Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Bad, Bad Bosses

Jul-Dec 2004 Archive
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My first job out of college was in marketing for a small industrial company. Very boring, but I was desperate for a paycheck and insurance.

I lasted six weeks. I should mention that my supervisor was a woman in her sixties with more than 40 years experience in the working world. Here were some of her charms:

- In a semi-crowded lunch room she announced that she bought her best friend a book for Xmas entitled "Penis."

- Our company Xmas party was at a restaurant/bar. I played darts with three of my coworkers and when the game ended she asked who wanted to play again. I said I would. Her reply - "You've already had your turn."

-She had a picture of a porta-potty outside (for all to see) her cube. Strange enough, right? Well, in the picture next to this porta-potty were two large statues of Asian women's heads.

-She showed me a binder she had put together for an upcoming tradeshow. On the cover of this binder was a demon - complete with horns, fangs and breasts.

-I quit the week she pulled me aside to tell me she wanted "to mold me into a polished professional young woman." I felt I didn't need polishing if it meant I would have to learn how to be rude, make classless comments and show off creepy pictures.


When I was in college, I took an on-campus job as the Membership Assistant/Receptionist for college radio station.   It was a good job, and my supervisor was hilarious. She was an older Jewish lady, smart as a whip, crotchety as hell, and she used to regale me with funny stories, recipes and religious stuff. It was fun, easy to do, and occasionally, they let me on the air.   I moved up pretty quickly. Soon, they gave me a part-time weekend shift, and then my own music show. Good job. Fun times.  

I never had really paid much attention to the station manager. He was a loud, old-school, for-profit radio guy who'd been in the business for about 40 years. I was young, he was sort of old, and I didn't really have an opinion about him one way or the other. Until...   

The News Director quit. She was the host of the morning news show, and was taking college classes in the afternoon. She was about to graduate and move on to a professional position outside radio for more money and a better work schedule. At the station, she was required to be there at 5am to be on the air at 6, writing and reading local news stories. Then, at 9am she was off the air, but required to do press conferences and stuff until noon, or until she worked the equivalent of 8 hours. However...   She was really chummy with the manager. My guess is that he was in love with her. She was young, kind of cute...not exactly a news person. He used to fix her breakfast (fruit) every morning. He'd show up at 6am, and they'd eat and have coffee, talking like old married people until 9am rolled around, and she'd leave work. I understand that she hadn't attended a press conference in years.   In other words, she was getting paid a full time salary for 4 hours of work a day, and a free breakfast.   

Anyway, they hired a new news director. The woman lasted like two weeks. At the time, I didn't know why she quit, but I sure found out later.   Next, they hired a man. A pro. He lasted a few months and found another job.   Finally, the program director comes to me at the front desk and thrusts an AP wire story in my face.   "Read this...please?"   I read the story, and he said, "Can you be news director? Do you think you can do it?"   I thought, "Wow, like a THOUSAND dollars a month? Holy heck, I'm there!"   So, I start working as news director. I come in, re-write wire copy, comb newspapers for stories, read them, etc. I wasn't exactly Edward R. Murrow, but I was stable, and I did my job.   It was a slow time, so there weren't many press conference opportunities for awhile. I worked from 5am-noon each day, uneventfully, calling people for interviews, writing stories.   Only problem...the station manager still came in every day at 6, and SO DID THE PREVIOUS NEWS DIRECTOR! I'm running around, ripping wire copy, writing like a demon, combing newspapers and confabbing with other early morning news people, and these two are yukkin' it up over coffee and fresh fruit. A little distracting, but not too much.   

Soon, it just starts getting weirder. I find out that the woman they had hired for the position had quit so abruptly because, not only was she not qualified for the job, she had had it up to her neck with the manager inquiring about her personal life. When she finally told him she didn't feel comfortable discussing her love life with him at 7am on a Wednesday, he asked, "What man did this to you, sweetie?"   Oh, yeah, the "sweetie" bit. Like I said, the guy was old school radio, so everything he said was accented by "sweetie" or "doll" or "honey". 

One morning, I got in a little later than I should, and started working without making coffee. He burst into the control room while I was on the air and yelled, "It's all right, toots, *I'll* make the coffee!" and slammed the door!   All of this got progressively worse: my predecessor's breakfasts, the coffee, the "doll" thingy...and then...   One day, they needed me for something, and I was unreachable (I'd gone grocery shopping, for G-d's sake), and he flipped. The next day, he called me for a meeting, and asked, "Did you work yesterday afternoon for (Ex-boss)?"   "No. Although, I'm surprised that it would matter to you if I did."   "We don't do outside work here, hon'."   "Huh? It's a frame shop. This is radio. Even if I did work there, I don't see the conflict."   "Hey, about this (Ex-Boss)....I know you're close...but do you LOVE him?" <leer>   Me, about to lose it: "Whaaaaat!"   He went on to insinuate that I was not only working for this married guy "on the sly", I was also sleeping with him.   

Later, he started planting himself in a chair in the control room and reading the suggestive parts of Ann Landers column, trying to gauge my reaction. Then he started asking me about my sex life.   I started wearing the same pair of yellow sweat pants to work every day, and I refused to shower until AFTER my shift was over. Oh yeah, no tooth brushing, either. He just never got the hint.   The final straw: I had scheduled to attend a press conference that afternoon for some really unimportant news item. I was in charge of my own conference schedule, and choose which events I attended or didn't. I had no supervision on those things; I was sort of my own boss on that part of the job. I was the news director, therefore I chose the stories.   Well, I missed going to the conference because a dear friend had a major emotional meltdown, and it turned out that he was suicidally upset, partly because of me. I felt terrible, and consoled him all afternoon. Believe me, I'd have rather been at the press conference.   

I finish my shift the next morning, and get called into a "private" meeting with the manager and the program director. By private, I mean we're standing in a back production studio with a huge window, so everyone can see/hear this "meeting".   The manager starts SCREAMING obscenities at me, about how I'd slacked off on going to the conference, how I didn't do my job when I said I would, and how he was the "mother-effing boss"! (not the term he used, by the way)   

Now, at this time, I was the sort of 22-year-old who would apologize for breathing in the middle of an open meadow. However...I had suddenly...had it. My spine stiffened, and I lit into him as politely as any fed up young woman has ever lit into a member of the Greatest Generation.   I brought up the harassment, the leering, the unfair standard of employment between the previous host and myself and I politely mentioned that my enormous father and the university president would definitely be displeased to hear that he was cursing at me in front of all the other station staff.   He then asked if I wished to be fired, to which I answered something like, "Look, you had to hire the receptionist to do this job for you because you couldn't keep anyone for longer than three months. Fire me if you want, but I wish you good luck."   

He. Backed. Down. Yay!   That was about 13 years ago. I outlasted him (he retired), and when we cleaned out his office, we found "dirty-books"--you know, pot-boiler detective porn fiction printed on newsprint and without the benefit of pictures. Real early 50s stag books. They were taped under his desk or something. Yech.   I still work there as a volunteer from time to time, and luckily, anyone who survived this nutcase's reign is still there.   G-d, he was the worst. 



Three jobs ago, I worked for a summer camp that took itself way too seriously. The owners were a Long Island couple who publicly preach helping others and selflessness, but privately drive around in Mercedes and charge an obscene amount of money for their completely low-tech, traditional summer camp.

