Bosses: The Good, The Bad & Gleda Balls

A Road Taken Story

When it comes to bosses, I’ve had my share.  The good, the bad and the in-between. Thankfully, my current boss, is not only good, she’s GRRREAT!! She possesses the perfect combination of skills: leadership, generosity and diplomacy.

But I’m not here to talk about the good ones.  Instead, I’d like to tell you about Gleda Balls. As far as bosses go, she falls in the in-between.

Of course, Gleda Balls wasn’t her real name, but it came close.

You may recall that my first job in Seattle was at a TV station. Patti, a dynamic, down-to-earth woman, hired me the day I walked in. She was genuine and super friendly. She even threw a party for G and I, after we returned from getting married back east. Patti was everything you could hope for in a starter boss.

But within a few months, Patti announced she was going to head the public affairs division. And so, a nationwide search ensued for a new promotions director.  Jeff, the assistant director, applied but didn’t get it. Too bad, because he was an amiable and funny guy.  “Wake up and smell the coffee,” was his mantra.

One day, we learned that management had hired Gleda Balls to replace Patti. Gleda was a tall, thin woman, who hailed from Lubbock, Texas. She had shoulder-length, chestnut-colored hair, and a face that looked like a rainbow exploded on it, leaving her with a permanent coating of blue green eye shadow, magenta lipstick, and peach-colored cheeks.

Did I mention Gleda Balls wasn’t her real name? Mary, the publicist, gave her that name when she accidentally typed, “Gleda Balls” in the contact line on a press release that was sent out to every newspaper in the Seattle-Tacoma area. And to TV Guide,too.  After that snafu, the name stuck, though not to her face.

Gleda Balls' kitchen didn't look quite like this, but close.

I didn’t interact with Gleda Balls right away. She didn’t invite me into her office, nor did she stop by mine. After all, I was just a lowly assistant, and not at all on her radar. At least, not at first.

Around the third month of her tenure, she breezed into my office, which was really the front parlor of the Victorian house the station occupied.  I shared this room with Ann, another assistant, who was about 2o years my senior and half my size.

When Gleda entered, she waltzed right up to my desk, and stood inches away from me. I could feel her warm breath on the top of my head. I looked up. Gleda had on a red jacket and pencil-thin skirt, and three-inch heels. Considering the rest of us wore jeans, sweatshirts, and sneakers or Birkenstock shoes to work—we were in Seattle, after all—she seemed a tad overdressed. A gargantuan brooch, in the shape of Texas, and studded with sapphires, was pinned to her bosom and protruded over my head, daring me to stand up and bump my head against it.

Yep, Gleda towered over me, and I was at once nervous and excited. She was unnerving, but I imagined she had come because she finally wanted to learn about my work and how I was contributing to the department. No doubt, our general manager had already told her what an asset I was to the station and how in just six months, I’d gone from a part-time, hourly employee to full time with benefits, on account that the general manager and the program manager had noticed my capabilities. So now, in addition to typing up the weekly listings I had more important and challenging work to do—I was answering viewer mail and serving as a station receptionist three days a week.

“Why, I’ve heard such wonderful things about you!” she said in her sing-song, Texas drawl voice, adding, “I’d love to talk to you about something real important.”

I beamed. I anticipated that an invitation to her office was imminent. Perhaps a promotion was in the offing! Or maybe she wanted to discuss new opportunities for me! I was ready.

“Honey, I’m in a bind,” she sighed. “I’m moving this Saturday, into a new home, and was hoping you could help me.”

She must have noticed how my business smile suddenly froze on my face, for she added, “It would be a great way for me to get to know you.”

My eyes darted from side to side, looking for a way out. G and I actually had plans that weekend. She looked at me expectantly, lightly tapping her foot against my desk, with a smile so broad and glistening, that I wondered if she’d ever been in a beauty contest. For all I knew, I was talking to Miss Texas 1965 and didn’t even know it.

“Well, Sugar, can you be a sweet girl and come to my rescue?”

I carefully weighed my options: Say no and risk always being perceived by my boss as an ungrateful employee, someone who is not a team player, or say yes, and get on her good side.

“Sure, I’d love to help you.”

“Oh, darling! I just knew you would!” She handed me a piece of paper. “Here’s my address. Be there at 8:30 sharp, okay?”

I nodded.

“Perfect! Oh, and make sure Jan can come, too.”

Jan, was a student at the university and a part-time assistant who helped out in the office a few days a week. She was also obsessed with pigs and would regale me with humorous poems she’d written about the creatures. It was Jan who first caught the “Gleda Balls” mistake on the press release, once it had been mailed. She also helped to proliferate the use of the new moniker. I knew Jan wasn’t going to be happy about our “special” assignment.

On Saturday, we arrived precisely at 8:30. We soon discovered that Gleda Balls hadn’t even started packing up her kitchen. She handed us empty cartons and a stack of newspapers. One by one, I wrapped up the glassware. Jan alternated between helping me pack up the kitchen and moving the boxes out to the truck. Gleda didn’t do much except tend to her two children, who were being fussy and whiny about having to move. Clearly, we were in it for the long haul, and ended up spending the entire day there, doing nothing but packing and loading the truck.

