“Captain! Remember those iceberg warnings you couldn’t be bothered to look at? Well, we’ve struck one!”
“Holy shit sandwich! We actually hit an iceberg warning? Out here in the ocean? What are the odds of that? Dammit, why now? I was just enjoying a spot of tea.”
“We didn’t hit a warning, you friggin’ dolt! We hit an iceberg, you know, like the sort mentioned in said warnings. Good God, man! Pull your head out of your arse! We’re going down by the head.”
“Oh, well that’s different. Get to work polishing the brass or I’ll hang ye from the nearest yardarm.”
“What a relief. I actually worried for a moment you’d fail to grasp the gravity of the situation.”
“See? That’s why I’m the Captain. Everyone knows gravity doesn’t work out at sea.”
If I’ve said it once, I’ve literally said it a million times. To be a boss you gotta be good at what you do. No, not things like knowledge, skills or even intelligence. No, not knowing anything about your chosen industry, either. As the boss, your #1 goal is to be a flaming douche, and for that your best friend is really getting off on telling people what to do. Ordering people around. It doesn’t matter what the orders are, either. They don’t have to be smart, make sense, or have anything to do with making money. The point is to be decisive and look authoritative even when you’re blind as a bat because The Grinch made your brain 42 sizes too small. And you’ve got to really get your jollies off during the process. You gotta love what you do.
I met the boss when I applied for a job in the paper for a part-time position. My brilliant plan was to contract 20-hours a week for the asshole I was leaving and up to 20-hours a week for the new asshole. When he offered me the job, I was a bit surprised when he told me he was hiring someone else, too. He explained that his two best candidates each offered complementary skills, so he decided to hire two people instead of one. I’d be the “webmaster” type and the other new hire would handle accounting and bookkeeping type of stuff.
There was no small amount of trepidation when I learned there would be three of us in that tiny office. But the boss talked about offsetting our shifts so, in theory, we’d hardly ever see each other. I liked the sound of that.
My play for a part-time consulting gig fell through because my former boss was an asshole negotiator and tried to put me under contract at slave wages. I told him to go suck an egg and find someone else. One of the happiest decisions of my life. So when my new job wanted to grow my hours to full time, that worked out well for me. I’ve been full time ever since.
The cow orker, however, wanted part time all along. She took the job with an understanding that she wanted part time and nothing more. He agreed. Naturally, like you might guess, he has been pushing her about this ever since. It’s not that he wants her to work more. He just can’t resist the urge to push for the exact opposite of what she wants.
One time, in response to his pushing, she said, “Look. I only want part time. If you want to change your mind, that’s fine with me. I’ll be out the door.” He sort of backed off a little after that. But, like most bosses, he becomes quite petulant when doesn’t get his way and is forced to stick to his agreements. Whaaaaaa!
This week the boss transferred a bunch of his duties to the cow orker. Like everything else he does, it was a foaming-at-the-mouth type of scene. Apparently one night he was thinking big picture thoughts, like only he can do, and the next day he implemented them. Talk about a cluster fuck! We were behind all day long, the office was total chaos, and the cow orker ended up working a nine-hour day.
The next day, she came in to work and announced, “I didn’t mind staying late last night, but I need to be out of here on time today. I need to be out by 2:30.”
This is good. I shit you not. The boss said, “Well, I’ll just have to see about that. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t.”
That got my attention. I could feel something special was about to be afoot. The cow orker didn’t miss a beat. “No, I’m leaving today at 2:30. That’s not negotiable.” Yes! Touchdown! Dreams can come true. I’m going to Disneyland!
“It depends on what needs to be done,” he offered lamely. “I’ll decide then.” Oh yes, it’s our old friend The Decider. Mwuhaha!
“Whatever,” she said. “I’m gone at 2:30.” It’s like she was talking to a three-year-old. I don’t get to experience this much glee that often. Luckily I lived through it.
The boss got pouty but that was the end of it. She left at 2:30.
Friday was another fun day. The boss had the great idea of an employee-appreciation lunch every Friday. I’d pretty much rather have needles stuck in my eyeballs than watch him eat, but I generally get through it. When the food is put on the table, he paws at each and every container of food with his sausage-like fingers, which, of course, pretty much guarantees that I no longer want to eat it. Even when the food is labeled as being for someone else, he still opens it and gives it the once over. Pavlovian drool. Fucking gross! Lately he tries to talk the cow orker to go get the food. When he goes to get it that’s about the only plus. A few minutes without him.
