Have any of you ever worked in a virtual hell hole? Early in my career, I worked for a small publishing business that specialized in magazines that covered computer technology. I look back on those few months and wonder how I survived. This will all sound too bad to be true, but I'm not making it up.
First, the boss. Because of his complete lack of business finesse and talent, I can only surmise that there was a lot of money in the family tree that financed this endeavor. While the rest of us worked in postage-stamp sized cubicles, against walls with windows that were so cheaply made you could hear the wind whistling through them, he operated from an office that you could fit 10 SUVs in. He had this huge Citizen Kane type desk on one side and a hot tub on the other. Yes, a hot tub. And he had a different telephone extension for each location. I don't know if he answered, "Hello from the hot tub!" because I never called him, but it wouldn't surprise me. I actually only saw him twice in my tenure there. Once when I was introduced to him in his ego-fitted office and once when he walked through the staff area waving around a foot-long summer sausage and making lewd comments. He was a pig of gargantuan proportions.
I worked at this company for a short time in the dead of winter. The aforementioned windows often had frost on the inside. I was constantly drinking coffee and hot tea, but only in self-defense against freezing solid at my desk.
My immediate supervisor was a chain-smoking hermit who emerged from his office only once a day. An added bonus—his girlfriend worked on the floor below and every now and then she would come by and glare at me for no apparent reason. The real "bonus" was that my supervisor was a micromanager of the highest degree and never actually gave me anything to do. So I sat there day after day, fighting boredom and frostbite. Of course, the array of strange people who worked there—including a guy who scratched himself constantly—kept me reasonably alert and from lapsing into a glaciated coma.
The day I got another job offer and was able to shout a bit "Buh BYE!" was the happiest day of my life. To add to my happiness, after I announced my imminent departure, one of my soon-to-be-ex-coworkers happened to mention that my supervisor had once served time in prison for a violent crime. Now if anyone can top that, let's hear it.
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.