The wife of the couple was my boss, and besides her nasty habit of having screaming fits when she thought someone was disagreeing with her, she had the lovely habit of getting her pedicurist to come to the office and do her toes. She would call her employees in to talk about work while she had her nasty, wrinkled foot propped up on her desk, plastic wedges jammed between her toes, the pedicurist painting away, and the entire office reeking of nail polish remover. Who wants to look at THAT?

I was never more relieved as I was on the day I resigned from that place!



Years ago, my son broke his leg while we were at a skating rink; we went straight to the hospital, where he was admitted and scheduled for surgery the next morning.  After getting him settled in, I went to the phone and called my "boss," in the government office where we both worked.

Her VERY first words were, "And I've got that MEETING tomorrow!!   How am I going to go if you're not HERE??!!!"

That's bad enough coming from just a supervisor, or just a boss.   This one happened to be my MOTHER, and therefore the GRANDMOTHER of the child in the hospital.    Bosses were the least of my problems.



Through my school guidance counselor, I got a job with a lawyer's office doing computer work. I was very excited about the opportunity, wanting a good resume entry and to build up a little cash before I left for college in the fall. The lawyer (we'll call him John) was the late night TV ad type, specializing in personal injury and disability claims. That should have sent up warning flags in the first place, but I was young and only had to deal with it for 3 months.

I actually had a rather pleasant work experience. John left me to my own methods for the most part and I provided a lot of value to the office. However, this was quite the exception. John thought he could do everyone's jobs much better than they could. The receptionist was verbally assaulted on a daily basis for not including enough detail on phone messages. Even if she transcribed the entire conversation, he'd berate her for not estimating how the client "felt" or some other intangible bit of information. These outbursts were always public, never behind closed doors. The receptionist, a bright young girl just out of high school, would frequently be in tears by the end of the day.

He kept a paralegal on staff, or rather he tried. In my 3 months there, 3 paralegals quit and the fourth was already exploring her options. All told, I think about 5 of the 8 positions had some form of turnover by the end of my summer employment. John was quite the sexist, frequently dropping comments about women's' thinking abilities and such during his rants. This despite him being such a complete imbecile that he would have been completely lost without the diligent efforts of his staff.

His own stupidity did bite him a few times. My personal favorite was when a judge called and yelled at him for not showing up for a client's hearing (not the first time he'd done this by a long shot). John began to scream at his secretary, at which point she produced multiple calendars with the hearing clearly marked as well as several memos mentioning it. He stomped off to his office, slammed the door, and sulked the rest of the day.

I spent another week there when I came home for Christmas break. All new staff, same bad lawyer, same bad attitude.


Several years ago, I worked as a legal secretary in a small law firm.  I worked for three attorneys--one partner and two associates.  A year after I started there, I became pregnant with my second child.  Everyone I knew there was overjoyed right along with me.  I had become very good friends with the managing partner's secretary, "Nina," and she and another secretary threw me a very nice baby shower.

Shortly after my return from my maternity leave, the managing partner, "Mr. C," called me into his office and asked me if I had a doctor's release to return to work.  I told him no, I didn't, but if he required one I would certainly get one.  He told me that wouldn't be necessary and then said:  "I also need to talk to you about your milk problem."

I just stared at him for a minute and said, "I beg your pardon?"  He said, "I understand that you're using a breast pump.  You have to clock out to do that, so make sure the receptionist knows where you're going."  At first I couldn't believe it but he was serious so I got up and left his office.  I went directly to my boss (the partner) and told him this.  I pointed out if I were a smoker I could take all the breaks I wanted to during the day and not have to account for ANY of that time.  His response?  "Can't you just pretend you're going to the ladies' room?"

I told him that if he wasn't willing to stick up for me, I was going to find another job, but I didn't really start looking until Nina told me that Mr. C had the head of the ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT reporting to him every time I left my desk!!!!  My boss refused to do anything about that either, so I found another job just as quickly as I could.  Fortunately for me, my NEW bosses were both new fathers, so I've never had any parenting-related problems with them!!!


Many years ago I applied for a job as a waiter in a larger nearby city (City M), which is about a half an hours‘ drive from my home (in City P). The initial interview seemed to go well and the gentleman who conducted the interview seemed very friendly and quite willing to hire me, but in order to get the job I had to come back for another interview with a more senior manager. When I arrived for the second interview, the man sat me down, glanced at my resume and said “Well, this job probably wouldn’t pay you enough to drive every day from City P, but thank you for coming by.” With that, he promptly ushered me out. With tips, a good waiter or waitress can make quite a lot of money (my ex-wife made much more in three nights of waiting tables than I did working all week at my job), but aside from that it should be left up to the employee to decide if a job is worth the commute. Obviously, there had to be more to it than that (unless he was just an idiot), but it would’ve been better to tell me the truth. I never ate at that restaurant again and was secretly pleased when it closed down a few years afterward.


I was reading the story about the hellish boss who fired a nurse for taking time off for her mother's death.  Reminds me of my mom's current boss.  This woman makes every single other boss listed seem like kittens.  This woman's behavior is worse than any bridezilla, co-worker, etc., that I have ever heard of.  Her actions nearly resulted in someone's death, shows her disregard for when tragedy does strike an employee, her complete lack of care for a father and his daughter, and so on.  She deserves an award for how awful she is, and I hope you will consider adding her to your faux-pas of the year for how awful she is.   

A handful of the many incidents (and they get worse as it goes on):    First, come my mom's review, the director of nursing (known as the DON) could only praise my mom's performance, but denied a raise that my mom was guaranteed when she started work there.  My mom was insulted and left early for the day.  So the DON backed downs and gave my mom the raise she was guaranteed.   

Second, one of my mom's co-workers quit when the DON told the guy on a Friday that he HAD to work that weekend, though he was a weekday worker, and the DON KNEW this guy only got to see his daughter one weekend per month, and that this was the weekend.  No reason for needing him to give up seeing his daughter.  Just that he be there or be fired.  So he quit.   

Third, this lady had the nurse for one of the wings make a run to the store for her, meaning the wing was short a nurse.  So one of the aids told the DPN that this guy was turning blue.  She said she would be there after she finished her sandwich.  The poor aid was running around "like a chicken with its head cut off," according to my mom, until she found a nurse (my mom) and she went in to see the man suffocating.  He nearly died, but my mom stabilized him and called 911.  After the ambulance left, my mom confronted the DON, this woman complained that it was something someone else could take care of.  Um, the DON shorted the wing a nurse and expected an AID to cover it?!   

Fourth, the DON had my mom stand in as acting-DON while she was going to be gone on a church missionary trip (paid for by the church) to Mexico to build plumbing in a poor town.  This one is two-parts.  First, she refused to compensate my mom for taking charge of the whole facility (my mom is an LVN, known and LPN in many states, but she does have the experience as, despite her "lowly" position of not being and RN, she had often worked in administration and was nurse of the year for the statewide company she worked with just THREE years out of nursing school-I am SO incredibly proud of her!), though my mom had not only her duties, but all the duties of the DON, which in itself is a full-time job.  The second part is worse.   

