Bad Boss Lady

Decades ago, when I was in college, I worked for a lady named L. She had a reputation for being a hard ass with a bad temper, but I thought I could handle it. I did shipping and invoices and clerical duties. I once took a horrible ass-chewing from her because I entered one piece of data wrong. I tried explaining to her that I used one of our software programs before invoices were printed to check all of my entries, but that didn’t matter, I wasn’t supposed to “make ANY mistakes WHATSOEVER.” She would throw paperwork on my desk and tell me she could not believe I had messed that up, that I had better fix it and fix it NOW, and actually stomp her little fat foot. She dragged me into the conference room once and chewed on me for 30 minutes for a mistake that, I found out later, she had made entering customer requirements.

She had the habit of standing behind me while I worked, making me a nervous wreck, watching my every move. One afternoon she grabbed my shoulder, gave me a shake, pointed her chubby finger at my screen and said “See! See that, you almost put the amount in the wrong field!!!” Her boss happened to walk in that time (she would never go overboard on the scolding if someone else was around) and he told me I was late for my lunch, to go ahead and go. Bless him, he could tell I was about to lose it and that L was out of line. I talked to our HR director about that incident the next day. He said he pitied me, that L was famous for her short temper, and did I know that she had fired the last two folks that had had my position? Nope, sure didn’t. He offered to place me in a different job, but it would be a significant cut in pay and I  couldn’t afford it.

She was a horrible racist. I heard her make many nasty comments about the Black and Hispanic workers at our plant, one directed toward a friend of mine that worked in our warehouse. He dared to mess  up one our trucking invoices, she wasn’t shocked, she said she was surprised he could read and write English, and she didn’t know why they bothered hiring “those people.” Early that next year, L was given a promotion at one of our sister facilities in another state. Less than six months after she sold her house and made her hen-pecked husband move 400 miles away from their families, she was shit canned. I heard from my counterpart at that plant that she was overheard telling one co-worker that another co-worker was a “stupid n-word.” She was terminated immediately, she wasn’t even allowed to go back to her desk, she was escorted to her car. This was just before Christmas that year, I told my now husband that he didn’t have to get me a gift, that that was the best present EVER.

Adventures in Babysitting

I got a babysitter job via Craigslist. I was to take care of a stay-at-home mom’s kids. She never asked for references or a background check, but I was immediately given full access to everything she possessed – home, car, purse – and she left bills lying all over the place, which I found odd. Day One – I trained with their last babysitter who’d recently resigned for “health reasons.” It was nap time and the kids were asked to visit the potty before going to bed. The five-year-old refused. The nanny suddenly hugged him tightly and BEGGED him not to pee on the floor again.

Day Two – Mom drove us to a medical appointment for the five-year-old. While in the waiting room, the mom handed me some confidential paperwork and told me to give it to the staff. She then left me to watch the three-year-old, claiming she had to go outside to the car to have a “business meeting” phone call. She said she’d try to make sure it ended when the appointment did. The appointment ended and the kids and I went out to the parking lot but the mom wouldn’t let us in the car because she was still on the phone. So I waited outside in the parking
lot with two small children who didn’t really know me…for ONE HOUR. The five-year-old kept asking when he could see his mom and punched the hood of a car. When Mom finally got off the phone and summoned us, she didn’t even apologize.

Whenever I told the five-year-old no he would shout at top volume or threaten me. He had a problem with impulse control and had been recently evaluated for ADHD. Even so, the mom would let him have whatever he wanted anytime, often contradicting everything I’d told him. Once she gave him a real hammer to play with in the house. All the kids were far and away the biggest brats I’ve ever seen in over 20 years of child care. They were constantly whining and treating me like a servant. They had clearly been raised with no rules or consequences for their behavior, and it made them into little monsters, especially the five-year-old.

After two weeks I was suddenly fired because the kids weren’t “happy.” I still have no idea what that means since they were like NEVER happy. I think Mom just decided I wasn’t peppy and lax enough for her perfect little crotch nuggets.

