I was thinking the other day that, while the majority of my job gives me a raging headache and makes me want to leap off a bridge (don’t worry, I’m just – mostly – kidding), it’s also really nice to have a boss (my immediate lead) who I can joke around with and say pretty much anything to. He’s the kind of guy who, if I think he’s being a raging moron, I can actually tell him so and his response will pretty much always be, “Fair enough.”
Unfortunately we’re not always lucky enough to land with the kind of boss whom you can consider a buddy. Most of the time we end up with the most rotten apple on the tree, or at the very least, people who are vastly overestimating their importance in the grand scheme of things. Today I thought I’d share a few stories about some of those bosses – the ones that make you wish you could go back in time and kick them in the shins.
The first one who comes to mind was the woman who was the manager when I worked at the ferry terminal restaurant during high school. Now, I’ll grant that at that age most of us are whiners who don’t even want to be working in the first place, but this woman was completely unreasonable. She was the kind of boss who expected you to always, always, always be doing something productive, and if she caught you standing around for more than twenty seconds she’d flip out. The real problem with this was that whether or not we had any customers relied entirely on whether a ferry was coming in or going out, so there were long periods of time when there was simply nothing that needed doing. I can remember one day washing every table and window in the place twice because there were simply no customers, and still getting scolded for leaning against the ice cream counter for a minute or two.
This same woman also asked me to stay late one shift because the ferry had been delayed and the rush would be coming in right after I left. I explained that I couldn’t because it was already 11:30 pm and my “new driver” license didn’t permit me to drive between midnight and 5 am (something she damn well knew). She threw a total hissy-fit about how I was abandoning her and wasn’t taking my job seriously, so I asked her if she honestly expected me to risk getting a ticket or losing my license for a temporary, part-time, minimum-wage job. She said yes. I didn’t stay.
Another power-mad nut that I worked for was the manager-to-be of a new Walmart. We were basically given an empty building and the task of putting together the store, and this woman made the job as miserable as it could possibly be. Whenever anything went the tiniest bit wrong, she basically called us all morons, even thought it was often stuff that was completely beyond our control. For instance, the shelving units didn’t fit right because the person who’d designed the inner layout hadn’t properly measured the dimensions of the building. Somehow this was our fault and we were berated for being to stupid to pull several feet of floor space out of our asses.
She would also yell at us for doing things the wrong way, but usually couldn’t explain how she expected us to do them instead. For instance, she once screamed at me for stepping up onto a pallet to grab a box of product. She said it was a safety issue and that if I fell between the wooden slats and broke my ankle she’d deny worker’s comp. But, she couldn’t offer me an alternative method of retrieving the boxes. If I’d stood outside the pallet I couldn’t even reach them, and even if I’d had longer arms, picking up a 30-40 lb box with your arms fully extended is definitely a recipe for back failure. I tried to explain this and she just stalked off, screaming about how I wouldn’t be getting worker’s comp.
But the worst thing I ever saw this woman do didn’t actually involve me, but a coworker. This seventeen-year-old girl’s cousin had just died in a car crash, and she was asking for a couple hours off in the afternoon to go to the funeral. This evil woman replied with, and I quote: “A cousin isn’t a close enough relative to be asking for time off. You’re staying the full day.” Considering that I grew up so close to my cousins that they were like brothers and sisters, I never forgave her for that comment, and I still hope someone snapped and punched her right in the goddamn nose after I left.
The Liquor Store was actually a half-century job, and the boss wasn’t so bad, but there was one thing he did that I’m still annoyed about even ten years later…he just stopped scheduling me for shifts. He didn’t fire me, he didn’t lay me off (so I didn’t get employment insurance), and as far as I know he had nothing against me personally, but he just…stopped scheduling me. And I never got any explanation. As far as I know I could still actually be on the books as a part-timer if that particular location was still there. The whole thing really frustrated me though, because at the time I was going to university and had to pay rent and bills, so I had no choice but to find another job, and I never got any kind of closure as to why.
My boss at the call center wanted us to flat-out lie to customers. Our contract was with a particular satellite radio company, and whenever the customers had questions about the products or service quality she would expect us to fabricate complete BS to make the company sound flawless. For example, if a customer asked about coverage in big cities like New York (spotty at best because the high-rises block the satellite signal) she’d expect you to cheerily insist that the radios will work without fail anywhere in North America. My personal favorite moment was when I got a caller who’d had not one, but two radios completely crap out on him. He had a lifetime plan (one-time charge of about $500) and the way those worked was you could only replace your radio (for any reason, including breakdowns) up to three times, and then the plan would be void and you’d have to purchase a new one. This guy was justifiably upset because he’d already used up two of those replacements in less than a year, so he asked me if other people were having the same problems. I told him, honestly, that the particular model he’d been dealing with seemed to have the highest number of issues across the board and that perhaps he’d like to try the slightly-more-expensive model that seemed to be a lot sturdier and more reliable. He agreed to try it out and thanked me for my honesty, but unfortunately it turned out that this particular call was one of my monitored ones. Within seconds of disconnecting the call my boss was at my desk, scolding me for daring to speak ill of one of the company’s products (despite the fact that I’d gotten him to purchase a more expensive one instead). She went on to explain that I’d probably lost the company money by saving this guy from having to repurchase his lifetime account sooner when another radio inevitably died on him. I thought that was one of the sleeziest things I’d ever heard, although since this particular company’s billing system would double-charge people at complete “random”, I guess I shouldn’t have been all that surprised.
And finally, a more recent boss (who shall obviously remain nameless) once told me, in more roundabout terms, that he kept me around through the previous round of layoffs because I make a damn fine secretary. Now, I’ll grant that this guy comes from a culture in which women are inferior, and a superior’s underlings are, in general, considered to be “lesser”. But, I still thought it was pretty damn inappropriate considering that I’m a red-sealed instrumentation technologist with a university degree and ten years experience who just happened to be helping out a bunch of slobs who couldn’t keep track of their paperwork for more than ten seconds. So…yeah.
Honestly, I could probably easily make this post twice as long, but I think I’ll stop there for now because you don’t want to use up all your good stories at once, right? Right.
So what do you guys think? Do these bosses deserve a boot in the arse, or am I being too sensitive? Have you ever had any bosses like these? Have you ever snapped and told one of them off? I’d love to hear about it! Help me to retroactively live vicariously through braver employees than myself! 😅