I am pretty sure everyone has had that tyrannical boss that is hated by everyone, yet is somehow convinced that this was a sign that he is good at his job. Right now, I am dealing with such a boss. This boss, Mr. Lumbergh (not his real name) is attempting to melt my cellphone via SMS, WhatsApp, phone call, and email.
What’s the date? What time is it?
It’s 02:10 am, on August 31st, 2020. Five WhatsApp’s. 3 missed calls. 2 emails. All from the tyrannical despot in my office.
Look at this screenshot from my WhatsApp. It’s 2:10 in the morning on Merdeka Day.
For the last 18 months, this has been common practice at this particular company. This dictator thinks he actually owns me outside of office hours. I’m paid to put up with his crap, but I’m not paid enough to work 24-7-365.
Smartphones are smart right? Work emails, WhatsApp messages, calls from colleagues, and Mr. Lumbergh all get “the number is busy/out of service”.
2:22 am. 11 WhatsApp messages. 4 missed calls. 3 emails.
I admit that the job market is terrible, and right now, given the state of things, nobody can afford to be unemployed for long.
But I’m wondering when things reached a point that any boss thinks that they have the right to demand anything for a non-urgent, non-critical, non-emergency/meltdown situation at such an ungodly hour.
When any boss starts blurring the line between office hours and non-office hours, it is detrimental to both physical and mental health. You don’t get time to rest your mind, relax and enjoy life by doing what you like because you’re suddenly slammed with work when you are off the clock.
2:35 am. 17 WhatsApp messages. 6 missed calls. 4 emails.
The same is also true of relationships with family and friends. You’re at some event and suddenly work calls and you are forced to mentally check out to deal with whatever the boss requires.
More importantly, I get to rest, recharge and I’m a lot more relaxed so that I can be productive when I am actually paid to work, and put up with his attempts at leadership.
Why don’t I just give him what he wants?
I know some of you are thinking, “give him what he wants and he’ll go away.” But it’s 2am! If you give an inch, there is no doubt several dozen miles would be taken.
I have walked down this road before. It always starts with one thing and then spirals into another, and another, until you are basically working from home in the early hours of the morning, before going to work later that same day.
2:45 am. 17 WhatsApp’s. 8 missed calls. 5 emails.
It’s 10 minutes and everything’s gone silent. I believe that Mr. Lumbergh gave up. Right now, I am too angry, frustrated, and stressed out to sleep, and I am not going to do any work either.
I know I am going to sleep most of Merdeka Day away because I’ve had enough, and when I get to the office bright and early on Tuesday, there’s going to be a hellfire and brimstone showdown between me and demonic boss.
9 am, Tuesday: The Showdown
By the time you read this, the knockdown, drag-out fight is over. The bodies hit the floor, and there is enough chaos to please Satan. It is raw, unedited bestial carnage that would satisfy the greatest of gore fiends.
Calm down. It didn’t turn out like that. Actually, it was rather anticlimactic.
8:45 am. I walked into the office on Tuesday morning, as was my habit. The instant the clock struck 09:00 am, the executive authority of Mr. Lumbergh demanded my presence in his glass-walled office.
Now, in an open-plan office, there is no hiding anything from anyone. Especially since the offices have glass walls. And since it was common practice for at least one person to get yelled at each day, there were looks of commiseration, small smiles, and gestures of support. In every face, in every pair of eyes, I could see it written plain as day, “Thank God it’s not me.”
As I sat there in his office, I wondered when he would stop yelling so I could get back to work, on a project that he would get the credit for, and most likely would ensure that one or more of his cronies would get promoted.
It was then that I had an epiphany, the proverbial light bulb moment.
I hated my job, the politicking, the micromanagement, the openly displayed incompetence, lack of clear direction, and total lack of feedback. The conclusion I came to?
“There is no reason for me to be here.”
I just stood up, while he was still screaming at me, and walked out without a word.
