Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Bad, Bad Bosses

Jan-Jun 2003 Archive
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My boss is a 32-year old man, very nice, but sometimes absolutely clueless. Yesterday was the first day on the job for a young woman of about 25. Within two hours of her starting, my boss said to her, “Maybe it’s just because I have bad allergies today, but you smell kind of mushroomy.”

My other co-worker and I have been in hysterics for the last two days. But we realize that it could've been worse. He could've said she smelled yeasty.


I came aboard to a certain instrumentation company about 10 years ago. This company decided to get into the pharmaceutical analysis market but didn't have any expertise in the field. Nor did they truly have any expertise in selling services though they branded themselves as a service company.

Within a year the guy who hired me had been fired - sales were too low. The fact is he could get no support from our sales reps, nor would the board of directors allow him to hire someone experienced in pharmaceutical sales.

After serving under 4 directors in the first two years, the company President and CEO finally came to me to ask what was wrong. After all, I had been in the industry and served as a director for about 20 years. I simply explained that you do not have the facilities to carry out the business plan that was signed off on three years ago (by the CEO and the Board.) Nor do you have a sales force willing to promote this cause to grow the company. He was dumbfounded, but instead of getting the sales force off their butts or looking at himself in this issue he chose to blame everyone else.

Within a month, this division became a pariah. No one wanted to touch it for fear of losing their jobs if the division was sacked. I was later approached about "turning" the division around. I told them that would be impossible. However, I did have a way to recoup the million plus dollar investments. It would be a slow process. My advice was to just shut down the division if money and a fast dollar were the real issue here. 6 people including myself could lose their jobs.

Why? Most people in this industry only have 2-3 real competitors. This one had about 10 major players and 120 smaller ones. I took over R&D to create products for the market.

The CEO was later found cheating on his wife and the settlement drew a substantial amount of cash from the company - over 7 million dollars. We were taking out loans to stay afloat. I knew I should have left when I heard this person comparing himself to "Jesus Christ" and proclaiming the board members were his "apostles" and he was going to show them the way. I was financially trapped at the time.

I turned the remainder of the equipment to move the new division forward. My goal was to drive new products in this arena. No matter what we created or made the sales force refused to sell it because it was something they didn't feel comfortable doing. Even after all the effort we still continued to go negative till 2000.

It was during this time we laid the groundwork to manufacture critical components. This factor kept us from being devastated when our supplier pulled out in an effort to cripple us. We saw it coming and were able to laugh in their faces. The original division was a resale operation.

Later production was put under me. I feel the former manager hated me for this though I treated him well in spite of his constant efforts to torpedo me. I now wish I had simply fired him instead of trying to work with him (as a Christian).

Finally a marketing manager was hired. It helped a bit. Growth picked up in 2001 but was back in the toilet again in 2002. This marketer would let the sales force walk all over him. He even attempted to bribe them to do their job. He was fired by the CEO. We make some of the best and unique products in the world but no one internally wanted to sell them.

In 2003 we transferred another person internally to help promote marketing. Sales started to pick up. People were buying our products. We have been growing in the double digits since 2003 - out pacing any other division 2:1 in growth. Since most of the sales staff is female, I feel it was a sexist issue why the refused to co-operate with any male I heard one (now the Sales Director) say she didn't mind showing skin if it got her the sale. I was appalled! At least people wanted our products and we had new products coming out all the time.

By Nov 2005 everything had become so overwhelming trying to run the production as well as the R&D effort in the facility. The fact that this bungled management attempted to keep me in meetings 2/3 of the time instead of letting me drive products wasn't helping. I was not allowed to hire anyone to cover for me and move R&D forward when I was in the meetings. In Nov 2005, It was decided with the board that I would put together a plan to integrate the production facility of this business unit with the rest of the manufacturing facility by April of 2006.

In early December 2005,I was approached about bringing a 3rd party into the mix in order to increase our contacts and external resources. They wanted a triad - me, marketing rep, and party 3 to accelerate the already double digit growth! (Jeez!) but wouldn't provide additional resources. I was grateful for any resource I could get. The fact is if party 3 had been doing his job to start with we wouldn't have had to formally incorporate him.

Two days before I am to leave for Christmas vacation - the acting president called a meeting. The CEO is actually calling the shots. They immediately ripped production out from under me and he tell everyone that party 3 will be joining the team.

I was of course totally devastated not to mention in a state of shock. I had been commended every year since 1998 for my work and have received substantial bonuses in stocks every year because of my efforts. I couldn't believe they thought they could just rip up this operation without considering the people factor. Of course, everyone in the production facility thought I had planned this!

The bastards that did this were trying to make me the scapegoat for all ill will. Of course if I just leave they'll fight me in court to keep "my stocks".  If I go to a competitor they will also do the same. These were given to me as a reward or so I thought!

It wasn't much of a Christmas for me that year.

