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Who Was Your Worst Boss?

By Mrs. Julien | Comment Diversions | February 2, 2013 | Comments ()


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For five years, I had a job with a four day work week. I know. Even at the time, I was aware that it was something to be savoured, plus I loved the work itself. It's the best job I've ever had; however, there was a 5'6" downside and she owned the business.

My boss was terrified that the business would be ruined so she would test and micromanage the staff. It was a school that closed at 4:00, but she would call at 4:55 to make sure the administrative staff hadn't left early. She would insert errors into files to see if people would catch them. She'd ask me questions about my work until I had to say that I had not done something. Sometimes it would take 4 questions, on one occasion it took about 25. She would just keep asking, "Did you do this? Did you do this? Did you do this? Did you do this? Did you do this? Did you do this?" until I had to say, "No." Having proved herself necessary, she would gently say, "That's okay, just make sure you do it" and go on with her day. It became such a common occurrence that I started going to her and asking her to do it, so I could confirm I was on top of things.

The piece de resistance of the experience was the day she yelled this at me -

Prolixity, if you don't know that we love you, then you can just leave!

The weird part is that I can't even remember why my boss screamed it. We were meeting about something, I ticked her off, and the next thing I knew she was shrieking at me for not knowing that I was a valued and respected member of the team. You can see how that might feel like a dubious compliment. She wasn't crazy all the time, just now and then, and when I least expected it. Crazy in the way that keeps you on alert at all times and turns your body into a walking stress symptom. It was the employment version of "she only hits me when she's drunk."

I have more stories (compulsive lying, manipulation, passive aggression), but it's your turn. Tell us about your awful bosses, and don't be shy about painting your co-workers with the same brush.



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  • DeltaJuliet

    Maybe I shouldn't be reading these stories before my job interview this afternoon......

  • Gabs

    I'm lucky in that I've never had a truly horrible boss. (There have been a couple astoundingly shitty General Managers in the 6 years I've worked at my current job, but I rarely had to deal with them directly so it doesn't count.) I did once have one who yelled all the time, but I was in the Army and so it's kinda to be expected.

  • denesteak

    Ok, you asked for it, here goes:

    My first restaurant job, I had three bosses who stole cash tips from the waitresses. They also had different temperaments, so depending on who you were dealing with, you gotta juggle your responses so that you wouldn't get screamed at in front of customers. All three were thieves and slimeballs.

    I've also worked as a bartender for this massive man with a HUGE temper. He could fly off the handle at any time and just scream at me in front of customers, just berate me like I had killed a baby when really, I had just done something like, not taken the ketchup bottle off the bar. The crazy thing about him is he was actually a pretty cool and funny boss when he was good. Then he'd totally jekyll and hyde-out and then feel so bad about it that by my next shift, he would present me with little presents, like gourmet chocolate or a book that we'd been talking about. It was like being in a fucking emotionally abusive relationship and I kept making excuses for him.

    i used to work as research assistant for a pretty well-known investigative reporter whose temper was LEGENDARY. He once spent 50 minutes screaming at me via speaker phone, and the entire office heard him (They all felt sorry for his research assistants). He would also making it extremely personal, like saying things like, "ARE YOU TRYING TO HURT THIS STORY??? YOU ARE TRYING TO MAKE THIS WORSE! YOU DON'T WANT THIS STORY TO RUN, DO YOU???" That was pretty bad, but I did learn a lot from that experience, and since then, he's actually hooked me up with new gigs and contacts and jobs... so I sort of consider it an honor for having survive that.

    My current boss is a bit of a bi-polar mess. He publicly berates his employees in the morning meetings and he's not above mocking our intelligence in front of others. He is the epitome of "tear others down to feel good about yourself." The best thing we can compare him to is a charismatic cult leader -- my colleagues are willing to throw each other under the bus just to get in his good graces or not get yelled at. He is also surrounded by sycophants, so he is never ever challenged.

    One of my worst bosses was not a yeller or a screamer and she never lost her temper. Instead, she was incredibly passive aggressive and was a micromanager, so she'd invent all these stupid excel spread sheets that served no purpose whatsoever except to make our lives miserable. She also loved catching us in our mistakes. Perhaps the last straw was when she took each of us in the department for a private meeting -- this was at the end of the year, and was the first time they had even contemplated a raise for us but mostly bc i brought it up -- and told each of us that we were being given a 3 percent raise and only 3 percent is given to the most valuable employee... usually, we'd only get 1.5, she said. The dumb ass thought no one talks to each other, and we all got the same stupid 3 percent (which for me, translated to about like $30 more or something.) It made me realize that she thought we were all fucking stupid, and I started looking for a new job and got one two months later. What was frustrating as well is that this company was a highly regarded news organization, and they were just treating their employees like fucktwits.

    So, yea. I've had my fair share of "worst" bosses. I'm a pretty passive person and generally won't do nothing until I've reached a breaking point. But for some jobs, such as my current one and the one with the investigative reporter, I feel like I've gotten so much out of it (in terms of experience, stories, contacts) that I do feel it is sort of worth it to tolerate it. But if there's no returns for it, then fuck professionalism and fuck the job. The other thing is that some of these horrible bosses came with jobs that were the most interesting to me (though not the one for the prestigious news org. Fuck that place).

  • Milly

    My worst boss was not a bad person - unlike the jumped up shits I dealt with during my part-time jobs after school/through university - but he was very earnest in his beliefs, being a born again Christian. Now, there is nothing wrong in that, though the zeal in which born again Christian Fellowship members show is perhaps unusual in England (where religion is often a personal choice, and kept as such).

    However, if you did not wish to attend his groups learning events during lunchtime - events that he pushed on colleagues and I during our public sector work meetings (which is a disciplinary act in itself) - you would often find promotions being overlooked, or increases through the pay scale being resisted.

