My inexorable, abusive, idiot boss. #FOWC

Written for Fandango’s One Word Challenge, “inexorable.” You might want to go away if you don’t want to read a job rant. You have been warned.


I have never met a security guard who didn’t smoke. I went outside to wait for my ride and the security manager came out shortly after. She leaned against the wall and lit a cigarette. “I’m thinking that I’ll sue the store for creating a toxic work environment,” she said.

“Really?” I asked. “You can sue for stuff like that?”

“Well, I didn’t know that you could either. But I was watching what happened to Ellen Degeneres, you know, how the people who worked for her came out about how horrible she was, and I went down this rabbit hole.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And I’ve got people who will sign on with me, too.” She took a deep drag.

“Well, if you need me, I’ll have my therapist fax my records, which are this high,” I said, spacing one hand a foot above the other.

She nodded.

“Oh, look, there’s my ride,” I said. “Gotta go.”

“Don’t forget!” she called through the cloud of smoke.

Now I don’t actually believe her quixotic quest to sue the store is going to go anywhere, nor do I think she does either. This idle chat is just a way of coping. People need to believe, even just for a moment, that they have agency to change things, though all of us know by now that we never will.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “toxic work environment” a hundred times before. I suppose some workplaces are, and some aren’t. I assume that the great majority of workplaces are not good. But I have no way of knowing. I’ve never worked anywhere except within the four walls of that department store.

It’s true that in college, I did receive a small paycheck to act as a “research assistant” to a professor. I put it in quotes because that was a whole lifetime ago. I’m not sure anymore if that was the same lifetime I am in right now. It doesn’t seem to be the case because I can’t find any resemblance between the student I was then and the bum I am now.

Hold on a sec—how do I tie my shoes again?

I sometimes wonder if I’m not in some type of purgatory and I will never be released until I finally learn a certain lesson. Okay, I get it. I was a conceited bitch. I treated people like shit. I mercilessly judged and criticized people. I thought I could do no wrong. I took too much credit. Alright, God, I’ve got my comeuppance. I deserved it. You win. But when is it going to end?

Uh, can you show me how to make my laces look like bunny ears?

Next month I will celebrate nine years in that retail hellhole. It was only supposed to be for the season. Never dreamed I’d see my tenth. It’s not solely the nature of the work that bothers me. I could deal with it if I had some hope that I would get out of there, or something to look forward to when I got home. And even for a little while, when I was on a furlough, I started to believe that I did not have to die there, that I could spend all my time outside of work writing, and once I got some health stuff straightened out, I’d be able to find another job.

But, my boss’s inexorable abuse has once again begun to wear away at that newfound hope. She’s like a freight train, and we’re all tied to the tracks.

Only one good thing has come out of this, if you could call it good. I used to be a frightened, trembling rodent. If anyone so much as looked at me funny, I’d start crying, let alone if they yelled at me. So I’ve always been very, very careful not to get in trouble. I just hate getting in trouble. (I will, however, tell on you right away so you get in trouble.)

But after enduring daily beratement at the hands of my boss, I find myself less and less afraid every day. You get to the point where intimidation does not work anymore. Someone can only take the same nasty, abusive tone with you day after day until it has no effect. When it’s happening, I just observe this individual going off on me about why something wasn’t done right when it was actually her fault, and think to myself, this person is an idiot. I used to get upset, believing it really was all my fault. I know better now. It’s actually a little funny, if it didn’t happen all day long. Thank goodness for the medical masks—I can let myself smile. I actually think the masks have been a great aid in my newfound ability not to care.

How I wish I could express what it’s really like there! But I’d have to resort to clichés about horrible bosses and the psychological abuse they inflict. I suppose you’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s relentless and makes you want to kill yourself. Some mornings I can’t even eat breakfast because my stomach is in a fist. Lately I’ve had some panic attacks where I thought my throat was closing and I couldn’t breathe. When I walk in, my heart rate shoots up from 74 to 130 and never goes below 100 until I leave. Tell me, is this normal? Does everyone feel this way before they go to work? The one small “consolation” is that the same thing happens to everyone else.

