Monday, October 11, 2010
Like most folks, I've had a number of bosses in my life. And, like most people, the bosses I've had have pretty much run the gamut from outstanding (rare) to exceedingly poor (common), with everything in between. The best bosses are the ones who hire very talented and devoted employees---and then get the hell outta' their way. The worst ones are control freaks who micromanage their personnel and make the job a horror story.
I got to thinking about this subject last night when the topic came up in a conversation with Cindy. She asked me about one particular boss I had (I'll call him "Mort") and some of the legendary, incredibly stupid things he did and said.
Very early on in my employment, I could see that there might be a potential problem in our relationship. He told me to load my van with the equipment we sold and get ready for a trip to Johnson City, Tennessee the next day. He said we needed to be there for a demo at noon. I responded by saying that we would need to leave for the appointment at 6:00 AM because it was a six hour drive to Johnson City. He said it was NOT a six hour drive---it was only four hours, and we should leave at 8:00.
This prompted an argument. I showed him a map. He still said we could drive there in four hours. I gave up trying to reason with him. We left at 8:00 the next morning. Got there at 2:00. The customer was livid and told us if we couldn't plan any better than that, to never come back.
Another time, we go to Jackson, Mississippi for a sales meeting. We are sitting there with a dozen of the distributor's sales people, when someone mentioned that Jackson had been heavily involved in the fighting during the Civil War, and that they had many historical places of interest. Mort interjected, "Hmmm...Civil War...Civil War...........(long pause).............Wasn't Abraham Lincoln president then?"
The silence was deafening. Finally, the president of the distributorship said, "No shit, Mort." I mean, what more could he have said?
Then there was the time we took some important customers out to dinner. Mort had about three martinis too many and had to be driven back to his hotel where he was poured into bed. Mort was told the next day that he would no longer be welcome in their establishment.
Then there was the time in southern California when Mort hosted a large dinner---about 15 customers. We had dinner and as we exited the restaurant, we stopped outside on the sidewalk to talk before going to our hotel. As we talked, the waitress from the eatery came outside and walked up to Mort. When he saw her, he practically screamed, "I ONLY GAVE YOU A 10% TIP BECAUSE THAT'S ALL OUR COMPANY POLICY ALLOWS!!!" Of course, this caused quite a scene. The waitress calmly replied, "Sir, here is your American Express card that you left inside."
Then there was the time there was a trade show in my home town. There were six people from our company in attendance. One night I invited them to have dinner at my home with my wife and me. They accepted. My wife and I went out and bought two bottles of wine and the ingredients for dinner---a large casserole that we found tasty, salad ingredients, vegetables and a dessert. My wife prepared all of this and it was delicious. Everyone seemed to enjoy it very much. I was particularly proud of the fact that the entire meal only cost $75, including wine.
When I submitted my expense report, he had a fit. "HOW COULD YOU SPEND $75 ON THAT DINNER!?". I told him that if we had all gone to a restaurant for dinner, the cost would have been at least three times that much. He then applied the coup-de-grace...."It wasn't worth it."
I could tell you several more "Mort" stories, but I like to keep my blog entries short. When I think about the Morts of the world, I do believe the Good Lord put them there for a reason---to teach the rest of us how important it is to be humble, and to be thankful we are not like them.