    In the end it was only me, catholic raised but quite overt in my "blasphemy" apparently, and a gay colleague who did not attend/were not invited (in my colleagues case) these training courses.

    Suffice to say, I ended up supervising less experienced members of staff who were on a higher rate of pay than I was, which could only be attributed to my lack of interest in attending religious courses.

    The first opportunity that was given to move away from his section was grabbed with both hands, and I've never looked back. Nice person, does a lot for the community, but it became apparent that you had to be in a specific community to receive the help.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    My first job out of college was as an intern at a museum and then I was hired on permanently in a different department. I was all of 22, had only had one boyfriend, and although I'm personable, I was very shy. My new, ~30 years older alcoholic boss was a master manipulator and knew easy prey when he saw it. He knew how to both compliment me and tear down over the course of year until the inevitable liason happened. While "dating" he became fully emotionally abusive and then finally physically abusive. It was a terrifying time that broke my spirit and I didn't believe I could report him without ruining my own life.

    I did finally manage to end things, but the economy had taken a dive and I wasn't able to find a new position. I secretly sat for the LSAT and then moved away for law school because I never again wanted to be in a position where I couldn't take care of myself. Even in this largely anonymous context, it's still incredibly difficult and shameful to admit. But I've begun to feel like I need to tell the story not as a pity party, but to help prepare other young men and women entering the workforce about these sorts of bosses (or teachers) the way I wish I had been prepared.

  • Nieve 'The Threadkiller Queen'

    Thank you for sharing, there are assholes out there who will manipulate and use and unfortunately abuse younger 'weaker' for lack of a better word people. Im glad you got away and I hope you have an amazing career and life now.

  • Return of Santitas

    Yes, thank you for pushing through and sharing it. Maybe abuse of power is a spectrum of behaviors, and we've all been telling stories about bad bosses whose actions have fallen in one place or another on that spectrum. They are assholes. But you ran into a real life Big Bad. Good on you for getting out.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • lilianna28

    My boss's boss never liked me. I didn't fit her beauty type. Her other female employees were thin and blonde. She'd comment on my shoes and handbag being "interesting" until a blondie took pitty on me and told me she meant "not designer". The boss who hired me found herself fired by crazy lady 12 weeks after I started, which was also incidentally when I discovered I was pregnant.

    As I grew (and I did grow) big boss would glare at my belly. She'd make comments about how her adoption was so much better for a working mom than giving birth. She over ruled me and hired my blonde employee for me when I had chosen a non blonde at first. She hired a blonde temp and I should have known it was the end. She told my temp I wasn't really planning on coming back when I had every intention to. 9 days before I have birth she told me my clothes were too tight and I needs new ones. When I did come back from leave, she took 5 months to remove my position and replace me with the temp.

  • par1964

    I was still in university and took a part time job as a bartender at a local members-only golf club. One Saturday afternoon, my boss told me to set up a full bar in one of the salons as we were hosting a wedding reception that evening. He gave me the work order which spelled out what had been ordered for the bar. The work order clearly stated that is was to be a full bar, with all the different varieties of alcohol and wine that we could muster.

    I spent 3 hours prepping .... getting all the glassware, buckets of ice, all the mixes, cases of booze. As I was bringing in the last bucket of ice, guests started to arrive, the first of whom was the mother of the bride. She took one look at the bar, and demanded to see the manager. I went to get my boss. She told him in a very stern voice that they had only ordered a small wine bar, why was all this alcohol out on display?? I was standing there, awaiting direction from my boss. Clearly chastised and needing to vent, he turned on me. He called me stupid, he called me an asshole .... in front of the client!!! I did not protest as I did not feel it was an appropriate thing to do in front of the mother of the bride.

    I got busy and re-jigged the bar, muttering under my breath the entire time. When I was done, I was called into the manager's office, where I expected to be given an apology. He said to me, "I don't like your attitude." I replied, "I don't like being called an asshole in front of the customers." He said, "When I hired you, I thought I was hiring an adult and adults should be able to take that sort of thing." To which I replied, "When I came to work here, I thought I was working for an adult, and adults don't do those sorts of things."

    He told me he was going to fire me for that comment. I said I quit, as I will not be fired by an arsehole like him. I found out 2 weeks later that he had been arrested for stealing trunk-loads of steaks and cigarettes from the storerooms. Good on ya, Dave ya little asshat!!!!

  • ,

    Who "was" the worst? That makes an assumption the current boss isn't the worst. I did an amateur psychological analysis of Boss and came up with narcissistic personality disorder. I won't bore you with a litany of Boss' shit, just look up the traits of someone with that disorder and use your imagination, especially the part about "takes everything personally."

    And even then it's a close call between that one and the boss who actually WAS mentally ill -- he developed a phobia, a fear of crowds. That's not a good thing for a man who worked covering sporting events in large stadiums.

    The tiebreaker, I guess, is that for awhile I actually liked the mentally ill boss.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I wonder if he developed that phobia *because* of the job. Milling herds of people freak me out too.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I've got a nearly endless supply of horror stories about a boss I had that has since retired, thank god. But the worst thing she did was to write up a co-worker for leave abuse after the person had saved her leave all year to donate to her husband's time off to receive a kidney transplant and still allow herself two weeks off at Christmas. Her reasoning was that the employee shouldn't have waited till the end of the year to take a vacation.

    She also charged another co-worker annual leave for jury duty... we have separate jury duty exception time... and the co-worker actually had to go through the union to have it corrected.

    We had a (very) small potluck up in our office (the boss was located in another building and was seldom seen in our area due to the stairs and her bad knee) but when she heard about the potluck, she made a point of coming up to literally screech at us that we hadn't gotten her permission even though most of the people involved were not her employees. It was one of those meltdowns that actually frightens you, we all got big eyes and looked nervously at each other while she continued to scream at us.

