‘Horrible Bosses': Real-Life Tales Of Workplace Woe

Horrible Bosses” micromanages its way into theaters today, and – with a comedic lineup boasting Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis, it goes without saying that audiences will be punching tickets to witness their chemistry alone.

The black comedy centers upon three friends, Nick Hendricks (Bateman), Dale Arbus (Day), and Kurt Buckman (Sudeikis), whose overbearing bosses Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston) and Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell) push them to the point of postal. The pals hatch a plan to murder their evil paycheck-signing overlords, with disastrously hilarious results.

We got to wondering: are the film’s over-the-top antagonists – Farrell’s drug-addicted chemical company manager, Aniston’s sexually inappropriate dentist and Spacey’s weasely promotion-stealing executive – among good company in real life? So we talked to five formerly disgruntled victims of horrible bosses, and the answer is an enthusiastically resounding: yes!

“When I told my boss I had to have surgery for a potentially life-threatening ailment, she responded, ‘Ooh, I don’t know if you have any sick days left – you may have to use a vacation day.’”
– Jess, web producer

“My favorite story about my horrible boss was when I realized how much the guy hated being wrong. This incident took place while working for an unnamed video store on the upper east side of NYC. We had just gotten in the ’Scarface’ Collector’s set DVD and a co-worker and I were getting a kick out of some of the sillier features. Also included was the original 1932 Paul Muni version. My horrible boss, who ordered all of the movies despite being a cinematic philistine, was adamant that the original ’Scarface’ was not included. My co-worker and boss got argumentative and the boss broke out with, ’Are you calling me a liar?’ After about five minutes of semantic argument I brought the collector’s set case over and showed him the fine print. Boss turned and walked out of his store and drove off. My next shift I noticed that the ’Scarface’ DVDs had been removed from the store. I never said hello to my little friend again.”
– Jon, tech support/customer service rep

“My first real job was as an assistant to someone who was a known drunk. He was also notorious for going about in clogs year round, even when it snowed. He had to call me over to open up excel files, and made me tell his wife that he was in a meeting whenever she called. He once accidentally forwarded an entire email chain to a client that had him calling the woman an idiot further on in the thread. I introduced him to a new hire one time and he was clearly just finished with a four martini lunch. He told her, ‘Well, at least you look smart.’”
– Lisa, ad ops consultant

“I worked in a small movie theater as a teenager. The manager, Bernie, was a clinic in repugnant behavior. Rare was the day you would work where he didn’t sneak up and pass a gas prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles on you. Similarly, his favorite punishment to dole out involved taking an extended bathroom break, then having an employee clean the bathroom while breathing in Bernie’s fumes. Bernie’s vocabulary consisted completely of quotes from a single episode of the original series of ’Star Trek’ and the first ’Austin Powers’ movie. He referred to all of the female employees as ’fembots.’ One day I asked Bernie for a raise. I figured a year of employment entitled me to something greater than $5.05 an hour. He agreed. Two weeks later I was making $5.15 an hour. I discovered later my ’raise’ was actually an increase in the federal minimum wage. Every night at the close of business, the concessioners had to take inventory. If we were off, we had to pay out of pocket until the register was balanced. If we were short a box of Milk Duds, we had to shell out $3. If we somehow lost a large paper bag intended for popcorn (because we inventoried them), we were down $5. This wasn’t company policy. We didn’t find out until after Bernie got fired. How did he get fired? Bernie had a habit of cashing bad checks in the box office’s register. He got caught when one too many bounced. It turned out he was forcing us to pay out of pocket for unbalanced registers because it kept the company from keeping too close an eye on the daily take. His other method of avoiding the regional manager’s suspicions? Breaking into the customer feedback lockbox and tossing all of the negative reviews about him, of which there were many.”
– Erik, marketing manager

“My first job was at a video store, as a clerk when I was sixteen. The store manager took an immediate liking to me. He used to pull me into his office, hand me almost-expired Chili’s gift cards, and tell me I was the employee of the week, but not to tell anyone else because it’d create an unfair work environment. I naively didn’t think much of it until one of my co-workers joked, ’Want to hit up Chili’s after work? I hear you’ve got the deep discounts.’ Turns out, he’d pulled the same stunt with every new young girl there, in the hopes of nabbing a date. Dude was in his mid-forties at the time. I mean, I still had braces! Disgusting AND illegal.”
– Tess, writer

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