Toxic Managers: The Boss Isn't Always Right but He is Always the Boss



 From Goober, July 2016, 

The original owner and founder of my present employer (now retired) is an entrepreneur, and a classic Type A personality. Hard driven, and demanding as hell, but as demanding of himself as anyone else, and under it all, a decent human being. (Only Type A I've ever known who, when confronted with evidence he'd made a mistake, would just say, "You're right, I'm wrong, now go fix it." Mind you, he'd never apologize, but he'd admit he was wrong.) Let's call him Bill (because that's not his name).

So, we had this store manager who made assholes smell like cinnamon flavored unicorn farts. If someone did something wrong, or sometimes if they did something right, he'd threaten to hold them down and fart on their head. (He never pulled that shit with - or around - me, despite me being his assistant at the time, because I'd been around longer, and got on well with corporate. If I'd complained, it would have been taken seriously, and the California Labor Board likes to drag employers out into the parking lot for public executions. I don't like office politics, but that's not the same as not knowing how to play the game.) Let's call him Fred.
Displays sell merchandise, and while Fred had the leadership skills of a child molester in front of an angry mob of peasants with pitchforks and torches, he knew retail, so we always had working displays of novelty merchandise, like singing fish (remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? I wish I could forget), and we sold the hell out of them. (This is why I have a pathological hatred of all merchandise that makes noise. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Homer Simpson Talking Beer Opener.) Well, this particular year, one of the hot Christmas items was a "singing Christmas frog." Basically, a frog plushie with a sound chip. Push the little switch embedded in its little paw, and it plays the melody from "Jingle Bells" using various croaking sounds for a minute or two. It was cute, once, mildly amusing about twice more, and caused blind, murderous rage after that. And they sold like hotcakes, because we had a display. It was on an endcap next to the cash registers (where better to put impulse items?), and there were about a hundred of them. Fred would, several times a day, walk by, hit the switch on _every single one_, and walk away. If looks could kill, there wasn't a single cashier who would have avoided prison. Fred was an asshole. And everybody knew it.
But he was a smart asshole, and knew that everybody knew it, so he was only around for a year or two before he found another job, and gave two weeks' notice. A day or two before his last day, the most memorable Fred event occurred.
RHSEPT 259It was an El Niño year, and it was the heart of Wet Summer (Southern California has three seasons: Summer, Wet Summer, and Road Construction. Some years, we skip Wet Summer, which is usually January or February). On this particular day, it was raining so hard we could barely see the cars in the parking lot. It's the end of the day, and Bill is heading home. He gets to the front door, and stops, perhaps to contemplate whether or not we had everything in stock that he'd need to build an ark, and Fred walks up to stand beside him for a moment of companionable silence. Then offers the following words of wisdom:

"You'll be OK. Turds float."

I was truly surprised he wasn't tossed out of the store on the spot, even if he did only have a day or so left. Bill had mellowed as he got older. Or maybe he'd gotten rich enough to have a sense of humor surgically implanted.


But speaking of Bill, there was the day that the store manager (not Fred) in the fishbowl (the store where the corporate office is) got a comment from a customer about an employee who smelled of alcohol. The manager, very concerned, asked which one, and the customer pointed out Bill. "Well, you see, he's the owner, so he's allowed to do that." Customer thought that was perfectly reasonable. (Bill is the sort of guy who is absolutely incapable of walking by a customer who wants to give us money, and not stopping to see if he can convince them to give us more, whether he had a shot before he headed home or not.)


Carolanne 020And then there's Abe. Abe has true leadership skills, and his people generally like and respect him. But he's one of those people who can't turn a computer on and off without help, and literally can't read an error message off a monitor screen in front of him because "I don't know anything about computers." (I know this from experience - multiple times) Completely helpless with computers. So he was transferred to a different store. The morning he took over, he tries to ring up a sale, and corporate had forgotten to add his logon to the new store. Phone call, complete panic, and I didn't have the security at the time to fix it. "Have a cashier sign in for you, and <guy who can fix it> will be here shortly." Civilization ending catastrophe averted. A little while later, the receipt printer runs out of paper, and we're in the middle of cash register upgrades, and he hasn't seen the new model before that day. Another phone call, complete panic again. "Have a cashier show you how, they've done it a hundred times." (The new printers, it's a matter of open the cover, drop in the paper, close the cover. No feeding paper through slots you can't see, like the old ones.) Catastrophe averted again.

The next morning, I get an email from a customer complimenting him by name on his customer service. (We get at least ten times as many complaints as compliments, so this is notable.) We need to make sure he has an assistant who is computer savvy, but there are reasons why we keep Abe around.



