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I’ll Never Work For A Greedy Boss Again

I'll Never Work For A Greedy Boss Again

I’d taken up a new job doing home installations at a local fitness equipment company, where we were paid minimum wage — and then got tips after we visited homes.

Now, before we go any further, these tips were usually minimal, and didn’t justify the work we were doing. But I was happy to be employed. I needed the money more than ever, and liked having a schedule.

The boss, Ron, was a scraggly haired middle-aged man from New Jersey, with a thick accent and a propensity to curse. He could be funny, charming and technically competent. He shared tons of wisdom about how to do our job. By the time I left the company, I felt like I could build a treadmill from scratch.

How it all started and went south

It was a rather simple job with two parts. You were either working at the retail store, or you were delivering equipment and doing installations. Nothing complicated, right?

I was doing 75% of my time on installations, because I was young, strong, and didn’t have a completely mauled back yet.

The other 25% of my time in the retail store was quite informative. I learned how to deal with customers. I learned our business systems and got a clear view of inventory, our store’s revenue, and even the invoices coming in.

Yet there were so many headaches from start to finish. My schedule changed on a dime. Ron was shifty about paying us correctly. On one occasion, he tried to get out of paying us for the 15 minutes we spent each day shutting down the store, saying, “I don’t pay you for breaks.”

“What breaks?” I said.

Rob finally gave in and started paying us correctly. Even if it was 15 minutes, and only a small chunk of change, I wanted to be paid for the time I was there. It was the principle that mattered to me.

The origins of the problems

This store was big, but looked rather rough around the edges. People would have been surprised by how much flipping money it made.

And this is what was sowing discontent with our coworkers. We weren’t being paid well at all, and were putting in hard labor. In hindsight, I should have just quit the job and found something in actual construction, but change isn’t always as easy as it seems on paper.

And none of this would have been an issue if the boss hadn’t already said he was going to get us raises. During one meeting, he said, “I’m working on improving your paychecks. You guys deserve more money than you are getting, hands down.”

Two months later, during another meeting, my coworker Kevin, said, “So…have you had a chance to look into those raises?”

And again, the boss gave us the runaround.

This bad job has certainly anchored me in moments of supreme frustration in the years since at other jobs. It has given me context of what “bad” actually means. It also taught me work ethic. Getting into the company truck each day, loading in equipment, learning safety standards, building comraderie with my partners, were all valuable experiences for a young man.

There was a slight policeman feeling to the job, as we were mostly doing house calls, knocking on their doors in our uniforms, but instead of saying, “We got a call about a domestic disturbance.”

We were saying, “We’re here to install your fitness center?”

Uncovering the problem

My boss wasn’t a fool — or so I thought until I stalked his Facebook profile.

For six months, Ron, who also owned the business, was saying he was “working on our raises” and “looking for money to shift our way”, yet on this Facebook page, he’s showing off his new BMW and boat he’s bought, taking pictures with beautiful women at high end bars. I was aghast at his audacity.

He’d literally said, “Profits just aren’t that good right now. I’m trying to find the money.” When I could see directly into the system (I was a finance student at the time), and tell exactly how much he was making.

And the crazy thing is — I wasn’t even Facebook friends with him. He was making all of these ostentatious posts with public posts. Any one of the dozen employees could see this stuff on his profile.

Ron was mad about morale being low and customer service scores dropping, when he was living like a king and treating us like peasants. What did he expect?

We weren’t just random employees. It took two to three months to train new team members, and you had to be physically capable and strong. This job was as challenging as any finance job I ever took, just in different ways. Not anyone could do it.

The final straw came three months later, when I was already about to take another job — which would begin a week after college graduation. I’d already accepted it, but was waiting until my final two weeks because I knew that Ron McScrooge would probably just fire me otherwise.

Ron came in, brought all the employees to the back room and said, “Well fellas (it was all men). The day has finally arrived. I’m excited to announce I’ll be raising your wages by $1.50 an hour. I apologize about the delay, but I had to make some things work.”

And look, $1.50 an hour isn’t much, but it’s something. Yet I saw the energy in the room and nobody looked particularly thrilled. I’d expected at least a few of them to show some enthusiasm.

As we were walking out of the back office, my coworker, a big burly man, who helped me with heavier equipment, said, “Ain’t that some BS. This man thinks we some kind of fools, don’t he.”

I turned and said, “Well. That $1.50 is something, right? That’s $3120 on a standard working year.”

He looked at me, with a half smile, then he laughed, “No, you the fool ain’t you, city boy.”

“What do you mean?” I said, genuinely confused.

He turned towards me and said, “That man ain’t had no choice but to raise our wages. The new minimum wage takes effect in three months anyways. He’s trying to act like he doin us a favor when the mandate is kicking in anyways.”

And then I realized — Ron really wasn’t the brightest bulb — and this time it would come back to bite him.

The backlash began fairly quickly. In my last three weeks of the job, two other guys found better jobs in other companies. In the months after I left, I heard that Ron had a major problem meeting his order demands as people left and began filing complaints. He was also sued by several employees for unpaid wages and allegedly lost and had to pay them out, which then led to an investigation which created more problems.

I was happy to be gone — but learned some formative lessons seeing Ron’s conduct. Namely, that if you are a manager and conducting yourself in an unethical manner, you’ll eventually be found out. It’s a fallacy to think you’ll get away with crimes and mistreatment just because of headlines you’ve seen about big bankers skating away with golden parachutes.

Out here in the real world, where the grass grows and the sun shines, most people get their due — for better or worse. And when your employees spend most of their waking day at your office, busting their tail for you, it’s going to be hard to keep everything a secret and attempt to sell a reality that isn’t actually present.

Nobody expects you as the boss or owner to make less than your employees. But there should be some reasonableness in play. If you are living on a yacht, employees shouldn’t need government assistance to make ends meet.

Sean Kernan·Yahoo Creator

I’m a former financial analyst turned writer out of Tampa, Florida. I write story-driven content to help us live better and maximize our potential.


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