At around 10 pm, Gleda finally said, “You girls ought to leave. I’m pooped and need to call it a day.”

As we walked to our cars, I heard her call to us, “I owe you girls lunch. Maybe you can come back sometime?”

“When pigs fly,” muttered Jan under her breath.

“Sorry?”

“We’d love to,” I said loudly, hoping that we’d already earned enough brownie points to last the year.

But in my short experience in the work world, there was no way I could foresee that, within the year, Gleda Balls would spin out of control, leaving Jeff, Jan and me to pick up the pieces. Of course, like everything, her downward spiral started in the most innocent of ways.

Missed a chapter? Read past installments, by visiting the page, The Road Taken.

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45 thoughts on “Bosses: The Good, The Bad & Gleda Balls

  1. Pingback: She Who Shall Remain Nameless « Monica's Tangled Web

  2. As a 18 yr. old, I worked for a dentist who was married with 10 children and loved to wrap his arm around my waist, although I ‘requested’ he stop each time he did so. After he fired me for an unrelated reason, when interviewing with the next dentist, he asked if I had any requests to which I responded, “I would like to be paid weekly instead of monthly and there can’t be any patting on the bottom.” If there were Sexual Harassment laws in place in 1965, that first guy would have owed me a bunch of $$!!!

  3. Oh Monica, Gleda Balls was just another in a long list of bad hires by Barnie Clerk (not his real name 🙂 that he didn’t have the, dare I say it, balls or brains, to undo.

    “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I’m not sure what it does if you kill them first but I’ve been sorely tempted. It’s good to be older and not have to deal with those folks anymore.

    Good to hear from you! Glad you’re doing well,

    Dick

    • Hi Dick! Thanks for checking out my blog! Now, I thought it was Richie that hired her. Not sure if you read my next post, part 2 of this saga. And while I agree with you, that it’s a relief this is all ancient history, I miss some of the folk. The good guys, like you and Jeff. Now those were fun times. 😉

  4. Hitting a little too close to home! I think we’ve all had at least one boss like that AND I think we’ve all eaten it when we were younger. My horror boss went to far as to write me a letter when I left the job because I was getting married that said, “Careful who you fuck. Hollywood is a small town.” I know, what a cliche!

    • Ah, yes. When we were younger we put up with a lot of things, simply because we didn’t have the wherewithal to get out of it. I can’t imagine getting such a letter from any of my bosses. Yikes.

  5. So far she’s an angel compared to one of mine. My boss was unethical and immoral as well as a thief. I went into the supply closet one day and saw a formal letter on company letterhead. I was like boy someone’s going to be upset to lose an official letter. So I picked it up to see who it was made out to and it was from my scumbag boss to personnel and it was about me. I was schoked by the blatant, inflammatory, and litigious (on my part) load of crap he had typed up. I went back into the office and showed the other women. At first they were horrified, then we just laughed. He couldn’t put it in my file without my signature. The company had instigated that procedure after a couple of lawsuits. So personnel denied him. My friend, and co-worker Pam shredded it and threw what was left in the garbage in the women’s room. A few days later he and his girlfriend, who I had previously worked with and tried to get me fired, were arrested at the Park-n-Swap for selling stolen company computers. There is so much more I could say about what this guy tried to do not just to me but the other female employees as well. He went to prison and so did his girlfriend for running a large burglary ring that was uncovered on a PC I tried to use. It went wacky, the company got suspicious so they sent it to the state troopers computer forensics. The rebuilt the entire drive and got names, dates, items, you names it of everything including an abandoned home they were secretly working out of. Top that my friends! :))

    • Okay, that’s pretty bad. When it comes to breaking the law, it doesn’t get much worse than that. But what an example he was setting! Sounds like he finally got his comeuppance!

  6. Have I mentioned the Son’s laptop is kaput and we’ve been sharing mine? Damn him for keeping me away from another installment of The Road Taken! Gleda sounds like every employee’s nightmare. I wonder if Jan blamed you for recruiting her to come along! As for her description–you nailed it! You have me and the rest of your readers picturing perfectly the bitch from hell. I’m anxiously expecting the details on how things unravel for the three of you! Why must we wait till next week? Argh! 🙂

    • No, Jan didn’t blame me. We were in it together. We had each other to lean on, which was nice.

      Sorry to hear about your Son’s laptop. Hopefully, that’ll get resolved soon, so you can have yours back pronto. Let’s hope so!

    • Bad bosses are so interesting, which may explain why the film, “Horrible Bosses,” was such a hit. But I have a story of a boss up my sleeve, that is much worse than Gleda. 😉

  7. I am some what speechless, which for me is rare. I can’t believe she had the gall to ask, but her name says it all. I grew up (professionally) on a Trading Floor. It’s not all nice and cotton candy, it’s a doggie dog world on the floor, especially for Latin girls fresh out of college. I hadn’t any training on how to stand up for myself, but I learned quickly. I know the lessons we learn along the way are painful, and remembered always, but I like to think some of us pay forward and don’t pass on the bad. And people like Miss Texas are tweaked a tad by Karma. BTW, I read you post on the HP (finally). Time is the only healer. I didn’t go through a divorce, but I’ve had to navigate through cancer and illness of family members. It was hell, quite frankly, and even though I am slightly scarred and wait for the shoe to drop it’s taught me to live in the moment. Time gave me that lesson. Lets all hope the Texas tootsie is rewarded one day..

