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Boss #1 - circa 1999: I worked at a specialty retail store for about six months. MM was the main manager of the store. She micromanaged everyone except her pets (3 or 4). She would occasionally walk through the store and if everything on a shelf wasn't totally perfect, she would sweep everything off the shelf onto the floor and leave it for one of us to redo. She even did it for the tiniest things, such as something being crooked or something on a shelf where it didn't belong. You know how customers are, so about half of the inventory was usually on the floor. She'd put you on the schedule for a certain amount of time, then make you work longer. One shift, I and a few other employees were kept two hours after closing because she decided she wanted the store deep cleaned. She required that all days off had to be requested two weeks in advance, no exceptions (except for her pets). That led to people being fired for missing shifts over things that can't be predicted that far in advance, like illness or funerals.

All of the female employees were trained to work the cash register but after a few months whenever certain employees got on, we would be asked to go clean something or work in the back room with the guys. I found out later that MM had come up with a new "guideline" saying that the cashiers, the ones who worked with customers the most, had to meet a certain "aesthetic standard". Now I don't know what the actual standard was, whether it was looks, clothes, weight, etc. but I was one of the ones who didn't make the grade.

That summer, I was invited by a family friend who lived out of town to spend the 4th of July weekend at her place. I put in my request to get off a month ahead of time and it was accepted. The day before I was to leave, MM posted the schedule and I was scheduled to work on July 4th. I reminded her that she had said that I could have that weekend off. She replied, "We need at least six employees to work that day and all but five people asked off so I had to rescend one request," and walked away. I found out that one of her pets had asked for the day off a couple of days earlier. So while my family was out of town, I was working from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on July 4th and spending the weekend alone. The part that made me the angriest was that while I was there, one person came in. His cookout had run out of paper plates and he needed to buy more. I found out from another employee that he was the only customer they had that day. And of course, MM did not work that day. The lowliest assistant manager was stuck there from open to close.

The last straw(s) came when one evening I arrived for my shift and before I had even clocked in, MM told me that I needed to start cleaning the store and that it would take all shift because it hadn't been cleaned the night before. What? And they got to go home? A glance at the schedule showed that the employees working the night before were all her pets. Of course. So I spent the entire shift cleaning, doing put-backs, etc. A short time after that, I showed up and MM handed me a razor blade, a bottle of Windex, and a roll of paper towels and told me to clean all the tape of the front store window (which was about 8 feet tall and 40 feet long). She added that there was a ladder that I could stand on to get the top of the window clean.

Finally, I decided to quit. I was sick of being treated like crap, I had back pain from the constant lifting, standing in one place, etc., and I was only being paid minimum wage to do it. I put in my two week notice at the beginning of one of my shifts. About an hour later, MM told me to clock out. As I did so, I noticed that my name and the rest of my shifts had been scratched out on the schedule, as well as for the next week. She then walked me out the door.

Bosses #2 and #3 - circa 2000-2003: Boss #2, MW, hired me. When I started there, I was taking the semester off from school in order to earn some money. He was a phony, the kind of person who acted nice but was really a nasty jerk. He was also arrogant, self-righteous, and thought he was perfect but I found out later that he was a big old hypocrite. One day, a girl was telling us about a car accident she'd had and he started lecturing her about being a better driver. She pointed out that it had been the other driver's fault and he said it didn't matter, she could have avoided it if she'd been a more defensive driver. Then he talked about how he was 50 years old and had never had a car accident. A guy got a lecture when he asked for more hours because he'd gotten his girlfriend pregnant and needed extra money. MW bragged that he'd always been responsible, that he'd never had kids but got married anyway, and had been married to the same woman for 20-something years. Well, a short time later, I was helping another manager (female) with the payroll. MW didn't do that stuff because it was "women's work". I had to file some papers in everyone's files, including MW's. There was a letter from the IRS in his file. It said that they were garnishing his paycheck...for child support for a boy born ten years earlier to another woman. Welllll.... ^_^