When I returned 2 weeks later, I had found that party 3 had managed to manipulate the R&D group to turn them against me. No one would really talk to me for over a year! BTW, I found out later party 3 was a crony and acting \for the new "president." It was party 3 that got us involved into such a dog product that is cost me 2 years of research and putting aside my work to fix this "turnkey" resale technology.

Later in January a company wide memo was circulated stating that I and the entire R&D team would be reporting to party 3. So much for the shared effort. Now I get told who my new boss is through a memo! My new "boss" spent less than 8 hours with me in 2006 (including meetings).

Later when the performance reviews were performed most people took anonymous pot shots at me within the group. One particular anonymous individual wrote in May 2006, "XXXXXXX is a loser!"

Me, The person that developed the tech for the products that was creating double digit sales and outracing the rest of the company in sales growth 2:1. Yep. That makes me a loser alright.

Still those words hurt. There is nothing like being back stabbed by those people you trusted and being stabbed in the heart by those people you stood up for when others wanted to oppress or unjustly fire them or to those you promoted due to their efforts.

In May 2006, I went into a very deep depression. I could barely get myself to work. My spirit had been crushed. After all these years, I was discarded as a thing! My depression grew worse. I put on a smiley mask and went to work. I tried to discuss what was going on with the company owner, and two of the board members. Two claimed ignorance (including the owner) on what was happening. The third one made the sarcastic comment, "What do you want me to do about it."

No one wanted to listen. For every waking hour for 6 months after the review, I had continuous thoughts of killing myself. I had worked so hard all those years for this? When everyone one else was working 8 hours I was doing 16-20 hours.

A 'team building" session occurred July 2007 to find out what was wrong with the team. Duh. I stated what had happened and my unhappiness. I immediately became the focus of scorn and the "team problem". I didn't say anything about depression or suicidal thoughts. I left the session believing I am somehow defective as a human being.

I called a former boss later to talk to him and told him I thought I was losing my mind. He said, "XXXXXXXXX there is nothing wrong with you. You are the most sane and rational person I have ever known! You are working for a dysfunctional company!"

The CEO stopped at my table in the restaurant the other day to introduce me to one of his MBA professor friends. The asshole then made the quip, "I bet you want "party 3's' job." He encouraged me to get an MBA. Why should I spend 75K for this when I know I will never receive just compensation or recognition for whatever I do?

The technology ideas I developed and nurtured are responsible for more that 50% of the sales. I didn't do it all myself - especially all the hands own, but I saw to it my ideas were implemented. Party 3 - who has never invented anything - then has the audacity to tell me, "You need to re-invent yourself after I protested the measly raise I received in the manager shift!

The other instrument market is failing and my division is now picking up the slack. Worse the BOD was approved a massive facilities expansion duplicating the same old 1980's manual technology. These instruments can't compete in price because we are not automated.

I can no longer work in such a hostile, unrewarding, stupid, malignant, and uncaring environment.

Its time to wiz on the Wizard.


Several years ago I worked at a pub in Bath, England. 

Being the only American on staff, I was used to getting teased about how rude Americans were and how horrible our government was, etc.  One day, a family came in for lunch.  They were the “typical American stereotype” – rude, loud, impatient and unhappy with everything from the food to the service. The family sent back the fish and chips back to the kitchen because the fish had – gasp – bones in it!  I think they even said something about how they might have choked and would have sued the pub.

I was working behind the bar when our manager came back and started talking about how horrible these customers were.  I believe the words “You Americans!” was used.  So when I brought out their drinks, I tried to be as nice and friendly as I could.  I said, “So what part of the states are you from?”  Their indignant response: “We’re not Americans – we’re Canadians!”  It was ironic since Canadians tend to be stereotyped as nice, quiet and polite. 

I was pretty happy to tell my boss that the complainers WEREN’T Americans and I don’t think he ever complained about “You Americans” again!


Where to begin…I worked at a magazine for six months because I wanted to use the contacts I made there to further my career.  My (fat, bald) middle-aged boss told me repeatedly he only hired me because he thought I was hot and was pleasantly surprised to find out I became a valuable employee.  Keep in mind, this guy doesn’t ask for resumes when he screens prospective new hires – he asks for Myspace pages so he can see what they look like.

Once a week, he would rush out the door while announcing, “Be back in an hour, I’m off to my marriage counseling appointment.”

He thought the world revolved around him and his failing business.  Once, I mentioned I spent a Sunday afternoon planting flowers – one of my favorite things to do in the Spring.  He replied, “Why weren’t you here?  No hobby is more important than this job.”  Keep in mind, I own my own business and THAT is the only job that is more important than my hobbies.   

The sales guys lasted about an average of three weeks.  One quit after this gem of a man said to him, “I love having all hot chicks on my staff.  And when they all have their periods I just bring in chocolate.”  The sales guy (who I remained friends with) told me he wanted to punch the boss in his face.

On weekends, he would travel around the community and take pictures for the magazine.  He told a new girl that was to accompany him, “I don’t want to offend you, but can you wear some make-up this weekend?”