    Her downfall was when the top boss saw her moving her stuff into a recently retired person's office when she assumed she'd be promoted into that slot. She was retired within a month. I don't know what happened but none of us were unhappy to see the back of her. WHAT A BITCH.

  • ReturnofSantitas

    My worst boss ever is actually still my boss, but she has been stripped of a lot of the micromanagement tasks she once held dear, and which she used to manipulate the staff and turn us against each other, while casting herself as a put-upon victim of the system.

    I work in a small preschool that is privately owned. The staff are a mix of "misfits"--for example people with art degrees, music degreed, and several people with foreign education qualifications that aren't accepted in this country. So overall we are an underpaid but highly qualified and enthusiastic workforce. Our manager is a high school dropout who eventually--when this became required by the preschool licensing body--got an associate's degree in early childhood education. She got the management position because of longevity. She has worked there so long that the owner had to "give her something". She is an absolute nightmare of passive aggressive nitpicking, she starts rumors behind people's back, she regularly reports that "parents are worried" (in other people's classes, never hers of course) and these reports always turn out to be exaggerated or flat out lies. She used to move staff around every morning so that nobody could carry out the plans they'd made for the day. She depends on the children to fill some void of love and attention and is convinced that she, and only she, understands them and knows what is best for them. She interrupts their play to make them play games with her, she makes them tidy up 45 minutes before lunch so that she can make them sit and listen to her read stories (ie have their attention on her)...all while insisting that her class is "child led" and "child rights based".

    I was hired to work directly with her last year because the owner wanted a licensed teacher in every room. Little did I know who I was dealing with. I started the year trying to co-teach with her but she undermined everything I tried to do. By the end of the year going to work filled me with dread and anxiety. After nearly ten years of teaching, my confidence was badly damaged.

    I am still trying to quit this job (not a lot of work where I am, and the benefits of the place outweigh this one nightmarish person) but the day I do, I will do a dance of joy.

  • Buck Forty

    After two years my boss made me her defacto second in charge ie I did her job while she got her hair and nails done each week and went on client lunches every day, and I was still paid my original salary. I was the 'team leader' and had to run the weekly team meetings and report back to her what the team were doing or thinking.

    Each week there would be a variation of the following: someone at the meeting would suggest or ask for something ie a new idea to increase business, or request leave for some personal reason. I would report back to her and she would tell me what a ridiculous fucking idea that was, or that we were too busy for 'X' to take leave right now. She would make me go back go the team member and tell them their idea was not going to fly, or their leave not granted.

    She would then make a point of bumping into that team member and talking to them, and fishing for the idea or leave request. And when she got it she would tell them what a great idea that was and that we should try it. Or that the leave was not a problem and why did I not approve it? And then she would grant it.

    She did something like this every week, without fail.

  • denesteak

    wow, what a crazy bitch.

  • ohmygosh

    My boss is a relatively cool guy (generally) but prone to really bad mood swings. For example, someone outside the office would piss him off and then he will find a most trivial thing to get worked up about and EXPLODE all over an innocent office drone who had nothing with the shit that got him fired up originally. 10 minutes later he will come out of the office and shoot the breeze with the rest of us, all relaxed and jokey. Sometimes his mood is so unpredictable that people from other departments who have to get something signed by him stop by our desks (we're near his office) and ask what mood he's in, in order to decide whether to go in at that moment or come a bit later. Some of us suggested installing a mood indicator outside his office - something like a weather forecast sign - cloudy with chance of thunder storms or sunny...

  • denesteak

    I've had so many horrible bosses that I think it's either 1) impossible for bosses to be cool, ever, and 2) maybe I'm just not suited to work for people.
    I've had a slew of jobs, and I think only ONE was a decent human being.

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    Thank you for saying what I was going to say. I've only ever had one decent boss, and that was for a job I did from home. She managed a team of 21 remote workers and we all adored her. Other than that, most of my bosses have been ginormous, passive-aggressive a**holes.

  • EngLushMajor

    I worked at a little Italian cafe-type store that served THEE most delicious food in my small town for a couple of years on and off. I loved it, but the owner was a typical older Italian woman, stern but kind once you got to know her. She slapped one of her employees, a young 14 year old girl that said something back to her once. It closed because no one wanted to buy a place that could go down with a potential lawsuit. I still mourn over the tomato basil soup. (also, the girl was a total twat)

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I have been pretty lucky in the boss category. No one abusive. But two that make me roll my eyes.

    One was a NJ property assessor. I was placed with him through a temp agency after his previous assistant of 15 years had left in a huff about something. He was a true jersey type - Italian, cigar-smoking in his office (but had an air filter), and 90% of the properties he assessed were Benihana restaurants, which someone told me was a mob front. (I never looked into this, but would not have been surprised.) I temped for him about 5 weeks (I got to use a dictaphone, which tickled me) before getting a better offer. He asked me to stay on, but when I wouldn't, he thanked me with a $150 bonus check. Since I was there through an agency, none of my payments had come from him. I thought this was an excessive bonus, but after the half-hearted attempt to turn it down, I deposited it. It bounced. I called him. He apologized, and told me to wait a week and it should be good. I deposited it, and it bounced again...

    The other annoying boss was the VP of PMO for a major publishing company. I've worked as a temp all over this organization, so I knew the ins and outs. He was new to the company, and it was a new position. As far as I can tell, he did close to nothing all day. He would have me fax wire transfer requests overseas on behalf of his Indian/Irish wife, with a forged signature (for her family, I was told). He would have me deal with his employee benefits - which meant I logged into his account and had my eyes goggle when I learned he was making $7500 every 2 weeks. I pretty much learned and did the trouble-shooting on a new project management system that was being implemented. He would do weird displays of power, like asking his guest if they wanted me to get them coffee - which is something I told him I would not do for HIM, but wasn't rude enough to turn down to guests, and inviting me to join lunch when a client was paying, even though there was no possible reason for me to be there (and he would keep asking and asking until I'd say yes). The one good thing that came out of it was when tried to get me to proofread his doctoral thesis from "Western Kentucky University" - since I had "so little to do." I told him I would, at $20 an hour, billable to him personally - so I got to double-bill him and the temp agency for the time I spent reviewing it. After 9 months, I left for an acting gig. He only lasted about 4 months at the company after I'd gone...

