s product” once. I still balk at using the word “feature.”

Her management style was fraught with anger and high drama. Any ripple in the events of the day would send her into a frenzied tirade, and she would storm from her office to my cube (a five-step walk) to bark orders at me, then down the hall to her boss (the managing editor of both magazines), where she could be heard complaining at the top of her voice about whatever tragedy the day had brought. Back to her office she would stomp, and slam her door, and issue a loud “aaarrrrgggghhhh” of disgust that would echo through the paper-thin walls. This was a frequent, if not daily, occurrence.

I lasted at that job four months, after which I was dismissed for not meeting her requirements. I wasn’t surprised, but I was disappointed to lose my first post-university (and therefore “real”) job in publishing.

I was her first assistant editor, and from my friends on the staff, I heard she went through four more assistants that calendar year, a clip of more than one a quarter. That’s barely enough time to get a person trained and through a decent cycle at any workplace.

I keep thinking about this unhappy person as I watch the current president’s behavior and see how fast his staff scurries to make everything perfect to avoid an outburst. By all accounts, this guy can’t get through more than 48 hours straight without losing his shit about something trifling. Then he goes off on some staffer, who flies into action to try to pacify the biggest baby on the planet, or fix or cover up whatever made him angry. He’s straight-up Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka.



I never understood why the owners of the trade magazine allowed that tyrant editor to continue working there. It takes money to hire and train new people, and having to constantly deal with her out-of-control behavior had to have been a drain on their resources. Why would they keep *her* after seeing how fast she cycled through assistants? At a certain point, they had to have recognized that the problem wasn’t the new hires, the problem was her.

And with the person who currently has the Oval Office, I wonder the same thing. Why do they let him continue? Who are these people who work for and with and near him who tolerate this emotional, unstable, unqualified tyrant?

How is it that so many people are willing to let this person continue his tantrum-ing ways? How do so many people simply set aside expectations of “normal” behavior? Is it simply for a taste of power? Is it greed? Is it THAT powerful?

Combine his spoiled-child personality with the vast damage his policies inflict and the only conclusion I can reach is that the people supporting and protecting him are determined to use him as long as they can to achieve their ends, and their ends *include* destruction of the entire government. There is nothing else that makes sense to me.

But I am, perhaps naively, shocked at the numbers of people living here who hate democracy, who loathe what the United States stand for so much that they’re willing to take a job IN GOVERNMENT to destroy this country from within. It seems he has two true believers as his right and left hand-men, and then the next level out is peopled with shameless apologists whose job requires them to take punches for their boss.

At a certain point, someone’s gotta crack. How many tantrums by a two year old can they take? How many times can they take the brunt of the nation’s impatience and fury over what their ward is doing? It has to be taking a toll on them too, as a screaming child in the frozen section wears down the patience of everyone in earshot.

Where are the grown-ups in this government? Did everyone leave with Obama?










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