No one in the office was the least bit surprised he was in marriage counseling.  He once asked me what my mom looked like and if she was dating anyone.

In a column he wrote for the magazine, he said he ate only organic food and never ever ate at McDonald’s.  Hmmm…funny because he used to call from the McDonald’s drive-thru to see if anyone wanted anything.  And, personally, if someone who weighed more than 300 lbs. told me to eat organic food I would stay far, far away from the stuff.   

I could go on indefinitely.  Why did I tolerate this abuse, harassment and just plain stupidity?  The magazine had contacts that proved invaluable to my business.  Plus, I learned countless way how NOT to run a business from this man.  And now I am on my way up and I hear the magazine might now go to print next month.   



I am on a roll today Miss Jeanne! This may not sound immediately like an etiquette issue, but I think it qualifies as etiquette means making people comfortable, doesn't it?

When working in London, England, I worked in the Catholic education sector. I had a wonderful boss who had been a monk and therefore had great insight into our field. He often shared his theological knowledge with me and I thought he was a great guy. One winter I was working late and it was already dark outside. Surrounding staff had left and turned off their lights, and as I was working away at my computer I became aware of being watched. Looking up, my heart froze as I saw a robed figure standing in the doorway. It was gloomy, so I couldn't see a face beneath the hood-just a dark blank. I started to gurgle in fear as the figure slowly emitted an evil snigger. Eventually this evolved into my bosses' familiar laugh. I should have seen it coming-the sod kept his old habit at work deliberately to freak people out with and apparently would roam corridors at dusk to frighten new staff. There were impressions of my panic-stricken face all over the staff room next day. He's lucky I have a sense of humor, but no-one enjoyed the joke more than my students the next morning. I thought I'd rather submit a funny etiquette story rather than the abusive parents and punchups I usually work with! :)


For about a year I worked at a small firm where all employees and the boss/owner were female.  We actually got along quite well, with little to no gossiping. In fact, our only problem was the boss (B).  When I first applied for the job, I was rejected because there was no room for me.  The next month, I applied for graduate school at New York University (having no job, I figured I should do something constructive with my time, and I was planning to earn a Masters at some point anyway).  After I had applied for admission, but before I found out I was accepted, I was called up and offered a job at the small firm.  I needed money, so I took the job.  Not long after, I found out I was accepted to grad school.  B found out the same day I did, because she had decided to snoop around on my computer (NYU sends acceptance letters via email).  I received a call that night asking if I was trying to hide this fact from her, and why I hadn't mentioned it in the interview.  I explained that I had not yet been accepted, which is why I had not said anything.  From that day forward, she thought that I was "not completely honest with her," and would ask why I hadn't chosen a better school, like her Ivy League alma mater (sure, like $1,500/hour Private School in downtown Manhattan isn't good enough). One of the ladies in the office had terminal cancer.  This woman (A) was a wonderful human being and worked hard despite her illness.  Whenever we could help A (carrying something heavy, or getting her kids from school) we certainly did.  Even though she was in great pain (she departed the earth about 2 months after I was hired), she NEVER complained.  In fact, I never knew about the pain, only the cancer.  

One day, the office manager was unhappy because she had overheard B complaining about her arthritis pain to A.  We could not understand how anyone could complain about anything to a woman battling cancer!  And still A never whined about anything.  This apparently happened on a regular basis.  Finally, another young lady my own age needed to have shoulder surgery.  B never sent a card to her or even asked her how she was feeling when she returned.  She only asked why she had to attend rehab so often ("so often" was once each week).  Almost one year after I began working there, I found out that I might have cancer (very treatable kind).  Two days later, I was called into B's office with no warning so that she could fire me.  I had done nothing wrong (this was acknowledge by her), but "it was getting uncomfortable" so I had to go.  Again, I was not "honest with her" regarding my pursuit of a masters degree, and there was no place for me there.  Instead of protesting, I was so relieved that I thanked her for the opportunity to work for her.  I then thanked all the gods that I could collect unemployment while I had my surgery and rested for 2 months before working at the WONDERFUL place I do now.



This is about my best friend's boss. My friend works in a small town department store. The store only has about 10 employees as the town is mainly a tourist destination. As a result, this is also the main store in the town, so I assume that's what makes the boss feel that she can treat their employees as she wants as there are few jobs to be had. Here are just some examples from this year:

At the age of 33 my friend had to have a hysterectomy due to serious complications. Up to this point, she had to take a lot of time off work due to the complications. Two days after her surgery she gets a call from her boss asking her to come into work (where she would be on her feet all day). My friend says no. She has a doctor's note saying she must have at least 6 weeks recovery. Because friend is recovering from major surgery, she isn't working or getting paid for those 6 weeks (it's retail). Once she comes back to work, she's told she doesn't get ANY vacation time as the time she was off sick was considered to be vacation time by boss. I tell her that if she didn't get paid for being off sick, it was certainly NOT vacation time! 