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Retail Balls Awards: Hotel Customer Gets Told



From December, 2010:

The hotel manager in this story gets a Retail Balls Award for their swift and supportive action in dealing with a homophobic asshole customer:

Hey RHU,

It's Dan and I'm back at the Front Desk. I had left the hotel to lease apartments because the hotel is a good half-hour away and this leasing job was right out my front door (literally...I was leasing apartments in my own apartment complex). Because of the wonderful training I had in how to lease apartments I became frustrated to the point of tears (I have anxiety attacks when I don't know what I'm doing...wonderful when what I'm doing is my only source of income, right?)

Anyhoo, my FOM gave me my job back and let me tell you...I appreciate this job so much more just because I know what I'm doing and I'm good at it.

Back to the story at hand...I got called a fag at work, RHU. I'll be honest, it's the first time in my 21 years of life that it was said with such hate and to my face.

I've had it said behind my back once before, but when I turned around and said "Excuse me, what did you say?" the douche-tard shut his vomit-hole.

When this happened, I was so taken aback. Our hotel has a policy that requires people checking in to provide their credit card and picture ID. When Mr. H came up to me, he told me he didn't have his card, but asked if we could charge to the one that was on file. (We only do that for the highest tier of our loyalty program. He was the bottom tier.)

Me: Sorry, I would need to have the card to I can swipe it.

Mr.H: Well if my girlfriend comes and gives you her card, can you just charge the one that's on file?

Me: No, I'm sorry it doesn't work that way.

He goes away and gets on his phone, so I continue to play Freecell on my computer because it's the only game that isn't blocked (and it's awesome). He comes up again maybe half an hour later with his girlfriend to check in.

OCTOCAROL 336Mr.H: So I called THEM and they charged my card for the room and they said all I had to do was show my ID. 

I assume by "Them" he meant Schmilton, so I check the reservation, and instead of "Guarantee by Credit Card" his reservation noted "Full-Prepayment" which solved half of his problem and caused all of mine. See, even if the room is prepaid we still need a credit card for incidentals (room service, phone, etc;).

Me: Okay it looks like the room has been payed for, I'll just need a credit card for incidentals.

Mr.H: Did you not listen to me? I already payed for the room, they told me all I needed to do was show my ID.

Me: I agree that the room was paid for, but I still need a card for incidental charges.

Mr.H: Listen to what I'm saying. I don't have a credit card on me, is there a manager here I can speak to?

Me: I'm the only one here to assist you at the moment, and that doesn't change the fact that our hotel's policy is to collect a credit card upon check in.

Mr.H: So what do you want me to do?

Me (at this point, I'm shaking from frustration): I want you to come back with either a credit card or cash to leave as a deposit.

Mr.H: Fuck you, fag!

At this point, he picks up his bags and storms out with his ugly girlfriend in tow.

Me: Have a great night! Jason 024

It was the only come-back I could think of at the time. I honestly wanted to incite him to come back because then I would get the pleasure of calling the police to escort him off property and issue a no-trespass warrant. Alas, the only thing I could do at that point was call my FOM who went livid.


I <3 her. I ended up calling the loyalty program's Guest Assistance hotline and had them mark in his profile about being abusive to hotel staff, that way people are aware. And my FOM get's the task of sending him a letter telling him he is no longer welcome back on property, lol.

So yeah, pretty intense moment. All I want to say is that I love my job even more because my manager will go to the ends of the earth for me and the rest of the team =D


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Corporate Caused Hell and Toxic Managers: Store Savior or Amoral Douchebag?



From Confused in Hell, March, 2009:

Due to recent company budget cuts, my company just busted me down from full-time to part-time, with a corresponding reduction in hours.

This after 5 years of loyal service (or servitude, depending on how you look at it). After 5 years of feeling fairly bulletproof, I now go to work every day terrified of getting fired, just like every other part-time employee.

Not only that, but they also expect us to work harder now. Like we could! They expect more work and more dedication, while they continue to give us less and less. I've lost all my medical benefits! I can't get my teeth fixed now! 

One time when I was late, my store manager says, "You know, this kind of makes me question your integrity."

A couple of days later, when I agreed to stay an extra hour, he says "You're my hero."

WTF? I'm either a person of questionable integrity, or I'm a hero.

Would ya mind picking one and sticking with it please?

I'm either the savior of the store, or I'm an amoral douchebag.

I'm so confused...

