Den of the Beastly Bear
Once upon a time, many moons ago...I worked for a truly horrible boss.
I was driving tractor/trailers for Perry Drug Stores, a local business that was growing by leaps and bounds!
His name was Harold.
What made Harold a horrible boss you may ask?
Well, to start with Harold suffered from megalomania compounded by severe narcissistic tendencies! Add to that a general bad attitude and you have Harold. He was the kind of guy that you'd say "Good morning" to and just get a grunt in response, like you weren't worth the effort of forming words.
Now put a guy like that, in a job he really has no experience in and put him in charge of 27 drivers that have been doing this for years and you can see the potential for conflict.
You see Harold had no business being put in charge of drivers and transportation. He had only gotten his previous job as Warehouse Manager because he happened to live next door to the owner of the company. The owner having taken pity on Harold when he lost his job as the Menswear manager of a recently defunct department store.
Harold was in his late fifties or early sixties at the time. Bald and overweight, with a head shaped like a football. He wore glasses too big for his face which accentuated his overlarge eyes. His jowls and lack of neck lent him the aspect of a giant two legged toad.
As a nickname, folks were rather evenly split between "Frogger"(from the old video game) to the less flattering Jabba the Hut!
But being a classic narcissistic megalomaniac Harold thought he knew EVERYTHING! There was no talking to him.
Things really came to a head for me personally when Harold was showing off some new routes he'd laid out to some other drivers and I. As he gave us his supremely confident thoughts on how wonderful his plans were, I happened to notice an error in timing and distance.
I politely said "Excuse me Harold, but the way you have that route there set up." I pointed "I don't think it..."
"You don't get to think!" Harold rudely interrupted.
"You're nothing but a strong back...you leave the thinking to the strong mind. You just do what you're told!"
I felt the heat starting to climb, both from anger and the embarrassment of being treated so in front of my friends and colleagues. I knew there was no winning so I clamped my mouth shut before starting something that would surely see me fired.
Now friends, I've been called many a thing in my time but stupid isn't one of them. The lowest I've ever scored on an IQ test is 137, and a couple over 140. So when I say that stung...even though I knew better, you'll understand.
So I bided my time...as opportunities to best a fool come often in this world, and this one came sooner than I expected.
Within two weeks of my dressing down by Harold, I had a local run to downtown Detroit on West Jefferson Ave.
Now when I say downtown, I mean DOWNTOWN. The company had been experimenting with palletizing our loads and put lift-gates on the back of all our trailers, as a way of speeding up the unloading process. But not all our stores were set up for it yet, such a store was the first on my route.
I buzzed the rear door, and the assistant manager came out and we walked together to the back of the truck to break the seal. When we did and I rolled up the door I noticed we had a problem.
The truck was loaded to the very back, with four shrink wrapped pallets tall enough to brush the door overhead blocking our way.
"Are those for us?" the manager asked.
"I'll crawl up and see..." I replied.
In fact, they were not for any store on my route! You see Perry Drugs was expanding so quickly that they had outgrown their current truck loading bay capacity. We compensated by loading the routes in waves. We filled all the bays and loaded those trailers, then pulled them out and loaded a second route on another trailer, in the same door. These four pallets belonged on the first wave trailer.
Well, there was no working around them, and no room to move them to one side. The manager nixed the idea of unloading two on the ground outside the truck so I could get to his load, as downtown Detroit has a tendency to see things "walk away". If you know what I mean...
I asked to use their phone (WAY before cell phones) and called Harold. I explained the situation to him, suggested I drive back to the warehouse to pull these four pallets off, then return to my route.
This would put me no more than 2 hours behind.
"No, no, no..." Harold replied "You're just trying to screw me out of overtime on a local run!"
"Well I don't know what you expect me to do Harold..."
"Do you recognize the store number that they belong to?" he asked.
"Then this is what I want you to do. You take those four pallets and deliver them to the store they go to, then get your ass back and finish your route...got it?"
*heavy sigh* "Got it, deliver them to the store they belong to then finish my route...you sure?"
"Yes I'm sure Goddammit...now do as you're told!" *CLICK*
I should also mention Harold's phone etiquette left something to be desired as well.
"What did he say?" asked the manager
"Deliver them to their correct store." I replied
"Where's that?" He asked
Geography lesson boys and girls!
Hold your right hand up palm facing you. This gives a fairly accurate representation of the shape of Michigan's lower peninsula. Detroit sits about where the lower part of your thumb attaches to your palm. From there, draw a line diagonally across your palm to the other side of your hand. About midway up...THAT'S where Muskegeon Heights is.
In a truck about 4 hrs. and 200 miles!!!
So that's what I did!
When I returned to my original route and that first store...some 8 1/2 hours later, the manager was apoplectic!!!
"Where the hell have you been? Your boss is furious, he said as soon as you showed up you were to call him at home!!!"
I shrugged, "OK"
I couldn't help but crack a grin as I dialed the number and waited for the connection.
"Hey Harold, you wanted me to call?"
"Where the fuck have you been?"
In my minds eye I saw his red face, veins and eyes bulging as his Blood pressure soared.
"They've been blowing my phone up all God damn day, they had to get drugs from other stores to fill orders cause you're so late!"
"I was doing what I was told..."
"Remember, 4 pallets on the end of the trailer...
Don't belong on this route...
I suggested bringing them back to the warehouse, but YOU said deliver them to the store where they go."
"Well Where the fuck did they go?!?"
"Now see...one would think that would be the first question a strong mind might have asked..."
"Muskegeon Heights." I calmly replied.
"Well why the fuck didn't you tell me that???"
"You didn't ask me that, you asked me if I knew where they went...
I said 'yes' and you told me to deliver them where they go. I'm just a strong back doing what I was told!"
"You son of a bitch..."
"Look Harold, I gave you a reasonable solution. But you're so worried everybody's trying to screw you over, and that you know better than everybody. You just don't listen."
"You just get busy and finish that fucking route and I'll deal with you tomorrow..."
"Deal with me? How are you gonna deal with me?!?
I was following a direct order from my immediate supervisor..."
8 1/2 hours of overtime...check!
Smarter than the boss...double check!
That was not the last time I hoist Harold by his own petard!
Every time I came off clean...he just couldn't help himself and made it just too easy for me.
I made him eat those words so many times...he had to have regretted them...maybe not.
But I sure enjoyed rubbing his nose in them.
It was quite lucrative as well, because every time he told me to do something stupid it made me money!
I've had better bosses since, and certainly none worse...
And I hope none of you have one as bad!
Be Well Folks!