One of the teenagers who worked there in the busy summer months quit because she found a better paying job. Boss tells her that because she has quit that she will have to pay the other employees overtime in order to cover the teens hours. She then tells the teen that she's going to make HER pay the employees the overtime from her own pocket. Teen's parents come in the next day to have a little discussion with the boss as to why she feels the need for the teen to pay her employee wages (also not legal!) She didn't get away with that one. Friend notices on her pay stub that she has not been paid time and a half for working on a civic holiday. Confronts boss who tells her that she doesn't get paid time and a half for working on a civic holiday. Friend has to pull out provincial labor laws to prove that yes indeed, legally she has to pay extra for it! 


I had the unlucky occurrence of having the same bad boss TWICE at two jobs in unrelated industries.

In college, I became a resident assistant my junior year.  I was so excited to meet the new students, do a good job and get the year off to a good start, so I was stunned when my resident director stopped by after the first day to tell me "I just wanted you to know that I didn't want to hire you, I think you'll be rotten at this job and I'd like you to consider quitting."  What?  I was so appalled that I didn't know what to think of "Tanya's behavior.  I had never done anything to annoy her--I had just met her.  She then started on a campaign of terror, telling me during our mandatory weekly meetings that I needed counseling before I messed up my life even further, calling me derogatory names, "forgetting" to  tell me about things and then berating me in front of the rest of the staff during our weekly staff meeting and telling me that she used to be pathetic like me, but that she "had gotten better".  Um, okay.  Did I mention Tanya had three kids, two with her ex-husband, a new baby with a student assistant in another residence hall who had knocked her up the previous school year and lived in the one bedroom resident director apartment?  That was "getting better?" I spent days crying and avoiding her stealth attacks, which was difficult as she was always stopping by my room and part of my job was to actually BE there.  Eventually her bullying and inappropriate behavior towards myself and other staff got her fired midyear.  When they cleaned out the apartment, they found a foul stench...apparently, she had left an entire month's worth of dirty diapers stashed in the closet of the bedroom.  They had to repaint and re-carpet the entire place to make it livable for the next resident director (who was very nice by the way)  Her next job--running a family planning clinic!  Does no one check references?

But I was happy to be away from her and thought I would never see her again.  Was I WRONG!  Three years later, I was working for a local charity agency that works towards empowering girls.  I was running an arts and crafts camp.  I had been hired by a person who later left the agency just a few weeks after I was hired, but I was fine with that, as I had worked with this agency for three previous summers.  Imagine my surprise when I walked into my orientation meeting to find that my boss was none other than TANYA!  What sort of cosmic karma did I annoy? How did I deserve her AGAIN?  She smiled pleasantly and said "So glad to see you again!  Apparently you took my advice and straightened up your life!"  Huh?

She then proceeded to spend the summer being completely incompetent and trying to show that the program I was running would be better off with her "improvements"  Luckily, I had worked with the agency before and they knew that whatever decisions I made were in the best interests of the program.  It was also nice that my program was off-site and changed sites regularly and she couldn't come bug me as often, but I was constantly answering cell phone "emergencies" from her.  The end of summer couldn't come fast enough.

Later, I heard from my friends who still worked there that she was fired for going to a national convention, getting drunk, insulting the director of the agency and various other assorted indiscretions.  I also found out that she had been fired from the family planning clinic for gross incompetence and that her children had all been taken away by social services for neglect and given to their fathers.  This is a woman who was hired as an advocate for girls?

I live in fear that one day I will show up for a job and have her as my boss again--although I figure this time karma should allow me to be her boss!


One of my former bosses had a really "flexible" schedule - not only in terms of the hours he worked, but also in terms of who he was willing to "flex" his schedule for. The rest of our team was fantastic - like a family - and that was the only thing that kept me from quitting sooner than I did. Our boss was notorious for being late (or not showing up at all) for meetings with his subordinates and his peers. However, he was perfectly prompt for meetings with his superiors. In fact, he was known to cancel meetings with "lower ranks" in order to fulfill a last-minute meeting request with some big shot. I was his administrative assistant at the time, and you can imagine the time I had calling people and explaining to them why he couldn't meet with them (on time or at all).

While it is normal for an admin to schedule meetings for her superiors, you would think the boss would at least have the courtesy of contacting people, whose meetings he either cancelled at the last minute or was going to be extremely late for. Sometimes he would actually call me from yet another long lunch with some higher-ranking person and say, "Hey we are stuck here at the restaurant, would you call thus and such and cancel/reschedule/ask to wait?" So, he had time to call me and ask to reschedule, but not call the person he was meeting with. Sometimes that person was standing there waiting at the door of his office as he called. Classy...

