Big Bad Bosses


If you have had a minimum wage part-time job you are not alone, I’ve had one too. Well, I’ve actually had 10…

Now, you are probably thinking I am extremely flaky and have a small attention span. I am also sure you’re dying to know what these jobs are.

So In order of my appearance: Fast food, Call Center, Restaurant, Retail, Secondary Carer, Restaurant/pub, Bar, Charity Fundraising, Babysitter and Barista! Since most minimum wage jobs suck and are hated by the population, I thought I would share some experiences I encountered in my very long learning curve.

I am sure we have all been asked questions like “What would you do for 1 million pounds?” Which is normally followed by a willingness to perform a range of ridiculous acts.

When I was 16, I got paid £3.60 an hour. I had customers shout in my face for getting cold food (not that I made it), make me run backwards and forwards fetching things for them. I had a boss who shouted at me till she was red in the face because I tried to leave when my shift was over and I was no longer being paid for my time. How many of you would put up with that for my wage?

After 6 months of coming home in tears most shifts I decided to throw in the towel.

I don’t actually hate working or hate customers. I had a customer service job I liked and I was really good at it. The problem arose one day when I was sitting in the staff room filling out work booklets; the manager came in and told me that the boss wasn’t happy with me. I was totally confused, I asked what the issue was and the manager just said she didn’t like my attitude. Paranoid, I came in for my next shift smiling so much my cheeks hurt and it gave me a head ache. I even tried to chat to the mute boy in the staffroom; (he had the power of speech, he just chose not to use it). Then the manager asked me to come down to the office because the boss wanted a word with me. So I sat opposite the boss and the manager, shaking like a leaf.

I tried to hold it together as the boss got increasingly aggressive determined to make me cry, when suddenly the boss said “Do you think you’re better than me? I have loads of qualifications!” I looked at the manager who had put her head down in embarrassment, avoiding eye contact. Then it dawned on me. She was jealous that I went to private school. I had barely spoken to her other than exchanging pleasantries and she being 30 years my senior, was listing her life achievements to me.

All she had to back up this accusation was that I once frowned when she explained something to me. I explained I may have frown because I was thinking about what she was saying and that I didn’t think I was better than her. As pathetic as this was, she was satisfied by being validated by my 17 year old self. When I left to help my parents with the foster children they had at the time, she actually hugged me and said she’d miss me. If she’d had a pair of balls I probably would have kicked her in them…

I have had bosses manipulate me into putting more time into businesses than I was paid for, a boss ask staff to interrogate me about my work performance and I have had the place I worked shut down with no word of warning, till I walked past a closed sign one fine day! Talk about respecting those who help make you money.

Phil Zimbardo, argues that our big bad bosses are not actually bad people. They’re victims of their role.

He defended Lindy England and her boyfriend in court, who were US army reserve soldiers. They were told to “Keep order” in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and abused their position of authority by torturing, murdering and raping the men there. Zimbado said that the couple fell victim to the Lucifer effect, which is what he calls it when good people turn bad.

He conducted an experiment where half of his participants were to act like prisoners, and the others guards. It wasn’t long until the guards began acting beyond their authoritarian role and implementing inhumane punishments to the prisoners. Zimbado himself got so sucked into the experiment he failed to realise that one of the prisoners was having a mental breakdown. The experiment only stopped because his girlfriend saw what was happening and told him to shut it down.

These are nice normal people but they become so immersed in a role, they lose sense of themselves because they are acting like “The Boss”.

Granted there are worse jobs out there. I have yet to pick up coconut shells off a beach for a Rupee or offer out massages in Thailand; but at least these experiences have taught me what makes a boss good.

Although it seems like Lemony Snicket could have written my job history, not all bosses become power crazy maniacs and not all minimum wage jobs are bad. However, you do need to recognise when your boss is acting beyond their job description and get yourself out of there.

If I’ve had more jobs than the average person it’s because I have had the backbone to get away from people that don’t treat me with respect, then I will only see that as a positive, not a negative.

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