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Horrible Bosses

A scourge in British business

Well, I’m the boss…
Head Honcho. El Numero Uno. Mr. Big. The Godfather. Lord of the Rings. The Bourne… Identity. Er… Taxi Driver. Jaws.
I forgot the question quite a while back.
Who are you, again?

– Douglas Reynholm (“The IT Crowd“)

Douglas Reynholm is the “Head and owner of the multi-billion pound business empire, Reynholm Industries” as portrayed with scary realism by the comedian Matt Berry in the hysterically funny comedy “The IT Crowd.”

The list of “horrible bosses” in fiction is long and distinguished. A quintessentially English role, they are portrayed as egotistical, ignorant, stupid, uninformed and/or ill-informed, unappreciative… oh, the list goes on…

One would hope such characters would be confined to fiction but, alas, no for the “horrible boss” is an all too real phenomenon. And Freddy Barford (named changed to protect the guilty) was one of the worst I’ve met in three decades of employment.

His callous disregard for anyone in his employ and his mercenary use of the probation period to obtain cheap ‘contract’ labour was something I never thought I’d see the like of. He was (or rather is, because he’s still getting away with it) a shocking example of how not to run a company.

Being employed to do one full-time role (on a salary that I haven’t been paid in the past 28years I hasten to add), I was quickly ‘picking up the slack’ as people around me were laid off.

Freddy was a complete head case. A couple of us did wonder if he was “on the spectrum.” He changed his mind that quickly and that often I was also sure he had a multiple personality disorder to boot.

People were dispensed with, with callous disregard, and in the 6 months I was there, I lost six colleagues – literally one each month (with me inheriting the work of a couple of these poor people as they went). In the preceding 14 months he’d lost almost twice the size of his company. Hard to believe ? Maybe. But absolutely true nonetheless.

In truth, the writing was on the wall before I even accepted the role, but I had little choice, a great deal of enthusiasm… and the hubris to believe I could actually make a difference.

Looking back I’m trying to lessen my anger and contempt of him with humour, but… in all honesty it’s tough to do when someone abuses their position and stomps all over peoples’ lives and careers. I look forward to hearing news of his coming to some pitiless end because I surely doubt he’ll ever get visited by the Christmas ghosts and forced into some kind of festive epiphany.

I rarely ever wish ill on people, but… in his case, I’m making an exception, because people like him should never be allowed to be business owners. It’s too important a position and power will always corrupt. But, to save others, I sincerely hope his business fails… although Freddy will no doubt hang the blame on someone else, his type always do.

Douglas, from “The IT Crowd” is attributed some great lines…

Douglas: Ah, Jen. Good. Can I have a word with you?
Jen: No, can’t. Busy. Very busy. And I don’t want to go for a ride in the helicopter.
Douglas: OK, OK. That wasn’t what I was going to ask actually.
Jen: Oh?
Douglas: Yes, it was something… work-related.
Jen: What department is this?
Douglas: [confused] Sorry?
Jen: If it’s work-related, you’ll know what department this is. What department is this?
Douglas: [looks around at Moss and Roy] Some sort of… homosexual department?

The people I used to work with would laugh themselves silly if they were ever to read this.