Fourth, part two: This woman, very large to begin with, manages to come back from Mexico having GAINED 12 pounds.  The woman bragged about it.  In a town with people starving all over, she gained a dozen pounds in a week.  Wait-it gets worse.  She complained also about some of the other people from her church kept interrupting her...knitting.  My mom mentioned to her that she was supposed to be helping with the plumbing.  DON's response?  Word-for-word as quoted by my mom, a phrase too short to mess up, "Oh, I swept the floor once."   Did I just hear your jaw drop, dear reader?   

The fifth one I am mentioning really hurts.  My great-grandma, my mom's grandma (who I will just call Grandma) went into the ICU just a couple weeks ago.  Prognosis wasn't good.  My mom and I just lost my dad about a year ago to a suicide we witnessed (the DON also lost her husband to suicide, so you think she's understand, but no, she was remarried within weeks of his death to the guy she was cheating with), so the thought of possibly losing another family member so soon was just too much.  We wanted to go to the hospital to see our grandma, which would have meant taking a couple days off from work (for my mom-I'm disabled and unable to work, and I live with my husband-to-be, and the hospital was four hours away).  The DON wouldn't allow it because a resident at the nursing home was asking for my mom to be her nurse.  So the DON told my mom she had to be there.  This witch's concern is for the home to have a reputation of giving the residents what they want. regardless of what's happening to the nurses.  So we didn't get to go the hospitals.   

A little over a week ago, at a little after 10 at night, my mom got the call and called me to let me know our grandma died.  Very shaken up, we went to my mom's parents' house (my grandparents' house).  She called and left a message for the DON.  The next day she called and left another message, apologizing for being gone (her first day off).  DON wasn't to be found.  The next day she called again, and got the DON this time, who told my mom that she had to be back at work the next day or she would lose her job.  My mom needs this job, so she went back.   She wasn't allowed any more days off, so we had to wait for her to get off work and get home on Friday before we could drive in for the funeral.  We got there at about 11 at night.  Funeral Saturday, had to drive back Sunday.  Mom wasn't given the time to mourn with her family, and as I am a very protective daughter, I left on Sunday with her and stayed at her house for a few days to be there when she got home.  It's only been a week since then.    If my mom didn't need the job and the health benefits, she would leave.  But we're in the Bay Area and I have my doctors here and she won't leave to someplace cheaper and be farther away in case I am hospitalized again.  She's only been at this place for four months, and the life insurance ran out.  So she's stuck, and it makes me sick to my stomach that this DON could be so heartless.    Can you imagine a boss who deserves to go to hell any more than this evil woman?  Who I hesitate to call "woman" because it makes all of us sound back she's that evil!!


I am sitting here writing this missive on my home computer at 2:40 in the afternoon instead of being at work...WHY?  Because I was sent home from work today.  Hmmm...what could I possibly have done after 11+ years at this company to warrant, "Get your S**T off the floor, clock out and go home", summarily followed by two door slams causing a clock to fall off the wall?  I was talking to a co-worker (not arguing, discussing, yelling, screaming)...just talking to a co-worker in the office, because Jack (that's what I'll call him since it seem the apropos abbreviation for jackass), was in a bad mood.  When this man has rage building, it is going to explode eventually.  I did not realize my having a conversation would be the catalyst for the eruption.   I think what surprised me most was that I remained completely composed.  I gathered my belongings, clocked out and said 'see you in the morning'.  This only occurred this way because his yelling has previously brought me to tears and I vowed it would never do that to me again!  This Napoleonic, Satan-Incarnate attempts to gain respect by having others fear and tremble at his mood swings.  I am not holding that fact that he's gay into the configuration of things, but I sure wish his prince would come and carry him off to some far, far away land.


I once spent a two month eternity cold calling for a firm trying to sell five year long magazine subscriptions.  It was certainly an education. 

Aside from one male co-worker who was the company veteran (also a medicated schizophrenic on disability pension working for cash under the table and who smoked pot in the stairwell on his breaks).  The rest were an odd bunch.  Many female brunettes first of all.  Full figured ones at that.  Like me.  I really didn't think much of it the day I came to work with my hair unbraided (my natural brown had grown out several inches but the rest was blondish), even when the office manager (the one who hired me) exclaimed "I thought you were a brunette!" 

This was about my second week at work.  After a while I got to be friends with C (full figured brunette) assigned to call the suckers *ahem* customers back and close the deals.  I found out she was sleeping with the office manager.  The one who hired me.  About a month later, I found out he was also sleeping with an employee at another branch office he was in charge of (you guessed it, full figured brunette).  Then C found out about her.  They had a chat. 

I quit shortly thereafter so I never did find out what happened, but I still get weirded out that I was hired on the basis of my physical type and gender, to, supposedly, talk on the telephone.


This story isn't so much about a bad boss, as just total cluelessness on his part on one particular day.  The boss in question was actually a fairly nice guy, and was very helpful most of the time.  However, his actions on September 11, 2001 were really unbelievable.

We'd learned about the hijackings and WTC being hit that morning and had all gone to a conference room to watch the events unfolding.  Just like the rest of the world, we were in total shock at what we were witnessing.  After the towers collapsed, many of us returned to our cubicles, trying to make sense of what we had seen.

I was working in a high tech training company as a sales rep.  It was my job to call into high tech companies to inquire about their training needs.  It was a horrible job, and I had landed it right in the middle of the collapse, so there wasn't much business to be had.  I had a quota of calls to make each day, and a sales goal to meet each month.  Understandably, I hadn't made any calls that morning -- I don't think too many people would have appreciated receiving telemarketing calls as thousands were dying in New York City.

My girlfriend called me shortly after I'd returned to my cubicle.  Her company had sent all of their employees home (as had almost every other company in the city).  Her sister (who was 8 months pregnant at the time) worked a short distance from the WTC, and had many clients who worked in the Twin Towers.  My girlfriend had been trying to reach her but the phone lines going into NYC were all overloaded and she wasn't able to get through.  She had half-convinced herself that her sister was dead.  She was in hysterics.  I told her that I would leave work as soon as I could to be with her.

Next thing I know, my boss comes bopping into the doorway of my cubicle, with a big smile on his face. 

"How are you doing?" he asked, with a totally chipper sound in his voice. 

"A little stunned," I replied.

"Good good.  Have you made your sales calls today?" he asked me, in all seriousness.

I explained to him that I didn't think that it was appropriate to be "business as usual" considering the events of that day.  He didn't say a word, but he looked like he was disappointed in me.

I then asked him if we were going to be sent home.  I explained to him about my girlfriend and how she was convinced her sister was dead.  Without blinking he told me that he'd arranged for some training for the sales staff that afternoon, and we were all to attend.  With that, he walked off.  I think he said "Get those calls done" as he walked away, but I was too stunned to really hear him at this point.

Keep in mind that the training was done in-house by one of the company's instructors.  It wasn't something that had to be hired out.  Considering the circumstances, there was absolutely no reason why the training couldn't have been delayed a day or two.

I didn't make any sales calls, and ended up sitting around the office with the rest of the sales staff, waiting for our training to begin later that afternoon.  I attended the training session and the trainer was just as clueless as my boss -- he was making jokes about us looking "so glum".  To this day, I couldn't tell you what we were being trained on, I was just waiting for it to be over so that I could finally go home and be with my girlfriend.