  • melissa82

    My boss was just going through a divorce when he hired me... When he would come in and sob I felt awful, but when he asked my co-worker and me to help him write a Match.com profile I felt icky. We had family style lunches everyday and one day I had an appt so wasn't going to be there and he started to cry when I told him..and then he made me work through the weekend as punishment.
    And I'm not even getting into the super creepy stuff.

    I only lasted 8 months. It was awful.

  • DeltaJuliet

    He.....cried? WTH?

  • melissa82

    Ok...since most people have read this thread and moved on I'll get into some of the super creepy stuff.
    Yes, he cried when I couldn't go to lunch. He also, that weekend that he made me work - just the two of us in the office...told me that he was sorry, he was just so emotional because his soon-to-be ex-wife had "tricked" him into sex on Friday morning, and afterward she said "You are the best sex I've ever had in my life, I'm just not in love with you anymore." ...he was looking me in the eyes as he told me this story. To make sure I heard the first segment of her statement I suppose. I replied "I'm uncomfortable talking about this" and he answered by breaking into sobs... and then asking me to leave. I kindly obliged. He then called me 1.5 hours later (I was at a movie by this time so I didn't see the call), a half hour after that (same issue, I turn my phone off like a good little movie-goer) and as I was walking out of the movie he was calling me for the third time, which I sent to voicemail since he was creeping me the fuck out. That time he did leave a message: "Melissa, I need you, you're such an important asset to this company, and you've become a great friend. Please forgive me."

    The sad thing is that I needed the job badly. So I called back and told him I wouldn't work weekends by myself anymore ("But I'm here!" Gross. Not what I meant) but otherwise it was fine.

    From there he became increasingly dickish...my coworker's daughter was going to the season opening of an amusement park and she told us she was really nervous about her daughter going on the roller coasters. His response was "Don't worry I'll give you an extra day off to plan the funeral." She kinda freaked out, said she thought that was an insensitive joke (which it was, she was clearly stressed) and he said "Oh suck it up, this is why women don't do as well in the workplace, they can't take a joke...Also, you can't take them to strip clubs. Just suck it up and go."

    Yeah... I did not need the job that badly. And again, just the tip of the ice berg, but venting about this is making me feel dirty for dealing with it as long as I did. Ah, the promise of money from working on an algorithm...

  • DeltaJuliet

    Oh my goodness. I feel so bad for you having to deal with that. Some people really are just failures at life. Wow.

  • e jerry powell

    I hate thinking about it. Let's leave it at that.

  • chanohack

    This guy. Named Bob.

    Oh.

    To first give you an unkind visual, my friend and I often said that Bob was like the real-world Peter Griffin, I mean dead ringer. Only not funny. And not married (though he often told us many unsavory details about his many ex wives). And unlike a cartoon, you could smell him, and he smelled like dog breath, and cigars, and not the nice kind. He was a pervert. He was an asshole. He was belligerent and loud and talked incessantly about all the women who wanted him, and walked all over everyone, including our WAY TOO nice second-in-charge, and all of us.

    I knew, in my heart, that he was lonely, and talked about himself all day because he had no one to talk to at home, and sometimes that made me soften a little...

    But then, without fail, he'd do something like make me and my co-worker work twelve-hour shifts all fucking night, all fucking weekend, for absolutely no fucking reason, when he KNEW that nothing would happen all night, all weekend, just so he could SAY at the next bosses' meeting, "I had someone here all weekend! It's not MY fault we're behind schedule." Oh I forgot to say! We often didn't find out we were working all weekend until 3:00 Friday afternoon. And he'd taunt us with his ability to make those decisions.

    I have a very short list of people I hate. Bob is the only person on that list upon whom I have actually wished suffering. I wanted him to fall in a hole. And get a compound fracture. And have to stay in the hole all night (maybe even all fucking weekend!) before being discovered and rescued. And then have go to the hospital for like three weeks at least and have ABSOLUTELY NO ONE to listen to his gross fucking stories about how great he is (yes, in THAT WAY) for that whole time, because in my mind no nurse would put up with that shit.

  • catagisreading

    Ahem, me, myself and I

  • idiosynchronic

    Mrs. J - you just described library director of the small town I just got away from. I was her part-time IT guy for one of the longest 5 months of my life.

  • QballK

    When I worked at a metal fabrication plant a while back, I had a boss that would constantly give advice in the direction of reaching the goal of making better parts in a more timely fashion.

    I worked on a 175 ton press brake, and this was early in my tenure at the plant which lasted five years. I worked on a 175 ton press brake making parts for John Deere, and other producers of agricultural equipment, and these companies had demanded precision. Of course it didn't seem to matter to my boss that he came from a laser and plasma cutting background and not from one involving metal breaking.

    Of course inevitably when the parts produced would be sent back by the customer because of defects which were brought on by said advice, I would be called into the front office with said boss to be given a lecture, and asked many questions regarding the reasons why these parts were mis-manufactured.

    Nary a time would this asshole ever speak up in my defense even though he knew perfectly well that the mistake was made using his own half assed and ignorant advice.

    He developed a well deserved reputation of selling out his underlings to save himself.

  • StillStuckUnfortunately

    I got into a fight with a cardboard box and lost. I was stacking items on a cart for our volunteer group's sorting area (an unnamed volunteer group sells donated items for my public workplace). The corner of the flap on one of the group's cardboard boxes got caught on my glasses and scratched my eye. I went to the eye doctor, who gave me antiobiotic to make sure it didn't get infected, and then my workplace covered the workman's comp bill. Two days later my boss emailed me a notice about free journals available from a school of optometry.

