Bosses From Hell

January18/ 2000

…Kid’s latest “favorite show” is The Office.  Of course for her it’s a “sit com”.  For you and me it’s a “documentary”.  If you’ve watched it you know.  It is a trainwreck but you can’t look away from it.  The horror is not that you “know each character” … you know a DOZEN examples of each character…. It got me thinking about “The Chainsaw Massacre” known as my life in Corporate America.  WARNING: The following column contains graphic violence and adult situations (but no nudity!).

    Over 20 years in the corporate trenches I was on both sides of “the corner office”.  You probably think you are “a great manager”. You consider yourself an OUTSTANDING albeit under-appreciated employee.  You also think you have “common sense” and “a great sense of humor”.  Everybody thinks they do.  ME … I finally admitteded in my mid 40s that I could neither “be managed” nor could I “manage others”.  And there is NOTHING common about my sense. When I eventually bailed on corporate America, I had three career options … Bedouin, Internet Rogue, or Bounty Hunter  I am into the 2nd of the 3.

     I was the Terrell Owens of the workplace.  My “unique talent” was a given, but so was my terminally irreverant attitude.  Rolling your eyes and sighing REALLY loudly in meetings WILL get you noticed in Corporate America.  Trust me I know. ……  Just a few examples from my corporate “rap sheet” …

    1982 – New Orleans LA – Fairmont Hotels National Sales Meeting.  The Owner-CEO was in a VERY foul mood.  He wanted someone’s head on a platter “just because”.  My GM calls me in.  These were desperate times.  “BobLee come up with “something” or it’s gonna get bloody in Friday’s meeting.”  No problemo El bosso.  

    I redid our entire Annual Report presentation incorporating two “exotic dancers”, a boxing ring, the theme from Rocky, a sack of flour and a midget – “Midgets, Music & Long-legged Women”.  No one got fired.  The owner put the moves on one of the strippers and the midget stole a sterling silver water pitcher.  Six months later I quit to move to Las Hadas Mexico and pretend I was Magnum P.I. for a year.  I wasn’t cut out for Corporate America.

    I’ve been “a boss” several times including my own companies.  I wanted everyone to “like me” so you can imagine how ill-fated those ventures were.  “Best case” of “bad bossing” was a young man I hired for a field position back in ’92.  Two weeks into his “career” he was to go on a job in Delaware.  He brings me a form to sign – from his parole officer, allowing him to leave the state.  “Trafficking in stolen property” and I forget what all else … but he “was framed” OF COURSE.   My keen “people skills” came thru again.  

 STORMIN’ NORMAN:  If your name is Norm or Norman you have two choices.  Hearing that “NORM” shout whenever you walk into a room.  Or be “Stormin’ Norman” implying you have a hot temper.  This Norm was the “hot tempered” type but he wasn’t really.  He was actually shy and had even worse “people skills” that I do.  His weekly staff meetings were “classic”.  

    Twenty-five of us in a u-shaped assembly.  A screen in the open end and Norm’s beloved overhead projector at the other end.  Is ANYTHING more mind-numbing than going over a “P&L”.  It’s 8:30 AM, the lights are turned down except for the eerie glow from the projector and Norm is waving his little baton at itty-bitty numbers on a screen.  I still have indentions on the back of my hand where I would stab myself with a mechanical pencil to stay awake. I wasn’t cut out for Corporate America.

 WILD BILL:  This coulda been THE coolest job ever –  Director of Marketing for an Old West Theme Park.  The staff dressed up like old west characters and acted in skits.  I was a “Maverick” riverboat gambler.  My death scene was falling out of a 2nd story window into a hay wagon.  Wanna get “hit on” by lots of secretaries at their company picnic?  Dress up like a riverboat gambler and carry a Colt 45 on your hip.  

    The two owners were Bill and Terry.  Terry was a great guy. Real crazy sense of humor.  He and Bill split up acrimoniously three months into my involvement.  Terry’s parting words to me were “Don’t trust that lying son-of-a-bitch.”  Such words usually have some basis in fact.  

   Bill was also a stereotype – a pathological liar.  He had two loyal stooges who he either paid very well or he was holding their parents hostage somewhere.  These sweethearts would rifle your desk drawer at night and/or make up stuff that you might have said.

   Bill never paid ANY bills.  Claiming every vendor was crooked, he forged descrepancies in invoices, delaying them 120 days minimum.  He prefered small vendors unlikely to have legal representation.  If you owed him money it was expected IN ADVANCE prior to delivery of shoddy merchandise or poor service.  I quit before his flunkies could frame me.  As I walked out, three satellite trucks pulled up from local TV stations.  Bill had 62 outstanding judgements against him and the local consumer reporters were shooting b-roll for the 6 o’clock news.    