To top it all off, a week later there were massive layoffs in the company.  I was let go, as well as half of the sales staff.  My boss got to keep his job, but he was laid off himself a few months later.  Oh, and my girlfriend's sister turned out to be all right -- she'd been a block away from the WTC when the first plane had hit.


There's a secretary where I work named "Alice".  Alice is an excellent worker who is willing to help out when needed.  She'll stay late if something needs to be done and is thought of highly by her co-workers.  She also, at the time of this story, had twin boys who were around 2 years old. 

It was the time of the yearly performance review and it was Alice's turn with our lovely manager, "Hag".  Alice does consistently high quality work and we all thought she would get a glowing review.  Hag noted that while Alice had perfect attendance--quite a feat with 2 little boys--she had "clocked in two minutes late on two separate occasions over the last year.  You really need to work on that."  Period.  End of review.

Alice is now considering finding herself another job.  I can't say that I blame her. 



I used to work for a company that had its parent in another country.  This country sent the worst boss I had ever had, and I've had dozens.  He was young and thought he knew everything.  He was poor at follow-up and quick to place blame; the most closed-minded individual I've encountered.  He worked among so many managers falling under the "Peter Principal."  There was the manager promoted to sales because he "talks" the game but this "dude" or "stud," as he called other employees was crass, unprofessional and had no clue to business etiquette.  If someone had been paying attention, he would have been looking for a new job after a conflict of interest with one co-worker and improper behavior with another.  There was another manager who was the epitome of poor management; she was never on time, she did her hair and makeup in the restroom every morning and afternoon and she has no management skills placing employees' error in front of other employees.   The one I had to deal with spent most of his time re-creating wheels and trying to take credit for successes accomplished by others.  I even heard he was unfaithful to his girlfriend.

But, I suppose he eventually gets what he deserves.  He makes himself look bad by admitting the dumb things he's done - losing his wallet while traveling, getting two traffic violations, losing his camera . . .  I told a friend about all these stories and she said, "Oh my!  He's just stupid!"   As one person in this place used to utter all too frequently, "Right on!"



I took a temp job at an accountant's office where my husband also did some computer tech contract work for them making sure their antiquated systems worked. I was to be relief staff during busy tax season.

Ok, no worry. I was warned by several people that the owner "Bosszilla J" was a bit difficult to work with and that they'd wore out their welcome with all placement agencies in town, such was this woman's insanity, no agency would send people to her.

The first few days are nerve wracking as the regular receptionist starts training me but then says "oh, it's just easier if I do it." I'm meanwhile tiptoeing around the office, to avoid the wrath of J, who has such proclamations as "NO POST IT NOTES" ( too expensive yet they buy em) and all drinks on desks MUST be on coasters. On beat up desks. There were rules about everything, it seemed down to the color of paperclip and how sharp the pencils all must be.

The filing system was EPIC confusion, as I knew squat about taxes, and I valiantly tried to learn.

One of my duties was prepping the mail. ALL mail, email and snail, had to be pre approved before sending. ( this detail is important, just wait). I'd creep up the stairs with folders in hand and petition the Evil Boss with a moment of her time to check the mail, of which she did with great huffiness. Keep in mind that she's brought this on herself with her extremely control freak ways.

The mail approved, I'd scurry out and back to the desk and pray for the end of the day.

On the 5th day, I was ALONE. The regular receptionist was off, and the staff, made up of relatives of boss lady, are late and decide they don't need to help the new girl, and get snotty with me when I ask for help.

It was also boss's day off, but she was in the office, piddling around and I made the mistake of addressing her in the hall, of which I was soundly berated for doing so, on her day off. (So get out of the office, you wingnut)

After her loyal minions started snarking on me, I typed up a nice little resignation, stating "I have been offered a preferable full time position at better pay." Actually, I was still in negotiations on that one, I could have found myself jobless.

I sent the email to all of em, muttered "going for lunch, seeya" and legged it out of there, wanting to laugh with the sheer joy.

Two weeks later, my paltry check rolls in, and lo, scribed on the bottom in boss lady's hand writing is "COWARD."

My husband called up to say "I'm not working for you now. Your computers? in need of repair at tax time? Too bad."

I called up and left a message asking why someone would think it remotely professional or appropriate to write insults on my check and that I was glad I wasn't working for a psychotic hosebeast anymore.

During the 5 days I was there, 6 long term clients got so pissed off at her they withdrew their files too.

But who writes "COWARD" on a check? 



The only etiquette in my office is the bad kind. I'm the only part-timer with a part time salary, but put in more hours than the "full time" staff. My boss routinely stands up students, delegates most of his responsibilities to me or to the only other staff person in the office, sometimes doesn't show up at all (and doesn't call), takes 6 weeks off during summer (which no other staff can do and, yes, he does have a boss, too) and weeks more during the academic year. Don't ask me how he gets away with it. It wouldn't be a smart career move for me to ask his boss.

People may think that working in a university is a much more enlightened sort of environment but most of the time, its just another place where hard-working, competent women play handmaiden to a man's ego - a true pink collar ghetto.


Does anyone else out there find themselves trapped between the rock and the hard place known as The Boss and The Other Co-Workers?  The story I want to relate is so complicated (we have ethnic, cultural and religious threads woven in with work ethic yarns  so thick that even if you cut across this little labor tapestry, none of it would unravel--more's the pity) that I'm not sure where to begin.  But I need to vent (again) so I will try.

(I've contributed so many stories to this site that I am beginning to think I am simply a whiner--no one can have this many problems at work, can they?)

To commence, I work in a tiny inner-city branch of a large, well-known city library system.  It is important to know that there are seven of us, that my supervisor (the branch librarian) and I (the youth service/children's librarian) are white, that my supervisor is agnostic, I am Roman Catholic and that four of our five paraprofessionals are African American  and belong to a religion noted for ringing doorbells.  Let's just call them the Ringers, shall we?  Our fifth (and youngest) worker is also African American and is a Baptist.  Because of our location, our clientele are primarily African American as well.  All of this eventually becomes relevant.

Prior to her becoming my boss, my supervisor (let's call her Janie) and were friends.  This is indeed a recipe for disaster.  We remain friends and even take trips together with other friends--but there are days it is hard for me to smile and be friendly.  Janie is a perfectionist.  She cannot let go of a project, even when it's one she hates.  She is thrilled to have me on her "team" because she is "not" creative.  But when she asks me to "get creative" she never likes any of my ideas, makes me do them over and over and complains constantly about each and every detail.  I have asked her for input, asked her to tell me what it was she wanted and she always says "Oh, you're creative, you'll think of something" and we're off again on another circle of pain and suffering.  I am not allowed to make many decisions regarding my areas of expertise.  I have to ask her first and then she'll complain that I'm not a self starter.  When I self start, though, she complains that I'm trying to undermine her authority.