I worked my way up to a change analyst under the same boss, but eventually the great team we had was dissolved and some of us were "lucky" to end up with a new group he was leading. I didn't jive with people there very well and felt underutilized, so I found another position with the same company (it's a major bank, so it's not at all unusual for people to transfer between groups that are completely unrelated to each other). My boss scheduled an "exit interview" with me. It was going to be his last meeting with me, so you would think he'd want to send me off into a new group with a good memory. No such luck. 10 minutes into our conversation his phone rang, and it was one of the big shots. He spent 20 minutes on the phone with someone important, with me still in his office (sorely tempted to just get up and walk out and feeling like a piece of gum stuck to the sole of his shoe). When he finally hung up, he continued where we left off - which was expressing his extreme surprise that I was leaving that group.



First, the background. My friend and I decided to go on a working holiday in the UK for two years and through our travel agent, signed up with a company that would find us jobs before we arrived in the UK.   The job they found us was an hour or so outside London in a town of about 6000 thousand people (3000 of which belonged to the nearby RAF base). Anyway, the owner of the hotel also owned three houses in the area that he used for staff accommodation.   The day we arrived, we were told that our room wasn't ready. Now we had just flown from Australia to the UK and really just wanted to settle in and get some sleep. We stayed in the hotel for the first night, before moving into our lovely new home. There were 8 of us living in the house with 1 bathroom and a barely functioning kitchen. The only advantage of this house was the 30 second walk to work instead of 15 minutes like the other houses.

  My boss was a huge Scotsman who really liked the ladies. He would openly flirt with them in front of his wife, who we all felt sorry for. As the only single female employee of legal age (I was 21 at the time), he seemed to go out of his way to flirt with me. The final straw came when he announced to a crowded restaurant that he and I would be going upstairs later.   I made it a point never to be alone with him ever again. In fact, everyone was secretly smiling when he broke his ankle and was told to rest for six weeks.   He would also yell at his staff in front of customers and criticize everything we did, from laying the tables to making coffees.   The worst part was when we left. We agreed on a finishing date, but then they decided to kick me out of my room at the house and into a hotel room for the last week to make room for my replacement. Not only did I not have access to a kitchen, I also had to beg to use the hotel washing machine for my laundry.   I did get my revenge though. I sent the company that sent me over there a letter about his behavior and the situation they were sending their clients into. (Still haven't heard back...a whole other story). I also found every online restaurant review board and forum I could find and wrote some "customer reviews" about his precious restaurant.



Recently during the school year (undergrad), I worked as a waitress part-time at a bar/grill chain sort of place nearby.  The restaurant was divided in half, almost literally - one was bar and smoking with some tables and booths, the other just rows and rows of tables and booths, non-smoking and kid-friendly.  After 10 pm on weekends, the bar side becomes 21+, and we ID'd people as they came in.

Background: The ALE (for those who don't know, Alcohol Law Enforcement) had been on our tails a whole lot lately - actually, all over the whole area.  There had been a rash of non-cardings and sales to minors, and they were cracking down hard.  They were doing undercover runs everywhere nearby, random check-ups, training sessions, the works.  All servers had been lectured by the managers constantly about carding - if you messed up, it meant instant termination.  Our policy was to card every who looked under 40, but the law in my state is actually that you need to have an ID with you to drink - even if you look over 40.  Therefore, we carded EVERYONE who walked into the bar after 10, and turned people away who came up short.

We'd recently hired a new bar manager when this story takes place, let's call him Steve.  He seemed nice, sort of quiet, not the typical employee by a long-shot.  To keep up with our clientele, we were all messy, loud, boisterous - and we got along.  And we got things done. A party of 20 had called late-ish asking if we could set up a table for them.  An engagement party after-party, it sounded like.  Wanted to both eat and drink.  We told them everyone would need an ID to sit in the bar, at which point they told us that some of the more elderly didn't have IDs.  Like we were supposed to,  the waiter handling the call told them that we could set them up in non-smoking and they could still drink, but everyone needed an ID to get into the bar side.  The guy grumbled, but agreed.

Three of us got right to work, pushing tables together, gathering chairs, setting up place settings and glasses of water, and we had a nice 20-top for them when they walked in 15 minutes later.  We led them to it, and one guy asked again why they couldn't sit in the bar, since those without IDs were obviously in their 60's. Again, we explained about state law and our weekend policy, and apologized, but promised to take good care of them in non-smoking.  He asked to see a manager.  The waiter who'd been handling things up 'til then went to get Steve, who was the only manager on duty.  The waiter explained what had happened, and asked Steve to come out and talk to the nice people.  Steve trotted over, shook hands with the guy, told them there was no reason why they couldn't sit in the bar, and to follow him - he'd make sure they'd got in.

Cut to three servers watching the high-fiving party walk away from the now-empty 20-top, jaws on the floor.  I asked the waiter in question if he'd explained to Steve what had happened, and he said yes.  I asked if Steve had any experience with alcohol law, and got another affirmative; he's been a bar manager for years and a bartender even longer.  We set to disassembling the huge table and cleaning up the now-useless mess of silverware, full glasses, napkins, placemats, and menus. 

