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Ever had a bizarre boss?
Old 01-30-2009, 02:27 PM   #1
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Ever had a bizarre boss?

Reading this article reminded me of some of the bad bosses I've had:

Ever had a bizarre boss? - wtop.com

I remember one who asked me to go on a last minute, out of town assignment. When I said I might have a conflict and would have to check my calendar, she replied "You're going. I own you." Real winner
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Old 01-30-2009, 02:38 PM   #2
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I once had a boss that suggested I date the owner's daughter so I could get ahead. He even told the boss's daughter I liked her and wanted to date her.

Turns out HE was married to the boss's SIL. I knew some dirt on him so I guess he was trying to create nepotism.........
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Old 01-30-2009, 03:18 PM   #3
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I kept the books for a "family" run business. My boss would come in drunk from time to time. If his tie was straight, I kept low. If his tie was crooked, I knew he was in a good mood......

It was interesting when he dictated letters to me that would go to his wife...and yeah, they lived together....
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:38 PM   #4
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Have I ever had a "normal" boss, should be the question. Actually I have, but few and far between. I discovered long ago that a crappy job with a good boss was a superior position than a good job with a crappy boss.

The worst I ever had was when I worked in network security. The boss was a real bully (not to me, I wouldn't put up with it), using his power to control access and resolve problems (actually, to have us do it, he was a tech moron) to benefit his empire and cronies, while making his perceived enemies look bad. He was also very abusive to most of his subordinates, while being very deferential to the few of us that would call him on it. And he spent $100Ks, maybe even millions, of Megacorp dollars on the products of whichever vendors would take him out and spend the most money on him. He did finally get caught. Being Megacorp he wasn't fired, just put on the dreaded "Special Assignment" where he would never have any responsibility again.

The funny thing is that the entire time I worked for him I got great evaluations and bonuses whether I deserved them or not, because he wasn't a good enough manager to figure out if I was actually doing anything. Rather than risk a confrontation he just gave me good grades.
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:53 PM   #5
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Bizarre is relative - but yes, I had one. I used to teach at a University and one day walked into my office to discover the department head trying on my sport coat. He said he was cold. He was a pretty good boss though (aside for the thing with the jacket).
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Old 01-30-2009, 08:58 PM   #6
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Bizarre?

There was one particular PHB.

I spent ~20 years as a mainframe (big iron) programmer (mainly COBOL).

Said boss was an evil POS (his wife and kids had nothing to do with him).

He knew nothing of computers and was afraid of them; he didn't like women who were
'out of their place'.

When I would tell him something about IT, he would call the (male) IT person to confirm.

Said to me: "You think you know everything?" whenever I answered a question.

He wanted to charge the women in the office with vacation time when there was an off site function.

He was a smoker who insisted discussions should be held out on the loading dock so he could smoke while telling us we were not doing our jobs right.

He was going to give me a low performance rating, and backed down when I told him I would call all our customers and ask for feedback.

Personally I'm non-violent, but some of us fantasized about using baseball bats on him in the parking lot (the rest of the office would have provided an alibi).

I hope he died alone and was buried in a shallow grave.
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Old 01-30-2009, 09:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harley View Post
The worst I ever had was when I worked in network security. The boss was a real bully (not to me, I wouldn't put up with it), using his power to control access and resolve problems (actually, to have us do it, he was a tech moron) to benefit his empire and cronies, while making his perceived enemies look bad. He was also very abusive to most of his subordinates, while being very deferential to the few of us that would call him on it. And he spent $100Ks, maybe even millions, of Megacorp dollars on the products of whichever vendors would take him out and spend the most money on him. He did finally get caught. Being Megacorp he wasn't fired, just put on the dreaded "Special Assignment" where he would never have any responsibility again.

The funny thing is that the entire time I worked for him I got great evaluations and bonuses whether I deserved them or not, because he wasn't a good enough manager to figure out if I was actually doing anything. Rather than risk a confrontation he just gave me good grades.
I had the same boss !!!!!! Among my responsibilities was the IT security officer. I also was very good at my job and completed a very difficult project showing the department and him in a very good light for which he never acknowledged my leadership.

In one staff meeting he started publicly flogging a colleague (verbally). I stood up and walked out saying that I'm not going to witness this.