Janie hovers and talks and chatters and complains that she can't get anything done.  One day she asked me to clean up our Christmas decorations, sort them and toss what we don't need.  She had a lot of work to get done and knew (she said) that I could take care of it.  (I love to weed and toss things...something Janie hates to do.)  Within three minutes, she was out of her office asking if I needed her to help me.  I assured her I was fine and could put away Christmas ornaments on my own.  (The Baptist was on vacation and the four Ringers' religion forbids them to touch anything that has to do with holidays.)  She left me alone and went back to her administrative duties.  Ten minutes later she was back.  Did I need help?  She felt terrible leaving me with such a menial task, was I SURE she shouldn't abandon her deadline and help me.  I sent her back to her office.  She was back again in five minutes.  This time I said something like "Janie, for the love of GOD will you get out of here and let me do my work?"  I may as well have saved my breath.  It took me half a day to do what should have been a two hour job because she wouldn't leave me alone.  And at the end of the day she had the nerve to complain that she didn't get any of her work done because she had to help me.

ARGH!!!!!   Her talking is almost constant and it drives the other workers straight up the wall.  One of them, Camille, told me once that she stops listening after a while and just nods because it's so annoying trying to work.  I have to agree.  Janie horns in on private conversations, stands over people and rattles on about what she wants them to do (over and over) and becomes testy if we stop what we are doing to do what she demands of us.  We don't know which end is up half the time or what the priority is at any given moment.  This, however, is the least of my worries.

The big problem comes in with the four Ringers.  Now, I try to respect everyone's point of view and religious beliefs.  My theory is that what we all really have to have is faith--we just choose to practice our faith in different houses of worship.  The Ringers have tried on several occasions to get me to come to their meeting house.  They weren't happy when I said they shouldn't be surprised to see me some Sunday because I enjoyed going to ALL houses of worship for services AFTER I had been to mine.  I am endlessly fascinated by all religions and while I don't make a study of the subject, I like to know enough to get me through conversations and to disprove myths that others have about different versions of faith.  I am always politely interested when they tell me what goes on and have read some of the pamphlets and books. 

Most of the time, the religion is not a problem, BUT (and this is where the work ethic thing comes in) it becomes a problem when members of their church come to the library to chat with them.  Suddenly all work goes out the window.  Camille will talk for hours with her sisters-in-service while I have to deal, alone, with half a dozen patrons, two broken computers and a ringing telephone.  Ask Camille for help and she'll tell you she's on her fifteen minute break.  (Sometimes that fifteen minute break goes on for an hour and a half.)

There is a great deal about this religion that seems more convenient than spiritual.  For example: we are sometimes called upon to man the desks at various health and community service fairs.  Because the area is so desolate, the only places that offer their area for this purpose are local churches.  Different community health services, education services and so on will set up tables in church halls or parking lots.  The library joins in as well, but as the Ringers' faith forbids them from setting foot on another church's grounds, they cannot man the tables with Janie and I.  So it's up to the two of us alone.  Likewise, delivering messages to daycare groups that are affiliated with churches is impossible.  They cannot help me with any of the holiday crafts and have lectured me on the evils of telling ghost stories at Halloween.  Yet, when a holiday comes up towards the weekend, guess who takes off the time around it to get a longer weekend?  Not me.  I haven't been able to spend but a day or two with my family at Christmas for five years because all four Ringers take the week between Christmas and New Year's off.  Ditto the Easter weekend and Thanksgiving.  Does this make me grind my teeth?  Oh, yeah.

Then there are the many, many coincidental sick days.  Camille, Liz and Evelyn (a new convert) are thicker than thieves and always, magically, get sick on the same days.  This is especially likely to happen if Janie or I have put in for a vacation day or half a day off to see the doctor.  Last year I was taking a week off so that I could get home to be with my father who was having surgery.  I was supposed to leave at noon that particular day.  Camille called just before we were to open.  She had a cold.  Evelyn called in five minutes later with an emergency problem at home.  I no sooner had hung up with her than my boss's phone began to ring.  That was Liz who had the stomach flu.  My boss was at a workshop for the day, which left me with two part time helpers who work noon to four.  I couldn't open up without help and, suffice it to say, I couldn't get my half a day to go home and see my Dad.  I had to wait an extra day and rearrange my vacation days--and then they were all upset because I wasn't there and left them, the non-professionals, in charge.  When Janie was on vacation one year, one of them was out sick each day and all of them would be sick on Friday or Monday.  They all take off for special quarterly conferences, study their special scriptures at the desk and if I should engage in a small prayer or bless myself, they question my practices.  (Camille once remarked that she couldn't understand why Catholics wore crucifixes as it was glorifying death and execution.  I pulled my cross out from inside my turtleneck and explained that it was NOT a glorification of death, but a recognition and appreciation of the sacrifice it represented.  She never crossed me again.)

We also have the lying problem.  According to many ex-Ringers, it is "okay to lie" to non-believers.  Now, I don't know if that means lying about the religion itself or lying on general principle, but it sure seems to be the latter.

Janie once called me on the carpet for okaying the loan of several CDs and books she wanted to use for a program to another branch.  I didn't even know what she was talking about.  She told me that Camille had told her that I had ok'd it.  Turns out Camille just took the items from Janie's desk and sent them to the person requesting them and never told either of us about it, but when Janie questioned her, she said that I had done it. 

You can never win with these guys.  Janie, Evelyn and Liz took a special dislike to one of our patrons.  They criticized that man up and down, walked the subject over and back and around.  A few days later, he came in and they all disappeared so I had to wait on him.  He really was crude and rude.  When he left, I said "Well, NOW I understand why you don't like to help X when he comes in."  Evelyn looked at me, all put out.  "What do you mean?  X is a nice man.  I like him.  He never gives me any trouble."  Camille and Liz chimed right in, claiming not to know what I was talking about.  On another occasion, Liz decided she needed to witness her faith for some of us and told us how she had been raised a Catholic by her mother,  but then she went looking for God and the Ringer faith was the only one that made sense.  Yet, when I asked her a few weeks later how old she was when she switched religions, she denied ever having been a Catholic, her mother was a Ringer, her father was a Ringer and had never been anything else.  (Her mother, however, had no problem making Christmas ornaments out of cloth and selling them to us heathen.)

So some days, I end up complaining with Janie about the goings-on.  We are both broadsided by Janie's big boss (and mine) who says she can't do anything about the way their religion affects their work.  Huh?  (She does become perturbed and angry, however, because they refuse to attend her yearly holiday luncheon which she insists on holding at Christmas.)

The bottom line is, that both sides have valid points about each other.  I know I am no day at the beach to work with right now, either and I try to be on my very best behavior, but it still backfires.  If I am even a minute late for work, Janie reads me the riot act.  If Liz, Camille and Evelyn are twenty minutes late, she ignores it because she knows she will get no where fast.  If I try to define their point of view, she's mad at me.  If I try to explain her point of view, they get mad at me.  If I could transfer, I would, since all this is beginning to affect my sleep, my health and my personal life (as you can see, I can go on about this for hours and I hate it when I do...but it's enough to drive a sane person crazy after a while).  Trouble is, I like a lot of my clients and wouldn't want to leave them.

Well, that's all the whining I dare do for now.  I don't know if this goes under bad business practices, bad bosses or bad employees.  I don't even know if I am at fault myself (probably).  But it feels good to get it off my chest if only for a little while.  And, when I look back over this, I realize that in twenty years, none of this will matter at all.



