Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Tale of Poor Management

Everyone who has ever had a job has had a bad boss, it's a given. And usually the worse the job the worse the boss. I was first introduced to the world of poor management when I started my working life at the minimum age in my state, 14 years and 9 months.

My father has always been big on the phrase "if you don't have a job then you're a drain on society" so despite my wishes to watch Pokemon and Wrestling, I was forced to trudge the 2km walk to work every Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon to earn my 6 dollars an hour. The job itself wasn't hard, just monotonous, as all grocery store jobs are.

Like Jim from The Office I did the minimum amount of required work in order to stay just above being fired, and that's the way I liked it. I started on checkouts, standing up for 6 hours isn't for everyone, and it certainly wasn't for me, so when I got recorded as the slowest checkout operator ever to work there they moved me to shelf stacking, where I was in my element.

You see, I'm an organisation freak, I love stacking things and sorting my goods into perfect order. If you ever glanced at my "xxx" file on my computer you'd find I have an intricate filing system to maximise masturbatory efficiency.

I was king of the "face up", where every night we went up and down the aisles, relocating misplaced goods, and stacking everything up so it looked like the shelves were fully stocked. I was always in the tinned foods aisles, I freaking loved stacking tins....

I probably could have picked my lifelong career then and there, as back in my early days "aiming high" wasn't in my vocabulary. Luckily for me however, my boss was a complete and utter tool.

Nigel was a man in his mid 40's, worked out at the gym enough to have a body most mid40's men didn't, a combination of muscle and sag. And he sported a long greasy ponytail, which I assume was a deep brown colour when he started it, but by the time I met him the end of the long length of hair was dead and grey.

Nigel was your typical middle aged man trying to act half his age. He would brag about women he'd pick up, and yammer on about the nightclubs and fights he got into there. To any other 14yr old boy I'd assume Nigel would be some sort of hero and cool dude to look up to. But to me Nigel was nothing more than a sad old man trying to capture his wasted youth.

He was also a big fan of jokes, really really stupid jokes. And being the boss I wasn't sure if I was supposed to laugh or tell him his jokes were stupid... I tried the latter and coincidentally I was working the night shift for the next two weeks.

But all in all Nigel did what he was supposed to, and that was work hard and get the young kids to do the shitty jobs. And although he was a failure as a person, he was perfectly fine for a shift boss. He just happened to be an unfunny douche bag who took naps in the storage closet and made a song about milk using only the word milk.

The next horrible boss I had was a guy named Wayne when I worked a thrilling 2 days as a telemarketer during a brief unemployed stint in my life. Wayne was the type of person who had a really shitty job to begin with, but he was in his element in that turd. Wayne was the self proclaimed messiah of telemarketing, and was convinced you could call people at work or home, and sell them a holiday.

To quote his introductory speech to the new batch of recruits: "this fucking holiday.. is a fucking good deal, if I wasn't too fucking busy selling fucking holidays I'd fucking buy one".

In all honesty the holiday was reasonably cheap, but it was to a place I've never heard of and the limitations were annoying, you had to pay for the holiday on your credit card, but couldn't go on it for at least 4 months, and it was for 4 or 2 adults and 2 children plus it had to take place on a weekend in March when the moon was full after a virgin sacrifice to Ra, the sun god, was made.

Wayne loved to swear, and intimidate, he was in the position where he knew 75% of all new recruits would give up by the end of the week, so he decided the best course of action was to cut formalities and treat everyone like shit, which was a bad move for Wayne because my wife was one of the new recruits too. And she was one of the people selected for a berating when she couldn't follow the poorly spelt and grammatically incorrect "script" we were to read from, that went along the lines of this.

"Hello, I'm of here to sell you a holiday"
*please wait 3 seconds for confirmation from answerer or the phone being slammed down*
"This is a great deal, oh wow I wish I could buy this deal, it's for for to .
*please wait 3 seconds for confirmation from answerer or the phone being ripped out of the socket*
It only costs on your credit card *avoid most details till we have their card number*

It was a stupid script that reeked of scam, and once he had a go at about 7 people, the missus included, I decided that this job was not for me and every second Wayne wasn't near me I altered the script to something a bit more forward:

"G'day, I'm selling cheap holidays, want one?"

I sold 4 holidays using the Tom method, I should be a fucking marketer.

At that point in my life I had gone through 5 jobs, and the 2 I enjoyed the least were the 2 with bad bosses. I didn't think about the connection for a while but it took 1 more job to help me see the light.

It was my last semester at university and I had recently proposed to my fiance, we were living together in a little house and I had just finished a contract with not a bad boss, but an incompetent moron who liked to "fudge" financial numbers and "forgot" to tell me that tax wasn't taken out of my pay. So the government hit me with a chunky bill which my student centrelink payments couldn't afford.

