Dec 10, 2007


I habitually check the obituaries each morning. At my age, it is not uncommon to find the name of a long lost friend, school mate, coworker or boss among the listings. I read through all the obituaries, even if I've never heard of the deceased, because I am amazed at the things people have accomplished and the lives they have lived. Obituaries are the place families put the best face on the deceased and often the place that they project their own wishes and desires on the loved one. There is rarely a villain in the obituaries This morning I saw a notice for a man I worked for early in my career at Tedious Systems, in 1970. He was, without question, the meanest man I ever met. I'll just call him Stevens. I would use his actual name except that his family has suffered enough having him in the family. They don't need my ridicule now that they are rid of the old bastard. In 1970 I was a young and eager guy, with a new wife and a baby on the way. I was very grateful to have a good job at Tedious making $99.50 per week. In May of that year I was reassigned to work as a service technician for a guy named Bud. When Bud was stricken with cancer, I became the property of Stevens and his evil henchman, Tom. From the moment I met Stevens he made it clear that I was not up to his standards. That's a gift Stevens thought he had. He believed that he could take a quick glance and decide your worthiness to be a member of the Tedious team. Fail that test and he set about getting rid of you. I was never anything but a loyal, hard-working Tedious employee, but according to Stevens I lack that certain Tedious je ne sais quoi. Our relationship was never the movie motif where Rudy gains the grudging respect of a hard-nosed coach. Stevens never conceded that I was anything but a bum and I never thought him anything but a bully. Stevens' hardness didn't make me work harder. Our relationship hit it's low point one morning in winter of 1970. I was loading my van for a typical day's work, when Stevens approached me, entourage of lackeys in tow. He immediately began to berate me for some perceived infraction of the rules. Stevens had a group of hand-chosen lackeys that he was tutoring to be the next generation of him and he moved about the yard with them at his heel. As aways, he began with a tirade about how he was tired of telling me about (fill in the transgression). At first I just professed my innocence, but his screech continued on. At some point in the altercation, he told me that he would have me fired if I ever committed his imaginary infraction again. Reflexively, I told him to f*ck himself. The lackeys gasped a collective gasp and Stevens' eye bulged. He grabbed me by the jacket and pushed me up against my truck, looked me directly in the eye and said, "You just got yourself fired." I looked him in the eye and said, "You just committed assault and battery and I'm calling the police." For the first time in our relationship, the power shifted and Stevens was lost. He and the lackeys shuffled away and I went out on my route. For the rest of that day we each waited for the next shoe to drop. I awaited my dismissal and he the police visit. By late afternoon, neither had happened. Late that afternoon, I was sent on an overtime call far out in one of the rural areas of our town. While I worked, I saw approaching car lights in the long dirt driveway. I knew in my heart that it was Sevens. I thought it just like the bastard to fire me after making me work overtime. It was old Stevens, but rather than firing me, he asked if I was willing to forget the whole affair. He also wanted to know if I had called the cops. I was so relieved. Stevens never bothered me again and I went on to work thirty-eight years for Tedious. He didn't change his ways though, he just found other victims. To the end of his career he was a bastard. Maybe that is reflected in his obituary. I've changed the names but it is otherwise word-for-word. Stevens, Robert V., 85, passed away November 28, 2007. He was born December 6,1922 in Tulsa, OK. He and his family moved to Tucson, AZ in 1948 where he worked for Tedious Systems. He retired in 1978 with 30 years of service. He and his wife Loella enjoyed fishing and traveling after retirement. They moved to Denver in 1982 to be closer to family. Bob is preceded in death by wife Loella, sons Ray and John. He is survived by son Lyle and wife Susan. Not a superlative or indication of warmth in the thing and I'm guessing that it isn't an accident. I'm not glad Stevens is dead, in fact I was surprised that wasn't already dead. What I do know is that he was wrong about a lot of people, including me, and that in the end he seems the worse for it. Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong, sometimes just full of it, but always judgmental and cranky


Chedwick University said...

So the lesson of this story is that it is Ok to use the F word to your nasty boss?

Right on, Dean Sneed!

Kurt said...

I had a non-evil boss who would follow me around and question me about everything I was doing until. one day, I said "Oh Sharon, go away." She did it, and she never bothered me after that.

d. chedwick bryant said...

I had a bad boss-he picked up a chair and threw it across the room at a female co-worker who had made some mistake. The chair blew right past my head and hit her. She wasn't really hurt much, but started to cry, and went to his office in a rage.
I picked up a chair and threw it at him. It hit him right in the chest and bounced off .

He acted like it never happened at all. Really. he said nothing.

(the chairs were those hollow metal tubing chairs with the woven reed seats and backs that you can easily throw.)

d. chedwick bryant said...

I am still good friends with that female co-worker today! and this was 15 years ago.

Steve said...

Wow. My office is so placid!

I always read obituaries. My friends think it's morbid but I find them fascinating.

Way to go, Merle, by calling his bluff. A lot of times bad bosses, like bullies, are basically experimenting to see how far they can push you. When you finally push back, they know they've hit their limit and they stop.

d. chedwick bryant said...


After the "incident" how closely did you have to work with Stevens? and for how many years?

bella rum said...

Bullies, I hate them.

My husband was making $75 a week, working for AT&T when we got married in 1969. In 1970 he received a huge raise to $90. I think we spent about $10 dollars a week on groceries.