My brother-in-law was the front desk manager for a well known hotel. He was very short staffed and having to work 80 plus hours a week, sometimes having to stay at the hotel so he could get a few hours of sleep before having to be back in. Around Christmas time I took pity on him and offered to work a few shifts a week to help him out. (He had to work 16 hours shifts Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day.) Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

I hired on to work 2-3 days a week as I had two children at home and was 4 months pregnant with my third. Now the general manager of the hotel was very difficult to work for. He would come out and stand over my shoulder and inform me the way I was doing things was not the easiest way and I should learn to do them his way.

I was hired on the front desk and it was my responsibility to make reservations and take care of guests. The GM used to bring me papers that he needed faxed. It didn't bother me too terribly except for the fact that I was getting rather large in my pregnancy and in order to give me the papers to fax he had to walk PAST the fax machine.

He would also bring me a piece of paper and ask me to make one copy of it and bring it back to him. The copy machine was two steps farther then where I stood, and as I said I was rather large.

Keeping in mind that I hired for 2-3 days a week to help out and that I was quite pregnant, I wound up working 6 days a week and was pretty much on call the shifts I wasn't there. I agreed because I was helping out my brother in law.

My brother in law finally got tired of the antics of the GM and put in his notice. I stayed working because who else was going to hire a fat pregnant woman.

At 8 months pregnant I went into labor at work. I finished out my shift because we thought it was false labor and went home. 12 hours later I gave birth to a premature, but healthy baby boy. I called work to say I wouldn't be into work the next day (obviously). After we came home from the hospital I took the baby to work to show him off and to let my GM know that I would call him and update him after the doctor gave me the ok to work again.

Six weeks later I called and left him a message. Two weeks after that he returned my call to inform me that because I didn't call him and update him every week he had filled my position. Now mind you in 4 months I had never called in, called to let them know the few times I was running late, and had worked lots more then I hired to work as well as covered MANY shifts so that the GM didn't have to. The hotel received many thank you cards and letters naming me as a 'helpful' individual.

In the six weeks I was gone the GM ran off all the front desk employees, as well as a front desk manager, housekeeping manager, and engineering manager. However he filled my position because I failed to update him weekly. Was I supposed to call every Monday and say "I haven't seen the doctor yet so I have nothing to report."? No wonder no one will work for him.



Many years ago I worked for a large company consisting of many small companies scattered throughout the country.  I was in the benefits division of the corporate headquarters.  We decided to hold a benefits symposium and invite the benefits coordinator of each of the individual companies to come to the corporate office for a week of events, both social and business.  I had many occasions to speak with these individuals on the phone over the course of about a year and was really looking forward to meeting them face-to-face.

At the time, I was about 50 pounds overweight, having battled a weight problem most of my life.  I made every attempt to dress well and choose clothing that flattered me as much as possible - nothing tight, nothing revealing, etc.  So I took great care to choose my business suit for the first night's dinner when we would meet everyone.

Well the cocktail hour goes well and we are schmoozing with everyone, shaking hands, nodding effusively at war stories, you name it.  We have dinner and a swell time ensues.

Dessert is served.  The president of the company gets up to give a few welcoming remarks.  He makes me and my benefits colleagues stand.  We are, of course, embarrassed but we do it.  Then, he makes the extreme gaffe of actually asking one of the attendants, who I had just met, "so, does Kathy (me) look like you thought she would?"  The woman, "Patricia" hesitates.  He probes.  "Come on, does she?"  I think Patricia felt like she had to say something because she stammers (and I quote) "I thought she would be thinner."

Dead silence.  Pin drops.  Everyone looks at me.  Trying to make light of the situation I say "sorry to disappoint you!"  They laugh.  We go on with the evening.

That was the single most embarrassing moment of my life.  And I'm not sure who to thank for it - the tactless, albeit "put on the spot" woman, or the president of the company for putting her there!  Let's consign them both to Etiquette Hell and make them sit next to each other.

Thanks for letting me vent - I love this Web site!



For several years (until 2004) I worked for a rather large company, as an IT employee (for the acronym uninitiated - I did stuff to do with computers).  For future reference, let me point out that the company HQ is located in an area susceptible to bad winter weather.

Early in 2004, after a few previous rounds of guess-who-no-longer-works-here, my number came up in the Layoff Lottery.


Let me *also* point out - I perfectly understand that the decision had been made several days previously - and that it wasn't a *personal* decision (nobody came into work that morning and said "Hey, I know, let's screw *****!!!").

To this day, however, I still laugh every time I think of the fact that, due to inclement weather, I was the *ONLY* person in my (small) sub-group who showed up to work on the day I was laid off.

[I guess this part is more to the breach of etiquette:]

And, owing to the nature of their laying off numbers of people at one time - I particularly enjoyed the mind-numbing "grab your personal bag and get out - don't talk to anyone, don't look at anyone, here's a list of days you can come back for the rest, but at night, we don't want you to have contact with ANYONE."

Apparently, the company believed they could get rid of 10 out of 50 people on one floor in one day, DURING the work day, without causing comment or commotion among the other employees (in reality - my coworkers knew, roughly, twelve seconds before I did).

The "Management" sincerely believed the other employees would not figure out that ten people had been escorted out of the building from a single floor in one day.

*Sigh*.  Good job, guys.

(Only one there.  Tee Hee!!!!!!!!!)




I work in a fast food restaurant and am still pretty new there. I haven't been there two months yet. Now, my mother has a horrible back and we had found out they wanted to operate. I told my boss that and said I would find out what day very soon. Well, things went wrong and they bumped my mother's surgery up to the next day. I managed to find someone to cover the shift I was supposed to work within a few minutes and told my boss (We'll call him Stan) that it was taken care of. He just grunted and walked around pouting and glaring. It wasn't like I was ditching a shift to party! I had to be there for my family, it was a serious operation!

Like I said earlier, I'm still VERY new there. I was put on the sandwich making line, having only worked it once before, I'm still pretty slow. So, Stan comes into the back where I'm alone for a half hour (my helper went on break during a dead period). Stan immediately bumps me out of the way saying, "Move, you wrap to slow." I just rolled my eyes and ignored him. A second later though he's yelling at me about how he can't get good help anymore and no one he hires is good enough. I was livid. I mean, how does he expect me to get faster if he won't let me do it? I nearly walked out then! Well, the day of my mom's surgery I get a call from the restaurant, it's the AM (assistant manager...we'll call her Lucy). Lucy says, "Hi, we're really shorthanded can you come in to work an AM shift along with your PM shift tonight?" I almost flipped out. I just calmly explained that family emergency, told her my shift was covered and that Stan knew that (She says.."Stan NEVER told me") A lot of other things have happened to make me want to send Stan to Etiquette Hell, but those stories could take all night! Needless to say, I doubt I'll be working there much longer!




 I had a boss who swore all the time. I understand that people sometimes use profanity when they are angry, but he could fly into a rage at the drop of a hat. More often, it was for no reason at all.   I often worked long hours and traveled throughout several states to ensure my territory was always covered. However, no amount of dedication was ever good enough. He nitpicked me constantly. Some examples of his *charm* are below.   * I was traveling alone in an urban area and was mugged. I was petrified, but okay. I arrived to my destination about twenty minutes late only to learn my boss had called there for me several times. (I didn't understand this as I had a company issued pager). I found a phone and returned the call to hear him bellowing into the phone about how he pays me to show up on time. I apologized and explained that I had been mugged at a local gas station. He paused for a minute and then said "Well, you better not let it happen again!"   