I went in search of work to all manner of places, and was turned down mostly because of my university hours and age, why hire a 22yr old when you can hire a 15yr old for nearly half the pay?

On the bus to uni I noticed a sign makers business that had changed their sign slightly to say "we do web design!" and I thought "hell yeah", I rang them up, and although they weren't hiring I managed to bombard them with a sexy resume and a can-do attitude and got a position as a graphic designer / sign installer.

The boss was a weasel from the get go. Let's call him Bob.

On my first day Bob hit me up with a 40 page contract which outlined the following
- The position I was being paid for had no set "award" and therefore he could pay me whatever the fuck he wanted
- He decided to pay me 2 dollars less than what I'd earn as a new recruit at McDonald's
- My position was classed as "casual" yet required me to work 8.5 hours a day, 6 days a week
- because I was casual I was not entitled to holidays or sick days
- Lunch was 20 minutes and I must eat lunch in the lunch room, which was a corner in the office with 2 chairs facing each other, making every lunch uncomfortable and awkward.

Did I mentioned that when I worked on weekends I wasn't being paid for it? Bob sent me to a "mandatory" public speaking class so I could "interact with clients better", and he paid for it, but I had to work to pay him back. He also paid for a year long gym membership for me because I had to lose weight, I don't really know why I had to though.. but I had to work to pay back that too.

So from the get go Bob shot up to the top of the list of bad bosses. He was controlling little weasel of a man who squeezed the life out of me, I wanted to quit, but there was a lack of jobs in the area at the time, and I was juggling my job with uni and my soon to be married life.

Working at the sign place wasn't a complete drag, when he left me alone (he had a habit of looking over my shoulder when I worked) I managed to belt out some decent designs that the clients loved, and I also started working with a high school kid on the Saturdays who is now one of my closest friends. we had laughs at times, but most of them were nervous "laugh or you might get fired" laughs.

* Let me take a break from this article.. I'm sitting on the train writing and the woman behind me is slurping from a milk carton.. a fucking 1 litre milk carton... STOP FUCKING SLURPING, YOU'RE 60 YEARS OLD NOT 4. SHE'S BEEN SLURPING FOR 10 MINUTES NOW, IT SOUNDS LIKE A LIZARD TAKING A SHIT*

About 4 months into my job I began to see a side in Bob that was a tad creepy, I had heard he had a string of former employees that left for reasons unknown, when I asked why he didn't answer and dodged the question, especially when I asked about a former female employee.

It all started one day when this guy who sometimes worked with us on sign installs rang up and asked if I wanted a job with him, I didn't really know the guy so I was a bit hesitant, he was a nice guy but worked about 25km's out from where I lived and I didn't own a car at the time. When I told Bob he rang I was ordered to never talk to him again and not to let him into the building.

A few days later we all received an email saying that this guy had talked to a previous female employee, and now he knew "all Bob's dirty little secrets". At first I thought nothing of it, and put it down to the guy trying to piss Bob off.. but as the weeks went on more and more came to light.

Two weeks later Bob was talking about hiring some new staff and asked if I could clean up his old computer to prepare it for a new employee, While I was uninstalling some crap off the machine I browsed the net, went to some news websites etc, and the Internet explorer crashed when I was reading an interesting article. So when I reloaded the browser I went into the history tab to find that article and instead found something much more interesting... 99% of all the websites in the history tab were pornographic websites. And after a small amount of searching I found an epic stash of pornography on the hard drive.

While browsing for porn isn't illegal, it's just unprofessional, and a few days later when I came to him with a new client project I noticed he had porn open on his machine as he fumbled to close the window. I pretended I didn't notice but inside I was starting to get a little bit creeped out, after sign installs he'd sometimes walk around without a shirt on, and we were the only 2 people there.. and he's definitely not the type of person who can get away with being shirtless.

My limit was reached one Thursday afternoon when Bob and his wife came to me, and asked if I would mind if they installed a security camera to watch the new female employees, because apparently one of the last employees, a female, sued Bob for sexual harassment and he didn't do anything. After everything I found and witnessed though, I was more than sure he was capable of something like that.

I managed to track down the girl and find out her story, Bob had taken her to a conference in a city and given the distance from home he had set up a hotel room for the night, with 2 beds as you'd assume. She went to bed when he was in the shower, and 10 minutes later she found herself in bed with a hairy short man in his underwear, at which point she freaked out and ran out of the hotel to sleep in his car. The next day Bob kicked her out, gave her money for the train, and left her there. And fired her 2 days later citing a "conflict of interest".

Around that time I had graduated, and using my fancy new degree I managed to land a job in a much better field of programming, being paid more than double with full time benefits. I told Bob I was going to the doctors one afternoon, and never came back.

All names have been changed for legal reasons.