    Another time my boss overheard an elderly client asking me about falling off a bike. Confused, I asked him why he thought I had fallen off a bike. The patron said there was a huge scrape on my face. I explained to him it was just bad skin. Two weeks later my boss ordered something on skin care for our collection, knowing I would have to handle it.

    I could go on and on, but my boss would say he likes to tease. I would argue that's fine for his friends who know him, as they can tease him back, but as an at-will subordinate, I am not allowed to do the same. The employee manual says all instances of employee harassment must be taken up with the director, so there isn't any point in reporting his own behavior to him. He has made sure the governing board consists primarily of friends or friends of his children, so there isn't any oversight for him. His wife died after a long-term illness, which meant over a decade of using that as an excuse for any of his less-than-professional moments. Now he's milking the excuse of being a widower. People all over the industry think he's the greatest thing ever because he puts on a great public face. I pretty much can't even complain to friends in too much detail. Since I went to school with his kids, if someone in a drunken state ever happens to mention my stories to the wrong party, I would be fired.

    I am stuck working for this gentleman until I am fully vested for my pension fund, so for now I just have to grin and bear it. Glad most of you were able to get our of your situations, and thanks for letting me vent. In the meantime I keep my head down, serve my time, and look forward to the day when I am fully vested and able to leave on my own terms.

  • hindulovegod

    I once worked for an alcoholic who would come to work still lit from the night before--hair matted, wine-stained teeth. She was an aging Southern belle who'd had a long career in PR. One very drunk day, she walked out into the main office with her purse, into which she'd thrown up, and asked if we could fish out and fix her Palm Pilot. We all said no, after which she turned tail and walked away.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    OH. MY. GOD. hahaha!

  • Nieve 'The Threadkiller Queen'

    OMG! I worked for an alcoholic, he was a charmer but would take 3 hour lunch breaks starting at 11am and go to the pub when he came back he was either giggly, harmless, funny, drunk boss man or an utter nightmare, on the Nightmare days he would pick either me or the other sales guy (it was a very small publishing company) and let rip, streams of abuse based on completely imagined events while his SIC an uptight, rude, Queen Bee type stood by an watched (probably commiting the scenario to memory for mastabatury material, she had a dead end crush)
    I have never in my life been spoke to the way he spoke to me-woe betide you try to defend yourself that just made it worse. The final straw came when he screamed at the sales guy then demanded he go outside with him, 20 minutes later the sales guy came back told me to get my bags as he was closing the office for the day, when we went outside the police were questioning the boss for attempted assault he tried to throttle Sales Guy outside the office in front of witnesses. Suffice to say the company closed down shortly afterwards, He actually had the audacity to give me a bad reference (the next company I worked for needed a most recent ref) My new boss called me in and said 'Take his name off your CV I called him he was rotten drunk, slurring and swearing down the phone and kept referring to you as James he's a loser, take him off your ref we will take the ref from your job before him'
    Never work for non functioning alcoholics.
    I wish this was the worst boss I ever worked for unfortunately I have had a few.

  • I love how long and richly detailed all these comments are. Clearly, suffering under a bad boss is a traumatic experience.

    I've only been the boss a couple of times and I hated it. But I went out of my way to be the coolest boss ever. My employees have Large Marge to thank for that.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I noticed that too. Not a huge number of comments, but really involved and heartfelt ones.

  • Brooke

    It was 3rd shift factory work. There were 4 operators and one shift leader. All female. I was the youngest by 30 years. The shift leader was a micro manager who chased employees away on a regular basis. She decided that my work was superior to the others, who had much more experience than me. She excessively called meetings, like 3 or 4 per shift, and pointed out how they needed to do their jobs more like me. When it came time to train a new employee she put them in my hands, then micro managed every step. It might not sound so bad, but she effectively turned every coworker against me and fostered a VERY hostile work environment for me. I took every break alone, could barely get a grunt out of them when I tried to make conversation, I was miserable. I came home every day and cried. I stuck it out for five years, cause I really needed the job. Then one day our department manager came in with no warning, fired the shift leader and gave me her job. All the original ladies had left by then and I was able to form a team that got the job done and got along.

  • About ten years ago I got a job in a head shop where I was a regular costumer. Not just for pipes and papers and such, I bought posters and candles and dragon statues and the like. I did most of my Christmas shopping there. I thought it would be the coolest job ever.

    The owner was... well, picture Large Marge.

    On my first day, I realized that nothing had price tags on them. I was constantly having to ask the boss or the other employee how much things cost. So on day two, I brought a notebook to keep by the register and started writing down the prices. Large Marge flipped out. I mean screaming and yelling. She accused me of trying to steal her business model so I could open my own shop. She made me lock the notebook in her safe at the end of the day.

    Day three. A customer came in to get her mother a birthday gift. She was the only customer in the shop. She asked me for advice. She asked me. I was talking with her about the kind of things her mom liked and Large Marge came up screaming that she wasn't paying me to flirt and said that If I wanted to get laid I should go work at a strip club. The customer was stunned. She mouthed to me, "God, I'm sorry." Then she stormed out.

    Day five. Marge wanted to move a candle display closer to the door. My fellow employee and I were walking from the back of the shop to the front. My arms were full of glass-encased candles. I asked my fellow what comic book shop he liked. Marge screamed at me that she was paying me to work, not talk! Mind you, we were in the middle of carrying things. Doing what she had had told us to do. I stopped in my tracks and said, "Listen..."

    She screamed, "Oh, fuck no, Fuck you, You're fired. Get the fuck out!"

    The temptation to just open my arms and shrug, letting about eighty dollars worth of merch just fall to the ground was overwhelming. But I'm not that guy.

    I set the candles on the counter, turned to Marge and said, "You really need to seek professional help. Mail me my check." And that was the last time I ever set foot in the place.