Several months later my grandmother passed away and I contacted my boss to let him know and asked for a HALF DAY off to attend the services. Since we did not work in the same office, he could not just see that I was not in that day. On the 45 minute trip to the funeral home, he paged me no less than 19 times. I left the pager in the car and went inside. I returned his calls after we left the burial. His first words were "Where the hell are you?!?" I politely reminded him that I was trying to support my mother that morning as she just lost her mother. He paused a moment and said "Oh, yeah!" and hung up. I was talking to another DM about it who must have said something because about three weeks later I received a sympathy fruit basket the company forgot to deliver the week before so all the fruit was moldy.   

The final gem was thankfully the last. My boss called to tell me to get my staff together for a meeting as he was coming into town soon. I was taken aback as he had never done this before and it just seemed odd. As the "meeting" date neared, I had to come to the realization that something wasn't right. I had received no agenda, no arrival date, no information other than to have my whole staff at my home for this meeting. I finally just bit the bullet and called him to ask "Are you planning to fly here just to fire us all?" He was silent for a moment and said "Yes, but now that you know, you can fire everybody. I'll keep you for another month to clean up lose ends, but then your job is eliminated too." No apologies, no explanation, no severance, no letters of recommendation, nothing. I talked it over with my husband and we made a decision. I called my boss back and asked if the one available remaining position could go to anyone of my choosing. He didn't particularly care, so I chose the hardest working, most loyal man on my team. He was the sole bread-winner in his family and his wife had medical problems. I decided he needed those last few weeks of paychecks more than we did. 

A few weeks later, one of the boss's sons-in-law showed up at my house to pick up the company copier, fax and pager I had stored in my house. I still shudder to think this man was going to walk into my home, blindside my whole staff and me and leave us all empty-handed. The only thing that made it less humiliating is I spared my department the group termination by talking to each of them separately and giving them all employment verifications and recommendations.   In retrospect, being "laid off" probably added years to my life. At least, my migraines suddenly seemed to disappear.   


I had to pay my own way through University and needed a job after graduating high school.  The city I lived in was going through a bit of a recession at the time, and there weren't too many jobs to be found.  I dropped off many resumes, kept a look out for "Help Wanted" signs, went on a couple of interviews, but wasn't able to land a job for a month or so after I'd graduated.  I was getting desperate -- I needed to work for a couple of months over the summer in order to be able to afford my tuition in the fall.

My friend's girlfriend heard that I was looking for work and offered to put in a good word for me with people she babysat for.  She wasn't sure what kind of business they owned, but they had mentioned to her that they were looking for employees.  I asked her to give them my resume and to have them call me if they wanted me to work for them.  About a week later I received a call at 10pm one night, asking me to start work for them at 7am the next morning.  The short notice seemed a little odd, but I was desperate so I didn't ask any questions or think much of it.  I asked the woman who called me (who turned out to be owner's wife) what the job entailed.  Turns out it was a job delivering mattresses for a mattress store.

The next day I show up at the store at 7am.  I notice that there's a tractor trailer sitting outside the warehouse doors.  I walk around to the warehouse and am told (no introductions or anything, just "get to work!") to start unloading the tractor trailer.  There were two of us unloading an 80 foot tractor trailer filled to the roof with mattresses.  Worse yet, we were expected to carry the mattresses on our own (as opposed to having each person grab an end) and then walk 50 feet or so into the warehouse in order to pile them.  This included the queen size mattresses, though we were allowed to ask for help with the kings.  I still have back problems to this day.  I'm sure this job is responsible.

Somehow I managed to get through the morning of unloading the trailer.  By the end of it I could barely lift my arms anymore.  The person assisting me had taken pity on me after he saw that I could no longer carry the queen size mattresses on my own, and had me carrying all of the twins and doubles while he tackled the heavier stuff.

The next thing I know, I'm handed a stack of delivery invoices and told to start loading the delivery truck.  Keep in mind that I have no idea what any of the products are called, so matching up the invoices to a warehouse filled to the rafters with mattresses is next to impossible.  The guy who had helped unload the tractor trailer had left already -- turns out he was a salesman at one of the other stores!  He took off his grubby jeans and t-shirt and replaced them with a suit and tie.  No shower, nothing...and this was the middle of summer so we'd sweat an awful lot while unloading the trailer.  We both stunk to high heaven.  However, when I asked him about this later that day, he rolled his eyes and said "this is just the way things work here".

I finally get the delivery truck loaded.  However, now I'm wondering how I'm expected to deliver an entire truck's worth of merchandise by myself.  There was about a dozen queen size mattresses, a kind-sized mattress, and a few heavy pieces of furniture.  I knocked on the owner's office door to ask him if someone would be arriving to assist me on the truck and he looked at me and yelled "You're still here!?!  You were supposed to have started your deliveries an hour ago!"  I tried to explain how I had trouble matching up the invoices to the products because this was the first time I'd ever set foot in the store.  This made him angrier: "I don't want to hear your excuses" was his reply.  He then proceeded to inform me that I was the only delivery person because the other two had quit the day before (surprise surprise).  I would have to ask customers (many who would presumably be old and/or infirm) to help me carry the mattresses up their stairs.  The excuse for arriving alone would be that the other delivery person had gotten injured that morning.

I didn't take a lunch, and ended up making deliveries until 10pm that night (after starting at 7am that morning), and ended up not taking a dinner either because I kept getting yelled at by each subsequent customer that my boss had promised them delivery before 6pm.  The customers were none too pleased that I'd arrived by myself and that they were expected to help me to boot. 

I arrived for work the next morning and was promptly yelled at for booking a 15 hour day the day before.  Apparently the work I had performed should have taken me "only 8 hours at most".  How this would have been physically possible, I did not know.  The fact that I was a brand new employee who had been given absolutely no training didn't seem to phase the owner either.

I really *should* have quit this job after day one, but due to the hard time I'd initially had in finding work, I was reluctant to do so.  Over time I became physically stronger, learned the products, learned how to find myself around the city, and they eventually hired a helper for me on the delivery truck.  My delivery times became steadily quicker, to the point where I'd actually be able to take a lunch break and/or have dinner once in awhile.  My boss was never happy with how long the deliveries were taking, though.  To him, every minute that I was booking while doing deliveries was his profit being lost.  Worst still, I was starting to get blamed for excessively wearing the tires and brakes on their 20 year old delivery truck.

A few times that summer I'd pull out of the parking lot to discover that the brakes were almost non-existent.  The first time this happened, I told my boss and he yelled at me that I "have to drive the truck with no brakes -- there are deliveries that need to get done".  He'd always act like I was trying to get out of work.  Due to the fact that I had almost no brakes, I'd have to drive the truck extra slow in order to be able to stop and avoid accidents.  Of course, this would result in my delivery times taking longer, which would result in me getting yelled at the next day.

