From the Blog

Let’s Talk About Crazy People

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Specifically, let’s talk about crazy bosses. Have you had a crazy boss? Mercifully, thankfully, praise be to the unicorns, I am not currently dealing with a crazy boss. My current boss is an absolute peach. But it was not always so. I’ve had some crazy, evil bosses in the past. And currently, someone really important to me is dealing with a fire breathing bitchbag of a boss.

I read this NYT article with great interest when it came out. It’s about women who bully other women at work. Because, really, it’s the womens who are crazy. It’s a full-on phenomena. The article says that men are 60% of the bullies at work, but I’m not really sure how they came to that number. I’ve had bosses who were men who were asses. I worked for a VP who fancied himself a Buddhist (I know, total douche bag). I went to him, concerned about a couple entrenched old biddies who were delaying my projects. They were holding things I needed from them, affecting my job productivity. He pretended to listen and sighed, and with profound waiting-room-magazine wisdom, said to me, “Life is suffering.”

Get that? Life is suffering. Nice to hear from your boss, huh? And after he single handedly destroyed a whole division of our company and caused us to all be laid off, I heard he had to move back to New York from Santa Barbara, his wife left him, and he had a stroke and couldn’t type anymore. Seriously. Life is suffering, buddy.

But the majority of “crazy” bosses I’ve had are women. And after hearing other people tell stories about THEIR crazy bosses, I have to wonder if it’s just the same person, over an over again, in different bodies. The manipulation, the silent treatments, the passive aggression, the catty remarks. It’s like the same menstruating shriek harpy possessing all the crazy bosses all at once.

I’ve told stories and sought advice from men and they are baffled by the politics of female bosses and female coworkers. For the most part, I think guys aren’t as exposed, and aren’t as reactive to the hysterics women create and the collective mental illness they generate. And often, if guys understand it at all, they still might not comprehend why it’s so important. I’ve worked in accounting or administrative functions for most of my jobs, primarily with female coworkers. If you weren’t aware, these are environments of extreme importance, especially the self-important variety. Getting your prints off the printer is as urgent as curing cancer, people.

It would seem so petty and so easy to ignore. But when it is incessant, ever present, and escalating, it becomes hard to shrug off. It’s poisonous. It seeps into the cracks. It’s most of your waking life. If you’ve got a nutjob boss that is intent on making you miserable, that’s 8 hours a day to convince you you’re the crazy one.

You can try to disinvest and try to make yourself impervious. But then, doesn’t that just make the Crazies turn up the Crazy? Have you seen that happen? They turn up the crazy to like, circus levels. Like, Terry Gilliam movie levels. And you wonder if other people are seeing this. Are they watching this happen over here? Is anyone else witnessing the crazy?

Out of self-preservation, I once drifted away at a job, and began not to care. And my boss at the time noticed immediately. She fell over herself, using everything in her arsenal, to find some way to bring me back under her thumb. It was sort of amusing, but you can only fight for so long.

You can sometimes deal with a coworker who is annoying or psycho or evil. We’ve all had those. Work wouldn’t be interesting without them. But there’s really not a lot you can do when it’s your boss. If your boss wants to manipulate you, or sabotage you, or make you feel bad because you are prettier than her, you really just have to find another job. Yup, you can go to HR and talk about “bullying” and “hostile work environment.” I mean, work place bullying is getting ink in the New York Times! It’s not just women being petty anymore! But if there is a tyrant on the loose at your company, chances are HR already knows, and if nothing has been done, then the tyrants are implicitly HR “approved.” Get thee to another job. It’s near impossible to be professional in a non professional environment.

If you like your actual job, or your coworkers, or the work environment, or the benefits, and everything is good besides the crazy boss, you can stick it out and hope she gets trampled by stampeding wildebeests. Or get caught in the propeller of a plane like that bald guy in Indiana Jones. Or eaten by a shark. It might happen. You’ve got all day to dream about it.


  1. I updated my resume last night.

    Being an eternal optimist can be really hard with a fire breathing bitch bag boss with no communication or management skills, no common sense and has Munchausen by proxy syndrome.

  2. I’m lucky right now, I have a good boss. And I thank my personal deity representative most days for that. But I also enjoy reading blogs like Ask a Manager to see some of the wild and wooly out there.

    (I also really liked Clue Wagon’s Tales of the Cluefree series all about some of the shenanigans folks pulled when they were being interviewed for open positions. I’m kind of sad the blog’s over now.)

  3. It’s not very popular to be dissin’ your sistah’s in the workforce since we’re supposed to be all supportive of women moving ahead and all that, but gee — women bosses suck. Really. I’ve only ever had one female boss who was not bad; the rest were mental crazy to the highest degree. All my male bosses have been just fine. Sure they all had issues of some sort – don’t we all – but they were bearable. Maybe women just aren’t meant to be bosses?? (GASP…did I just say that in public?)

  4. The underlying insecurity in the workplace seems to be chronic with women. I don’t think many of these women learned social skills beyond high school. “If she does a better job than me, she’ll be more popular!” Can’t have that. And it only takes one to throw a whole department into chaos.

    After a string of crazy bosses, I’m so happy that everyone is fairly normal at my current job. My team members are helpful, supportive, hard working and conscientious. I really can’t get over it. I didn’t think it was possible.

  5. I work in a great department, all the woman is great, supportive, fun. But one, THE boss has everyone holding their breath. And she’s only in her position because they hire from within. She gets her job done, but mows down everyone in her path, and you feel it every time she’s got a deadline. Because, you know, her problems are way more important than the rest of ours. I’m listening to her right now on the phone, talking about her 13 year old daughters Facebook page.

  6. i thought this phenomena (sp?) was reserved for the spa industry. women who own spas… totally frakkiin’ off their rockers. consistently.

    i wonder if i was crazy when i was a boss? i’ll had to ask the two people whom I am still friends with…

  7. See…that’s why I’m in an office now w/40 men & 4 women (all of whom are awesome).
    And just this week I caught myself telling someone “you work with too many women”

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