    I heard she died a few years later. They say you should only speak good of the dead. She's dead. Good.

  • Aratweth

    I had a string of two awful bosses in a row, totaling a lost of about 4.5 years of my life that I'll never get back, and resent to this day.

    When I was fresh out of college, i got a job working a legal secretary for a one-man firm who handled divorces, adoption, civil stuff, wills, bankruptcies etc. Desperate for work after graduating into the economic cesspit that was 2008, I was willing to overlook a few little quirks that one didn't usually see in legal counsel, like constantly unwashed hair, talking to oneself, and baby talk. However, within six months, my boss was performing screaming, footstamping, Kentucky tent-revival style EXORCISMS on her clients during legal consults. He would also have me field phone calls from his bipolar family that were constantly calling the office with new drama His poor clients were almost 100% referred by legal aid, and thus couldn't complain overmuch about practically free services. Finally, after he got busted out to legal aid for the 3rd time in a month, the state came within a hair's breadth of yanking his license..this is like the state firing a public defender for incompetence...so yeah. After that, he spent much of the day staring out the window, arms extended, sending out "prayer curses" at the tarot card reader's office next door (we're in a super classy neighborhood, btw). After constant abusive screaming fits for over a year, I finally told him I was done, after which there was a complete emotional breakdown, an admittance that he hadn't been taking his meds, and a super sexy 10 cent raise offer. I passed.

    When I left the law office, I walked straight into a job as a pastry chef at a bakery run by a woman who was beautiful, highly intelligent, and pure, fucking evil. She was a lawyer, had been a dancer in 80s glam rock videos, and was now a comfortable dilettante who, after marrying comfortably into the military elite, decided she wanted to run a "european bistro" in an area of the state where you're ahead of the game if half of your patrons come in wearing shoes and/or bras. It was a shop operated by 7 women, 4 of which were managers. They used to hold weekly wine tastings for their customers where kind and loyal daily customers were excluded from invites because they didn't bring the right level of "elegance" to the gatherings.

    The worst began when my new husband and I were trying to purchase our first home, and the bank required my employer's signature on a standard form to prove that I was gainfully employed...she refused to sign the paper, and almost lost us our home because she felt that the document might oblige her to give me a raise at some point in the future. A few weeks after that, my mother contracted aggressive breast cancer that doctors said would likely indicate that I was genetically predisposed and that I would need a preemptive double mastectomy at the age of 23. I told my boss that I might need a day off for testing. She said that "you need to do what you need to do, but I can't guarantee what the consequences of you missing a day of work will be." The last straw was when I twisted my ankle, and couldn't stand for 10 hour stretches like I usually could. She took my stool away, and told me I needed to stop being lazy. I told her to go fuck herself, and two weeks later was employed at my current company, which I love, and who treats me like a human being.

  • googergieger

    Worst boss=Donald Trump.

    Best boss=Bruce Springsteen.

  • leuce7

    I used to be a teacher. One of the big reasons I left education was because I worked for the principal from hell. It was at an inner-city public middle school; it was my second school because I'd essentially been laid off from the first one. This was a dual-language school and I was the only foreign language teacher, but unfortunately a few months into the school year, I developed some medical issues and had to take a medical leave. When I came back, I heard the principal had bullied the 7th grade English teacher into leaving--popping into the classroom unannounced to conduct "observations," then writing up things to put into his file (such as, dereliction of duty letters for not having enough copies of papers for students, when she was the *only person in the school* who could make copies, and you never knew when she would be "too busy" to get them done for your class, regardless of how early you put in the request), then coming in to class to berate him about what he did wrong during "observation" in front of the students; sending students to deliver his copies of these "disciplinary" letters she was putting in the file, etc.

    When I came back mid-year (after a two-month medical leave where my kids got a sub who just did test-prep with them) *I* got an "insubordination" letter in my file for not turning in the draft of the midterm I was going to give the kids the following week--even though I'd left at the end of the last term and the kids did zilch of my subject the entirety of the term I was gone. She came into my room during class time, checked the dates on the student work on my bulletin boards (again, after I'd been gone two months) and I got written up for having old work displayed. I specifically asked her if I was to personally lead students to lunch or appoint students to lead while I locked up the classroom; she told me to do one, and then wrote me up for not doing the other. I had a disciplinary meeting about an absence I had in the first month of school, because I had not left copies for the substitute (see above about copies). Little things like this constantly, with the appropriate letter in the file after each incident, and the berating in front of the students. She knew about my medical issues because I specifically asked for accommodations for them (I qualified under ADA). 25% of my students were special needs, and had blank IEDs (the write-ups that are supposed to address what methods or accommodations the students need). I was written up for not differentiating for them.

    Three weeks after I came back, I had to go into the hospital for ten days, and was treated outpatient for another two months. I completely attribute the flare-up to her. She was a micromanager and a bully, and she nearly drove me insane. She does this to a teacher or two every year, and every year, 80% of her teachers have only 1-3 years of teaching experience, and about 25% less than one year. The turnover there is ridiculous.

    Needless to say, I did not go back to teaching after that. In fact, my entire experience in public education here (I stayed for another couple of years) has actually made me leave the education field altogether. I greatly admire and support teachers, but I am not willing to kill myself to improve public education here.

  • James Sheehy

    Actually, I've had great bosses. One awful one, but that's it. And as much as I enjoyed that movie, in no universe is a sexually agressive Jennifer Aniston a horrible boss.

  • Yeah, I could live with it.

