Bad Boss (Contest Entry)

The worst boss I ever had owned a sign shop. During the interview, when I asked about vacation, sick time and holiday pay, he told me, “I don’t believe in paying people for not working”.

There was a nice and responsible woman who did the book keeping, answered the phone, and basically ran the place by herself. She also happened to be morbidly overweight. When she wasn’t around, the boss would tell us, in a bragging sort of manner, that it didn’t matter how he treated her, or what he paid her. “She’ll never leave”, he’d tell us, “Nobody else is going to hire a woman that’s that god damned fat.” He thought of himself as quite the philanthropist for his kindness in employing her.

He was a wealthy and arrogant man who lived in a remote corner of the state and flew a little single-engine prop plane to work every day, as the business was initially located on the edge of a tiny airport. When we eventually moved to a huge building beside the highway, he still flew most days and then drove the remaining distance from the airport. Despite his wealth, he flatly refused to spend any money anything. We had the largest highway-facing wall in town. It was two stories high by one hundred feet long and only fifty feet away from the highway. Still, he flatly refused to spend the money (his own materials, mind you) to turn it into a sign, or even place a smaller sign upon it. Here we were, a sign company who’s building was potentially the most enviable billboard in town, yet it stood embarrassingly empty.  Were were a sign company without a sign.

Instead, he had us make up a few large banners that said “signs” on them and wire-tie them to the chainlink fence that ran around the parking lot. After one stormy weekend we came to work to find that the banners were all gone. To the rest of us, it was obvious that the wind had blown them away. But he declared that “some Mexicans probably stole them and are using them as tents”.

When I turned in my notice, he asked me why I was leaving. I told him he was an asshole. He said, “Yeah, well I have to be an asshole. You try running your own business and see if you don’t turn into an asshole.” I told him I knew lots of people who ran their own businesses who weren’t assholes.

A few months later, he flew then drove to work to discover that the remainder of his employees had quit and gone home, all at once, leaving the place empty and the phones ringing. He called each of them, pleading, but they would not return. Helpless, and not knowing how to do anything himself, he simply went out business.

Last I heard, he was trying to raise Zebras in Colorado.




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