Floor Store

I had just graduated university and was looking for my first real job. A friend suggested I apply for a job at a local flooring store as an office worker, as her Dad knew the owners. I should have known right away that this wasn’t a good idea, but I really wanted to get started on my career. I applied and interviewed for the position and was thrilled when they offered me the job. The name of the store was so embarrassing I wouldn’t even tell people where I worked.

The shift started at a different time everyday ( I got all the bad shifts) which wasn’t ideal but beggars can’t be choosers so I sucked it up. Their daughter was about to have a baby and they needed someone to cover for her and then stay on afterwards. They asked me to promise that I would stay for at least one year, which I had no problem doing.

Right away the dynamics of the office seemed odd. It was made clear that they were family and I was an outsider.  The daughter (A) and her husband (B) worked there as did the mother (owner), I will call her P and her ex-husband’s new wife, T. She had bought her ex-husband (F) out of the company. Despite this F continued to come in all the time and acted like he owned the company, fine who was I to say anything. He was a local politician but was a shady character, the type of guy that just gives you the creeps. He used the staff to put up his campaign signs.

I got along with B really well and even got him free tickets for him and his son to see his favourite band. I liked everyone and things were fine for a while, although I did little office work and did a lot of cleaning, sales and other things.

They used an archaic system to store their business contacts and expected me to instantly grasp the way they filed, even though it made no logical sense, not alphabetical.

Then right before A had her baby I broke my ankle. I called to say I had to go to the hospital but that I would come in after I had my cast on, so I would be about an hour late. She told me to stay home and call the next day. They continued to tell me to stay home even though I said I could work because I had a walking cast. I came in to see them and brought A some really nice baby presents. P sent me home and said she would call me.

Eventually, after much begging on my part (I needed the money and I was ok to work) P allowed me to come back to work, but got angry if I made even the smallest mistake even though they didn’t have the time to properly train me. Then one day out of the blue P fired me, said it just wasn’t working out. Other then the occasional small mistake I had done nothing really wrong, was always dressed really well, on time and polite. I was confused as to why but then I figured it out. They had hired me only until the daughter could come back to work. She would now work under the table (while collecting maternity leave) and bring the baby to work everyday; she had been doing this a few days a week while I was still there.

I guess they wanted to see if it would work with the baby there and I was the back up plan. I had never been fired in my life. Getting fired from this place was the best thing that happened to me, I got offered a government job the next week for over double the pay. I figured I was better off anyways, since the whole dynamic of the place was odd. F and T even lived in the store for a while.

The Assistant’s Assistant

I’m writing this submission while still employed at MVWJ. I began this entry-level position at my company a year and half ago. At the beginning, I had a great relationship with my boss, J. When I had been employed for about eight months, J pulled me into his office and told me I had been doing a great job and asked if I was interested in more responsibilities, a title change and increased salary. The department was making some big changes and he had been approached by his boss and HR about this. I said of course! I was so thrilled that my hard work had paid off and I was moving up the company ladder. The next week K, the head of HR, came to my desk and told me I would be reporting to V from now on. My desk would be moved within a couple of days. I was in shock and asked her if she was sure and what my position would be. She replied yes, and that it was still administrative assistant, then smiled a fake smile and walked off.

The reason for my shock and dismay was that V was the executive assistant for J’s boss. I went from being an “assistant” to an “assistant to an executive assistant.” No title change, no salary increase, nothing. I was crushed. J came by and apologized profusely. He said he had no idea that HR was moving in that direction and his hands were tied. I was upset but knew it wasn’t his fault and resolved to suck it up and try to be optimistic.

 As soon as I was moved closer to V, she began her tirade. It takes about two hours for me to commute on the train to my job and J had always been very understanding about this since he commuted from far away as well. He would let me make my own schedule because he knew I always completed my work on time and was very reliable. J would even let me work from home some days as he did as well.