  • My worst boss was actually a team. Each member of the team worked to disrupt things which could go smoothly and easily if I were left alone. One member would keep asking me if I was done with a physical task over the radio, which required me to stop what I was doing to depress the button on my radio to tell them no. Another, not understanding that three pieces of paper explained everything that a thirty-six point checklist requested had me build a binder with thirty-six tabbed sections to prove each section was, in fact, explained. The best was a manager who would instruct me in precisely what I was and was not allowed to do...the next day he would be furious because I had in fact followed his instructions (minus when I could face legal consequences by actually listening to the idiot). My personal favorite activity was watching his vein pulsate in his temple when he decided to confront me in front of the middleman between us about why I would do such stupid things, and I explained how I agreed each wasted question/action was exceedingly stupid, but I only did them because I was instructed to work in that manner by someone who claimed to better understand the way my section worked, and I would hate to be considered someone who was not a team player because I felt I knew better than that individual. Then there were the times they would ask me to take less time on the clock, but then instruct me to do things in a way which would triple my time on the clock.

    Can never say I miss that job.

  • Maguita NYC

    My last job as executive assistant was for one of the top marketing minds at a reputed firm. He was immature, suffered delirious mood swings, and had a horrendous coke-habit (of course).

    His temper was legendary. One time he got so mad at one of his senior directors, that he threw a tomato-juice can in his face. The poor man was wearing a white shirt, and was about to enter a meeting with an important client. He looked like a slasher-flick victim. People were fired on a whim, then called back the next day and re-hired. Get fired in a rage. Get rehired with charm and a raise.

    He used to "party" for days-on-end. Always in Vegas, always with strippers. And no matter the importance of a scheduled meeting, and the prep time and expenses dispensed, he would ask me to cancel with the client last minute, for he could not properly function after all the "good-timing". He would also refuse to let one of the senior partners replace him in the meeting. Such was the extent of his ego: He would never allow one of his associates/long-time friends to meet with certain important clients.

    But he was very brilliant. People still talk about the genius of some of the brand commercials he had created that had set the standard in the industry. He turned me off the exec. assistant job, and here I am, back in college studying finance.

    I would never forget this man's disturbing behavior, and would always wonder how such men thrive and become successful when controlled by their temper and addictions. It boggles the mind how he never got sued.

  • PDamian

    My first job out of college (but not my first job by any means), was as a clerk in the offices of a district attorney of a county that shall remain nameless. I never met the DA himself, and I knew the three ADAs only a bit, but my immediate supervisor was fucking insane. She would accuse people of misplacing files (the county hadn't yet updated all of its records to computers, and we still juggled manila folders), then "find" them in her office hours later, because she'd removed them from the shelf herself and forgotten. She played favorites, but not consistently, so one week, you'd be the best thing that'd ever happened to the office, and the next, you'd be the reason that the office was falling apart. She'd pitch screaming, flailing fits in the middle of our work area that kept anyone from doing any work, and for the most spurious motives: we were wasting taxpayer money; we were releasing confidential information; the DA was going to lose an important case or cases because we were such lousy support staff; we were lucky to have such cushy jobs, etc. I worked there for two years before leaving to go to grad school and academia, and I was never so glad to leave a job.

    A few months after I'd left, I got a letter from a friend who was still working there. The police did a big sweep of a city area where folks went to buy drugs, and she was caught up in it, buying cocaine. That certainly explained all the manic episodes. The DA's office didn't want to deal with the embarrassment, so she was allowed to retire quietly and do a few years' probation.

  • Pinky McLadybits

    The bosses I had when I worked at a bank that thought they knew more than me when they had no banking background? Those fuckers SUCKED. I had to fix all of their messes and do all of their work while getting paid much, much less money and having a lesser title. One boss asked me, "All the people leaving, is it because of me?" and I replied, "It sure is. Your personality is horrible and you don't know how to do your job." I think he thought I was kidding. Another such boss was afraid of me and would make other employees deliver his messages/orders to me. That did not end well for him.

  • shake

    I don’t know if this qualifies for the worst boss, but this
    certainly was one of the most unbelievable boss things I experienced.

    I once worked a temp position for a copy business (not Kinkos, but something close) that was in the “student” mall near the University of Texas at Austin. The owners were black (this is important to the story); a husband and wife team from
    Africa. Although the wife was fairly nice, the husband was a real douchebag.

    He was mean to his employees. I mean like screaming with
    spittle flying out of his mouth and throwing things around mean. He was just as mean to the students that came in to buy their professor packs (photocopied course material). I think the only thing that kept him from actually punching people was that he realized he would have had charges brought against him.

    I overheard a bunch of his employees one day saying that when he had the inevitable heart attack not a damn one of them would give him CPR.

    I couldn’t understand what kept him in business and said so
    to a regular employee. He told me to just wait until an actual professor came in and watch. Finally, a professor did come in, an older, rotund, pompous white guy.

    The owner come flying from the back. He greeted the professor by name. For the next five minutes (and I am not over exaggerating
    this) the owner acted like he was a black character from a 1930s black and
    white movie. I mean the whole nine yards of “yassssir” and “ooh..Mr. Jon, you is so smart..” He bowed and groveled, and laughed at everything they said that was “funny” while showing all his teeth. Keep in mind he really spoke flawless English (albeit with an African accent) and stood up ram-rod straight all the rest of the time, and I had never known him to smile, much less laugh.

    And this professor ate that shit up! In the course of five minutes he became even more pompous, and he was patronizing the whole time. He practically strutted out the door when he left.

    I noticed from there on out that any professor that came in was of the same exact type as one.

  • barlowjk

    The summer after I finished university I took a summer job in the office of a faraway summer camp in the interest of getting out of Dodge etc. This boys' sports camp catered to very wealthy families and was run by a dapper, youthful, athletic and professional-looking man, and his wife, who was morbidly obese and deeply unhappy about, I suppose, doing 50% (or more) of the work and getting zero credit. I gather that the husband did the schmoozing, while she ran the business behind the scenes.