To be truthful though, I really can’t say that I don’t care at all anymore. It would be more accurate to say that my emotions consist of rage now rather than terror. The worst part is that I am so utterly consumed by this that I don’t have energy for the things I want to do, such as writing. It’s a fire that robs me of all oxygen and tears through me. I really thought things would be different after being away for three months. I felt like myself again—a better self. I had—shockingly—positivity, transcendence. Yet here I go again, down, down, down, the way I promised myself I wouldn’t. But I can’t be the same amenable doormat that I was before, either. I won’t give my soul to the place any longer. But because of my constant anguish, I don’t have much to give to the things I love, either.

I hope that maybe I’ll get some kind of a breather over the next week—yeah, right—and I’ll be in a better frame of mind in which I can write, instead of staring at the blank document nearly dead from anxiety until I close it and go surf the internet. Not being able to write just makes things that much worse. Blogging over the last few months brought me so much happiness; now more and more it feels like a waste of time. I can’t think or talk about anything else but work.

I’ll leave you with a little illustration of how she is. A year or two ago, boss lady promoted a woman to executive in October or November. Shortly before Thanksgiving, her cousin in Jamaica passed away, and being the executor of his estate, she had to go home and possibly miss Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Boss said, “If I knew this was going to happen, I never would have promoted her.” And, boy, did she let her know about it.


Is this normal? Is it like this everywhere? Please God tell me this isn’t normal and that something better is out there. Can anyone else have a worse boss than I do? Is it even possible? Oh God–what if there IS someone worse?

Related:

Wannabe writer for hire: will work for 6.6% of nothing.

37 thoughts on “My inexorable, abusive, idiot boss. #FOWC

    1. No, she gives psychos a bad name. Can’t wait for the day I tell her what I think of her. I don’t want it to end that way but I strongly suspect it will end with a torrent of verbal curse-laden diarrhea. I don’t care if I burn a bridge because I’ll never go back anyway. I can get a minimum wage job anywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Grim. If it’s any consolation I think a lot of people feel the same way right now. After however many months off twiddling my thumbs, buying far too many records and drinking fat too much craft IPAs I’m finding it increasingly difficult to motivate myself more so to accept what my boss tells me as the way to do things. That was a good rant, at it’s what so many people feel right now. Since I started doing this heap of junk I miss it if I don’t write or post a photograph or whatever. You have to make time, I’ve 2 kids and a wife and a dog plus this job which I regard as an inconvenience, many records to listen to, too many books I need to read and friends I need to talk to. I’m sure you can find the time and a safe space to write, I’d say it’s essential! Keep on keeping on

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Problem is we have to work to live. I think Ian Rankin said that he worked and wrote as a hobby and when his hobby became his work he achieved his goal. That’s the idea I reckon, you just have to keep writing but for the right reasons, for you. I’ve been doing this for nearly 3 years, and really couldn’t give a shit who reads it, until the stats get the better of me and I question why some folk have thousands of followers for the rubbish some spout, that’s life just keep on keeping on friend

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You need to keep your middle finger loaded and cocked at all times. There is also the workable (trust me) theory of “Vocational Theater”. I was (?) all that judgmental about the plastic fantastic and society processing me like a can of tuna in my rebellious youth. How does one go from a flat land “head music” space case to surviving in the real world? Vocational Theater. Put on your mask, go in beige and let everyone make themselves known. Call the plays you need to call to survive them. Being assumed as the dumb wallflower lets you hear everything and commit to nothing. You know everyone’s hand because they’ll show it to you. Do not trust the security person. For all you know they’re fishing. Trust no one, take off the mask when you leave. You know it also never hurts to draw minor lines in the sand with assholes. “That was funny, coming from someone who lives in turtle neck sweaters to hide their double chin.” Carry on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nah tried all that already. It’s hopeless. It’s easy to know who to trust because if you say something and are called in an hour later to be interrogated as to why you said that, you can sorta guess who told her. I think she has a grand total of one stoolie right now. Not that it will do them any good in the long run. I saw the security manager screamed at for leaving the doors open and alarms off all night (not physically possible bc the police would have been alerted two hours after closing time, but who needs to know little details like that when you’re in charge of a store?)