He blocked my move to the USA lying to the senior manager who was supporting my move saying that I was happy where I was. However I found out about it and sent in a letter of resignation to his boss and to HR stating my reasons. Fortunately I got my move and he was later re-assigned in megacorp fashion to a dead end job.
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Old 01-30-2009, 10:15 PM   #8
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Let's see
One boss who was fired (not FIRE'd) last year because a vendor put his kickbacks into the contract instead of doing it on the side.
Another who would go around praying for everyone (even the Jews and Catholics) that they would find salvation. He would also hold conversations in the break room with the TV.
Another one who got pissed at a rental car company and smashed the car into something on purpose. He lost the lawsuit.
Then there were the others who friends worked for but thankfully, I did not.
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:08 PM   #9
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One reason I'm looking forward to ER is that after 25 years in essentially the same occupation I'm getting really tired of having to train new bosses - then having them turn on me after they've learned what they need to know.

It seems the longer I've been around the less knowledgeable each new boss who walks in the door seems to be. That's just age I guess.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:47 AM   #10
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Let's see
One boss who was fired (not FIRE'd) last year because a vendor put his kickbacks into the contract instead of doing it on the side.
Another who would go around praying for everyone (even the Jews and Catholics) that they would find salvation. He would also hold conversations in the break room with the TV.
Another one who got pissed at a rental car company and smashed the car into something on purpose. He lost the lawsuit.
Then there were the others who friends worked for but thankfully, I did not.
I would love to see that line item.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:59 AM   #11
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I guess I've been lucky. There were a couple who were definitely "half a bubble off center" but none who were completely wacko or mean-spirited.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:27 AM   #12
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I worked for an elected official in Harris County, Tx. This man was very popular with the voters, had a great 'horse' laugh, and was generally thought of as a 'great guy to work for'. However, he was without a doubt one of the worse person I have ever worked with or for. He had a hair temper, almost anything would set him off. He was actually mean. He would insult people. He would make unreasonable demands of people because he knew they needed a job and would not quit. I know not of a single employee that was remosrful when he departed. An absolute Jeckle and Hyde.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:29 AM   #13
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In my 35 year work life after college, I had 2 two year stints where I 'worked for a jerk'. The last one was just a micro manager who rewrote everything I sent him. I was one of the few in the office that got on with him because I figured out the thing to do is send him *a lot* of information all the time. He knew what I was doing and I could prove it. I would have quit if I were near retirement age yet I got outstanding reviews from him, better than the nice managers I worked for.
The real looney was my civilian boss while working for the US Navy in the UK. The guy was so crazy that he caused a couple nervous breakdowns and I would be next. Right out of the Caine Mutiny. Actually that bad. The military CO was relieved of his command and he was really competent. Finally the boss flipped enough that he went running down the street without his cloths. Rather than create an international incident the UK police threw a blanket over him and the USN guys escorted him to his house, packed his bags and put him on the next fight out. We had a going away party and did not invite him.
While this era was traumatic to my psyche I later thrived in *difficult* office circumstances. Sometimes it is true that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:28 AM   #14
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My list is way too long for bizarre bosses.
Quite a few were of the "try to make the girlz cry" type. Only in their wildest dreams would that ever happen...
My edge over these nuts was that I would use the ol' "go placidly among the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence" method. No matter how hard they punched my buttons or how much I was fuming inside, I would not respond in kind. All they got was a very superior smile. Then I would ask them if they were having a really bad day.
Once they realized I could not be provoked, I would usually end the conversation with "Are we finished now? I have too many tight deadlines waiting for me." I have to admit I enjoyed driving them crazy.
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:44 PM   #15
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Working as the sole older, heterosexual, male speech therapist of my last set of contract jobs before I FIREd, I was routinely bullied and denigrated by a series of hair-trigger, hyper-feminist types. Nothing I did was any good -- my documentation was always bad -- I called attention to myself and the job by typing my reports (when all the others used 'beautiful' calligraphic-type longhand).

At one point, right after I married (to a lovely African-American woman, who is DW), and had the pictures of the wedding published in the local newspaper, the other female-feminist staff came to my current boss and said, "either he goes, or we do." She backed down and fired me, thus forever making herself subordinate to the whims of her staff members. I left, ROTFLMWAO (rolling on the floor, laughing my white ass off).