--Confused in Hell








Thrift Store Hell: Silent Rage Tantrum Update


Carolanne 002AFrom Puppies In Prada

Okay, mini update to yesterday's post. I went in and asked Missy if I could talk to her in her office. I said I didn't want to sound like a tattle tale, but that yesterday, Lemkil's behavior really concerned me.

I told her everything, even the "reckless as a wounded elephant" comment I made. I told her the volunteer who had seen it, and who had seen him flip a table in a fit previously. I even said the thing about how a dude slamming doors was using it as a substitute for violence and she understood immediately before I even finished the sentence.

I admitted that at the time, I was NOT afraid that he would haul off and punch me, but that his behavior WAS leaning in that concerning direction.

She thanked me for telling her. She said that she had had to talk to him about that kind of behavior before, and that this wasn't the first time he had done that "substitute aggression" thing. She had been willing to let it be a one time thing if his behavior had improved after the first talking to. She was glad I had said something, because if she doesn't see it or even know about it, she can't do anything about it. Since I told her about it and now she was aware that it had happened a second time, now it was going on a written record of his behavior.

I have the next couple of days off from work, so I'm just going to breathe and enjoy my time off.

There's a really weird freedom in telling management of something hinky, and they not only take you seriously, but they also do something about it. It's also really fucked up that getting this reaction is so rare in the retail world. :\


On a lighter note, Missy has a merle coated Koolie mix named Copper who is an absolute doll. He's perfected human manipulation, by uttering these deep miserable whines of "I am so unloved, nobody has petted me in thirty whole seconds!" As soon as you walk over to him, he runs over, grabs a toy and plays tug-of-war with you for a few minutes, making these gawd awful "I am Cujo and I am eating your babies" growls. Nobody fears these growls, because the dog is such a complete furry marshmallow that even when he's hyper excited and making these noises, never ONCE has he ever scored skin with his teeth. (He's also hilarious, because I SWEAR he's perfected the "what's that behind you?!" glance in the middle of tug of war, and he yanks harder on the toy as soon as you look away. "Ha ha! Fooled you!")

When I entered the office to talk to Missy, I failed to play the tug of war tax, and when I sat down, I ended up with him half in my lap and in my face to get my attention. Ladies and gentlemen, I failed my duties, I must pay the tax, and here's a furry nose and doggy breath in my face to remind me of this fact. He gave me a thorough doggie scolding in doggie language, with me profusely apologizing for my sins, then ran to grab a chew. Once both of us could stop laughing, basically the entire meeting, I was penalized to tug-of-warring with him with the chew.

He's a goofy beast, but he DID make it easier to talk to Missy about Lemkil's behavior. Perhaps he's no specially trained therapy dog, but he knows how to calm you/distract you when you're feeling stressed or anxious.

We don't deserve the awesomeness of dogs, my friends, but they're gracing us with their presence anyway.

--Puppies In Prada


Retail Hell Memories: The Radioactive Key Shop


MarvinFrom The Key Oracle:

Many decades ago my region of about 60 key shops lost our regional manager, which is what happens when you do not take care of your stuff, it gets lost. For some arcane reason probably involving stupidity, or saving what they would have paid him, the home office was in no hurry to replace him and instead divided up the shops into sub-regions the control of each was given over to some long term managers including me. The only stipulation was that to save even more money we were not allowed to visit our shops except in a dire emergency so this was basically a “phone only” deal.

To keep things anonymous I am going to call one of my shops “Mars” which as I type this just seems appropriate.

To set the stage, Mars was a walk-up hut (meaning that the customers stood outside the shop and were waited on through a window) in the parking lot of a major department store chain, ie., our host. Therefore most customers thought of us as the “host” key shop so the host was very adamant about keeping the complaints about the key shop to the absolute minimum as any complaint would reflect upon them.

Unfortunately the key shop was managed by Marvin, a very strange person that I had never met. To give you an idea of just how weird Marvin could be, one evening his employee leaned back in his chair and for the first time that evening noticed that there was a huge human eyeball painted on the ceiling of the shop surrounded by the text, “Watch what you are doing because I am.” When I was told of this I thought that this was pretty normal for Marvin considering the other things that I heard about him. He also had a habit of coming in hours late for work, or even skipping work for the day, so I got to have frequent talks with his Host store manager which usually involved yelling on his part.

So one random day I am waiting on customers at my shop when an odd looking customer comes in. He is about 50, thin, about 5’6”, short grey crewcut, and wearing thick rimmed glasses with paint specks all over them including the lenses. He stares straight at me, or more likely through me, and does not blink.

Jason 038I say, “Can I help you?” and in a monotone voice he says, “I am Marvin.” Well lots of people are named “Marvin” so I do not connect the dots and say, “Do you need some keys made Marvin?” In the voice of the dead he replies, “I am Marvin from Mars.”