    She openly refused to train us, instead choosing to "throw us in at the deep end". She was irritable and wildly unpredictable. Sometimes she would scream at us for being unable to un-jam the photocopier. Other times, important documents would be lost and she'd calmly assure us they would be found. We grew accustomed to consoling each other after receiving her verbal abuse. The day after any particularly foul incident would begin with a call from the boss lady, who would ask us what we wanted from Dunkin Donuts or what was our favourite flavour of Ben and Jerry's. The cause of her obesity became rapidly apparent. We all learned from her example and were soon bingeing on confiscated candy like there was no tomorrow.

    All this time, we were at a secluded camp, working ten hours a day, six days a week.

    Eight weeks in to a ten-week "contract", I awoke to hear her outside of my cabin -- there was no road to it and she must have walked, an unheard-of occurrence. I stood on the stoop in my bathrobe and she fired me, citing a number of vague "mistakes" as the reason, and gave me an hour and a half to leave the camp forever -- after eight weeks, just pack up all my stuff and leave in an hour and a half.. I heard later that a pampered former camper had finished film school early and needed a way to ride out the summer -- the parents of campers and former campers being of the type to hire people to raise their children. So some jackass, privately-educated nineteen-year-old did my job far, far worse than I did (I imagine) for the final two weeks while I rode a series of buses across the border to Toronto.

    For all the pity I feel for this woman -- I still have revenge fantasies. Of course, I am living well, so I suppose that's something.

  • wsapnin

    In my early 20's I was the director of a homeless shelter and the only staff person for a 50 bed facility. There was another staff person that could assist me in some things, but she had other duties as well. Once when she was gone, I was basically working 12 hour days. My boss who showed up at work at 10am and was usually gone by 4, put a note in my mailbox that said "It's increasingly more difficult to find you after 4:30 pm. Please see me." That was the one day I left AT 4:30, but I had been there since 6. It was also the only day that she ever stayed that late. She got fired, and I got promoted. She also salted her potato chips. Who does that?

  • Puddin

    I'm dealing with that. I recently switched to the non profit world, and I'm the only person in the office before 3 pm. The best part is, the boss recently said to me that nobody knows what I do all day. Well, come to the damn office and you'll see.

  • katy

    What is it with the non-profit sector?? It is ripe with bad boss stories. I think about making the switch myself sometimes, but what a gamble in the people factor.

  • Rochelle

    I had a boss who would become coldly disapproving if co-workers complimented each other in staff meetings. New hires quickly learned to only compliment the boss. There were other things, but that was the weirdest.

  • kali yuga

    I had a boss who looked exactly like Jennifer Aniston. Wanted to do nothing but screw, all the time. It was horrible.

  • kaizee

    I started working as a night auditor at a resort when I was 22, with zero experience. After 3 weeks, my boss, who I found out later was actually thinking of retiring, and thus did not care to actually do any work, deemed me ready to handle the New Years Eve cash on my own and took the night off. The night's cash totaled up to over $375,000. Took me working 4 hours of overtime on holiday pay to figure out what the hell I was doing. I was terrified of being trusted with that much cash, and it was my first night in charge of the main safe. The next day I got an angry voicemail from my boss, upset that I stayed late without permission, and I'd forgotten one minor thing in my report. Again, my first time ever having had to MAKE a report. In punishment, I guess, he decided to go on holidays and leave me scheduled to cover all his shifts, plus my own, with strict orders that I'm not to switch any shifts or I'm fired. On one night when we were both off after he returned from his holiday, there was a major disaster with the computers overnight. The auditor on duty called the boss to find out what to do. He refused to come in and told them to call me and I have to go or I'm fired. So 3am, I got out of bed and headed in to work to fix the computers. I'd been working there 5 weeks at this point. Lasted a total of 5 months before I quit. The pay was amazing, otherwise I'd have been done much much sooner.

  • anatomycoloringbook

    I had one boss who would scratch his ball in the middle of team meetings. Not a brief, subtle little scratch, but a lengthy massage-like rub that made me feel really, really uncomfortable.

  • Maguita NYC

    One of my colleagues used to do that, and every time I simply tell him he should get it checked by a doctor. He would nervously laugh and try to control his "twitching"... To no avail. Going right back to the "scratching", re-positioning and somewhat unsubtle petting.

    I think it's an addiction for some, like a facial tick or knuckle-cracking.

  • bleujayone

    So Lance Armstrong has ALWAYS been a tool, huh?

  • Jezzer

    I see what you did there, and I approve.

  • $2786243

    The guy who used to change the timekeeper codes on my work so that he 1) got credit for my hours and 2) could bill people for my underling-level work at his (higher) rate. He was a huge asshole personality-wise but this was the worst thing about him-- that he was a cheat and an ethical black hole.

  • Uncle Mikey

    Sounds like someone got their ethics spaghettified. Not cool

  • BWeaves

    My worst job was one where they would just announce, "You're the new VAX expert!" No training. My background was with IBM mainframes. But somehow, magically, I was the new VAX expert.

    They also told me to "Go finish the Georgia project." There were no specifications. No documentation. No information as to how far this project had already been coded. No doc on what needed to be done to finish it. No doc on what was different about Georgia that it was its own separate project. No documentation on where the current code was stored on the computer. After I asked everyone I could think of, I just sat in front of my monitor for 3 weeks and wrote my new resume.

    To this day, it still rankles me.

  • barlowjk

    So did you tell them it was finished?

  • soapyme

    My first job right out of college was at a genetic testing facility, and the director had recently written a book about the benefits of testing, keeping a family history, etc. During my interview, I gave him an updated version of my resume because I had withdrawn from my honors thesis course. When asked why, I told him that I was depressed because my mother had died of uterine cancer that semester. His response was, "Oh, then buying this book would be a good idea for you!"

    Later, I heard weirder stories about him from one of my coworkers, but this one actually happened to me.

  • Emperor Cupcake

    I used to work in the for-profit education industry (i.e. Diploma Factories), and, in addition to being maced by a disgruntled student, I also had a boss who called me an idiot, threw something at me, and once said "If you were a man, you'd be smart enough to find a woman to do your job for you."

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