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Nightmare Boss

I'm sure things could be worse.

Photo Credit: Travis Wise

As I write, I wonder if I've been spoilt in my previous employment. While there have been people with whom I'd rather not have worked, I've been lucky with having nice long-term bosses and several years working with some lovely people.

A different type of work

Perhaps it is the nature of the job which makes the difference. Formerly, I've either worked entirely alone or as part of a group. In the longest lasting employment I had, the main part of the job was not only an enjoyable job but I worked with a small team of two or three others (or just one other at times) and I happened to get on well with them. 

Apart from that, the nature of the job meant meeting different people. I also knew exactly when I would be working, for how long, and what was expected of me. This, by and large, was the case for other jobs. Even agencies, while they would sometimes change their mind or I'd work longer than expected or not know what I'd be doing until the last minute, I usually did have an idea of these things, I always knew what the job entailed, and was always told where I'd be from one day to the next.

In my current employment, I know what time I need to start and that's usually about it. Even then, the employer has been known to change her mind at the last minute.

The job

While I am self-employed as a tutor as well as a freelance writer, I also work in another job. The title of that job is 'Personal Assistant'. What the job actually entails is mainly driving my employer around so that she can do things she would not otherwise be able to do.

The woman is blind (well, she claims to be yet she often seems able to see things I can't and has less of a problem getting about and doing things for herself when she thinks nobody is looking). So my job is to help her get around and complete everyday tasks and take her to places she wants to go. That's often things like shopping and other errands but sometimes she'll ask to go out for a day.

Doesn't sound too bad, right?

Well, apart from the fact that I despise shopping at the best of times (and she does a lot of that despite saying she doesn't like to), I do enjoy driving and it is nice to get paid to walk around country parks and suchlike. Perhaps it is the close proximity to one person (or two as she often drags her hen-pecked husband along whether he likes it or not) for a long time, especially when a lot of that time is spent in my car. Honestly, we must spend more time driving about and sitting in the car than actually getting things done. A former employee of hers told me that she seemed to just like the drive or to sit in the car.

The problem is not the job itself but the employer. There are four reasons why I haven't quit yet:

  1. The job pays well.
  2. It's been a while since I've stayed in a job for more than a couple of months and that doesn't look good on a CV.
  3. My employer uses a service dog and someone needs to make sure she is looked after.
  4. I used to feel sorry for my employer knowing that she had problems finding (and keeping) assistants but it did not take me long to realise exactly why and now I wouldn't wish this woman on anyone. I'm doing it as a service to another unsuspecting potential employee!

Nightmare Boss

There are those things which might be seen more as niggles than anything else but when there are a lot of them, it's easy to get bogged down. I could write a separate post for every day I've worked with this woman. I won't. I'll just take a selection of the reasons I don't like working for/with her.

Firstly, she'll give me a start time which, apart from one day when I'm doing another job in the morning, will change from day to day and week to week. Of course, the nature of the job means that she may have appointments at different times or need to be at different places on different days. That is fair enough. However, it is frustrating when this isn't the case and she's being deliberately awkward.

For a while, I made a point of asking her how long we were likely to be and, for a while, we largely stuck at least close to the expected time. Until one day when we overran by about half an hour. I didn't mind that. It's not unreasonable.

 What I did mind was when that time became later and late until one day we were four hours longer than expected. The next time we came close to being later than expected, I told her. As a one-off or half an hour late, it's one thing but four hours or telling me she has several more errands to run after we'd already gone beyond my allocated finish time, that's not acceptable.

One of the problems -— apart from that it is just not OK, anyway — was that I'd not been able to have any lunch considering I'd expected to finish and be home before lunch time. 

What does my employer do about that?

Instead of apologising as a normal person might, she has a rant about how she can't possibly know how long she is going to be when there are so many things to do and I should remember to bring some lunch out with me. Because, of course, I have nothing better to do and she couldn't possibly know that I would not finish at 12:30 as expected when she knew she had booked a meal at 12.

It's not just me. Nightmare Boss will gladly complain impatiently when waiting for someone else including her husband who is, admittedly, very slow but Nightmare Boss already knows this yet sends him on errands and starts asking where he is after less than five minutes. 

On the other hand, Nightmare Boss will tell others that she can not possibly get somewhere at a set time because she has other things to do and doesn't know what the traffic will be like, etc. 

That isn't entirely unreasonable, but knowing you're supposed to be somewhere at 10am and stating at 10:30am that you have to do other things knowing someone is waiting for you (and you have no way of contacting them because you're too stupid to use a phone), that's just downright rude.

Her husband

Her husband is a bit dim but seems nice enough. Nightmare Boss is so contrary with him, though. One minute she will be saying how he should do things for himself and get a job. In the next breath, she will be telling me that someone else should be doing everything for him or that she should have words with people for him.