    • Brenda, you said a mouthful! I, too, being Latina, had never been taught how to stand up for myself. I didn’t even know that was an option. Back then, my motto was, do as your told and don’t rock the boat. The post you’re referring to, about the light at the end of the tunnel, was about divorce, but I wrote it with the intention that it could apply to anyone going through a crisis. I’m glad you recognized that, though I’m sorry to hear about what you and your family have been dealing with. Thanks for reading!

    • I agree, though sometimes, out of something horrible comes something good. In my next installment of my adventures with Gleda Balls, you’ll see. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. I can’t wait to read what happens to the hoary-honcha! What a fricken nerve some people have.

    I had my own hoary-honcho that took a liking to me when I started telling him what a dick he really was-because, you know, I was trying to help him out, make him a better boss. It ended up being a very amusing though adversarial relationship. Almost everyday some coworker would swear I was going to be fired, but no, I was the last one let go when the big lay-off hit after 9/11.

    • Now that sounds like an interesting relationship, the kind that if you saw it on a TV series it would end up in a kiss. lol. Sorry about the lay-off. At least you know it wasn’t because of the adversarial thing. 😉

    • LOL! Well you were fortunate, indeed, not to have to help one of your bosses move. For me, I didn’t mind so much helping with the actual move, loading and unloading the truck. What I did mind was having to also pack her dishes, glasses etc. That was really too much! She should have been ready to go, don’t you think?

  9. Your plot thickens! Loved your description of Gleda — reminds me of one too many Texas women I’ve come across. Working for a demanding/ unappreciative boss is the worst (I’ve been there, too!). Can’t wait to read how this one turns out!

    • Thanks, Debbie. I spent a lot of time crafting my description of her as I wanted to make sure she’d be easy to visualize. So I appreciate your comments. Stay tuned next week!

  10. Wow…from your great description I can see Gleda Balls! The girl certainly has balls to ask you guys to help her move! Great story!

    • Annie, I would say she had chutzpah! And, back then, I was young and naive. What an experience and what an indoctrination into the word world.

    • Oh, Mikalee, that’s too funny. Perhaps, yes, I was working for Tammy Faye, that is, had she looked like a Miss Texas. This woman was drop-dead gorgeous and put the rest of us to shame. Yet, I would never have traded places with her. Grrr is right! 😉

  11. Happy New Year! Monica, I’ve been away in Orlando and have missed your posts, must catch up. I loved this story, I can’t wait to hear more. My cousin whom I’m very close to and is currently visiting me from Australia had a boss with a dual personality just recently and it has been a nightmare. She sounds almost exactly like Gleda Balla 🙂 oh how I love the name.

    • Happy New Year to you, too! Hope you enjoyed your time in sunny Florida. Glad to see you’re back. I, also, missed seeing your posts and thought of you because I went to see “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” It was wonderful. Your cousin, btw, was very unlucky to have such a boss. They can be quite ghastly!

  12. OOO, Monica,
    Glenda most definetely had BALLS.
    She is also a Biaaaatch.
    I soooo LOoooVED this story…I loved the description of Glenda…I saw her w/ her pencil skirt, 4 inch heels, deep red lipstick & clicking her long yucky fingernails.
    So Damn Annoying….& also…

    Superb.

    I can’t stand that woman…..And I Adored reading about her.

    YOU. ROCK. At. Telling. A. Kick. Ass. Story. X

    • Kim, tell me about it! She was a train wreck waiting to happen. But what a great introduction into the working world for me. I learned a lot during that time. 😉

  13. Nightmare boss stories always give me the chills. Once you’re out of the situation, it’s funny, but living through it is impossible. Can’t wait to find out if she gets her comeuppance.

  14. You are such a good storyteller and always have some new, interesting one to share with us. I could listen to you for hours, or in this case, read you. In my work life that now expands almost 40 years, I’ve only had one boss that I wanted to leave in the dust and, oh yeah, I did just that. Thank goodness I’m old enough now to know that I can do that. More about Gleda please.

  15. So what happened to Gleda? In my life I only had on boss who is just like me Russian and who told me as soon as I started working with him – forget that you live in America – here in my place – is Soviet Union whether you like it or not.

  16. I could visual Gleda Balls so clearly in how you described her. All sweet acting with her southern charm and coming to you with an agenda, done up Tammy Faye-style. I’m with Jan on the “pigs flying” response. Gleda, having such a position, had you ladies pretty much by the balls with y’all fearing she’d snatch your jobs away. In the end, I sense a woman who’s flighty and has a lot going on under the surface. Can’t wait to hear the saga…

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