Managers/Bosses: DO NOT EVER DO THIS TO YOUR UNDERLINGS.  Service industry people are already treated like the bottom of the barrel - we could be working ourselves through med school on tips, but all people see when they look at us is unskilled labor.  The last thing we need is our own manager undermining HIS OWN RULES in front of a customer to make us look stupider.  It is absolutely humiliating.  But in this case, it was not only humiliating, but illegal.  As they walked away, I was praying with my whole body that one of those folks was an undercover ALE agent ready to whip out his badge and take in good ol' Steve.  What kind of message are you sending when you do something like this?  You don't care about your employees, you don't care about the law, and you're a big fat hypocrite.

Those folks had a nice night in the bar, but I could never look Steve in the eye after that.


I'd like to apologize in advance because I am French and know that my English is so poor. Feel free to edit my story, if you decide it can make it to your web site. I added a few French word at the places where I am not sure of the English word I used.

I am a medical student (externe en médecine, étudiant hospitalier) in France, and that means I work every morning at a hospital, while every afternoon is devoted to lessons. May I add that I am 23 (in France majority is 18), married, and do NOT depend on my parents.

So, on to the story. Beginning of last May, my aunt (by marriage) dies, everybody in the family is greatly affected. I ask my boss if I can have a day off work to attend to the funeral. "Well, that's fine with me, but I must have a copy of the death certificate (acte de décès) and a note from your parents." Never mind that 1) I'm married and do not depend from my parents, 2) I'm 5 years past legal age. Well, asking me for "proof" is a bit unfeeling, but I have a friend who made his grandmother "die" three times during last year. But why does he want a note from my parents, like I am 6 years old and he's my schoolteacher?

Well, forward to the next week, my uncle dies (so, about one week after his wife died... which is rather hard on all of us) I go to my boss, tell him I'll need another day off work to attend to the funeral of my uncle. "What, AGAIN!" Lucky for me one of my friends was there and suggested this was not quite the thing to say. His answer? "Yes, yes, I'm sorry, but I never had to deal with such a situation before and I didn't know what to say."



Just prior to the birth of my younger daughter in May 2006, I decided to become a stay-at-home mother, mostly because I did not want to miss my girls growing up but also because a petty tyrant of a fool that was my last boss.   To understand how bad and tyrannical this man was, I should contrast him with my previous boss. After graduating college, I got a job as a dietician at a retirement home. My first boss, who owned the facility at the time, was a gentleman, whom I will call Denis, in his sixties who believed that the way to get the most from his employees was to let them know that they are valuable as employees and as human beings. His kindness and generosity included such things as:   - He and his wife gave me and my husband a check for $2,000 as a wedding gift. - He knew that my husband did not work on Mondays, so he called one Sunday night and asked me if my husband could go play golf with him, along with some other husbands, boyfriends and employees who happened to be golfers from the facility. He picked up the tab for everything. - When I was pregnant with my older daughter, Denis called me into work on a Saturday to discuss an urgent matter. When I arrived at the facility, I was greeted with a surprise baby shower. - After I came back from maternity leave, Denis actually insisted that I pick up my daughter from daycare after lunch and keep her with me at my office during the afternoon until I went home. - When my grandfather died in June of 2004, he gave me a generous funeral leave (the funeral was in Minnesota while we are in Texas) and sent flowers and a card to my grandmother’s house.   

In March of 2004, Denis received an offer from a competitor to buy the facility that he could not refuse. I could not blame him for accepting the offer and he was having some health issues as well. The transfer was completed by August. The new owner said that the previous policies had worked so well that he would not change them. Then he introduced his nephew Martin, a man in his mid thirties, and said that Martin would be managing the facility. That sent up a red flag with me because I am somewhat wary of nepotism, but I decided to give this guy a chance.   I should have listened to my gut; it seems that Martin was a Mama's Boys who only had the job because his mother browbeat his uncle (her brother) in giving him a job and not firing him for messing up. 

At our first staff meeting, Martin let us know in no uncertain terms that, because “as human beings, we are defined by our professions,” work comes first and he did not want to hear about any family problems. He said that we should be ready to be at his beck and call 24 hours a day. I got a taste of this about two weeks later. Martin calls me at home at about 8:30 on a Thursday evening and tells me that I am to come in immediately for a staff meeting. I let him know that my husband is working the swing shift- he is a police officer- and is not due home until after midnight and I have a two-year-old at home and why can’t this wait until the morning? Needless to say I did not go to the meeting that night; the following morning, Martin called me into his office and presented me with a written warning for insubordination. I let him know that I would not sign it and he could fire me if he wanted but I would put a call in to his uncle and explain the circumstances. Much to my surprise, he backed down but said the unsigned warning would go in my file.   

Martin also acted paranoid. One nice fall day in 2004 I was coming back from lunch with my daughter at her daycare (Martin would not let me bring my daughter to the office after lunch; oh, well, all good things must come to an end, I cannot really criticize him for that). As I pulled into the facility parking lot, I got a call on my cell phone from my husband; he had a funny arrest story and wanted to tell me about it. Yes, the story was funny and I laughed just as Martin was walking by. Thirty minutes later, I was called into his office and Martin proceeded to grill me about with whom I was speaking and what was so funny. 

