Here's a story from a fellow blogger who wanted to share how her experience with BAD BOSSES led her to start her own business! Wanna know more about Erin and the business she started? Check out her blog, Organizing With Erin, right here on Chicago Now!
After 13 years of bad and crazy bosses, I started a business. Now, nine years later, I still love being the “boss”. I’m a damn good one too, I might add!
It all started with college graduation in 1991. My goal was to get a job in advertising. I wanted to be an account executive so I could use my creativity to create ad campaigns.
This little gal from Texarkana didn’t have any contacts or work experience besides dairy queen, an internship at a photographer’s agency, and one at a truck parts resale company.
My present internship, the truck parts resale company, told me that I could stay with them until I found full time work. I needed to get out of there.
The Boss was a nut job. I was in the marketing department and processed marketing packets for clients and did misc things around the office. The boss used to leave notes on my desk (with his plans on who was to get the ax and stuff) all the time.
It made me feel uncomfortable. I felt like he was setting me up. I would just put the notes back on his desk, face down.
The sales reps took orders over the phone. One of the women that worked with us had a voice just like the ones on those phone sex lines. All the clients loved talking to her. The boss told the clients she was one hot mama.
Some of the clients even started to come to the building to see the “hot mama”. In reality, she looked like Honey Boo Boo’s mom.
The Boss was paranoid every time someone came in the door to see her. He was concerned that he might lose business if they knew she wasn’t a bombshell.
The poor women never understood why she was taken out the back door for special lunches all the time to avoid having the clients find out what she really looked like. So sad!
When I left my internship, I accepted a job with Consolidated Freightways in their inside sales/logistics center. On the first day of training, I received a huge packet of rules. I still laugh at the dress code.
It read something like this:
1. All skirts must be no shorter than two inches about the knee
2. All men must have no facial hair and shave each day
3. No low cut tops (this was in Texas home of the fake boobs)
4. No pants for women (and this was in 1991 not 1921)
Our one eyed boss, Mr. Hark, a former marine, would inspect his troops each morning. If your skirt was at risk, you stood up and got the ruler. If you didn’t have a clean shaven face, you were sent home. One African American man had to get a doctor’s note that he couldn’t shave everyday due to a skin condition.
It took us two years to convince the “One- Eyed Wonder” that the women should be allowed to wear pants. We then had to create posters of what kind of pants were acceptable and what type of tops you could wear with them.
Mind you, the starting salary at this wonderful job was $21,500. He had to approve every style. I personally felt it would have been much easier to have uniforms.
Then, there were all the floor moves. Sometimes to shake things up, he would have us all move our offices. Yup, you would have to take a half day to move to your new cube! So not productive!
I thought the crazy was over when I was promoted to an office location in Chicago.
I left the One Eyed Wonder for an even crazier crowd. First, there was Mr. Mirenda. During my interview with him, he got wasted. The dude washed down a whole pitcher of margaritas.
When he pulled out the contract, I used his condition to get myself a little extra cash! I simply stated I should get more dough and he signed on the dotted line! Yeah me!!
Then there was my new sales manager, Gary. An equal lover of the booze! He would drink with anyone at anytime! It was all for the company. One day, he didn’t have anywhere to drink, so he just showed up where I was meeting a client. Creepy!
Through my years at Consolidated, I went through one bad sales manager after another. Being the naïve small town chickie that I was, I left a territory that was running at 100% of quota and took a new territory that was running at 55% of quota.
I was the queen and was going to turn it around. Only four months later, that same territory was running at 85%. I thought that was great! But the new sales boss didn’t see if that way. He thought I sucked and the harassment began.
I was even reprimanded for changing into jeans from a suit before heading out to meet clients at a bar. Number one, it was a small dive bar on the south side, and number two, does he not know how expensive dry cleaning is? Bite me buddy!
After that, I decided to jump ship. FedEx seemed to be the perfect fit. At the time I really didn’t want to stay in the transportation industry but felt it was a quick fix. I basically took another outside sales job. And, life was beautiful, for a while anyway. I loved my station manager and the rest of my sales team.
Until Mr. Kilcoyne showed up . I knew within five minutes that my days were numbered. I could tell that he was old school and didn’t like working with women.
When I met his quiet subservient wife, it spoke volumes. I started to see one woman get fired after another. It was like being a sitting duck. He would target one woman at a time. The emails and the verbal harassment were constant.
I learned to duck and dodge for awhile. It was hard though, I have a pretty big personality.
He would verbally harass me before I went in to make presentations. He even stated “This is all you will ever be”. Little did he know that “The Erin” could rock it under stress!
And, two can play that game. When he rode with me, I took him to the finest parts of my sales territory to make sales calls. And by the finest parts, I mean the areas I was sure we’d get shot at!
As it turned out, I was a top performer. I did the most sales presentations in the group. I was the girl! But I was still pushed out during a time when I had several huge accounts that were about to close.
Mr. Kilcoyne told me that none of those accounts would close and that I could not be depended on to make deals. Mind you, I was at 94% of quota when he bounced me out the door. And to boot, all those accounts closed.
In fact, the dude that took my place got a huge bonus (should have been mine) and won an award. Karma finally bit him in the butt! I heard he was promoted to New Jersey.
I am sure that south side boy is still spending his weekends crying on the Jersey shore! It could not have happened to a nicer person!
As for me, I ended up getting the best present of all – time and money.
My happy butt got unemployment. So, instead of putting another band aid on my life, I started my own business. I was pretty darn broke but happy and thankful. Nine years later, life has never been better! I got the best gift of all- the best boss-ME!!
Now, as usual, have a great day at work! Or, at the very least, don't do anything that will get you fired and/or arrested!
The Working Poor
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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