Gurney's Inn
December 06, 2006

Kiss & Tell

Bad Businaess

When the urgent messages from my girlfriend posse on my cell phone are all work-related, I start to worry. Either the collective male dating species is behaving beautifully or these gals are so consumed with job woes that they aren't even thinking about guys.

One friend of mine was horrified when she reached a breaking point regarding the money that was contractually owed her. She literally told the company CEO he could shove the 99 cent settlement where the sun don't shine, in writing, via email, with attachments. How is it that business has become the new bad boyfriend?

Work is supposed to provide a safe space for us gals to forget about our love lives and boost our egos and bank accounts. We have negotiated compensation, contractual termination clauses and sexual harassment lawsuits to prevent the misunderstandings, which inundate romantic relationships. But lately, in this "you're just lucky to have a job" environment, business ethics are like panties in the pocket — clearly disposable.

I had one word for my four-letter-word-using friend, "Bravo." Many of us have fallen for recruitment lines to secure our services only to find ourselves in business deals in which we completed the work as contracted on time and with an exceeding pleasant attitude — only to be ignored when it's time to be paid. And remember the problem with boiling bunnies when we are ignored.

We need to learn, just as we have with dating doublespeak, to understand what business false promises whispered in our ears really mean.

"This is just a starting salary, we'll revisit it in six months." What this really means is "I am offering you an insultingly low amount of pay which I never intend to increase and want to see just how long I can milk work out of you until you call my bluff."

"We work on a 30, 60, 90 day payment schedule" equals "You will be lucky if we pay you for your Fourth of July invoice by Christmas."

"We're waiting on incoming cash flow," is a smokescreen for "company management will get a steady weekly paycheck and freelancers will get paid after office supplies, LIPA, the window washer, morning donuts and those pesky back taxes are all taken care of."

And benefits, what about a job with benefits? At least with friends with benefits you're aware that you're giving up your goodies with no commitment.

Like the belief that there are no good men out there, the belief that attractive, rewarding, available jobs are few and far between will dampen hope and keep us in less than optimum employment situations. I fear our silent complicity does not send the message that we deserve to be treated fairly. Women have come a long way in standing up to and leaving abusive men, yet they'll tolerate a boss who is a raving bitch (much worse than The Devil Wears Prada), bounced paychecks or dangerous working conditions. Where's Norma Rae?

But just as girls go into great detail at every opportunity to discuss bad boyfriends and warn their fellow daters they will do the same with bad business, read the writing on the ladies' room wall — reputations, good or bad, spread like wildfire.

National leaders are not exactly setting a good example, having no concern for the small business or independent contractor because they're so distracted and enamored by the big boobs of business (in more ways than one) like Exxon and Halliburton and credit card and insurance companies.

Unfortunately, like the bad boyfriend, the bad business usually doesn't realize how much they valued us until we're gone. So the last word is for them — bonus.

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