After I flunked out of college I was ashamed to tell my Mom and Dad so I got work doing temp typing and clerical for a reinsurance firm. I made $14 an hour which was enough for a sublet with an insane woman who thought she had bugs under her skin and who once tried to seduce me. But this blog post is not about that stuff which is pretty personal. It’s about two mean bosses I had, Mr. Hanft and M. Waldvogel.
Mr. Hanft would yell at me because nothing I said was accurate enough. He would ask me questions and he never liked the answers. Those answers don’t answer my questions! he would yell. He looked a little like Beefsteak Charlie. He yelled at me for not knowing the difference between a hyphen and a dash. He yelled at me a lot. My response to his yelling was to pretend that nothing mattered to me, a strategy that I employ to this day. It’s a pretty good strategy because if people think nothing matters to you sometimes they will let up a little. It’s not a perfect strategy because if you pretend long enough you start to think nothing matters to you and you can get depressed. Or maybe what I did was confuse “nothing matters to me” with “I’m afraid that if something matters to me I’ll get yelled at”. Probably the second one.
M. Waldvogel’s job was to evaluate how much catastrophe insurance to provide to different businesses around the country. So he’d travel around (I don’t know how? Corporate jet? Something.) to different places like a sports arena in Houston and write down on a piece of paper with a fountain pen 1.2 B — which meant one point two billion dollars catastrophe insurance. Bear in mind this was reinsurance — Safr Re was not supplying insurance to the sports arena but insurance to the insurance company that insured the sports arena. In the event there was a massive hurricane (which there in fact was) and the insurance company was unable to pay its policies (which happened) Safr Re would insure the insurance company and pay up (it did. You thought it didn’t? Oh ye of little faith in the reinsurance industry!)
M. Waldvogel would yell at me for never actually saying anything clear enough to get in trouble. My job was to take his scribblings and turn them into a report summarizing them. Anytime I would write the report he would look at me, pause a long time and then as he was striding out the door say “Kaplan, you’ve given me nothing! I don’t need you to tell me what I already said!”
Anyway these were two mean bosses.