Now that stopped traffic in the entire office. He followed me to the door of his office, hollering “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?! I”M NOT DONE WITH YOU!”
Someone later told me that he’d actually been standing in the doorway with his mouth hanging open in disbelief. Apparently, no one had ever done what I had just done.
Two employees who were part of his “inner circle” tried to stop me. They took one look at my face, and wordlessly stepped aside.
I went and sat down at my desk, grabbed my backpack, and shoved a number of personal belongings into it. At this point, he was standing next to my desk and still yelling.
“GET BACK IN MY OFFICE. THIS INSTANT.” I ignored him.
I went around the office, returning a few things to different people. All he could do was stand by my desk in mute incomprehension.
By the time I was back at my desk, he was confused and aggravated, and trying to talk to me in a normal voice. He was so off his stride, that he was actually trying to talk to me like a human being.
I hammered out two emails, the first sent to HR and cc’d to him. The email stated that I quit, effectively immediately, and that I would pay one months’ salary in lieu of giving my 30 days notice. The second was a three-line goodbye email. He read both standing over my shoulder.
He put a hand on my shoulder to get my attention. I just glared in silence at the offending appendage. Wordlessly, it was removed. I think that was the moment that he realized that he had well and truly crossed the point of no safe return.
Now I work in creative multimedia, and everything is digital, backed up on the company servers and intranet. It was six mouse clicks to break my folders into subfolders and scatter them across the company cloud. Good luck finding everything.
And yes, I had to do office work on my personal laptop since I joined the company. The promised company laptop had never materialized.
I stood up and walked towards the door, which proved to be more than he could handle. He started screaming again.
“You’re f**king ungrateful! Not an ounce of gratitude! When you fail, and you will! Don’t come crawling back! With you gone I can hire someone with actual skills to do the job!”
Needless to say, the phone started ringing the following morning. I flipped a setting on my very smart cellphone and was soon unreachable to everyone at the company.
Imagine my complete lack of surprise when his cronies revealed their lack of competence and ability by emailing me to find out how to compile weekly reports, how to enter certain time-sensitive data, or where certain templates and other documentation was located on the server.
Those emails started out professional, then turned hostile and abusive. When there was no response from my end, the tone softened. The most recent ones were very polite, very courteous, and very much begging letters.
It’s a shame I only found out about those emails two weeks later, because by the end of the week, 4th of September, I had filtered all company emails as spam.
A Last Ditch Attempt By Him
In a last-ditch attempt, my ex-boss reached out to me on Facebook, begging me for help. I agreed to meet and help him, because some of my former colleagues don’t deserve to get screwed. At the end of that conversation, I blocked and deleted his FB profile and his others connections on all my contact lists.
I met him in a Starbucks located in the building lobby. We sat down at a table. He asked me to come upstairs, sign some paperwork, and do an exit interview.
For 18 months of my life, this tyrannical bastard had controlled nearly every aspect of my professional life. He had made life hell for me, and for everyone else who had the misfortune to work for him.
From micromanagement to incompetent leadership, to zero recognition for targets achieved or just shifting deadlines because he could. His failures as a boss only magnified his failure as a human being.
I said, “No.”
He erupted, right at the table in Starbucks. His verbal abuse would have made a drill sergeant blush or start taking notes. Meanwhile, I was the picture of collected, placid equanimity.
As he paused for breath, I stood, thanked him for the coffee, and walked out the door, as calmly as I had the previous week, taking all my knowledge and information with me.
I’m now looking for a job. Until I find it, or it finds me, I’ll freelance, stock shelves in Tesco, do some web design, mod Nerf blasters, maybe drive for Grab. Maybe… I’ll start a Fight Club.
I know what I am worth. Whatever happens next, I’m free to do anything.
For more stories by this author, read: Professional Gaming Cost Me My Girlfriend. Here’s My Story and My Parents Deleted My Social Life and It Ruined Me.
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