At this point, we are LBYM off our investments, while (I've checked), the others are still w**king.
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Old 01-31-2009, 06:06 PM   #16
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I've had two really good bosses and way too many bad bosses. Worst thought you should stay at work until he left (although he came in at 9 AM because of his commute "to avoid the traffic") but expected everyone else to come in before 8. Loved to have meetings with his group to discuss company problems, get our input then use them as his idea. Also, every report we wrote had to have his review and he would change one word in a 2 - 3 page report and then send it out as his report. HR department knew from all the turnover he had but did nothing.
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:41 PM   #17
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Sure, I've had five of them.

The U.S. Navy's submarine force is a pretty inbred small group. When I was at a five-month department-head school trying to get orders to Hawaii (to be stationed with my spouse) the assignment officer kept switching me from one boat to another depending on emerging vacancies. After the fourth or fifth phone call I started taking his plans with a grain of salt.

So the latest call came in, and I let my spouse know: "NEW YORK CITY. Weapons Officer. The CO is a guy named Tom Travis. I'll believe it when I actually have orders in hand."

A couple days later she was at a training conference full of submarine officers & enlisted. Several knew we were married and asked her if I had orders yet. She said "Yep, NYC with CAPT Travis. What do you know about him?"

The whole room fell silent. Then everybody changed the subject.

I had been given the orders because I was the next available dept head candidate. I actually relieved the Acting Weapons Officer. The ol' Weps had awakened one morning coughing up blood and had turned himself in for a psychiatric evaluation. He'd had some trouble dealing with "Tom the Terrible" and Travis had implemented his typical "perform or fail" leadership policy. Travis always won that contest.

I actually learned a tremendous amount of warfighting from Travis, as well as how to run a department. But I realized that it was going to be a tough tour during my first week when he threw a karate backfist at the nose of one of my chief petty officers. (He pulled the punch. But if you've ever had a karate yell unexpectedly explode in your ear, it leaves a psychic scar.) I got along with him OK but his reputation for being a difficult person to deal with flavored every conversation.

If Travis ever read this post, he'd nod his head in agreement.

My next CO received his command screening on the sixth of five boards. (That is not a typo.) He didn't teach me much, but from him I learned how to look out for myself and my people-- because he was not fulfilling the latter role. He was not only offensive in many ways (foul-mouthed, homophobic, binge drinker) but scary/explosive under pressure. Unpredictably unstable. We did not get along. Fitness reports from this guy were interpreted in two ways: people who deserved extra bonus points for serving under him, or people who he might have made too dangerous to promote. I eventually moved from the latter category to the former.

My next two bizarre supervisors were my immediate boss and his boss. My immediate boss was a control freak and a mind-gamer. He's the one who'd call you into the office at 5 PM Friday (or 11 AM Saturday) to "go over the to-do list". That generally took at least an hour because you sat there while he talked with others, used the phone, or told sea stories before getting around to you. We didn't get along. He was unable to say "No" to higher authority and felt that he had an infinite amount of staff time to spend on any project. In his defense, such as it is, he had major painful physical medical problems that frequently left him unable to devote his attention to the job. The chain of command was sympathetic to his problems and accomodated his needs, in my opinion to the detriment of his subordinates. I routinely worked 60-hour weeks on shore duty with duty-officer phone calls throughout the night. Some of it was the nature of the job, but the majority of it was my office's leadership.

As unpleasant a PHB as he was, he was better than his boss. His boss was a likable guy who also couldn't say "No", and who could only respond to tasking after it had degenerated into a crisis. All drafts would disappear into his office for weeks with no response until they had to be finished "that night"-- literally. I had several evenings in his office reviewing draft briefing slides after 11 PM. He was the worst possible type of boss-- married to a wife who didn't want to spend time with him, no kids, no interests other than work, and expecting to make flag officer if he could just work a little longer and try to do a little more. But he relaxed by engaging you in long conversations about golf and football-- on your his time.

By the time I was working for these two, spouse and I had started a family. These two were definitely not family-friendly bosses and they showed me that this conflict would not get better. I was not at my best behavior with them, but we were so fundamentally different on so many levels that we couldn't understand or accomodate each other-- let alone cooperate.

I had many good bosses before & after those four. I don't know why they were clustered together during five years in the middle of my career. They taught me that it's much better to make your own plans, and do what makes you happy, than to blissfully follow the Navy's Officer Career Guide.