A light bulb goes on and I say, “Well it is nice to finally meet you Marvin, however since you are here and your only worker is in school, who is running the Mars key shop right now?

He states, “You do not understand, a man left a vial of radioactive dust on my counter and it fell and broke open. Now the key shop is radioactive, and I am radioactive, and I am going to die.” With this he turns around, leaves, and disappears forever. We never hear from him again even for him to pick up his paychecks.

However at the moment I have a problem, I need to think of some way to get his shop open because obviously Marvin has finally gone looney-toons. I also need to call his host store manager so that he can yell at me yet again but at least this time I am on top of it and calling him.

As I am dialing the phone I think, “What if his story is true?” No, it couldn’t be, Marvin is a nut!” Well what is near Mars? Ok, there is a nuclear power station and a military hospital that specializes in nuclear medicine. No, he’s a nut!!! But what if people in Mars start dying of radiation poisoning and they find out that I knew about it and did nothing? Man, am I screwed.

So the Mars store manager’s secretary answers the phone and when I say who I am says, “Oh, I was just going to call you. Marvin did not show up again today and Mr. Guy is really mad.” “Please put me through.” I say.

Just as Mr. Guy starts his rant I interrupt to say that I have something important to tell him and relate the morning’s encounter. When I have finished there is a long interval of silence until I eventually hear, “What?” I say, “Look, I do not believe that your key shop is radioactive. Marvin is obviously swimming in the deep end of the “crazy” pool. But against all odds, what if it is true and we knew something and did nothing?” Mr. Guy says, “I’ll handle this, don’t send anyone to open the key shop, we will talk tomorrow.”

The aftermath…

If you call 911 and tell them that there may be a significant incident of radioactive contamination in a public place, people will show up unbelievably quickly. The unsuspecting folks that are already there will not be very happy. A 2 block in diameter area of a medium sized Midwestern city was evacuated and folks in moon suits with Geiger counters poked them everywhere. The result of course was nothing, Mars was once again safe for human habitation.

My talk with Mr. Guy the next morning was much more unpleasant than usual and Marvin the ex-Martian is still missing.

-- The Key Oracle









Misty Meanor's Tales From The Gas Station: Escaping Hell



*slurp slurp slurp*
Oh shit, I'm on, aren't I?

*puts away her soda, clears her throat, then makes herself look more presentable*
Hello fellow RHUers, it's your old friend Misty Meanor here with a major update about what's been happening at the gas station.  Quite a lot, actually.
For one, the whole staff shake up took a huge toll on Yours Truly, not to mention my awesome manager Michelle.  It was too much for her to take, so she ended up resigning.  For a while, things went to hell, as we had no syrup for the soda fountain, we had no creamer for the coffee, our frappe machine was down... you know, everything had gone to hell in a handbasket.  We had gotten the District Manager in to fix things up while we got things back on track.  It wasn't easy, but things got back up there slowly.
Then we finally got our new manager.  "David" seemed to be a cool enough guy, saying he wanted to work with us based on our scheduling needs and whatnot.  He also seemed intent on bringing things back onto track at the store.  At first, I believed him.
Foolish mistake.
There were times where we were running low on change and our change dispenser was empty.  I texted him telling him this, his response was to, "Just do the best you can to give them their change."

