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Group Writing Prompt: Bosses

June 25, 2010

My first boss in the professional working world was a good-natured woman named Suzanne, who had a full figure and the mouth of a drunken Nantucket sailor. She was always at the ready with a brilliant new business scheme or the latest corporate gossip, and had an uncanny ability for knowing how to make inappropriate conversation seem completely appropriate.

I was part of a small department of eight, and she made all of us feel like we were the most important people in the organization.

One morning, apparently fed up with the corporate politics with which she somehow managed to buffer us from, Suzanne burst into our offices with an urgent announcement. “Come on, we’re all going to the movies,” she said, gathering her things off the desk. “F- this fing place. They’ll get by without us for a couple hours. It’s my treat.”

Just like that, in the middle of the work day. So we dropped everything, forwarded the phones, put a sign on the door saying that we were at an important off-site meeting, and off we carpooled to the theatre to catch the first matinee show.

What else could we do? It was a direct order from the boss!

We returned a few hours later to our offices feeling only slightly guilty, blinking from the sunlight and burping up buttered popcorn. We went back to our desks, and never spoke of it again.

I guess this was Suzanne’s version of acting out and getting revenge on the higher-ups while drawing her own team closer together. And this is exactly what made us love her – the feeling that we were with her in the battle, no matter how wacky things got. She cared about us.

I still keep in touch with her, as she has closely followed the careers of each of her former employees with great interest for the last twenty years.

Since then, I’ve had nine other bosses. They have run the gamut of boss archetypes: there was the Too-Nice boss; the Incompetent boss; the Solid Career Mentor boss; the I-Don’t-Give-a-Rat’s-Ass-About-You boss; the Out-of-Control Narcissist boss; and the Ideal Godly Christian Leader boss.

I learned something important from each of them – about myself, about living out my Christian faith in the grit of corporate life, and also about navigating the all-to-real dynamics of the organizational world.

What about you?

Did you ever have a great boss?

Or a bad boss?

How about a crazy boss?

What did you learn from that experience?

Our next writing project at the High Calling Blogs is on the subject of “Bosses.”

Write about your own boss story, and drop your link in my comment box by Sunday, July 4.  I’ll choose a couple to feature and we’ll compare notes at the High Calling Blogs on Tuesday, July 6.

Photo by nAncY, used with permission.

47 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2010 5:53 am

    I remember one of my first bosses – similar to your experience except that in my case the boos had run out of work for us young trainee accountants to do so he sent us to the movies for the morning 🙂

    It’s the only time I got paid to go to the movies – and it was great fun. Since then I have enjoyed a mutitude of bosses – a Father figure boss, a clean freak boss that I used to tease every night by disorganising my desk top only to come to work the next day to find everything straightened again, and now I am my own boss.

    Being my own boss is perhaps the hardest boss of all to work for – trying to remember to look after myself, give myself a break from time to time, and generally care for me is a bit of a challenge. Maybe I’ll go to the movies !

    • June 27, 2010 3:23 pm

      Oh, that is great! Yes. you should definitely take a break and get to the movies one of these days. I won’t tell…

  2. June 25, 2010 10:21 am

    Oh this sounds like fun.
    And I LOVE the story about your first boss. The ability to make a person feel important and needed is such a wonderful thing.

  3. June 25, 2010 1:58 pm

    Bradley, like you I’ve had them all and have learned from them all. I’ve worked for a bi-polar CEO facing a mid-life crisis, a decon who openly cheated on his wife while wooing the woman in his cubicle with his while guitar at work, a lapsing Catholic who would have made Meryl Steep’s character in Doubt very proud and a concert bouncer by night, manager by day who slept under his desk (complete with blanket mind you) for several hours a day several days a week.

    I learned something postitively valuable from each of them, while trying hard to forget everything else.


    • June 27, 2010 3:25 pm

      Now that you have described all of these characters, I HOPE you’re going to write more about them! It’s so incredible the people we encounter in our lives each day. Stranger than fiction, yes?

      • June 27, 2010 11:27 pm

        You know, I probably should. It would be make for some entertaining intros to a much needed deeper point.

  4. June 26, 2010 3:41 am

    The funny thing is, I read this post and I wonder: “What kind of boss was I?”

    I homeschooled my sons. I was their boss. I led ministries. I was the boss. I mentor women. What am I like to others, really? I’m sure I have my share of faults. I’ve made my batch of mistakes, cooked ’em up, and served ’em.

    I’m so grateful God loves me, no matter what.

  5. June 26, 2010 9:53 am

    Ok, my boss story is up! I had almost forgotten about this whole experience.

  6. June 27, 2010 11:54 am

    i have a big boss
    he is very cool
    he doesn’t even care
    if i’ve been to school
    after i was hired
    he said that i can stay
    together in his company
    forever and a day

    • June 27, 2010 3:28 pm

      And when you punch in
      He gives you a big grin.
      When it’s time to go home
      He won’t leave you alone.
      It’s all good
      All the time.
      It’s not work –
      It’s just being alive.

      Just off the top of my head, nance!

  7. June 27, 2010 1:49 pm

    Bradley, this was a fun project. I learned something about water and much more from one of my last bosses!