She will send him on errands and then complain that he's too slow. She will sit in the car waiting for him. I wouldn't mind so much but she always expects me to go to a disabled space. Yes, that's fine to use it as she is entitled to park there. She is not, however, entitled to park there if she has no intention of getting out of the car herself.

She has also asked me to use a parent/toddler space. I refused and made the point in comparison to an able person using a disabled space. She seemed to accept that. 

Although, there was another instance when she was horrible about someone else who had been waiting for a space. I had decided to move as we were about to leave anyway. We were waiting for her husband. The person waiting for the space was perfectly patient and polite. Nightmare Boss decided to have a rant at me about her being rude and impatient and how she would not have moved for her. Well, forgive me for being a decent human being who doesn't think it's acceptable to take up a space I don't need while someone else does need it.

I was talking about the husband. As I said, he is very slow at everything. Nightmare Boss is constantly belittling him for it. She also butts in when he is talking and, quite truthfully, I feel sorry for him and can't imagine why he's married to her.

The dog

Nightmare Boss uses a guide dog due to her sight impediment. The dog is not trained properly nor is it looked after very well. Nightmare Boss often confuses the dog and then wonders why she is not totally obedient.

Nightmare Boss will, while the dog is running off the lead, tell the dog to go for a run but then tell her she is naughty for going too far. Then Nightmare Boss will ask me (well, tell more than ask) to grab the dog by the collar. I don't like to do that anyway but I can't get the dog when she runs faster than I do and will continue running if I run after her.

The dog is supposed to be a guide dog, but she rarely seems to be used as such. I am sure she is more for show as Nightmare Boss is always the one leading the dog rather than the other way around.

Discrimination

Discrimination is a big issue, I know. I am very well aware of problems faced by people with impairments, disabilities, and invisible illnesses. Nightmare Boss seems to enjoy complaining about being discriminated against and telling her stories to anyone who will listen.

Letting people know that you face discrimination is not a bad thing. The problem with Nightmare Boss is two-fold. Firstly, as a racist and misandrist with a general intolerance for anything which isn't exactly as she wants it to be, she is a hypocrite. 

Secondly, of all the time I have spent working with her, there has been a grand total of zero incidents of discrimination. While I have been with her, I have seen one incident which she perceived as discrimination. It was not. It was a simple misunderstanding in which someone was unaware that the guide dog was a guide dog and allowed inside a shop. Once told this, the person was absolutely fine and it would have been left there had Nightmare Boss not decided to go on at him and his colleague in a tirade about how the dog was allowed and she's got a special pass, and so on and so forth. Oh, and then she went on to tell everyone she could about how terrible the situation was and how it's because they are Indians and Muslims (I honestly don't think Nightmare Boss understands the difference).

The thing with discrimination is that it doesn't only work one way. If you are not tolerant of other people, why should you expect them to show such a courtesy to you?

Further to this incident, Nightmare Boss picked out other shops around where she lives. Not all shops, of course, only those run by Indians and Muslims (who may well be Indian, Asian, English, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, or anything else). 

So her problem is, in fact, her own racism and intolerance and she is not only going to cause trouble for people who do not deserve it, she is exactly the kind of person to make you question whether something really is discrimination, therefore potentially making genuine cases of discrimination more difficult.

Dictator

Nightmare Boss likes everything her own way and it is evident that she is not able to consider other perspectives on anything.

I am supposed to be a casual worker. That means I work when she needs cover. Her main PA has more time off than she works. I'm not surprised. I feel like taking a week's holiday after every hour spent with her.

Nightmare Boss, for a while, only had me and this one other PA. She never asks if I can work extra, she assumes I can do a couple of set shifts and then simply tells me she has loads more work for me. Well, that's great but I work a casual job because I have other jobs and other commitments, it doesn't mean I am at a loose end every time I'm not working for her.

As mentioned previously, I am also a personal tutor. Nightmare Boss has told me (not asked) that I don't teach over school holidays and assumed I can work a full day with her where I would usually only be able to work half. Well, for one, you don't get to dictate when I do my other work and, for another, even if I am not doing that over school holidays, that still doesn't mean I can spend that time working for you. Perhaps, if I take that time off from teaching, I do so in order that I can spend it with my own children.

She has recently employed a new casual PA. She currently has no work for him. I did say that she could give him some of the extra shifts instead of giving them to me. She laughed as if I was joking. She seems to think she is doing me a favour by giving me more work.

The cost of Nightmare Boss

When my car needed a repair, Nightmare Boss thought it appropriate to tell me that I should be grateful that I work for her so I could afford to fix the car.