He pushed for her to make the food run again last Friday. You know, because he’s so importantly busy and shit.
“Well, I guess this one last time,” she said. “You know, I don’t normally keep track or charge you for mileage. You can flip me a $10 dollar bill for that sometime and we’ll call it even.” I could see the hairs prickling on the back of his neck all the way from six feet over.
Sometimes she really makes me proud. She gives as good as she gets. Yeah, the boss likes us running errands for him all over town and, of course, not once has he ever offered mileage. Greed and a total lack of respect are important boss-like qualities.
We ended up with extra food and the boss was about to shove it down his gullet when cow orker piped up and said, “Why don’t you run home with that and surprise your wife?” Wow. What an alien idea. He summoned herculean restraint and followed her advice. Later he admitted his wife was pleased, although I’m sure he played it off like it was his thoughtful plan all along.
Ah, his wife. She calls 20 to 40 times a day and berates him, asks for status updates, screams at him, cries about wanting more material possessions, and quizzes him about what the hell he’s doing. In her spare time (she doesn’t work) she writes a religious blog about studying scripture and how she works hard to be a better person. (I find the dichotomy of her fantasy persona vs. real life quite amusing.)
Since the boss is on the phone bullshiting about 90 minutes out of every hour, the cow orker and myself frequently take her calls. One time I was busy with actual work and forgot to pass along her message to the boss. You’d have thought the world was in danger based on her reaction. Through bitter experience, we have learned to write down messages lest we forget in that chaotic frenzied environment. Doing 20 things at once means we’d sometimes forget her phone calls, the most important things of all.
So the cow orker took a call and wrote, “Call your wife” on a sticky note. This sticky note, along with several others about people wanting to spend about $2,000 each, she stuck on the boss’ computer screen.
Then he comes along, looks at the sticky notes, tosses the one regarding his wife in the trash, and sets the others aside for a mythical time known as “later.”
What happened next was epic. The wife called and we heard one-half of the conversation. “No, I didn’t know you called,” he said. “Nope, first I’ve heard about it,” the fucker lied. Why take the heat when you can pin it on an employee? Later he told us that she complained that her messages not getting passed along was happening “far too often.” What a crock of shit.
So the boss comes back to the office after passing off that extra food as a surprise for his wife and immediately jumps me. “Oh, Tom. I talked with my wife and she had an idea. I agree that it’s a good idea. We want a customized contact page added to the website to help customers describe their widget needs and we can make recommendations hopefully without having to call them back.” He droned on about this shit for 20 minutes in excruciating detail until blood was leaking out of my ears.
“Work on it now. And we want it today.” This was a Friday.
I gave him my canned response. “When it is done depends on how long it takes and how much time I have to work on it.” He never puts me in a bubble so I can remain on task. I have to process incoming orders, ship things and answer phones, among other things, as needed. Actual webmastering represents about 1% of my day, if I’m lucky.
“How can I help make this go as fast as possible?”
“Easy. Write up a spec with what you want the page to say and do. Don’t leave the writing of any copy up to me.” Having me write copy is the most useless exercise in the universe, as they will change every single word I choose. Having me write is a monumental waste of time.
In the business world, there’s the concept of “low-hanging fruit.” I know my boss is familiar with this phrase since he uses it every 4.2 minutes or so. Of course, spending two hours a day on nothing more than repeating the phrase is the exact opposite of low-hanging fruit, but he never seems to get that.
Obviously the boss went right to work on a spec rather than calling back his customers wanting to spend $2,000. This new thing that we didn’t even know existed at the start of the day was now The Most Important Thing Of All Time. It was the latest and greatest low-hanging fruit of the moment.
15 minutes later and the phone rang. It was his wife. I heard her ask him, “Is it done yet?” Holy mother of god! Get that bitch a rabies shot!
In a little while, the boss said the magical words, “I just sent you an email.” Why does he always have to announce every single email like that? Stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen! The boss just birthed an email. Don’t even breathe. Go. Sit. Click the refresh button like a monkey hungerin’ for a banana until that email is in your inbox. Nothing is more important.
DING! The promised land of the boss’ email had arrived. I looked it over. What a fucking piece of shit! And I’m supposed to deploy a web page based on this garbage? And, laughably, it took him that much time to write? Wow. All I can say is wow.