My "favorite bizarre boss" was an O-5 who knew his career was over and had already mentally retired. He'd wander off on his own projects for weeks and do nothing of the training command's minimum cyclic routine. Paperwork would disappear into his office for months and he'd literally lose it in a credenza that was six feet long, four feet high, and packed with months of daily paper. He knew little of training bureaucracy and cared less. When people began to complain, I actually e-mailed him that I would no longer send him anything that was routine or favorable-- and I'd only give him a copy of the problems, not the originals. He never said yes or no. From then on I routed around him, and no one ever complained (including him) about the arrangement.

He kvetched one day, though, when I interrupted a meeting in his office with a minor crisis. The meeting was his study group for his law school, and he was offended that his/my work had intruded on their train of thought... so I never bothered him with anything again!

About a year before I retired we had an encore. The bad boss with the physical issues was the only qualified/available officer in the Navy's entire submarine force who would volunteer to take orders to our command. (The assignment officer literally asked everyone else on the long list before him.) By this time I had my own retirement orders and absolutely no fear. (The XO knew both of us and our history and kept us well separated.) If that boss's request wasn't specifically mentioned in the UCMJ then I didn't worry about it. The boss either didn't want to deal with me again or he could sense my attitude, so we spent very little time with each other. I retired shortly before him and embarked upon my own best vengeance of "living well".

All my bizarre bosses have gone on to bridge careers and I don't know if they'll ever be able to turn it off. They'll have insurmountable problems when they have to stop being bosses and start being human beings again.

While these five were in my chain of command and pretty bad, I've known dozens of others who were even worse-- but luckily not within my chain of command. However the stories were legendary.

Believe it or not our kid still wants to join the "family business". Perhaps like many teenagers she's not really listening to our sea stories, or maybe she thinks it'll be different for her!
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:42 AM   #18
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Working as the sole older, heterosexual, male speech therapist of my last set of contract jobs before I FIREd, I was routinely bullied and denigrated by a series of hair-trigger, hyper-feminist types. Nothing I did was any good -- my documentation was always bad -- I called attention to myself and the job by typing my reports (when all the others used 'beautiful' calligraphic-type longhand).

At one point, right after I married (to a lovely African-American woman, who is DW), and had the pictures of the wedding published in the local newspaper, the other female-feminist staff came to my current boss and said, "either he goes, or we do." She backed down and fired me, thus forever making herself subordinate to the whims of her staff members. I left, ROTFLMWAO (rolling on the floor, laughing my white ass off).

At this point, we are LBYM off our investments, while (I've checked), the others are still w**king.
Been there; done that. Worked with a bunch of feminist whose everyday number one task was not getting the work done but rather looking for reasons to confirm any subjugation and denigration. Hm...I was the poor grad student going to work on a bicycle in the middle of the winter in Michigan. If I was subjugating anyone, I wasn't doing too hot a job.

You might think the above is a knock on feminists. It's not. I have worked with a bunch of Mormons. While great people, they tend to look at anyone 25 and not married with 5 kids as some kind of weirdo. I have also worked with a bunch of super techies whose daily victories come from talking out of their asses about technical crap that have no impact on reality. Sometimes the crap is purely made up to see if you'd call their bluff. Basically you get enough similar people together who have no check or contact with external reality, you get a self-confirming reality, and anyone else whose view doesn't conform to that "reality" becomes as a pariah.

Wait, you got canned because you married an African American woman? How is that a sin in the feminist bible?
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:59 AM   #19
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I understand Scooter's and Bun's frustration with certain bosses, but please, "feminist" isn't a bad word. It doesn't mean to hate men or to assume that something bad happening is due to the fact you are a woman or a man. I wish the word feminist wasn't turning into an insult. Feminist is supposed to mean a person who is concerned about the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.

Sorry, end of rant. Being both a liberal and feminist it kind of bugs me that both terms now carry so much baggage.
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:10 AM   #20
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My worst boss ever was a woman, a crazy person who I swear hired people just to do psychological experiments on them. I lasted 54 days, and was the 9th person to quit in those 54 days. She'd been in business for about 4 years and my employee number was 300 and something! Yikes!

I still have nightmares, but it was such a great feeling to walk out of there, no job on the horizon, just knowing that wherever I was going, it would be better than one more day there. I was but a pup of 23, but it was then that I knew FIRE was in my future, because I'd never be willing to put up with crap just to get a check.

At another company, the big boss' wife suddenly appeared one day, the first day after Labor Day, and announced she'd be taking over my boss' office, and running his department. We started the clock ticking and both of us lasted until October 15th. He got canned, and I walked out. Still a good friend, that man. And I hope that she chokes on her lipstick one day!
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