Oahu woman wins contest for picking nation's worst boss
AN OAHU woman is the winner of the national "My Bad Boss" contest, announced earlier this month. Not that she's the bad boss.
Melissa Dylan, who describes herself as a struggling writer, is also a published author, playwright and actress. At age 29, she has had 36 jobs.
It was in one of those jobs, serving as a receptionist for a millionaire Beverly Hills dentist, where she experienced her prize-winning story, which she submitted under the nom-de-plume Cat Scratch.
The dentist once tried to get out of paying staff for time spent at a mandatory meeting, by asserting that he had paid for lunch. Melissa stood up for herself and got paid, but that was not the clincher of her essay.
On Sept. 11, 2001 all the dentist's patients canceled their appointments.
"Perfectly understandable, if you ask me," she wrote. "There's a national tragedy and the last thing on anyone's mind is their oral health. But this meant no income for Dr. X. His response? Taking $100 out of every employee's paycheck."
The dentist's staff was paid hourly.
"In the wake of a travesty that should bring out the best in people, he had the audacity to steal money from his own employees," her essay continued. "Did he really need my $13 an hour that badly?"
Rather than fight the dentist again she left the job, she told TheBuzz.
"I feel like I could have been really bitter and angry about it, but I chose not to because of the bigger circumstances. Sometimes it's better to walk away," she said.
Melissa won a weeklong vacation and $1,000 for airfare from the contest sponsor, Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
Her dental day-job drama and other work-experience stories, from lighter-hearted to cynical and world-weary, are posted on her Web site. One of her jobs led her to find canine excrement in her employer's file cabinet.
Say it with me -- eeeeuuwww!
She also writes the "Workplace Culture" column for online magazine Suite 101.
Dylan pretty much lets it all hang out on her Web site, where one will find words your columnist's American grandmother would describe as "blue language."
She started the Web site writing "out of sheer frustration. That's more -- ranting," she said.
She is paid for her contributions to the online magazine, which "is more professional-caliber writing," she said.
She has won local awards for fiction and playwriting -- and her play "Friends Like These," staged in Los Angeles, received a positive online review from CurtainUp.com.
Dylan has also appeared in local theater productions including "Into the Woods," at Manoa Valley Theatre, "Anything Goes," at Diamond Head Theatre and "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris," an HPU Theatre production. She has a degree in theatre from the University of Washington but calls acting more of a hobby.
Her long-term goal is to get her novels published, but in the meantime, she's "temping" where ever the agency sends her.
As for the vacation, she and her husband may use it for a trip to Las Vegas in October. Not in a typical islander visit to the ninth-island kind of way, but because her brother-in-law and sister-in-law will be renewing their vows before he deploys to Iraq and that is where the family has decided to gather.
Were there not a family gathering, "I would have picked something more exotic, but you know, the family thing, it's like the obvious choice."
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com