Of course, the document was just his brain doodle and his wife hadn’t seen it or signed off on it yet. (Remember, it was her idea.) That part becomes important later.
So, dodging all of my other duties and chaos, I set about the task of implementing his vision. The task was made more difficult because the last time he wanted a contact page, it had to have all sorts of special customizations. Like the 45 minutes we spent discussing and implementing a change on the subject line because he wanted a dash rather than a colon. You know, the low-hanging fruit that will bring us riches. Of course, this time, he wanted all sorts of special customizations, but generally speaking they were all the exact opposites of the customizations he wanted last time. So rather than using an off-the-shelf solution for both forms, he needed two different solutions both customized to the Nth degree.
He’s the boss.
Finally I got it all done and let him know. Frothing spittle around the room, he stopped everything he was doing to rip it to shreds. Mostly, though, what he ripped to shreds what the spec that he had written himself. “Change this. Change that. Change this, this this, and that, that, that.” The verbal stream of edits he wanted came fast and furious.
“Erm. What was the first thing you asked for? Listen, I can’t make the changes that quickly, nor even write them down as fast as you speak. I’m not a fucking courtroom reporter. Write down the edits you need, email them to me, and I’ll tackle them one-by-one.”
“And change this, and that, and this, this, this, and that, that, that,” he replied.
Thus we engaged in a two-hour period of painful edits. He’d verbally say 10 things he wanted, I’d press for details on one of them, work on the edits while his mouth kept moving, and publish them to the site. He’d then explain how although I’d done exactly what he asked for it was 100% wrong. Rinse. Repeat. Blow your fucking head off.
At the very end of this process he said, “That’s almost perfect. Now completely rearrange the order from what I originally told you,” and then ran down the list of the new order he wanted.
“Write down the order you want,” I screamed!
Hours later and the boss had done nothing else except fiddle with this web page shit. The FedEx guy showed up and none of our outgoing packages were ready. The boss made him wait (rude as hell) as we ran around with hair on fire flinging product in boxes and the tape went flying. Who the fuck gives a shit about our shipping error rates? The boss sure doesn’t, although he’ll cry a river if there’s a single mistake. Moron.
It was now fifteen minutes past the end of my shift and I still had to bitch whore his packages over to the post office as he refuses to let any deadlines impact his operation. That’s another story.
“I have to go.”
“Wait. I just got an email from my wife. She recommends some changes and I agree with her. They make sense.”
“Fine,” I panted. “What-the-fuck-ever. I’ll get ’em done first thing Monday morning.”
“But we want them tonight,” he whined. He sounded remarkably like Rush Limbaugh trying to give a compliment to a Democrat.
None of this shit even fucking matters, you brain dead simpleton!!! I screamed helplessly in my own head.
“OK, forget the packages.”
“No. Those have to go, too,” he blabbered. “Can’t you make the changes as soon as you get home?”
Jesus. Who the fuck are you?
Fine. Whatever. Just get me the hell out of here!!!
I made the changes Friday night.
Guess what? This morning I got another email. From the boss’ wife. She wants a few more edits. To the shit that I did exactly to her specifications.
Assholes. Like a boss.
The boss fucked with Holy Time?!?!?!?
Where’s my gun…
Yeah, he sure did. BTW, for you statistical freaks out there, this post is about 2,500 words and took me about an hour to write. Yeah, that’s quality. My idea was: Maybe I should write about that shitty Friday. And I didn’t even scratch the surface yet. There is still much that remains untold about that day. Maybe more later.
I hope you get paid more than $12/ hour. This sounds remarkably familiar but I have more than one boss–counting all the people who think they boss me (sales, heads of other departments, actual owner…).
This was supposed to be a post about our company’s piece of shit website and the bullshit that goes on with it and the owner’s wife. I was weak and got derailed by Friday situation. Next time I’ll try harder.
When minimum wage is $12 then I, too, will make $12. Of course, by then, a loaf of bread will cost $10.50.
If you’re getting minimum, that’s very, very bad. In MO it’s $7.25. Ick. I hope you make some kind of commission. You’re worse off than I am, I guess. Yet another. 😦
My poetic license gives me permission to exaggerate a bit from time to time. It also allows my ego to write checks my body can’t cash.