That is the word for today.

Last Friday, I met with my boss to tell him that I wanted to pursue my lost raise. I had my notes ready and decided to tape the meeting, without my boss's knowledge. Now, that may appear to be dishonest, but it wasn't done with malicious intent whatsoever. I wanted the conversation to be as painless and as comfortable as possible for the both of us. If I told him I wanted to record our meeting, I thought that he might think the tape would be used to hurt him in some way. I thought that he would remain extremely defensive, which would, in turn, make me really uncomfortable. To me, the tape was a way of knowing where my boss stood. Sometimes, when I am nervous, I can leave a room and completely forget people's words. I can paraphrase what they said, but I always fear I might have altered their meaning. Because I had the tape, there was no remembering verbiage or word choice. I guess I just felt comforted by it.

After the meeting, I was happy I had decided to tape it. I could clearly see that at this stage, he and I disagreed on what had transpired at my annual back in January. Though his story didn't completely differ from mine, it's meaning had been ever so shifted that we now viewed the situation entirely different. What I thought was a bonus meant just for me, had now been given the title "mid-term bonus," which inherently implies a time frame, and was promised to an unspecified number of people or departments. I had also been under the impression that the bonus was approved by upper management, which left me thinking it was a done deal; however, my boss said it was never guaranteed or promised to me. In fact, it was only an "opportunity" if the funds were still available come mid-term. Again with time frame references. I went into the meeting wanting to know that we at least agreed on the facts, but those facts were left to two people's memory and two people's interpretation. Two isn't a large number, but it's enough to cause disagreement. We ended the meeting with me saying I'd like to think about things to see if I wanted to pursue meeting with upper management. He seemed to think that I would receive the same answers from his boss but welcomed me to invoke my rights.

Today, I went into work assuming my boss would be asking what my plan of action would be. I anticipated that I would tell him to give me a few more days to really go over my side of things and that I would meet with his boss later. Those ideas never really came to be. My boss called me into his office first thing. Unsure of what the meeting would be, I brought my tape recorder. The meeting was only about some things at work, not my bonus or anything of the sort. I went back to my desk relieved; however, my boss followed me. I guess he somehow knew I had a recorder. He started to grab a notebook from my desk, which still contained the recorder. He feigned interest in the papers of the notebook, which I tried to hang on to. I told him I would bring all that information in a few minutes, clearly knowing where he was going with this. He gave me a stern look and said my name with his head tilted just so reminding me of my teachers when I had done something really wrong. He quickly snapped something about "company property" and asked if there was a tape recorder inside. I saw no reason to lie. Infuriated, he spun from my cube muttering, "This changes everything. I need to see you in my office right now." I looked at my co-worker and jokingly said, "So, can I record this one too?"

My boss was rightfully angry, but I'm certain he misunderstood my motivations. I think he felt I had betrayed his trust in me. And by not trusting him, he told me, "This can no longer work out." I immediately felt like I really hurt him. I tried to explain my reasons, but he was too angry to hear me. He said some hateful, emotional things, and though my brain was shouting right back at him, I remained silent. I left his office thinking I should just pack up my things. Within seconds, he was speed dialing HR and his boss. My fate wasn't looking so good. He high-tailed it to his boss's office, and I sat there wondering what would become of my Linda Tripp move.

I had been on the offensive since the beginning. Suddenly, with my boss knowing I taped him, I had put my job in unfornseen jeopardy. I had come into work thinking that I still held most of the cards concerning how I wanted to handle things, and then I lost them all to a stinking tape. Now, I had become untrustworthy--just like that. And my only motivation to have that tape was to keep things honest, straightforward, and clear. All that I had brewing inside of me was quickly thinking, "Okay, you just lost your job and your case...for a tape!" My tummy felt like I had ingested concrete.

My boss came back to the office about an hour later. After he took his lunch, he told me that his boss wanted to see me--alone. I asked if I could decline or post-pone the meeting. He told me no. So, I packed up for the day and left for the big boss's office. I was suddenly aware of every ounce of tension in my limbs. I could barely remember a time when I felt so nervous or scared. My whole body was trembling. A million scenarios were running through my head. Was he going to fire me? Was he going to tell me how disappointed he was in me? Was he angry too? How many people knew about this already? I felt like a lamb going to the slaughter house.

Well, things didn't go how I anticipated once again. They actually went much better, in a sense. My (big) boss said he thought that recording conversations probably wasn't allowed in the employee handbook. Thinking he was saying something else, I let out an, "Ah huh," in which my brain said, "Wait, where did you read that?" He asked me to explain my thought processes--a question that I've always found rather intelligent. I told him the tape was never ever going to be used against my boss or even played to anyone else at the bank. I originally wanted the tape to help me prepare for coming to him at some later date. I didn't want to end up pleading my case to him with my direct boss interjecting with, "No, that's not what I said" or "You've misunderstood." I told him things just spun out of control, and for that, I was extremely sorry. I never meant for the tape so be some shady, desperate thing.

As it turns out, he wanted to know about the original disaster--the bonus. I told him how I thought my boss and I disagreed on what took place. I explained my side and my boss's side, and strangely, my boss's boss DIDN'T AGREE WITH MY BOSS. In fact, he apologized if my boss "misunderstood" him or if he "mislead" him in any way. He even stated that bonus or incentive plans never existed within the company at my level, but that perhaps they should. Incentive plans are always offered in writing with clearly defined perimeters and given from HR. He went on to say that he recalled my boss having issues with my performance level at my annual and that my boss didn't give me the top percentage raise because of that. I'm quite certain my face adjusted to hearing such news. Performance issues? That sounds like I'm some sort of problem employee. I starting thinking, "Did I get bad evaluation? I thought I had a really good one. What the heck is going on? I know I had good marks on everything." I left more confused than ever.

When I got back to my office, my boss asked me how it went. One word: "Interesting." I told my boss that his manager had never heard of any incentive or bonus program. I even told him what he said about my evaluation, which my boss said wasn't right as he pulled it from the drawer. He was completely shocked and dismayed. I tried to explain that how he felt right then, is how I've been feeling with him. UNSUPPORTED. That was my motivation for the tape. I didn't want things to get ugly, misconstrued, or that famous word, mislead.

For me, the fact that my bosses didn't even agree on anything was some sort of sweet victory. Suddenly, my tape wasn't so malicious. Suddenly, it was clear that people remember things very differently, even if they are crystal clear in your mind. Suddenly, my boss was feeling just like me: hurt, disappointed, unsupported, and a little crazy. When you remember things happening one way, and the other person comes back with something totally different, you start to question your own sanity. You start to think you are in a time warp of some sort. You start kicking yourself for not having things in writing, or better yet, RECORDED. It becomes one person's word against the other's, and what is that really worth?

I left my boss's office feeling victorious in some small way. I told him I wanted the whole thing dropped, but seeing how he felt, I understood if he felt the need to call up his boss again, which I'm sure will lead to a discussion with all three of us present. I continued to explain that this--all this stuff--was why I wanted my tape. I didn't want to feel crazy. If fact, had I never approached my boss and went directly to his boss instead, I'm certain I would have felt even crazier when he told me he had never heard of an incentive or bonus offer.

So, here's to balance. I couldn't have pictured a better ending. Okay, well I could dream of one where my boss's boss gives me a big raise, but this ending is a close second. I will forever chalk this one up to a bad learning experience. Get things in writing people. Have them recorded. Have a third neutral party present. Protect yourself because no one else will. The he-said-she-said game was never that much fun. And I, for one, like to know that I can walk out of any room and hold my head high because I was honest.