Crazy Things People Say To Their Bosses Without Getting Fired
Amazing stories of people who got away with it
A recent Quora thread asked the question:
What is the craziest thing you have ever said to your boss, with or without getting fired?
Below are some of the (unverified) testimonies:
Sending an inappropriate instant message.
An anonymous user on Quora accidentally sent "F--- you" to a superior instead of a friend.
Didn't realize this initially but when my friend didn't reply back, I looked at the open chat window and gazed in horror. Seconds later, she looked at me, I had this look of terror, explained it to her that it was not intended for her and pinged it to her by mistake. She didn't say anything, and when nothing happened over the next few hours, I relaxed and things went back to normal and I still had my job.
Quoting a Pink Floyd song.
Before personal computers became a must-have accessory, Jay Bazzinotti was 26 years old and working as the manager of the business unit at a high-tech company. After their modems failed to work properly for an oil company, he was flown from Boston to the west coast as the "sacrificial lamb [his company] would send to the slaughter." He would meet with the senior vice president who "had the power to overthrow third world countries or have people killed."
Here is how he described the experience:
Finally the door opened and the SVP came in. A hush fell over the room. Here was a man that everyone in that room feared and respected. You could feel the power and electricity coming from him as he strode in.
The SVP opened the meeting as if it were a legal proceeding, reading a summary of the problem and all the actions taken to date, emphasizing our failure to solve it. As he got into it he became angrier and angrier. He started pounding the table and he got red as he spoke of how much time and money had been wasted and spoke of "fraud" and "malfeasance" and "misrepresentation". All of this vitriol was directed at me. He was further insulted that our company had the nerve to send me, of all people, not even a VP. Finally he pointed at me and said in a harsh voice, "If you can't fix this problem today, right now, around town your name isn't going to be worth squat!"
And then, without even thinking, I said, "Around town it was well known that when they got home at night their fat and psychopathic wives would thrash them within inches of their lives"
Then he stopped.
"Wait a minute," he said, "I know that line..."
"Yes," I whispered, "It's from Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' album."
He said, "I knew that. You like Pink Floyd?"
"Yes," I said, "It's my favorite group."
"Mine too," he said, suddenly smiling and getting up, "I saw the 'Wall' concert in LA in 1980. It was fantastic! I even caught one of Gilmour's guitar picks. I have it framed in my office with the ticket stubs. Come on, I'll show you!"
The SVP ended up giving the high-tech company a few more weeks to solve the problem, which they successfully did.
Calling him crazy, narcissistic, juvenile, crude, sexist...
In the late '90s when entrepreneur Scott Dunlap was working as a product/marketing executive, he had the following exchange with his boss:
Boss: Make it happen.
Me: What you're asking us to do is physically impossible given the constrains of today's technology.
Boss: Maybe you didn't hear me...I told you to make it happen.
Me: I get that you are holding the bar high for us, but this is crazy. In fact, you are crazy. You are narcissistic, juvenile, crude, conniving, sexist, and lacking any ethical boundaries whatsoever. You are crazy! Yet somehow you consider that combination of attributes to be your leadership style. You are seriously fucked up, like, in a need-a-strait-jacket sort of way.
Boss: [pause] You forgot "rich".
He went on to the next meeting with a smile.
Promising a do-or-die solution.
When Prameet Kamat, a manager for DuPont, was a 22-year-old chemical salesman, one of his bigger accounts complained that the fabric he sold them changed its pH balance and smelled like a "combination of rotten eggs and dying fish":
[The plant head] came out to meet me holding yards of printed fabric "Your product has ruined an important shipment for me! this fabric stinks!" and by god, it did. It stank of a combination of rotten eggs and dying fish. "I have got a 100,000 units of this - " "Is this the guy from that damn company?" Louise stormed in - cigarette dangling and as tall as a skyscraper "I am going to SUE you guys - I am losing 900,000 Euros on this shipment alone! Get out and fix this or you are not going to leave this plant."
I walked around the shop floor for the four loneliest hours of my life. Changing temperatures, chemical dosages and whatever else I could try. I must have looked a sight muttering to myself, looking under equipment runs, taking pH at different points. And the fabric line just kept humming. And stinking. It was late afternoon and it started to finally to get better, and the smell had come down to a mildly unpleasant odor instead of knocking you out. I still didn't know what I got right, but at least something was working.
It was then that I said it - the six words that were either going to be genius or put me in prison. "Put them out in the sun." He blinked at me. "Wot!" I don't know what made me say it - the green sunny lawns that I could see from the windows probably. But I knew it was the dumbest thing I could have said.
Luckily his plan worked and the plant head didn't think the garment smelled after being laid out in the sun for two hours. Whether the ridiculous operation worked or not is a different story:
I might have looked calm or whatever but honestly I just couldn't say anything. I just wanted to collapse. I took the fabric to smell it for myself but honestly I can't say if I smelled anything or not. I had smelled a ton of that fabric day and my nasal sense was dead as a doornail.
Banging on the desk and flipping out.
Lucia Lu had a direct boss who liked to play with things he found on his employees' desks. One morning, he picked up a notebook and started reading it aloud. When this user realized it was her notebook, she asked her boss to give it back. He said "no." Here's what happened next:
Before I even realized it I banged the desk and flipped out: "GIVE IT BACK!"
He stared at me and silently handed it back to me. Strangely, I wasn't even mad at him. I think I was just over annoyed at that point. I do get over-protective of my possessions, especially one that I constantly write who-remember-what in.
Humiliating the boss during a sales meeting.
In 1987, when user Chuck Block was a young stockbroker, he worked for a "sleazy and obnoxious" sales manager.
During a sales meeting he asked if anyone knew where the largest oil reserves in the world were located. I suggested that they were located in his wardrobe. He didn't fire me but when I left the firm he enforced my employment agreement which cost my new firm some money. Back then employment agreements were very rarely enforced when a rookie left for another firm. I think that was his way of retaliating.