Sandra runs a busy office. "I don't have time for rebels without a cause -- or even rebels with one," she said when we met in Nashville, Tenn.
"But I've got two young women working for me who are rugged individualists, and if they don't shape up pretty soon, both of them are going to be unemployed rugged individualists!
"Phyllis [not her name] is the one who really gets my goat," she said, shaking her head. "She is smart and hard-working most of the time, but she comes to work 20 minutes late every day. Every day.
"I've spoken to her. I've asked her if there's a reason and gotten a blank stare in return. I've told her and told her that we start the day at 8:30 a.m. around here, not 8:50.
"She looks me right in the eye and says she'll take care of it -- then comes in late the next day."
Janet (not her name) is the other free spirit in Sandra's office. She is a good salesperson, but she's supposed to call in and report at the end of each day that she's on the road selling, and she often doesn't.
"If it's important, it'll wait till tomorrow, is what she tells me," said Sandra, a real edge in her voice. "She acts as if she has a choice, which is definitely not the case. And every time I bring it up, she says, 'I know, but I checked in the next morning -- what's the big deal?' "
The "big deal" is that her boss' whole view of her has changed. "Really, she's a valuable member of my team except for this one thing," said Sandra. "But this one thing is getting me mad enough to make it hard to remember anything else about her.
"When I stay late waiting for her to check in, and she doesn't, I get so angry that I could fire her on the spot. And I may, one of these days!"
Phyllis and Janet both are due for raises, Sandra added, but from the look on her face it was clear that they'd be waiting a long time.
If there's a bit of the rebel in you, it's a good idea to ask yourself -- often! -- if you're saving it for important issues, or expressing it in petty, annoying ways that will only hurt you in the long run.
If self-destructive rebellion is part of your life's pattern, on the other hand, you might consider seeking professional help to find other, non-destructive ways to express yourself.
Most of the time, our willingness to make waves is best saved for the important issues.
Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.