V did not care. She wanted me at my desk and checking in with her at precisely 8:30 every morning and not a minute later. This meant leaving my apartment at 6:15am and not returning home until 6:30pm and I was NEVER allowed to work from home. Some days I couldn’t help being late because the train would break down or be delayed. I would tell V and notify her from my phone when it happened. She wrote me up with HR and I was given a final warning. I had been on a train that struck and killed a man! I tried to explain to them that it wasn’t my fault but K (who had stuck me with V in the first place) told me to suck it up and figure it out myself. This would have been bearable had that been the only issue. V and her other friend B (who was also an executive assistant) would give me all the work they didn’t feel like doing. She sent me to pick up lunches for their bosses (which were paid with the company credit card). V would also make me file her expense reports for her boss, which she would then check and submit under her name to receive credit. She sent me passive aggressive emails marked high priority with read receipts attached.

One of my favorites went like this: 

V: “I need you to research the best and safest way to purchase American Express gift cards online for the upcoming baby shower. This is high priority.”

Me: “” 

She would shuffle past my desk to check to make sure I was working. It was obvious she was checking up on me because my desk was not on a convenient route to anywhere i.e. the kitchen, elevator, bathroom, etc. I stopped taking lunches because she treated me as if I was doing something wrong whenever I said I was going to take a break. She demanded I inform her the second I returned and would make sure I wasn’t a minute off on my time card or she’d send it back to me to fix it. I began to hate work so much that every morning I’d wake up with a stomachache at the thought of dealing with V, always worried she would throw me under the bus. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. She had several nicknamed around the office, such as “Cruella” and “Lady of the Dark.”

After months of job searching, I finally found a new position where I will get to use my brain, not my ability to fetch lunches and make folders! Even better, it’s 10 minutes from my apartment. I almost cried from relief when they hired me. I’m going to miss J (he actually helped me get my new job by giving me a great reference) and a few other people, but I’m so happy to get out of this dead-end position. 

I told V last Friday that I would be leaving and she’s still trying to make my life hell. It’s ok, though because I’M OUTTA HERE!

Don’t Bank On It

MVWJ seemed like it could be MVBJ, but took a sudden turn for the worst. I was hired by a bank as a supervisor in the summer of ’08. My particular branch won quite a few regional outstanding performance awards in ’08 and at the end of the year we received a new regional manager that took a liking to me. By early ’09 I had been promoted to Assistant Manager and when the new regional manager had enough with the current branch manager he got rid of her, leaving me in charge. A few months later I was training to be a full branch manager, all of this happening within the first year that I started working for this bank.

As Branch Manager I was one of the most successful managers in the company’s history right off the bat. I was awarded with free box seats to professional baseball, basketball, and hockey games. I was earning large monthly bonuses, and very excited about possibly moving up farther in the company, but then it all came crashing down.

I had a supervisor, J, who was basically one of the laziest employees I have ever seen. I was at home when my regional manager called me up and told me to go ahead and terminate her employment (entirely his decision to make). Immediately following J’s termination all hell broke loose. Her parents and fiancé would regularly come into the branch and stand at the teller line complaining about the employees and, of course, me. Her father filled out a customer service report rating us “poor” in every category and claiming that one of my employees was intoxicated at work. On one occasion J’s parents refused to leave the branch and I had to call the police in order to get rid of them. On a near daily basis calls were made to our customer service and legal departments that J’s parents were hiring lawyers and planned to sue the bank for discrimination unless they terminated me. Since this is posted as MVWJ you know what happened.

I was brought in two months following J’s termination and my regional manager was nearly in tears as he fired me, promising to give me stellar recommendations if needed in the future. The bank dug up a minor policy I had violated 12 months prior as the reason for the termination, but everyone knew what the real issue was. I consulted a lawyer, but when you are an at-will employee there is really nothing that can be done outside of discrimination (curses to being a white male). Perhaps I got the last laugh though since the day after my termination the complete branch manager rankings came out, and guess who was ranked first for the entire company?