So here’s my story of a bad boss at Christmas. Sorry, it’s long:
Background: I worked for a group of contractors who were entrenched at a manufacturing site, “Widgets”, working in their offices on their property. After many years, Widgets was sold to a larger company. The new owners pushed our contracting group offsite and let it be known that while they would continue to give us some work, we would no longer enjoy the access that we used to have to Widgets’ information and facilities. We went from being basically co-workers with Widgets’ own employees, to just-another-group-of-contractors among several. Well, life happens. The original Widgets employees were no happier than we were about it, but we all carried on.
Before the sale of Widgets, we would often combine with a close group of Widgets employees for pot lucks, holiday dinners, retirement parties, etc., but that ended with the new Widgets owners. So, for my group’s first Christmas after being “kicked out”, we had a potluck dinner in our rented office (Only money for a ham was provided by our own corporate offices for our Christmas dinner) and invited the Widgets group we worked with the most closely in the past, making the dinner head count consist of about 22 of us contractors and 8 of Widgets employees. We had a really good time.
However, the new owners at Widgets were ruthless – by next Christmas, most of that group of Widgets employees that we had invited the previous year had been replaced, because of retirement, firing, or quitting when they could no longer take it. We barely knew some of the replacements by name, much less in person, and they seemed uninterested in furthering the acquaintanceship. My own group had been downsized to about 14 employees. So when it came time for my company’s next Christmas potluck in our new location, a few of our employees suggested that we simply have a dinner just for our own group this time. It had been a rough year, seeing several of our own people laid off, and saying farewell to some longtime friends at Widgets as well. Two of our employees had planned to be on vacation at that time, so only 12 of our group would actually be there at the potluck.
Our boss was adamant – we needed to invite Widgets people with whom we worked rather closely. So, our admin drew up a list of about five names of Widget employees and asked if there were any others who should be added. The boss submitted his list of names that must be invited. His list brought the number of Widgets employees up to sixteen! There were only twelve of our group, and sixteen of the Widgets employees, and he expected our employees to provide the food for this meal, but he assured us that he had corporate’s agreement to provide a ham again.
To understand this better – my group received no bonuses or Christmas gifts of any kind from our employer, except for that one ham for our group meal. To keep our bids super competitive, our salaries were much lower than those at Widgets – my counterparts at Widgets, for example, made $20,000/year more than me at a minimum – the ones with my experience made nearly twice as much as I did. This Christmas dinner for our group was to be our only celebration and we were being asked to basically cater for a larger group of people than ours, all of whom made much better money than us, and most of whom didn’t know us and showed no desire to do so, just because it was “good client relations.” Admin asked the Boss if he was sure this was the best way to wish his own employees “Merry Christmas,” by asking them to do this much work, and out of their own pockets to boot. She mentioned that a few employees had been quite startled to be told that their selected dish that they had planned to bring would have to feed almost 30 people, not 12. A couple of employees had asked why we had to invite anyone else at all, since the early indication had been that it would indeed be just our group this year. Most felt, but didn’t want to be quoted, that if it was “good customer relations,” then our company should pay for the meal.
In response, the Boss, who was normally a nice enough, if often insensitive guy, cancelled the dinner completely, then sent out a blistering email to our group, berating (unnamed) employees who had “forgotten the meaning of Christmas – giving” and accusing them outright of selfishness. We are talking employees such as the mother going through a divorce, the spouse of a disabled person, a newlywed just starting out, a man trying to help pay for his failing parents’ nursing care in their home, a veteran recently returned from overseas…. Yes, such greedy, selfish employees! I don’t know what the boss was thinking, but it was right then that I began my search for my new job. 1214-18