      The wallflower routine ended years ago. It would be bizarre to suddenly be guarded. Actually, she’s yelled at me for having a negative attitude when I’ve tried that. Now I have to be the people’s champion. It’s so painful to watch people be humiliated for things that aren’t their fault that I’m willing to take the blame. The middle finger is always ready, believe me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There ya go. Now stop using social bullshit as an excuse not to write. People are shitty. Next. Sit down, write. Maybe not what you want but what you’re given. Lack of control is an inexorable reality. Embrace it. Fighting it? You’re killing yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you’ve got fodder for a half dozen villains… Let’s see their coal-black hearts gleam in the soul-harvesting light of the moon.

    I guess I missed the part where you’re married to a no-good schlep and got three bratty kids who all depend on you to bring home the fallow bacon. Life, trapped like that, must be desolation itself.

    If you’re gonna suffer like that, at least give us both sides of the heroine’s tale, you know, the one where you dream you shrug responsibility and join the airlines, or a circus (I guess those don’t exist anymore), or buy a couple of go-pros (to document your journey) and hitchhike to Patagonia where you’ll teach English to pescadoro children poaching toothfish from the depleted seas… A dream of triumph.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No it’s completely hopeless. There is no dream. It’s not even enjoyable using her for fodder because it involves even more thinking about her. Nope, quite hopeless. It’s almost overtaken me entirely again. I don’t know how to get interested in writing anything again.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I used to have a boss who hated everything I wrote, and she’d always gaslight me into thinking I was never meant to be a writer. Her feedback was always subjective, so there was no way to concretely address my ‘clunky writing’, meaning that there was always something wrong with my work.

    Also, during my hairdressing days, it was routine to be verbally abused by the senior stylists, where you’d often get reprimanded right in front of the customer if your blowdry left a strand of hair out of place.

    But all this is in Malaysia, where work culture is pretty low on the priority list. Still, your workplace (or boss) really does sound toxic, lol. Hopefully you see better days!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t get why people act like this. What do you gain by making people so miserable they want to kill themselves? I hope to God that if I’m ever in a position where I have people working for me (not likely), I won’t ever act like that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I managed the rock roll division of 19 music stores for few years. I had three rules. Everybody works, including me, park your personal bullshit at the door when you get here or go home. This is music, engage and enjoy it because we could be flipping burgers or running a shovel for someone who wants you to cut your hair. The actual sign was No Pussies, Think for Yourself. I also trained them to use who they were instead of rote nonsense and left them alone. From the dock guys to to ex rock star sales people we got along because if nobody is up your ass about doing your job, you do a better job. Unless you weren’t doing your job and then? The people who were were set your feet on the path. A manager’s job is coach, not despot.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hugs. 9 years going onto 10. You are super strong!
    I have had hellish jobs and bosses. But nothing lasted so long, I would leave, or redundancy, something would save me.

    May the mask is a blessing.

    I really do believe we manifest a lot in our life. And I have seen in my life repeated negative thought just giving me more pain and not making the situation better, just worse.

    So I say, may be try sending positive vibes to your boss.

    My boss us kind and friendly and fair. Repeat 7 times in one go 3 times a day. And also keep your peace. No matter what telling goes on, don’t take it personally it her issue. Behind your mask say I am a peace powerful soul. I send peace to my boss and she us calming down.

    Hugs. I really hope good luck comes your way and your circumstances improve to match your dream working environment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your advice. I am certainly making things worse with endlessly dwelling on negative thoughts. And you’re right, it doesn’t make the situation any better, that’s for sure. I don’t believe good vibes of any great size or magnitude will help her, but perhaps it will help me, at least, if I try. I really was doing better at work by keeping up with affirmations (and I was never an affirmation person in the past, so I know it made it a difference for my way of thinking) but I’ve gotten bogged down again in negativity. I’ll have to go back to the PDF you sent me and start over 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it can happen that we stop affirmations. You can make them up to. They must start with ” I am” and no negative words like ” not, no, try’. Strong positive words. Yes have good feeling towards her will help you, and it could also her her. Our vibrations can be felt by others.

        Liked by 1 person

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