When I interviewed for the position they told me the client was difficult. I had dealt with difficult people before. I had learned how to manage over-the-top personalities. Or so I thought.
I was completely unprepared for this client. He knew marketing. He knew media. He was also irrational, controlling, outrageous and unbelievably demanding. He was a maniac with a bad temper.
He knew exactly what he wanted and when he didn't get it he would explode. He would yell so loud the ground would shake and the walls would rattle. There were times when I couldn't pick up the phone receiver fast enough before he started going off on a tirade on the speaker phone.
I was in shock the first six months. Learning the job and learning how to deal with him was more than I anticipated. Plus we had just purchased our business and Don was under tremendous stress trying to learn the ropes. We were both a wreck.
But as I figured out what made this guy tick I realized that I was experiencing something unique. I had never, ever come across someone like him. And neither had any of my colleagues. This guy didn't just peel back the proverbial onion, he planted the seed and analyzed the dirt and the wind, sun and water. He plotted the perfect longitude and latitude. He was so thorough it blew your mind. Every day was a new project more outrageous than the last.
It was a game to him.
My forehead would throb from the stress. My brain cells were stretched. I cried a lot. Thank goodness I had a big office with a door.
You probably think I'm crazy for staying on. And I'm not going to lie. There were days when I hoped a new job would land in my lap and take me away. Or a big bus would run over his Mini.
But he grew to respect me. I had passion for their business and was calm, where he was not. He knew I was trying hard. Every once in a while he would show a softer side and let his guard down. That's when I knew there was a human inside. It was buried beneath the armor.
I just couldn't quit. Because quitting meant he won. That he beat me, that I couldn't take the pressure. Working with him was what I imagined boot camp to be like. They push you and push you until you build enough inner strength that you are no longer afraid. You're a machine.
Now this may make me sound stubborn, and dumb, and just a little bit crazy. And I was far from a machine, because machine's don't cry, and I cried a lot.
But I had already outlasted every one before me and he was set to retire in two years. I just had to stick it out until he left.
He finally retired after 3 1/2 years. I think they forced him out, because it was a sudden announcement and quick departure.
The news brought cheers at the agency.
We started singing "Ding-dong the witch is dead..." Everyone was giddy and shocked that the day we dreamed about had finally come. We celebrated. Wine corks popped. Hugs were shared. We couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces. And I cried again. Only this time they were tears of joy.
He was leaving. It felt really odd. I had won. Game over.
For this week's RemembeRED prompt, we're borrowing a prompt fromWriting the Memoir by Judith Barrington.
In her chapter "The Truth: What, Why, and How," she asks her readers to: "Tell the story (without any trivialization or modesty) of something in your life that you are proud of." My story may seem like an odd choice to write about for this topic. But if you knew my client you would understand.