   Bill’s wife was very pretty and dumber than a box of rocks.  Totally clueless that “her Billy” was THE Shyster Prince of Dallas.  Being the primo shyster in Dallas was no small achievement.  When the “RePo Man” snatched her Benz she fainted in the driveway.  Don’t you hate it when that happens? I wish Terry and I had been there to see it. 


BobLee was on WPTF 680AM Monday-8-9AM discussing

The Derm Mess and Michelle Wie- A HOOT & a HOTTIE!

A topic pairing you don’t get everyday!


 FRANK THE DRUNK:  You had to like Frank, sort of.  He couldn’t care less how the business was doing.  The day before the quarterly owners meeting he would “cook the books” and make a list of bogus excuses all of which ended with “but we’ve got a handle on that now and it shouldn’t be a problem in the future”.  They would express concerns but wanted to believe him.  They did – for about four months.  

   Frank’s routine was arrive around 9-ish, leave by 11:00 for “lunch” which often consumed the rest of the day.  “Consumed”, the key word.  He “called in sick’ A LOT.  

   The owner and his auditors hit us with a surprise audit.  Frank’s goose was cooked … dead meat albeit well marinated.  I knew he would do the “noble thing” – expect ME to “fall on their sword”.  I called the Mizzus, did she really like living in New England all that much.  “How bout we move back to Texas?”  I had no local connections for strippers nor any midget I could muster.  Luckily Frank came apart like a cheap suit in a rainstorm.  A 52 year-old man having the DTs at 10 AM is a sight you don’t forget.

   They escorted blubbering Frank out and asked me “can you run this place?”  Compared to Frank, Dick Baddour’s lawn jockey could have “run the place”.  I said “sure” and promptly called my friendly headhunter – “GET ME OUTTA HERE!”  I wasn’t cut out for Corporate America.

… Over 30-some years and even with incredible technology advances, the evolution of the Bad Boss continues.  The Galapagos tortoise of the American workplace.  He/she will survive technology, cyanide in the water cooler, and a drive-by shooting in the company parking lot. 

   That aforementioned stint in Las Hadas was about the best,  A “roguish bearded gringo with a mysterious past” who knew eight words in Spanish.  My “boss” was back in the states, I had no one to supervise.  If they had let me carry a Colt 45 on my hip it would have been about perfect … but no job is perfect – RIGHT?  That’s why they call it “work” and have to pay you to do it.


What Baby Boomer classic movie was filmed at Las Hadas?  

Hint: a  “cornrowed hottie” ran on a beach. 

BLS Sez:  Never nonchalantly brush your hand along a dental hygienist’s leg … when she has a sharp instrument in your mouth.


    All TV and movie telephone #s have a 555 prefix because there is no 555 prefix and therefore a real number can not be called by no-life pervs who apparently run right home and call movie telephone numbers.  Wonder why they do that?

    Help me here. If I write a goofball column saying “Chuck Amato has webbed feet” … it will get immediately linked on some cyber urinal and draw 1,000s of extra views and some drive-by f-bombers, etc.  …. …. Conversely, I write a provocative column on Chancellors. It gets a relatively modest number of views but it gets sent to some quite notable and influential guys and gals around the country who are calling Mr Swagger “America’s Next Will Rogers”.  Gee, wonder what kind of columns we will be writing more of?

    More Deaths in UNC Football Family … Former Crum Asst Randy Walker – HFC at Northwestern, dies of heart attack.  He had done a fine job in Evanston. … AND … Dennis Stepnowski, a former player under Mack Brown at UNC, was killed-in-action as a DeKalb County GA Police SWAT team officer. …. Aye Zigga Zoomba – Billy Hickman, Randy Walker, and Dennis Stepnowski …

    In yet another whizbang “landmark decision” the US Supreme Court ruled today that all Gitmo “detainees” (1) be granted membership in Augusta National Golf Club … (2) be given front row center seats for Lion King on Broadway … AND be allowed to yell “Fire” in the middle of the performance… and (3) be provided 40 acres of “prime bottom land” and a mule.  Simultaneously in the Afghanistan highlands, 126,340 “fighters” surrendered, demanding to be sent to Gitmo immediately before all the good seats are taken.

   Meanwhile in Indianapolis … NCAA votes to keep March Madness at 65 teams meaning 150+ coaches who don’t qualify for “post season play” might not be as good as the ones who do.  In a related move, the NCAA might add 56 more stoopid  “bowl games” so 112 mediocre football coaches will not have to become CarMax associates.  ……… Myles Brand, alarmed about all the “good pub” about Omaha, is considering moving the CWS to Crenshaw High School in South Central LA. …………… Say Good Night, Gracie.

Want to e-mail BobLee?

[email protected]

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x