The next day, he posted a new policy saying that staff members were not permitted to leave the facility until their shifts were over, including during lunch breaks, unless it was on business; Martin said it was so he could monitor all “troublemakers.” A nurse beat me to the punch when she consulted one of the residents who happened to a retired labor lawyer who told Martin that the practice was illegal unless he paid his hourly staff for that hour. Martin backed down again; I guess he did not want to be called on the carpet for increased and unnecessary labor costs.   

Around the holidays in 2004, my mother-in-law passed away while on vacation in Florida with my father-in-law. My husband was on a flight within hours of hearing the news; he wanted to help his father with the details of transporting his mother’s body back to New York where they lived and where they would be holding her funeral. When I told Martin that I needed to take off for the funeral, he said no, saying I needed to give two weeks notice to take vacation time. I told him this was not vacation time but for the funeral of my husband’s mother. He said that I could take one day’s leave to which I replied by asking him how he expected me to attend a funeral in New York and be back to work the next day. Martin gave me a cold look and said: “One day, take it or leave it.” I then stormed back to my office and grabbed my employee manual. I went back to his office and pointed out the section on funeral leave where it said that we were supposed to get four days per event. He thought he was being clever when he said that that was only supposed to be for blood relatives; I then pointed to the place in the manual where it said “mother/ father-in-law.” He then said he did not understand why I needed to go to my mother-in-law’s funeral; he even asked me “doesn’t everyone hate their mother-in-law?” I just gave him an “eat s#!t and die” look and left his office. Needless to say, I went to the funeral but I had to again threaten to go over Martin’s head to get paid for my funeral leave.   

I put up with his nonsense for about another year because I came to regard many of the residents as friends, but I was nearing the end of my rope. The final straw came when I was about six months pregnant with my younger daughter, around February of 2006. I was catching up on some paperwork in my office when Martin bursts in, shoves this note in my face, actually smacking me in the nose with it and screams at me, “Did you write this?” Apparently, someone left a typewritten note in the employee suggestion box saying that Martin was probably the way he was because of (how can I put this delicately?) some deficiencies in the size of his manhood. I told him no, I did not write it and may I please finish my work. The next day he came into my office with some computer geek to go over my hard drive. They went over every computer in the facility but did not find the offending note.   I thought nothing more of this until the next evening. 

What he did that night was completely out of left field; the guy was on the warpath about this note. Martin and the Geek showed up at my home and demanded to search my home computer to see if the offending note was there. However, he received the most unpleasant surprise when he found out that my husband was home as well and now in an ill humor since he felt that his pregnant wife was being threatened and his three year old daughter was crying and frightened; Martin tried to take control of the situation by glaring at my daughter and telling me to “shut her the hell up.” My husband quickly stepped to the forefront and told him that he was not going to come into our house, he did not appreciate him being there harassing his wife and threatening his daughter, and that he had 30 seconds to get off the property. Martin actually tried to push past my husband, a bad mistake since my husband is about four inches taller and 30 pounds heavier and a former Marine who knows how to handle himself. My husband winds up pinning him face first against the wall while holding the Geek at bay with the threat of a can of pepper spray. Martin was saying he was going to press charges for assault. My husband simply replied “hey, you’re the one trying to break into a cop’s house. Think about it and don’t take this out on my wife.” 

My husband wanted to press charges on Martin but we decided it wasn’t worth it. I did, however, call his uncle to let him know about the incident. When I got to work the next day, Martin was conveniently on vacation.   One month earlier, my husband had received a promotion to sergeant with a nice increase in pay. A few days after the attempted home invasion, I decided I could no longer put up with the nonsense that this moron was dishing out, so my husband and I consulted an accountant friend who gave us a plan so that I could quit my job and stay home with my girls. Martin had a fit when I let him know that I would not be coming back to work after maternity leave; he even threatened to sue me to recover my wages for the past two years. But the best revenge was when one of the residents, a sweet, well-spoken lady in her 80’s, when she heard that I was leaving, stopped Martin in the dining hall and, in front of other residents and staff, called him an a**hole.   Amazingly enough, Martin’s uncle finally grew a backbone and fired Martin for incidents like trying to bully his way into an employee’s home and the sky high staff turnover; he then had the good sense to ask Denis, who had since recovered from his health problems and had decided that he could only play so much golf before going insane, to come back and manage the facility. Denis asked me if I wanted to come back to work but was most understanding when I said I wanted to stay at home and raise my daughters. He begged me to keep in touch.


 Boss opened a company franchising Daycares. He offers me a position as Administrative Assistant. I gladly accept since my previous job was working in a dive of a Chinese restaurant. We agree on pay, and VOILA, I am now his official slave. (Just as a mention, he at this point, has also convinced an old co-worker of his to leave his very secure and lucrative position to come work for him, promising him money beyond his wildest dreams)

When I started working for said company, we were 5 people. Small office, located in a quiet part of town. I should have realized something wasn’t quite right when he told me that he had ordered a SCEPTER. Ya, that’s right…that stick that kings walk with. Never mind his office chair. It was fit for a king (Complete with jewels). I have pictures to prove it.