Uh, what?
Also, did I mention that David never put himself on the schedule? Instead, he'd just show up from time to time, say, "I'm not scheduled today, I just came in to take care of <such-and-such.>" Not to mention, Michelle would leave us her numbers when we needed to update the fuel prices, but David never did that.  He'd just update it when he showed up.  If he felt like it.
When something was low in stock or empty, he'd tell us, "Just do the best you can.  It's no use worrying over things you have no control over." Uh, when the customers are chewing us out over these things, it does make me worry.
Gas station 1All the while, David was telling us we needed to focus on keeping the store clean and neat while making sure the gas station area was completely clean and our stock put away.  At least that's what David wanted.  Easy enough, right?
Unfortunately, our new District Manager, "Scott," had other plans.  You see, our company has a partnership with candy companies in that we sell as much candy as we can, and in return for selling their candy, the company gets a huge share of the profits.  So Scott wanted us to start focusing on offering candy to every customer in order to meet our quotas.  We had never had much of an issue before, but apparently the month before, our quotas had slipped.
Bad enough, right? Well, it gets better.
We also were told if we didn't meet our sales goals, there would be sanctions, including write-ups or termination.  That really hit me hard.
I mean, come on, this is a gas station! Most of the time, people just come in to buy gas, and they'll give you their money, tell you what pump they're on and what kind of gas they want, then walk out.  There's no way that they want any candy.  And the ones who did buy snacks and stuff weren't interested.  Also, did I mention a LOT of customers are more interested in eating healthy?
Yeah, that makes things a LOT easier, doesn't it? *sarcasm*
As a consequence of not meeting our sales goals, the company cut our hours and switched us to single coverage.  Meaning for every shift, there's only one person on.  However, according to a co-worker, I heard they do this because they're trying to save money so that the higher-ups can throw huge parties on yachts or in their mansions.  All while the lowly workers suffer.  All the while, we're given a list of tasks we have to do during the day, which is next to impossible since we have to keep an eye on the gas pumps and watch out for customers.
As a result, stock was being left out, hot foods weren't being prepared, coffee wasn't being readied for the morning, you get the idea...
Gas station 2---
Also, one of the other workers, "George" was a bit of an older guy, but that doesn't excuse his unwillingness to do his job.  George was notorious for simply focusing on the cash register and little to nothing else.  He refuses to go into the coolers to get anything or put stuff away because, he's "not being paid enough to do that." He also doesn't care about the cigarettes or anything else like that.  Seriously, if you don't like it, you can walk!
It's his devil-may-care attitude about this that makes me suspect what happened recently was caused by him.
In the gas station area, there are several trash barrels which require specific bags that are larger than the average trash bags.  Unfortunately, someone put the smaller bags inside the barrels and, as a result, when one of my co-workers tried to take them out, they ended up ripping and trash spilled everywhere.  Neither her nor myself were strong enough to lift the barrels and put the trash into larger bags (and no misogynistic comments please, because I've lifted heavier things than most people expect your average woman to carry!)

Unfortunately, as a result, trash was blowing all over the place and customers were complaining about it, asking when we were going to do something about it.  I told them when the next person got on they'd do something.  Alas, this kept going on all my shift.
Also, a teenage kid came in and wanted to buy cigarettes.  When I asked him for his ID, he claimed he'd been in there an hour ago and I should remember him.  (Spoiler alert: He wasn't.)
I kept telling him I needed ID and he kept making excuses, like he was in a car accident and he lost his ID.  Finally, he asked, "Will you just do it as a favor?"

"No," I told him.
"You don't have to be so rude!" He replied and stormed out to a nearby car where his friend was waiting.
Shortly after, a woman came in to buy gas, and as soon as she came out, the driver of the car called her over.  Immediately I stepped outside and told them to move along.
The passenger side window rolled down and said, "Who do you think you are? The police?"

"If you don't leave, I will call the police!"

"You ain't the f***ing police!" He snapped.  I finally hit my patience limit.
"GET OUT NOW!" I bellowed.  His friend drove out of there immediately.  At least he didn't make a rude gesture.
The same can't be said for an angry crusty who had appeared on the previous shift.  He was trying to pump gas, but he wasn't sliding his card at all.  Instead, he expected me to turn on the pump right away.  I used the intercom to tell him several times he needed to hang up the hose and slide his card first.  He hung it up... then lifted it again.  I told him to come inside, then returned to my current customer.
A few moments later, the older man came in and said, "I'm on that pump!"

"I'll be with you in a second, sir," I replied politely.
An exact second later, "It's been one second!"

"Sir, I'm with customers.  You have to wait."
"I'm not a patient person!" He replied, then stormed back to the pump.  Several times he tried to get me to turn on the pump, even pressing the help button.  I told him he had to pay before pumping.  Eventually, he got in his car and started to drive off... only to stop in front of my window and give me the finger.  I gestured towards the exit and mouthed, "GET OUT! NOW!"
He left.
All in all, things were going to hell faster and faster with every shift, and there was nothing I could do.  It was getting to the point that I was having very harsh thoughts.  It was affecting my physical and mental health.  I just couldn't take it anymore, but the fact that we could be fired for things we have no control over showed just how terrible the company was.  So at the end of my shift, I clocked out and left my manager both a note and text telling him that I was done...
Then I walked off and never looked back again.  I have plenty of other references, I was only there for a few months, so this is no big loss.
I could've gone out in a blaze of glory, but I decided that, between poor management, greedy corporate officials, and other crap, it was time to call it quits.  I didn't give two weeks' notice because I had a feeling the others would not look kindly upon it, especially how I was the only one bending over backwards for them when things were going to hell.  I decided to quit on the spot.  Never thought I would, but I did it.
I figured, do unto others, right?
I'll be working with an agency to find new work.
For now, it's time for another soda!