This is a re post from Feburary.
When I got out of college jobs prospects were thin and unless you knew someone you were going to be looking for a while. Imagine my surprise when I got a call from a local newspaper and was offered a position in the ad composing department. I figured a jobs a job and I can be earning a paycheck while looking elsewhere, so I accepted.
I started off as a basic paste up peon, this was just before the computer revolution struck and newspapers were still built with the line tape and the cut and paste method, and I was good with an x-acto knife (a dead skill these days). Things moved fast and before I knew it I was in charge of composing the classified pages. I liked this job, I showed up at 6 in the morning, popped on the old walkman and everyone left me alone. I not only knocked those pages out fast but squeezed the ads in so tight that there was usually a half page left over for copy. Plus the majority of the week I got off by noon and could catch the half price mid day movie at the local theater, I dubbed it the bachelor matinee because the place was usually full of guys wearing baseball caps and going solo.
Then two things happened, a friend offered me a job at a start up car trader circular and my immediate supervisor got married and put in her notice. I was offered the supervisors job, meaning I would be in charge of the entire ad composing department. I was torn, which did I take, the risky job for less money or the secure job for almost double what I had been making. I decided to take the money and learned a valuable lesson in the process, never work for the check.
Things went well, at first. I wasn't a hard ass boss but I did make sure things were finished on time, turnover in my department almost zeroed out so I must have been doing something right. Then they hired a new manager for the ad sales department and the job became a nightmare. His attitude was "deadline, whats a deadline?" It soon became a running battle with the ad sales people to get them to turn in their work on time, they just never grasped the concept that ads took time to compose and we couldn't do anything until we had the layout, plus they had to be the right size, have all the artwork and legible copy. Soon I felt like King Sisyphus, pushing the boulder up the mountain all day only to have to start over the next morning.
Things went from bad to worse when the sales manager started to blame me for the mistakes made by his department. My boss, the head of the entire composing department, wouldn't do anything about it either, she was an example of the Peter Principal, the only reason she had her job was because she had outlasted everyone else and was fooling around with the head of the press department. The final straw came when they started to screw around with my vacation requests, putting me off until it was too late to make plans, I began to get the unmistakable feeling the axe was hovering over my head I decided it was time to move on, but I had a plan.
I went to my boss and put in my notice, but I didn't give them two weeks, I gave them 3 months. It was an election year and just after I quit they were going to be slammed with campaign ads followed by holiday ads and then end of the year/new year sales ads. Timing is everything. I then spent the next three months not complaining but working hard at the job. Although I was on salary I put in 60 hours a week, even going in on Sunday morning to finish out what I hadn't done the rest of the week, I actually enjoyed this because other than the circulation department the building was deserted.
The key to my plan was the overall laziness of the sales department, the more I did the less they did. I made sure their artwork was accounted for. I picked up their by-monthly ads off the old pages so all they had to do was turn in the new run times. And I kept track of all missing ads and let them know. I even handled weekend complaints from their customers instead of calling them in to take care of their own mess. Then I left.
For the next couple of weeks I would pick up a copy of the paper and scan through it. Spelling was terrible, correction notices occured every day and I knew they, the composing staff, were probably stuck at work until after 7 every night. I would sit back with a sense of self satisfaction and chuckle my evil laugh. One day I ran into a former coworker who told me it was less than a week before everything fell apart, repeat ads were missing and couldn't be found, since the salespeople didn't keep track of their artwork it started to disappear, there were holes in the pages where ads had been scheduled but the salesperson forgot to put in a cancellation notice and other ads had to be squeezed in because they weren't on the layout and since nobody was keeping track the pages began to pile up at deadline.
In the end the the paper was taken over by a nearby rival publication, the ad manager was booted and in order to reduce cost they fired 90% of the staff, sold off the press and only kept on a couple of local reporters and a photographer plus the circulation people (I'm not that narcissistic, I know I had nothing to do with the demise of the paper, but I laughed about my good timing). The Germans call it Schadenfreude, I called it sweet revenge. And yes, because I had been such a good employee I got a great reference when I applied to my next job, bwa ha ha ha ha.
And the lesson I learned, revenge is best when the victim thinks you were doing them a favor.