Then he orders the conference room furniture. Well…the TABLE didn’t fit the room. That’s how big it was. He had the BIGGEST chair (copy of the chair he has in his office), WE WERE JUST 5 PEOPLE! This is just the beginning…

He came to my desk once and asked me if I can hear some music intro’s for him because the Gala was coming up and he needed entrance music. I said ok. Once I had finished what I was doing, I put in the CD and sat there, with my mouth open in shock. The CD consisted of: 1) The music that DARTH VADAR walks to. 2) The Commander In Chief 3) Star Trek theme song.

He must be kidding…he HAS to be kidding. So I walked into his office and, thinking he had pulled one over me, started laughing. He, unfortunately, wasn’t kidding. He proceeded to tell me that he was President, and the CIC, and I must treat him as such. I really couldn’t keep a straight face. So I left his office, went back to my desk to try and absorb what was going on. I felt like I was in the twilight zone.

Somehow, he got the idea that there was a mutiny happening in the office; and we were preparing a “coup-d’état”. He tells me that and I try, again, to keep a straight face while telling him that no one wants to overthrow him. He doesn’t listen, and for weeks, its hell. Recording our phone calls, all of a sudden we can’t go out to lunch together with employees, he sends out emails saying that if we are not in uniform (a yellow t-shirt) from 9am to 5pm we will be terminated, we were not allowed to discuss ANYTHING personal (ex: What we were planning on doing on the weekend) or organizing anything not related to work, meeting EVERY morning…finally, after 3 weeks, I was about to crack. I went to see him AFTER work hours and asked to speak to him. He promptly asked me where my uniform was. I told him it’s in my purse, it’s after 5pm. He tells me under no uncertain terms, when I am in HIS presence, and in his office, I am to wear the uniform. I had it. I sat down, calmly and told him that I am his FRIEND and he’s being a narcissist. Well, that didn’t go over very well.

Next morning, we have another blasted meeting. I tried a few time to interject some ideas that I had; but I kept getting interrupted. I finally said: “NP, if you want your employees respect-“ He cuts me off and says:” I don’t want you respect, I demand your obedience” I was very silent after that. The meeting was adjourned and I went for lunch. When I got back, the old co-worker of his warned me that NP was looking for a way to “stop the mutiny”, and now was convinced that I was the one who started the “revolution”. Basically, he wanted me out, but was afraid to fire me because he didn’t know how many “followers” I had. I can’t explain to you how pissed I was…so I laughed and told said person to go back and tell him to take a vote, if the people who want me to stay outnumber the people who want me to go, I’ll stay. If not, I’ll go. In the meantime, I told EVERYONE to “vote me out”. So they did. And I couldn’t be happier.



I have had many bad bosses myself but this shocking bad boss story concerns my older brother.

My brother (who is 10 years older than me) used to work at a large supermarket chain here in the UK during his breaks from University. One day when he had been there on and off for about 3 years there was a group of very high up staff and bosses coming to inspect the store.

Important information here, my brother is a Type 1 Diabetic which means he has to inject Insulin regularly and then eat soon after otherwise his blood sugar will go low and make him ill. Well the general manager, my brother's boss refused to give any of the staff a break as he wanted everything to be perfect for the visitors and he kept finding stuff for my brother to do. Because of this, my brother's blood sugar level began to drop and he soon realized he was having a hypoglycemic attack.

When this happens, all you can think about is getting food, so he went to the canteen and went straight to the front of the queue, apologizing to the woman at the front, but he just couldn't wait to eat. This woman decides to take offence and starts berating my brother and accusing him of being drunk (this is a common error with Diabetics as the symptoms of low blood sugar are similar to being drunk). He ignores her so she starts swearing and pushing him at which point he tells her angrily to leave him alone.

At this point, the manager appears, again accuses my brother of being drunk and gets 2 members of staff to hold my brother down on a table while the manager punches him in the face! The police were then called and my brother brought home (I still remember being in tears when I saw he had blood all over his shirt).

My mum was furious and went straight down to the store and demanded to speak to the manager who was hiding in his office. He refused to acknowledge my brother's medical condition and said that all employee files who were not full time were destroyed after a year! My brother never returned to this job and never received any compensation.

Nice little upshot though - my grandmother's best friend had for many years worked for the company when it was first starting out and had developed a lifelong friendship with a man who was now a very, very senior member of the hierarchy. When he heard about what had happened he made a personal visit to the manager who assaulted my brother and told him that although he couldn't sack him, he was personally making sure that his career never progresses any further, which must have really stung as it was a well known fact that the manager had been applying for much senior positions for the last few months! Karma really works!



Page Last Updated September 15, 2008