    • June 27, 2010 4:28 pm

      Wow, what a powerful story, Stephie. It was scary enough to be on the West Coast when 9/11 happened, but being right there? I can’t imagine.

      Indira sounds perfectly lovely–a smart businesswoman with a real heart for her employees. Thanks for sharing a glimpse of her with us.

    • June 28, 2010 5:17 am

      Stephie – your story had me glued. I was wondering if it is hard for you to tell the story of the day you witnessed 9/11. It was riveting.

      I love the way you come to the conclusion about change, and the innevitability of change. And the way you used the water bottle – “it’s no big deal. There’s always more where that came from.”

      Very nice!

  8. June 27, 2010 4:15 pm

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog, Bradley. I thought (now that I followed your link and got here at long last) that I’d leave my link here, too, in case others wanted to read about my first boss, Dennis.

    This was such a perfect writing project; I’ve been thinking about Dennis lately and just didn’t have time to write about Dennis–until this project gave me the push I needed. 🙂


    • July 3, 2010 12:53 pm

      Hi Susanne,

      Your story is very courageous. Dennis sounds like someone who put the interests of others before himself. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks, for writing about Dennis.


  9. June 28, 2010 6:48 pm

    Here’s one from Susie

  10. June 28, 2010 10:48 pm


    You are very fortunate to have had such an amazing boss. Ditching work for an early movei? Sounds like a dream boss and a dream job to me. I am working on a boss story to submit. I hope to finish it soon.

  11. June 29, 2010 11:34 am


    I would like to add my ‘boss story’ to the collection of respective boss stories already shared by fellow writers. Please visit for my recollection of a boss.


    • June 29, 2010 6:04 pm

      Absolutely, thoroughly entertaining. If anyone wants to discover the meaning of “cubicle stalking,” you must read Mattew’s post.

  12. June 29, 2010 7:46 pm

    Does having a bossy wife count? Mine (both of them) could intimidate a lesser man! ~dk

  13. June 29, 2010 8:04 pm

    Along the lines of Don Kimrey’s question …

    I try to be a good boss. I’ve got five kids I homeschool and am attempting to train as leaders. They didn’t sign on with me, so being a boss takes the nth degree of finesse. The day will come when they can throw off all I’ve taught them if I didn’t convey it with greatest value for their individuality.

    This was a great post. Sorry I don’t take time to comment on more of your posts. I’m busy bossing …

    • July 1, 2010 5:08 am

      Anne – I have a feeling you’re a great boss to your kids, and a great teacher. I appreciate your great care for valuing their individuality – that’s where the finesse comes in, I assume!

  14. June 29, 2010 8:59 pm

    For Anne, et al, for the record: . I was just joshing! Although, if word of such reached a certain set of ears, my life would be in serious jeopardy! Anne, good to hear from you again, even indirectly! I’ve found that Brad’ columns are not only consistently interesting and well~ written. They also attract thoughtful readers whose columns I visit and enjoy (including yours.) ~ don

  15. June 29, 2010 9:05 pm

    Don ~

    Hey, I only try to be a good boss of my kids. Not sure that my husband would agree, but he definitely wears the pants in our house.

    (And I took your advice. Let me know sometime if my site is easier on the eyes now.)

  16. June 30, 2010 6:13 pm

    here’s the link to my post about bosses. thanks for the fun idea!

  17. July 1, 2010 11:02 am

    that was fun! thanks for the prompt…and here’s my link!

    • July 2, 2010 5:20 am

      Deidra- Yours was such a positive, inspiring story. Not enough people seem to have those good experiences with their bosses in the workplace. Thanks for letting us know that it is happening.

  18. July 1, 2010 9:52 pm

    Hey Bradley, great writing project. Being sort of out of management right now (neither being managed nor managing anyone), it was a good reflection on some of my past bosses. I enjoyed it. Here’s my link –

    • July 2, 2010 5:32 am

      Excellent outline for the basic qualities of what makes for a good or bad boss. You certainly learned a lot while you were in the corporate world.

  19. July 2, 2010 7:23 am

    Hey Bradley, thanks so much for this prompt. I had a wonderful time reflecting on my experience with my very first boss and what she taught me out in the cornfields. Here’s my link
    I look forward to visiting everyone else’s posts!

    • July 3, 2010 7:27 am

      And boy, did she ever teach you alot! This is a wonderful story that drew me right into the cornfields with you.

  20. July 2, 2010 9:04 am

    Who’s got the worst boss? Here’s my contribution

    • July 3, 2010 7:38 am

      Oh, David, this is sad. And funny. For everyone else reading this, David has a list of “Bad Boss” stories that will make you laugh. and then cry. Because they are true. What’s happening out there?

  21. July 2, 2010 10:08 am

    Here’s my entry. Probably not as serious as you’d like, but fun to remember.

    • July 3, 2010 7:45 am

      I didn’t ask for serious! Your stories are hilarious, like they walked right off of a sit-com studio. In fact, maybe you should consider writing a pilot based on these stories… You could call it “Dr. J” Give me some time to start thinking about casting…


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