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Who\'s The Boss?
Who’s The Boss?
A typical relationship between an employee and an employer exists on the acknowledgment of who is in charge; an employee must accept the employer as an authority. A worker should address the employer with a certain amount of respect and professionalism. An employer should have control of their employees and make it clear that they are the boss.
In David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross, however the relationship between the employees and the employer is extremely atypical. There is no correlation to what is believed to be the norm. The language Mamet uses in the play makes the peculiar relationship believable. The arguing and resentment can be felt be the reader. The employees in this particular office have “forgotten” who the boss is; they do not speak to him with any respect or dignity. The employer accepts the way he is treated and does not stand his ground; he allows his employees to walk all over him. This office is not the kind of work place where the boss has the last word; there are numerous times throughout the play where the boss and his employees actually fight.
The relationship between one of the employees, Shelly Levene, and his employer, John Williamson, reflects this abnormal relationship. Williamson is the boss, or manager of this particular branch of a real estate company, he does however have two bosses, Mitch and Murray. The play begins with Williamson making an announcement regarding the jobs of all of the employees in the office. There is a contest beginning to see who could close the most deals. Whoever won would win a car and whoever lost would be fired. In the following conversation between Williamson and Levene, the two are discussing whom the good leads are going to. Levene has told Williamson that without the good leads he will not be able to close, in which case, he will be fired. Williamson has said that he has to give the leads to the closers and that Levene has not been a closer. I pick up the conversation after many pages of arguments, Williamson agreeing to Shelly’s bribe and right when Shelly is asking for two leads.
“WILLIAMSON. I’m not sure I have two.
LEVENE. I saw the board. You’ve got four…
WILLIAMSON. I’ve got Roma. Then I’ve got Moss…
LEVENE. Bullshit. They ain’t been in he office yet. Give ‘em some stiff. We have a deal or not? Eh? Two sits. The Des Plaines. Both of ‘em, six and ten, you can do it…six and ten…eight and eleven, I don’t give a shit, you set ‘em up? Alright? The two sits in Des Plaines.
LEVENE. Good. Now we’re talking. (pause)
WILLIAMSON. A hundred bucks. (pause)
LEVENE. Now? (pause) Now?
WILLIAMSON. Now. (pause) Yes…When?
LEVENE. Ah, shit, John. (pause)
WILLIAMSON. I wish I could.
LEVENE. You fucking asshole. (pause) I haven’t got it. (pause) I haven’t got it, John. (pause) I’ll pay you tomorrow. (pause) I’m coming in here with sales, I’ll pay you tomorrow. (pause) I haven’t got it, when I pay, the gas...I get back to the hotel, I’ll bring it in tomorrow (act 1, scene1, 13-14).”
This does not sound like a conversation somebody would have with his or her boss. Talks of bribery from the employee to the employer are being discussed in this conversation there are. This does not seem to faze Williamson at all. He keeps saying “no” and Levene still continues to push. Later in the conversation Levene says to Williamson “Well, I want to tell you something, fella, wasn’t long I could pick up the phone, call Murray and I’d have your job. You know that? Not too long ago. For what? For nothing. ‘Mur, this new kid burns my ass.’ ‘Shelly, he’s out.’ You’re gone before I’m back from lunch. I bought him a trip to Bermuda once….(act 1, scene 1, 14.)” In a typical office setting Levene would have been fired with the first sign of disrespect and foul language to the boss, however, here, he is not even punished for his action.
In Act 2 Levene actually questions Williamson’s business ability. This next conversation between the two takes place after a burglary in the office and after Levene finally closes a deal with a very surprising customer.
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Glengarry Glen Ross, John Williamson
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