Most of the bosses I’ve known are reasonably fair-minded. Not perfect, of course, but definitely with their hearts in the right place. Some bosses, however, have a real mean streak that makes their employees miserable.
A while back, I co-hosted a radio program called “Funny Business.” We asked our listeners to tell us their “mean boss” stories. Here are the 10 that stood out.
1. Be Sure to Get Refundable Tickets
After I got engaged, I went to my boss to schedule time off for the wedding and honeymoon, which were still more than a year away. My boss said: “I don’t know if that’s a good time for you to take vacation days. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
2. Get Your Priorities Straight
My son was born very premature, the weekend before a big meeting for which I had been helping my boss prepare. On Monday, I came to work to tie up a few loose items, and to tell my boss about my son, who at that point was in the ICU.
Looking up from his screen, my boss said: “Don’t let your personal life interfere with your job. It can only hurt you professionally.”
3. Neatness Counts
I recently wrote a justification to buy a new PC. It had to be approved by my boss. Unhappy with my writing style, my boss rewrote the justification to show me how it should be done. After it was finally written properly, he turned it down.
4. I Love Rock and Roll
I was refused a raise by my boss, who said, “You’re already making more money than I was at your age.” It turns out that he spent his youth touring around the state playing guitar in a garage band, barely making enough to pay for food and gasoline.
When I pointed out that, rather than playing guitar, I had spent my youth getting a college degree and working in a high-tech job, he replied, “What’s your point?”
5. A Little Extra Motivation
My doctor advised me to lose a few pounds and get more exercise. After I mentioned this to my boss, he emailed me a “motivational” image of a fashion model babe with my face and hair. A month later, when I gave notice, he emailed me the image of a pig with my face on it.
6. Did I Forget to Mention?
On Monday, my boss approached me at 4 PM with an emergency assignment. He had an important meeting early the following morning and needed a new version of a 400-page document.
I worked all night, made the updates, and left the manual on his desk well after midnight. When I came to work the next morning, I asked his admin about the emergency meeting. She said: “He canceled it and took a vacation day.”
7. Exercise Is Good For You
Our boss asked me and my colleagues to spend two weeks preparing detailed building and capital improvement “wish lists” to plan our facility’s budget. When I asked when we might see the improvements, our boss said, “Oh—your wish lists are just that. Don’t expect anything you requested to actually get done. It was just an exercise!”
8. Don’t Ask
Our boss concluded a quarterly all-employee meetings by asking if there were any questions. Silence. He said, “I keep holding these meetings, and no one asks any questions. I would like someone to ask a question.”
One brave soul raised his hand and asked a question. The boss said, “Well, if you had been listening to what I just said, you would know the answer to your question. Next question.”
9. Ah! Now I Understand
Our company was running into financial difficulties so my boss asked me to work for half of my salary. I said, “Well, since I’m paid for 40 hours a week but working 80, I suppose I could work 40 hours a week and only get paid for only 20 of them.”
He said: “That’s not what I meant. I want you to work 80 hours a week, but I’m only going to pay you for 20 of them.”
10. Please Prioritize
My grandmother unexpectedly died from heart failure and I took off two days to go to her funeral. The day I got back, my mother called me to say my grandfather had died of grief. Obviously upset, I approached my boss and explained the situation. She said: “Unfortunately, you have no bereavement time left. You should have planned better.”
Readers: Can you top any of these stories? Leave a comment!
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