Bake Deliciously and Carry a Big Purse

One day, at a job I grew to hate because the executive director was replaced by an incompetent woman who wore too-small stilettos and carried teeny tiny purses (I don’t trust woman who carry teeny tiny purses every day — it’s unnatural), I did something decidedly San Diego Momma-like, before there ever was such a thing: I baked a cake and decorated it to illustrate my position’s priorities — and then brought it to a high-profile-ish meeting. (Most modifiers in a sentence ever that was NOT written by Hemingway.)


I’d just landed this job and absolutely adored it. Although given some baseline job requirements, the position was pretty wild, wild west, which floated my boat, (or rode my horse?) And after many years in corporate communications and PR, I felt ready to chart my own course (keeping with the boat analogy, I see), but not go the consultant way yet, because I needed good health insurance and to see adults every day.


All this is to say I made a cake. A chocolate cake with chocolate frosting of course, and yellow icing that broke the cake’s vast landscape into jigsaw-puzzle-like pieces of varying sizes with the words “PR,” “Website,” “Newsletter,” etc. written inside them to correspond to the percentage of time I’d allot to each function or job responsibility. I don’t know, I just sort of gave in to my personality. For some reason, the cake idea seemed silly, but brilliant, and also tasty and delicious, so I went with it. I guess I thought this job “got me.” Still, at the time of cake unveiling, I will admit a quick thought hit me like “These people will now wonder if I’ve taken the short bus here,” but at least they pretended to like it and things went on from there.


Until they didn’t.


You know when you’re confronted with the thought that the people (person who became your boss more like) around you do not indeed “get you?” That’s exactly what happened. A new guard entered the scene and I was not got, not got at all, singularly by the woman who stuffed her feet into too-small stilettos, and carried a teeny tiny purse every day, and didn’t know how to use her computer and insisted we change our job titles to justify our crappy pay and frozen salaries, but ordered the best cell phone and PC on the market for herself, and had a licensed social worker degree, but couldn’t diagnose herself as narcissistic if you forced her on a couch and paid her $100, and wrote every single one of her emails in all caps, and worried more about the color of our employee party napkins than where our non-profit would receive its future funding.


Well, today is two years since I left that job.


With the new executive director’s tenure began an era of Big Brotherism and soul-sucking rules along the lines of “No laughing, no talking, no be-friending,” that completely re-made the place into a sad little quiet existence. The whole vision and joie de vivre left with a series of people who’d resigned because they didn’t see things the new director’s way, which would be fine if she actually had a “way.” Instead she blindly made rules and created methodologiesbecause she thought she should and that’s how it was done at her former bureaucratic job.


In the end, I left because I grew alarmed at how low morale had dipped. The agency lost its passion and worse — the ability to really help people with needed programs the director eliminated due to goodness blindness and huge ego.


I still hear from people at my old job every now and then. And while I made the right decision to leave, I still wish for their sakes, and those we helped, that it were the kind of place where your boat floated (or your horse galloped) and you could eat your job description.


16 Responses to “Bake Deliciously and Carry a Big Purse”

  1. stoneskin says:

    I’m glad you clarified which analogy you were continuing, I was struggling to see why you were charting a course for your horse which was ridden by your cake.

    When you say stilettos were too small, is that not high enough or cramping her feet? Either way I understand, it was clearly disgraceful.

  2. San Diego Momma says:

    My Dear Stoneskin:

    Think sausage. Now think putting that sausage in a cylindrical, leather tube that is two sizes smaller than the sausage. Think of the resulting spillage and overflow.

    I hope I’ve answered your question.

    As for the analogy: you came here, you knew the risks. :)

  3. Oh, the world of non-profit marketing. I know it well. I’ve been out of it 7 years now, thanks to layoffs that weren’t blamed on the fact the nonprofit president embezzeled a ton of money, but I digress…

    My cohort and friend at the nonprofit, the one I used to complain about our president to, the one who was a partner in crime? Yeah, she one day became my boss. Worst experience of my life. She became an entirely new person. I don’t miss that place or those people one bit…but I could go for a floating boat some days.

  4. Danielle says:

    There is nothing worse than too small shoes. Spillage is gross. And I’m sorry they didn’t “get you” their loss for sure. I’m for anyone who brings a cake for a job description…

  5. Blognut says:

    I hate it when people wear shoes that are too small! I always picture Petunia Pig with her feet spilling out over the tops of her shoes and we have dubbed that condition ‘Pig Feet’ around my place of business. Now what was this post about?

    Oh yeah, I’m back. Shoes always distract me. Good for you for leaving that place and that soul-sucking, pig-footed, self-centered… was I supposed to get mad at her? Oh yeah, the cake! That sounds delicious.

  6. It sounds like you got out in the nick of time.

  7. Green Girl says:

    Well played, Deb. I left my old job in the nick of time too. Never once regretted my impeccable timing!

  8. Diane says:

    Shoe spillage. Ick. Cake. Yum. Cake, I guess, can lead to shoe spillage. Though, in my case, it tends to lead to jeans spillage. Even less pretty than shoe spillage.

    And now I want cake.

    Damn you.

  9. Gawd, you’re brilliant!!! Heh. <–Extra credit for spelling, punctuation and grammar, am I right?

    You are brilliant. I get you.

  10. She says:

    I totally get you! Must be because I carry a freaking big ass purse! I don’t bake, but I sure as hell appreciate good baking! My bday is in October. Hint. Hint.

  11. I’ve got a huge purse. I knew we’d be friends! You’re right – WTF is with teeny, tiny purses? I don’t trust them either!

  12. g says:

    Yes, indeed. I’ve been in a place that that. I don’t mean exactly like that, but I mean sick like that.

    The place I was, the director always had to have someone to pick on. And you could be his bestest friend, but after he got rid of the person he was picking on, he had to find another – and it could just as well be you. It was totally random. Although it was serial – once he chose his victim, he picked on that person until they left. Then he picked another one.

    You could really tell what kind of strength and ethics people had – at least after the pattern became clear – because it was a temptation to go along with him and pick on the victim du jour, only after a while, people began to think of karma.

  13. jessica says:

    God that just drives me nuts to hear stories about incompetent fuckheads like this gal. i’m surprised they didn’t hire her to run an investment bank, sounds like she would be totally..ahem “qualified”.

  14. kate says:

    i have worked for her. briefly. i feel your pain. i’m still sad about what has happened there.

  15. I love it – where you can eat your job description. That is beautiful. And good for you for getting out when the getting was good. Small purses – never trust them. my purse? Gigantic. So big I have to have a purse inside my purse just to find my damned phone. (oh that I were kidding on this one…)

  16. gigi says:

    I love your cake idea – brilliant, and unappreciated, obviously.

    My husband was in soul-sucking job like that until just recently. It’s no way to spend 40+ hours of your life each week. It’s cliche, but life is too short. Good for you for extracting yourself.

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