One time my boss knocked the passenger side mirror off of the delivery truck as he was moving it in the parking lot (I think he was drunk at the time).  The next day I was expected to drive the truck without the mirror.  It was a cube van, so it would be impossible for me to see if there was anyone driving beside me on the right-hand side as I drove down roads that had more than one lane.  I mentioned how dangerous this was to my boss and he told me that whenever I wanted to change lanes to the right, I was to have my helper "hang out the window (as I'm driving down the highway!) and look around the edge of the truck to tell me if anyone is passing me".  My helped almost got killed later that day as he was hanging out the window when a tractor trailer was simultaneously passing me on the right.  He dove back into the truck to avoid being decapitated.  He quit the next day.  However, for the rest of the summer I was expected to drive the truck *on my own* without a side mirror *or* anyone to hang out the window to let me know if the coast was clear to change lanes.  At this point I started having to plan my routes to avoid highways and any roads where there was more than one lane.  Of course, this lengthened my delivery day and caused my boss to go ballistic after each run.

As part of our delivery service, we'd take away customers' old mattresses for them.  Some of the mattresses were indescribably old and disgusting.  No matter how disgusting the mattress, I was expected to take them away.  I ended contracting a horrible rash on my arms due to one of the many soiled mattresses I'd come in contact with.  My boss let me leave early to go to the doctor's office, but docked me an afternoon's pay for leaving early.

Another charming aspect of my job was the fact that my boss would want me to arrive at dawn every Thursday morning in order to get rid of the aforementioned old mattresses.  I wasn't allowed to take them to the dump -- after all, the dump charged by weight, and my boss was too cheap to splurge for the $50 or so it would cost him to dump 20 or 30 mattresses every week.  Instead, he had me drive around and use the dumpsters of businesses, schools, and construction sites until I'd gotten rid of all of them.  The fact that these business, schools, and construction sites would then have to pay to have their dumpsters emptied didn't seem to phase my boss one bit.

Believe it or not, I actually made it through the entire summer, and made enough money to pay my tuition that year.  For three more years after that, I'd return in the summers to work as a salesperson for the same company.  The salespeople were treated slightly better than the delivery staff, but not by much.  Actually, the salespeople had it a little worse overall in that they had to spend more time with the owner as he'd spend most of his day visiting his stores. 

Once I graduated from University, I couldn't find a job in my field, so I was offered a job managing one of the stores.  I didn't want to be unemployed, so I accepted the position.  Once I started working as a manager, I discovered that he expected me to be at his beck and call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I was paid a salary, and wasn't compensated for overtime, so he'd schedule me for 50 or 60 hours a week.  I was paid a percentage of the store's sales over a certain target, and my store always made its target, so at least I was compensated fairly well for my efforts.

Still, I hated my existence, and was about to quit when the inevitable happened -- my boss had a severe heart attack and was hospitalized.  I was asked by his wife to take over his duties and run all of the stores.  I worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week in order to get all of the owner's work done, in addition to my own work.  Employees would quit during this period, but I could never get the approval from the boss' wife to hire anyone to replace them.

A few weeks into this schedule, I was close to a nervous breakdown and explained this to the owner's wife.  She was visibly concerned that I would suddenly not show up one day and she offered to come up with some sort of bonus structure to reflect the fact that I was now managing all of the stores in the area.  She worked out a similar compensation structure as I had with one store, but now I would be paid a bonus at the end of the year for meeting the sales goals of all 3 stores.  I was working myself ragged, but at least I felt that I'd be well-compensated in the end.

A few months go by and we end up having a record year in sales.  I'm sure a good reason for it was that the salespeople were more motivated working for me than they ever had been working for the owner.  Towards the end of the year the owner had recovered somewhat and had started making appearances in the stores. However, he'd always made a point to bad-mouth to the sales staff about the work I'd done.  I think it bruised his ego that I'd done a superior job than he'd done before his heart attack.  Of course, after the owner would leave, the sales staff would promptly get on the phone and tell me exactly what had been said.  They had no allegiance towards him, and were quite hateful of the way he would talk about me.

The year came to a close, and I'd exceeded the sales goal by several tens of thousands of dollars.  I was entitled to a bonus of several thousand dollars.  I get my first paycheque of the new year, and expect it to contain my bonus.  Shockingly, it did not.  Instead, my regular paycheque was enclosed, as well as a note to see my boss about my bonus.  I made an appointment to see my boss the next morning.  I couldn't sleep that night -- I was quite convinced that he was going to find some reason to withhold it (by accusing me of stealing, or something equally contrived).

I met with my boss, and he seemed ready to go to war with me.  He told me that he didn't feel that I worked hard enough for my bonus, and that anyone could have achieved the same sales totals as I did (the fact that it was a record year in sales was lost on him).  He then tells me that in looking at schedules that I'd created over the last few months and that I'd "only" worked 50 hours per week, whereas he feels that I should have been working 60 or 70 hours a week at a minimum.  However, the schedules only reflected the hours where I'd scheduled myself to be on the sales floor -- there was always another 20 or 30 hours per week where I'd be doing paperwork, having meetings, talking to suppliers, filling in for sick employees, etc...  He told me that he didn't believe this and that as far as he was concerned, I'd only worked the "bare minimum".

"Graciously", he tells me that he will still give me a bonus, but that there's no way that he would give me 100% of what I felt I was owed (and that had been spelled out in the contract that I had signed).  He then tells me that I need to think about what percentage of the bonus I "deserve".  When he told me this, I wanted to cry -- the fact that I'd stepped into his shoes rather than quitting (as I had planned to do before his heart attack) to help keep his business afloat was lost on him.  He was looking for any excuse to gyp me out of a few thousand dollars.

I thought about suing him, but I knew that he'd be the type to take me to court and have it drag out so that I'd end up paying more in lawyer's fees than I'd ever recover.  The next day I told him that since he felt that I'd worked 50 hours a week, and that I should have worked 60 hours ("At a minimum!" he chimed in), I had worked 83% of what he feels I should have worked and I feel that I am owed 83% of my bonus.  He reluctantly agreed to pay me 83%.  I left about $2000 sitting on the table by not fighting for what I was rightfully owed.

I waited until I was sure the cheque had cleared (so that he wouldn't stop payment on it in retaliation) and then quit the next day.  He yelled at me for not giving him enough notice to find a replacement.

There's a happy ending to this story, though.  I used the bonus money to go back to school to learn computer programming.  I now make twice what I made and work half as many hours as I did while working for that horrible man.  Even better, once I left, the stores started closing one by one and within 4 years all of them were out of business.



 I had been working for 9 months in a very exclusive spa with a Spa Director of the overly nice and insincere variety. I used to think she was actually a pretty nice person until my birthday rolled around.   Now, there was another employee who had been working there much longer than I whose birthday came about four days before mine. On her birthday she received a lucky bamboo, birthday balloon, and after lunch we all had cake and sang happy birthday. It was all very nice.   Four days later, on my birthday I received a lucky bamboo, a birthday balloon, and after lunch we all had cake and sang happy birthday, which was all very nice, UNTIL my Spa Director came up and began complaining to me about how since my birthday had fallen on a Sunday it was such a hassle to get a birthday cake, get the birthday balloon filled with helium, and she had trouble finding a florist to get a lucky bamboo. And she tells me all this with the most sickly, insincere smile plastered to her face.   Some recognition on your birthday is a gracious thing, but I never asked for it. If it was truly such a "hassle" for her to do something nice for my birthday, I would rather she hadn't done anything at all.

Rather unfortunate how bad etiquette abounds, isn't it?   


Page Last Updated May 18, 2007