Because, of course, I don't need my wages to pay bills or anything. And yes, I am so grateful that I can afford to fix the damage which wouldn't have happened had I not been working for her.

Nightmare Boss is stingy and always trying to trick me out of wages and mileage. I don't know why considering that she only has to pay a small proportion towards it.

She will tell me I turned up later than I did or ask me to fill in timesheets before my shift is over. She will ask me to complete mileage sheets before we have finished or argue about how far away something is. If I go the wrong way (or even if it's the right/better/shorter/quicker way), she will tell me that she can't pay me for making mistakes. When I had to call a breakdown service, the first thing she said to me once we were ready to go home was that she can't pay me for breaking down and to take two hours off. Considering that it took less than an hour, I was not prepared to lose out on two hours' pay.

She will ask how many hours I have worked each day and then ask again at the end of the week and again at the end of the month. The thing is, she can't add up either so there isn't a great deal of purpose to her checking these things.

Adapted from: V Rao Bathina

Lack of intelligence

While I am no genius, I do consider myself to be quite clever. I do not expect everyone around me to know the same things as I know nor be able to do everything I can do. I realise that some people have difficulty in learning or doing things sometimes. I am also aware that some people simply haven't learned something yet. What bothers me is when people refuse to learn. When they are not even trying. When they think that someone else should do everything for them or when they ask someone something but don't listen to the answer.

Nightmare Boss must be one of the least intelligent people I know. I don't just mean academically or intellectually. I mean that she does not seem to have any understanding of, well, anything. She took a couple of college courses and quite obviously didn't understand a thing while asking me what to do. I don't mind helping or explaining if she had difficulty understanding the tutor. I do mind doing the work for her because she is incapable of thinking for herself.

One more thing is that she is overweight. Now, this isn't an issue in itself. I have been overweight and it was not an easy thing to change. Nightmare Boss could not understand why she had gained weight. Apparently, it did not occur to her that living on crisps, sausages, and trifle while doing no exercise might have contributed. While I may be wrong, I think she had the idea that signing up to a weight loss group would, somehow, magically make her lose weight.


So lazy

I thought I was lazy until I met Nightmare Boss. I had been warned that she was selfish and demanding. Nobody mentioned any of the other things. Combined with her stupidity and impatience, this all makes her a very difficult person.

There have been a few instances in which I was surprised at her laziness. I honestly didn't think it possible for her to get any worse. However, she had me drive for ten minutes around a one-way system to save ten seconds walking time. The worst thing about that was her reasoning - the extra walk would cut into time doing something else. Yes, she truly did not seem to know that ten extra minutes would cut into her time far more than ten seconds.

Staying positive

I spent a lot of years being unhappy and it took a very long time for that to change. It wasn't easy but I did learn to appreciate the good things and I am, in general, a much happier person than I was back then.

I also try to surround myself with nicer people. Of course, Nightmare Boss does not help to stay positive. Having someone like that around is draining. Some might refer to her as an energy vampire, although it's not quite the same thing.

I am glad that I don't literally 'headdesk' every time there is an appropriate moment. I'd give myself a concussion. I think the best example was when she didn't like something I told her. It was a fact and I knew from the source, so to speak. Even though I explained this, Nightmare Boss questioned it. There is nothing wrong with questioning things. 

There is something rather annoying about asking every other person who either says they don't know or that they're not sure but it makes sense yet continuing to argue about it and wanting to ask other people she is sure would know (even those who had previously admitted to not knowing much about the subject). 

Presumably, her aim was to find someone who agreed with her. She told me that my information was a good question and she'd find out. I tried to tell her that it wasn't a question but a fact. She continued to find some other information which she clearly believed would prove me wrong. Even when it did not, and I explained to her that her information did not negate mine or vice versa, she still wanted to argue about it.

Another incident was when she asked me about which way to go somewhere. She wanted her other PA to go one way but the PA wanted to go another. I think Nightmare Boss wanted me to agree with her so that she could validate her own argument. I did not agree with her. I did, in fact, give two sides to the argument. One that she, as the employer, has the right to decide which way she wants to go but, as the driver, the PA may well be more comfortable or more familiar with a different route which, as both were of a similar distance, would make very little difference to the time and mileage.

There are plenty of others but these are the most significant. Well, I appear to have veered a little on this. Staying positive can be hard enough without working for someone who is, basically, an overgrown toddler - a spoilt brat who demands her own way and thinks the world should revolve around her.

One way I stay positive is to do things like this — I let out my frustrations on metaphorical paper. I am also lucky to have some good friends and family members with whom I can converse. Not only to de-stress from my day but also to have intelligent conversations so that my brain doesn't rot.

Other than friends and family, I make sure I eat well and exercise. It may be surprising how significant that is. That was another long journey for me but that's another story.