I managed to fly under MW's radar for the most part, until I went back to school and needed my hours to be more flexible. I went from working full-time to 1/2-3/4 time. He acted like he was cool about it but he wasn't, and was really passive-aggressive about it. I managed to have most of my work days and school days separate, except one day where I worked during the day and went to class in the evening. He would do things like find things at the very last minute of my shift and tell me that he needed me to do it now or that there was no one else available to do it, which wasn't true. It was often something that took so long that I'd either be late for my class or I'd miss it completely. I went from a strong would-have-been-easy A in that class to barely scraping by with a B because I missed so much. At the end of the semester, I asked to have my hours cut for final exams. I made it clear that it was just for exam week, but MW pretended that he thought I'd meant permanently and said that he couldn't give me any more hours without cutting someone else's hours. I'd been cut from 20-30 hours a week to about 8. So I quit...temporarily.

I went back when I found out that MW had been fired by the owner. Apparently, he had a major drinking problem and came to work drunk one day. Not only that, the water bottle he always carried was actually his vodka bottle. I found out he got another job -- as a food delivery driver! =8-O Shortly after that, a woman who lived in his neighborhood began working there. She told me that he was a jerk and when she'd been looking for a job, he'd recommended working there, but she didn't want to work with him. And she didn't know about MW's extramarital child -- and neither did his wife.

So when MW got fired, a couple of the employees were promoted to replace him. One of them was BH. I got the feeling he couldn't handle the position because he went from a nice, cheerful guy to a stressed-out grouch, and he developed a serious anger management problem. He'd get mad when we ask him a question about the job, and yell at us that he didn't have time to answer that and we should know already. Then when we didn't ask him and we turned out to be wrong, he'd yell at us for not asking. One day he got so angry about something that he threw a chair across the room. I quit shortly after that.

Boss #4 - circa 2007: Technically, CB wasn't my boss, but she had some authority over me. Now I got along with FR, the main manager, who was my true boss, and I got along really well with MC, the office manager. I actually got along with CB as well. She was the administrative assistant and sat at the front desk. I worked there three years and the final year I worked there, MC decided to quit. She got a nice sendoff from everyone. CB was promoted to replace her. She moved into MC's old office and I ended up working the front desk (even though I was hired for someone completely different). CB was glad for the office manager position, but she seemed to want to still do her old job, which I was doing. She started breathing down my neck, nagging me about everything and doing my tasks before I got a chance to do them, then reprimanding me for not doing them (and if I hadn't done it, it was because I was doing another task or on my lunch break). Also, one of my duties was to deliver and pick up mail or packages from the post office or FedEx. She wouldn't say it outright, but she wanted me to do those things off the clock so I would be in the office for the full eight hours. Or she'd tell me I couldn't do something, I'd say that MC told me to do whatever I was doing and she'd respond, "Well, MC doesn't work here anymore, does she?"

Then she started getting passive-aggressive. She had this stupid filing system. If one of our business clients was Thingamajigs by John Doe, she'd file their folder under J for John, instead of T for Thingamajigs or even D for Doe. The Widget Company was filed under T for The. One day I switched all the folders around and filed them correctly. I went to lunch and when I got back, she had changed all the folders back! She'd e-mail all of her complaints to me, even though I was sitting next to her office and within earshot of her. And they would be petty things like,

  • You're taking too long to get the mail in the morning.
  • You need to turn your radio down (it would already be on the lowest level so the only way to go lower was to turn it off, then she thought I was getting an attitude).
  • You need to stop daydreaming.
  • You need to have a better attitude when dealing with clients.
and so on. I wonder why she didn't just say these things to me, then one day I inadvertantly found out that she was bcc-ing FR on all of those e-mails. That was two days before I got laid off. I'm sure it wasn't because of CB, because about 2/3 of the employees had been let go and a couple of months later, FR called me asking if I wanted to come back and offered me a promotion. I thought about it, then turned it down. I told her and everyone else that the 50-mile round trip and going through the tunnel was too much for me, but the truth is my nerves were frayed working with CB.
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January 2012

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