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John Lamb, Published July 09 2011

Lamb: Awful bosses abound

I know I’m not going out on a limb by predicting “Horrible Bosses” will be a big movie hit over the weekend.

Pretty fearless, huh?

Sure, the comedy boasts an impressive cast in which the stars (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) are lesser known than their tormenting employers (Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell).

The real appeal, however, is that everybody can relate to suffering under a despicable supervisor at some point in their life.

OK, maybe you never wanted to kill your boss – as the lead characters want to do in this movie – but you likely took some pleasure when the big dog went on vacation, or more so when he or she called in sick with a particularly nasty case of food poisoning, a bad sunburn and poison ivy rash all acquired on vacation.

Employee/employer friction has been a great plot device since God fired Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden for eating the profits.

And dress code violations.

The people we love to hate have been unscrupulous employers like Ebenezer Scrooge, Donald Trump and George Steinbrenner. Which makes me wonder if there is a correlation between bad hair and bad bosses.

Without bad bosses, we wouldn’t have had good movies like “9 to 5,” “Working Girl,” “Office Space,” “The Devil Wears Prada” or “Take this Job and Shove It.” Or great songs like, um … “9 to 5” and “Take this Job and Shove It.”

When I was a summer temp at the highway department during my days in college, the supervisors spotted my mechanical ineptitude and sent me out to stretch barbed wire from Fargo to near Casselton. My overseer told vile, hateful stories about women (particularly his ex-wife and daughters), minorities, animals and generally everyone else.

He was an equal opportunity hater (excluding himself, of course) and equally adept at avoiding responsibility but heaping blame on naive temps.

At first I think he believed I would take pity for how people disrespected him, but it didn’t take long to see why people kept their distance from him. Like supervisors who thought it better to send him out every day to string barbed wire in ditches than to suffer his tales of woe and hate.

One day when we were driving through a ditch, he said he knew I hated him but that he was the real man and I was just a college kid who would never know as much as him. So I did the one thing I learned from him and turned up Paul Harvey on the readio and tuned out everything else.

I’ve worked harder jobs since, but never despised a boss more.

That was 20 years ago. I guess it’s time I get over it and move on.

Maybe I should call him and see if he wants to go to a movie.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533